Hammer Time: Meir Panim

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time meir panim

60 days ago I had this idea thanks to a charity I’ve always admired. I would offer long-term rentals for drivers who weren’t too picky or too rich (in taste). But were in dire need to no fault of their own. There were a lot of safeguards and a few hoops that most folks would need to clear before I finally rented them out. Money up front with a deposit. Full coverage insurance. No DUI’s or suspended licenses. Mileage limitations. The list went on and on but pretty soon I found a niche… and thankfully that niche has finally found me.Right now I have 11 cars on the road. They range in age from a 1987 Acura Legned to a 2000 Dodge Caravan. The average age for the fleet? 15 years… and no I didn’t plan it this way. Most of the people I rent to have a car down and need one for work, or are simply staying in Atlant a for a while. I don’t know if it’s the weather or the end of tax season. But for some reason I’m being inundated with calls.Of course you have the scammers and the snobs who think that they can screw around with you. In fact they’re at least a third of my calls and I’ve had to take a couple of bumps along the way to a better model. But now? My average rental is three weeks old and I’ve arranged to make many of these people owners of the cars instead of renters. Debt has always been the devil of modern society, and I’ve always looked at my recent work as more of a George Bailey undertaking where the local Potters of the world can be kept at bay.At this point I can safely say that my aspirations have worked out for the better… for the most part. My success rate last year was a little over 80% with the buy-here pay-here side, which is far better than the 50% to 60% average. Keeping the payments reasonable. The length of payment short, and the cars cheap in initial purchase price all helped out greatly. It also helps when your knowledge of cars and their condition borders on the idiot savant side of the equation. Ten years of looking at cars and writing about them will pretty much do that to you. In the meantime I’ve got to find more cheap cars with good owners. Do you know of any?

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2 of 11 comments
  • FleetofWheel FleetofWheel on Jun 01, 2010

    Of course Steven's plan is better but it'd be fun to watch the advocates of car sharing try and convince some low income folks to use Zip Car at $7/hour, and daily rates at $78, with all the time restrictions and penalties. The poor folk would be shaking their heads at all the money they'd have to pay for such limited car usage. Nope, owning a beater is better.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Jun 01, 2010

    I don't really differentiate between young/old, male/female, or any of the other bland categorizations that are out there. As far as I'm concerned all these classifications miss the eyebrows. Sourcing the right cars is a H U G E challenge and opportunity compared with a few years ago. I am right now trying to uncover any source out there that is worth it and even paying for the privelege. As far as I'm concerned, if I can find a conservatively driven and well maintained vehicle the rest of it is really not rocket science. However I will tell you that finding the right customers (and keeping them right) is a lot like being an Israeli airport screener. You have to keep on asking the right questions until you find out the real truth... and watch very carefully for their implicit actions and tactics along the way. Nine out of ten folks with an 'agenda' or an ulterior motive will usually slip in due time. I wouldn't be against doing this in more than one place. Even if it's done in a small scale, it's progress and I can tell you for sure that tens of thousands of folks in Georgia alone would value the opportunity to keep a daily driver without going into debt. I would love to have some corporate relationships to source out more vehicles (or repair components.. or anything for that matter) so feel free to email me if you have any ideas.

  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.