By on April 22, 2011

28.3 miles per gallon. That’s what it said on the Lincoln’s trip computer. Was it real? I hated to think that some electronic glitch had made this Lincoln an eternal optimist. But one thing certainly helped it’s cause. A great owner. An awesome owner. The type of owner you want to thank years later for keeping the car in such great shape. Yes, this Lincoln was a creme puff. So now I can…

Rent: My business has an 80/20 mix. 80% of my customers are wonderful. They honor their word. Care for the vehicle, and make me happy to provide them with the service. The other 20% should be shot and neutered.

Some develop communication issues when the vehicle is due to be returned. Others have pretty much shitted on everything that has been given to them, and figure that this one new toy deserves their imprint.

As perfect as Panther cars can be for the rental trade, it’s still very hard to put any cream puff in for this service. Every car that’s gone through the long-term rental route always gets some type of battle scar. It’s usually cosmetic or a minor mechanical issue. But in the wrong hands the damage can be fatal. Maybe I’ll just put a premium rental rate on it and see what happens.

Lease / Finance: I love financing full-sized vehicles. Town Cars. Grand Marquis / Crown Vic’s. Even the Q45 and Lexus LS 400 can be a joy to ‘tote’… if you find the right owner.

Like this Town Car, most of my inventory is geared towards older folks. There is a reason for that. Stable incomes and a reduction in hormonal stupidity usually results in a better long-term return on investment. My repo rate last year was less than half the industry average of 33% in 2010, and I hope to have it be less than 10% this year.

The right customers can also help you buy the right cars. As police forces, and taxi/livery services already know, Panther cars are nearly indestructible and parts are usually cheap. I would probably send this one out as a 700 down, 50 a week for 24 month deal… Or a 700, 60 a week / 18 month deal. Either one would work well in this economy.

Sell: Then again I can always sell it. If gas was lower I could probably get around three grand for this model. 165k is a bit high on miles. But a showroom condition car almost always obliterates any mileage issues. It’s hard enough these days to find even a decent used car that is less than $3000.

Realistically though, with $4 gas on the rear view mirror I may eventually be looking at around $2500. That will not give me a huge profit. But one thing I’ve always taken to heart is the fact that the more I sell, the more vehicles I can pursue at the auctions and wholesale sources.

If I sell six, I can buy six. Sell nothing, and I may lose the opportunity to buy those next six profitable vehicles in the near future. I have always acquiesced to the ‘market price’ and never have I regretted it.

Keep: The 1995 Lincoln Town Car is the best Panther ever made. It’s quieter than a Lexus. Gets fuel economy on the highway that matches many midsized four cylinder cars from the same era. But most importantly, it is a ‘bridge’ car. One that offers the reliability of the old with the far nicer redesign of the new.

To be blunt about it, the 1995 version looks far more modern on the inside than the 1991 – 1994’s. The sqaured dashboard is curved and is pleasing to look at and touch. Button locations finally make sense. Interior materials take a quantum leap forward (perhaps for the very last time). Finally, Ford decided to hold off one model year before desecrating the 96 – 02 versions with a crappy plastic intake manifold. If you’re looking for the best all-around luxury beater of the Clinton Era, a well kept 1995 model may be it. God knows you can get a good one cheap these days.

And I’ll tell you one other surprising thing from a guy used to driving small hard riding cars. It’s not a ‘floater’ on the open road at all. So long as you keep up with it and use top-notch parts, it provides a surprisingly taut ride for it’s size. A Town Car may never be as tight as most sports sedans. But a well cared one actually feels more athletic than most midsized cars of the last ten years. You get power, good highway fuel economy, and a powertrain that was truly designed for the American highway.

Well, I’m making this a short-term keeper… and a ‘road warrior’ car for long trips. That is until I sell it… or finance it… or… well… which one do you think I should do?

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31 Comments on “Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 1995 Lincoln Town Car – Signature Series...”

  • avatar

    Steve, great article and apropos! I sent it to a friend of mine, now in his seventies, who wants to retire his 1995 Crown Vic and buy a new Ford. He can now afford to buy a new Lincoln but doesn’t like any of Lincoln’s models with their toothy grin. Over the years I have helped him maintain his Crown Vic and he has asked me to recommend a suitable replacement for his Crown Vic, but I am at a loss. The Taurus is just not his cup of tea since the roominess of the Crown Vic is what he wants. It’s too bad that they don’t make them like they used to for this segment of the car-buying society.

