Hammer Time: Sell, Lease, Rent, or Kill? – 1989 BMW 750il

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang
hammer time sell lease rent or kill 8211 1989 bmw 750il

This vehicle was worth over $80,000 back in the good old days of Bush the Elder. Now? Not so much. The Bimmer pictured here has no check engine light.. The transmission shifts perfectly. It has 104k original miles with no accident history, and a raft of parts have recently been put into this vehicle by the prior owner. Someone loved this car and sold their first born in the process to keep it up.

However, it will still need about $500 to $700 for the suspension system to be perfected. The airbag light is on. The driver’s seat has some wear (see pictures), and the gas consumption of an old V12 is somewhere between a Countach and a Valdez. Today’s question for the Best and Brightest… which one of the four options would maximize my return? A cash deal? Finance? Rental? Wholesale?

I can sell it for cash on Autotrader, Craigslist, Ebay, the local paper, and at least a dozen other sites for car buyers. Even an enthusiast site may be worth the while given the near immaculate condition of the exterior. If I did this I would be looking to have an asking price around the $4,000 range. But if I put it on Ebay, it will go for no reserve. I’ve found that reserves tend to depress final bid prices by about 10% to 20%. The October/mid-November period tends to be a very slow period in the car businesses. No taxes. No ‘spending’ holidays. No bonuses. So my selling price would likely end up in the low to mid 3’s.

Then there’s the finance route. People pay big money for the big names. Lexus, Mercedes & BMW are as prestigious as they get and folks often pay big money to drive a car with one of those name. This particular one being a low mileage BMW flagship… it could be worth a pretty penny.

We have a very low mileage 1992 SC400 financed at over eight grand at the moment and a 1993 Lexus firmly in the sixes, a $5,000 to $6,000 finance deal is definitely attainable.

If I go in this direction, I have to figure out whether I want to make it a finance or a ‘rent to own’ deal. The later requires no down payment, but a traditionally riskier customer. The finance route would potentially yield $1000 down and $60 a week for 24 months. Would this BMW be a low maintenance ride for my paycheck to paycheck customers? If not, would I be willing to put the repair bills at the back of the loan at no interest? The return is likely exceptional. But I have to make sure that the revenues outweigh the expenses and risk.

I bought this one on the cheap. $1,000 from a new car dealership in town. The auction tacked on a $120 buy fee and I had it transported to the lot for $50. If I ‘wholesale’ it, I would want at least two grand and my net profit would probably be around $600. Not a lot of money. But you can make a surprisingly good living by finding four to five ‘flips’ a week. You also have no stress and no collateral issues. Once it’s sold… it’s gone. I can just as easily make this one a flip and move on to the next deal.

So which one should I do? Sell for cash, finance it, rent to own, or wholesale?

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2 of 70 comments
  • Vaujot Vaujot on Oct 21, 2010

    While the 750 is known to be a handful, I am always surprised at the general negative comments on owning older BMWs in general. Here in Germany, they don't have a bad reputation as old cars as far as cost of ownership is concerned (the crowd who drives BMWs in the age-range 10 to 20 years over here is a different story). May have a lot to do with the cost of parts and the availability of competent mechanics stateside.

  • Dan R Dan R on Oct 22, 2010

    The fact you even asked the question means that you want her. I read the 750 "horror" story. Not that bad really for a near 10 year old luxury car. But then I have a Jaguar. Seriously, a lot of the expensive repairs could be done yourself. You are in the trade and know what to do. A lot of the repairs in the horror story were short interval repeats. Not sure about the competence of the dealer. If it gives up the ghost then part it out. This car is exciting, treat yourself.

  • 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.