Hammer Time: Other Than That, How's the Car?

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

Sajeev is lookin’ for a steenkin’ Lincoln. Well his dad is at least. They want a late model Town Car in black that hopefully, preferably, has less than 50k miles on it and a very certain trim level. It’s not an easy request for me to fulfill. Despite the fleet focus for this model, Ford has well over a dozen different trim combinations for TC’s (e.g., Signature, Limited, Cartier). Visits to the auction for this type of inventory are surprisingly rare. A few keystrokes. A secret password. And I get to see everything within a 100 mile radius. I find . . .

Four of them. That’s it. Three in beige. One in a smokey grey, and none of them fitting the Black bill. When folks ask me to look for the showhorse car, I usually end up with bupkis. The immaculate Town Car that has been conservatively driven and well maintained still carries a premium. Even in these recessionary times. The same is true for virtually anything that has a strong niche or a cult following. Most manufacturers will push that inventory to their dealers through their own re-marketing channels before having it served to the general dealer population at large.

Now if someone’s looking for a plain Jane Mercury Milan or Chrysler minivan, that’s a completely different story. A ‘workhorse’ with a ding here, a scratch there, is a far more open possibility. Unfortunately most folks claim they want a workhorse when in fact, they want a showhorse for a workhorse price. With this option package, with this exterior and interior combination, with this many miles, at the same price as a no-frills whip. Can it be done? How much time do you have?

Steven Lang
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  • MadHungarian MadHungarian on Jul 31, 2009

    I just two weeks ago bought one from Texas Direct that would have fit your bill exactly: http://search.ebay.com/110411337469 It's a fantastic car that was at least as good as advertised. Interior indistinguishable from a new car except for the drivers door pull being slightly loose on one side. Nice exterior, no mechanical issues, 39K. I got it for a shade less than the eBay buy-it-now, which is well under book. I don't actually think these are that hard to find. Most of the higher trim line cars (Cartiers up to 2003, and Signature Limited, Designer or Ultimate thereafter) are in Florida and to a lesser extent in Texas. Particularly southern Florida. A quick look at eBay will show that southern Florida is Town Car Heaven. I think cars in those areas are more likely to have been owned by private individuals. In other regions you get the plainer fleet and corporate cars. IMO these are the greatest car deals around. Try to get a Lexus for under 15K that isn't a beater. Depreciation is your friend when you are buying used. I did find a few unrealistically priced ones in my search, most notably a 2003 Cartier L (the long wheelbase one) with 9K that was bid up to $21K and still did not sell. A pity, as I would have liked to have the last Cartier L.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Aug 02, 2009

    I'll let you guys into some of the things Steven discussed via email during this time. 1. Texas Direct: that place is nuts. We found a PERFECT car (low mile, black/black, fully loaded) and it was snapped up within hours before we could put our money down. We made the silly mistake of going home and thinking about it: you snooze you lose at this place. 2. Broadening the search was necessary: old man cars are all over the place in Florida, and they DO get shipped elsewhere to keep the market from getting saturated. Case in point, the car we bought last week: It was from Texas Direct, no surprise there. 2006 Designer with THX/NAVI and a really cool grey/brown color that you just never see on these cars. It was "love" at first click. Not a perfect car, but it was an off-lease vehicle from (you guessed it) Florida. Dad seems to like it too, and he'll finally be comfortable in a car again, without having to spend tons of money up front, or tons in servicing an older large import that runs on unique and expensive parts. Internet people may not understand, but I'm surprised how this particular Designer Series gets REAL individuals interested: fancy seats and an understated (but punchy) color, THX sounds and a mean swagger with 17" chrome rims and little whitewall tires. Just goes to show how Lincoln wasted their opportunity with this car. Pathetic.

  • Sajeev Mehta Sajeev Mehta on Aug 02, 2009
    MadHungarian : I did find a few unrealistically priced ones in my search, most notably a 2003 Cartier L (the long wheelbase one) with 9K that was bid up to $21K and still did not sell. A pity, as I would have liked to have the last Cartier L. Low mileage Signature Touring Sedans (i.e. the Mercury Marauder without the engine and wheels) and Cartier L's do go for more than the others. Kinda makes sense. What I don't understand is where all these livery-spec 10k mile 2009 models are coming from. At $28k or less and with that warranty, that's a serious family hauler for not much money.