By on February 4, 2011

You have arrived. Through the sweat and brow of your efforts, you have achieved the rewards of upper middle class living. A nice job. A nice spouse. Two very quaint child like creatures, and of course… the car. A beautiful burgundy luxury car with opulent leather, elite walnut trim, a premium ‘Surround sound’ system with a quite advanced CD player, and a trademark waterfall grille on the front. In the late 1990’s your car stacks out at about $34,000 new. Fast forward 12 years, two recessions and 180k miles later, and you may be able to get a discount. How does $900 sound to you? With that in mind do you…

Rent: Buicks tend to be the ‘mature persons’ rental car. In the seven months this one had been on the road, every customer was either over 40 or had at least two older kids. A few were borderline senile.

One notable codger ran out of money and couldn’t renew the rental. He seemed to be in a constant fog, got lost twice on way to the rental lot. This car was loaded with his knick-knacks. So I dropped him off and helped unload his personal belongings.

What does an 80 year old fellow enjoy these days? Apparently tons of hardcore porn, erotic statues, and a small bar’s worth of liquor. He turned out to be a divorce lawyer… who was in turn getting a nasty divorce. Then there was this strange thing wedged between the driver’s armrest and door. It turned out to be a mini-gun of sorts. Damn! The exciting life of an old country lawyer!

A few weeks later he called to say he had money. He did. But that of course wasn’t the whole story. Those funds turned out to be from one of my other rental customers who was divorcing her husband. He weaseled a $1000 retainer from her. I declined the offer. One jerkoff was enough.

Lease: $500 down and $60 a week for 12 months would be the standard fare here. There are a lot of older folks out here on a fixed income, and they tend to be by far my best customers. If there is a problem with the vehicle, I get it fixed at my cost and put that amount on the back of the loan at no interest. I averaged fewer than 1 in 20 major repairs per vehicle last year and to be frank, these folks are very low stress to deal with.

Unfortunately you also have to deal with the ‘sons and daughters’. These are the ones who have been fleecing everyone in their path for years. In their early 30’s. Living in an apartment complex on the bad part of town. Often times combining a fast food job, drug dealing, and government handouts for their middle class lifestyle.

The good news is these overaged kids hate Buicks. The bad news is they will try cajoling you for months until they finally get the hint that your cars won’t be their next ‘hooptie’. Sometimes the older folks will offer to co-sign on these. Never do it. The old folks will be on the hook until they ask you to repo it and the car will always be tore up.

Sell: I can retail this car for somewhere between $2000 and $2500. No paint fade. A well kept interior, and plenty of gizmos on the inside usually overcome the higher miles. This would be a headache free way to go. Especially since all the rentals have already paid for the vehicle twice over.

Keep: Why?

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26 Comments on “Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 1999 Buick Park Avenue...”

  • avatar

    Sell — headache free is the way to go.

  • avatar

    One of my friends has one of these and he’s planning to get rid of it for a new car. I was trying to get him into a Regal, Lacrosse,  or the new 200.  He’ll have his mind made up soon.  for now, he swears by this car.

  • avatar

    one of the best cars and greatest values ever put on wheels.

  • avatar

    All of those features, plus a floaty ride.  A very floaty ride.  Not nausea-inducing, but if you ever have to make a panic stop, it feels as if the rear wheels have lifted off the ground.  If you even inadvertently ask it to do anything quickly, it won’t be graceful at all.
    The supercharged 3800 on the Ultra is a hoot, but the noise it makes when pressed is out of character for a luxury car (see sentence above about not being graceful).

  • avatar

    Keep it. As an owner of a 98 Ultra, I can assure you these are tough, comfy, and reliable. The 3800 is nigh unkillable and even with the supercharger I average between 20-24mpg in the city.

  • avatar

    Keep renting it until it is a problem.  These are really good cars.

  • avatar

    It doesn’t count if it has no portholes. Sell. Now.

  • avatar

    Keep, move to Houston and convert to Swanga Status. Cupholders are more than adequate for illegal purple drinks in white cups.

