I once had a vehicle that sat on my lot for over 9 months. It wasn’t anything too bad. A 1998 Plymouth Grand Voyager in the tannest shade of brown. But no one wanted the thing.
I couldn’t figure it out. Did it have too many miles on it? Did brown all of a sudden become the new purple, orange or lime green? It did have four doors instead of the three door minivan albatrosses that were common during the pre-Y2k era. But I couldn’t get so much as a nibble on it for months on end.
Denial can be a hard pill to cough up. Lo and behold, this is what I figured out.
Dead Brands Don’t Go Walking: Pontiacs, Saturns and Saabs may have a little issue with public recognition. But a Plymouth? Most folks simply didn’t know what one was by the time Obama got in office. Over the last few years I have also seen Oldsmobiles and Eagles slowly go the way of Daihatsus and Peugeots. Fewer folks remember them, and fewer folks want them.
No One Loves A Large Marge Barge: Minivans have become the automotive version of disco. Not a lot of people admit to liking them, and it’s fashionable to bash a vehicle made for a brood in a Western world where large families are becoming ever less common. Who among you thought Ford and GM would ever throw the proverbial towel in a market that once spanned the seven figures every year? OK, besides you Bertel!
Brown Isn’t Sexy On A Car: With apologies to Sajeev and the rest of the brown gawkers, brown has indeed become the new purple, pink, lime and orange. The only way you can sell a brown car these days is if it’s rare or cheap. Otherwise this color palette has joined the nostalgia circuit along with forest green and beige.
No One Wants Sticks, Unless It’s Sporty: “Yeah! Yeah! That’s what I really want! A base car with no options on it so that I can get a true feel for the road. You know… today’s base car. With power windows, door locks, mirrors, cruise, ABS, traction control, comfortable seating for five, USB port, Bluetooth, Six Speakers, Eight Airbags, and… an Automatic!”
When it comes to commuting in most major metropolitan areas, only hypermilers and tightwads still appreciate the benefits of a stickshift. Everyone else wants to give their left foot a rest.
Base Cars Always Get Stuck In The Back Of The Lot: A leather seat with minor tears on it will almost always sell faster than a cloth vehicle with minimal wear. Even in hot climates like Atlanta and Phoenix, there are countless consumers who still believe that cloth interiors are neither luxurious nor comfortable.
And The Rest: There are countless examples of cars that don’t sell. Too many miles. Too much body damage. The distinct smell of the prior owner (and their pets). So along those lines, let me ask the B&B a question.
What car was the hardest vehicle for you to sell… and why?
If all your cars have sprinted out of your driveway like O.J. trying to catch a flight to Barbados, then feel free to mention a friend. Or a family neighbor. Or even someone who is more distant from you than a father’s cousin’s former roommate. The day is long. So feel free to share a story.