  • avatar

    Oh the memories that commercial brings back!!!
    I know this has nothing to do with anything, but here we go…
    In the late 90’s I was working at a small tv studio in Florida, and we had an account with the local Buick dealership to make their tv spots. They would give us stock footage from GM and we had to put it together and include the local incentives and such. Well, one day my co-worker Ben was putting a spot together for a Park Ave commercial, and he was listening to the Sugarhill Gang’s “Rapper’s Delight” on the computer (he had a thing for old-school hip hop).  The footage showed some of the same shots featured here of the Park Ave traveling through the city, along with clips of an older white gentleman describing the virtues of the car. Well, the computer somehow recorded the music Ben was listening to, and and when the commercial was done, it started out with the man talking about how smooth and luxurious the car was, and every time the scene changed to the car driving through the city, you heard “Rapper’s Delight” playing, as if it was cruising along with the stereo blasting! It would then switch back to the nice conservative man talking about the car, then switch back to the “bumping Buick” wafting past.
    I begged Ben to make me a copy, but he never did it…
    It was the best car commercial EVER!

  • avatar

    Rent it until it either begins giving you problems or you just get tired of seeing it.  Then sell it.  Trust me — you’ll get your money’s worth from it.

  • avatar

    My grandparents had a ’97 until last year when my grandfather gave up his license.  Had every option but the supercharger.  I believe it was about $33,000 when they got it.
    I thought it was a really nice car, until I went for a ride in it.  Bleck.  Plastic fantastic.  Sure, the auto-dimming mirrors and rain-sensing wipers were gee-whiz features at the time.  But it was a poor excuse for a luxury car, even 15 years ago.  I think they sold it for about $2500 with around 75k on it and in mint condition.  Now grandma drives the two of them around in an ’08 Camry CE.

    • 0 avatar

      Yeah, they had heated seats and mirrors before those were popular, but the driving experience was just awful.  The zillion-way power seat adjustments will also break.  Some of the motors will burn out, then the controls will break off their mountings.

  • avatar

    Hit up Pep Boys for some stick on “port holes” and your selling price magically goes to $3500.

  • avatar

    Can anyone verify that the voice in that ad is Sigourney Weaver?   I kept expecting hear her say  “Get away from that car, you Bitch!!!”

  • avatar

    Sell/lease to a golfer. Buick & golf go back 50 years until Tiger Woods came along.

    Keep use as a passport to the clubhouse.

  • avatar

    Keep: Why?
    C’mon, you can get a cheap supercharge for that 3800, drive like a total lunatic, and no one will pull you over or give you a second look because they’ll think you’re 90-years-old.

  • avatar

    Unrelated to the Buick in question…
    One of the related YouTube videos was this one called “Genuine Chevrolet.”  Didn’t we just see an almost total rehash of this ad, complete with identical nostalgia points and new product promises in a 2010/11 ad campaign?

  • avatar

    all this brings back my strange love for the last gen olds 98, which i think could be had with the supercharger

    • 0 avatar
      Educator(of teachers)Dan

      Yes it could, a very rarely selected option.  My future mother-in-law had one, puchased quite cheaply off the CarMax lot in Albuquerque, after some bonehead totaled her 92 Buick LeSabre when they ran into her.  She held onto the Oldsmobile (a 1995 model) until buying one of the first G6s in 05.  I wish I had known her daughter then cause I would have gladly taken the Oldsmobile off her hands.  She loved the kick in the pants of the supercharger but generally thought the car was too large and “boat like.”  She still raves about that Buick though. 

  • avatar

    I am thinking of picking up one of these for my 18yo son as his first car.  I know, not cool or anything, but they seem to be ultra reliable.  I am finding many of them elderly owned, with well under 100k miles, some as low as 50-60k miles for around $3500 or so in mint mint condition. 97-02ish Park Ave, Le Sabre, and Olds 88s are always around, in much nicer shape than the same year Pontiac or Chevy.  Good choice??

  • avatar

    After all, the 3.8 was the cause of GM’s demise:

  • avatar

    I remember I went to the Houston Auto Show back in 1997 first year this swollen up version came out, to replace the iconic discontinued 1996 Roadmaster. The GM ‘engineers’ were there, and one approached me as I sat down in the driver’s seat of one of these and asked me what I thought about the ‘new’ Park Ave to which I replied, “I’d rather have the Roadmaster back”, to which he replied, “Believe me, we would too.”

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