    • 0 avatar

      Has he/you checked out a Toyota Avalon?  From the reviews I have read and Consumer Reports it is a Lexus quality car with Toyota pricing.  Big car ride, quiet, lots of room, RWD, and Toyota reputation.  For better or worse the car is getting a refresh/update/restyle soon.
      The car seems to appeal to the AARP demographic, although I also see quite a few 40 somethings driving them.

      • 0 avatar

        Toad, I am aware of the virtues of Toyota products since I own a 2008 Jap-built Highlander Limited AWD and a 2011 Tundra SR5 5.7 DC. But this guy has made it plain. He wants another Ford. No doubt he feels this way for political and philosophical reasons. He wants nothing ‘foreign’ and no GM or Chrysler. I haven’t the heart to tell him that much of Ford’s line of vehicles is made in a foreign country using foreign parts. I am not going to burst his bubble or diminish his delusion that Ford is where it’s at. If that’s what he wants, it’s cool with me.

        The only thing I can think of, since he doesn’t like any of the Lincoln vehicles, is a new Taurus. He tells me he didn’t like the looks of them. Maybe too flashy? My guess is he didn’t like the salesperson who showed him that Taurus. You know, old people are kinda set in their ways, and most can afford to be. They didn’t grow old and well-to-do by being stupid.

        I told him that the Taurus would be the only vehicle that I can think of that would come closest to resembling his old Crown Vic. I’m planning to take him to the Ford dealers in El Paso, TX, sometime next week. That way he can relax without having to fight the El Paso traffic. I’ll do the driving. I was hoping that some of our B&B had run across a similar situation and could impart some words of wisdom on me.

  • avatar

    “The other 20% should be shot and neutered.”
    Wait… Shouldn’t that be the other way around? :)

  • avatar

    While I’m no big Panther fan, I always liked this model of Town Car. A perfect blend of modernity and old-world elegance. If I was still living over there, I might just be interested in this jewel of an automobile…

  • avatar
    M 1

    I still wish TTAC would do some testing of engine-computer MPG versus actual MPG.
    I’ve checked all of my cars and trucks over the years, and the engine computer is always wrong by a huge margin — and always in my favor (meaning it has calculated a far worse MPG than is actually the case). My Benz was the worst, it would begin dramatically reducing it’s MPG estimate the moment you began idling at a stop sign or traffic light. It made no sense at all.

  • avatar

    As a finance geek by trade I have to reccomend you finance it.  The car has nearly fully depreciated leaving you with unparalleled security on the loan.  Plus as you said the customer for this vehicle tends to be a better credit.  I’d put a lofty sale price on it and that exceeds the present value of financing at used car interest rates, if you can outright sell it great, if not it leaves you room to negotiate with financees.  That is a grear car and I wouldn’t fault you for keeping either.  Best of luck.

    highdesertcat – has your friend test driven the new 300C.  I know they aren’t as roomy as the old panthers, but they are more airy than the Taurus, and the upgraded interior, RWD, and potent V8 make it compelling.  He could also probaly find one of the last of the 2010 town cars lying around new somewhere.      

    • 0 avatar

      nels2727, as I pointed out earlier, the guy doesn’t want any GM or Chrysler products.  He wants another Ford. Doesn’t like the late model Towncar’s ‘melted’ look. But I am going to take him to a couple of Ford dealers in El Paso, TX, and maybe one of them has an unsold Mercury Grand Marquis on the lot.  If not, I’m going to take him to the Mercedes-Benz dealer in El Paso. He has expressed admiration for the E-Class because he owned a Mercedes while he was stationed in Germany last century.
      I do believe that he would be happy with a new Taurus if he can warm up to it without a sales person or sales manager breathing down his back. I think this is what happened at the local Ford/Lincoln dealer – an over eager sales staff turned him off.
      His wife doesn’t drive any more and they really do need dependable transportation to get them to their doctors’ appointments in El Paso and Las Cruces.  My plan is to take him around, treat him to lunch at Red Lobster and a Moolatte at DQ, neither which we have where we live, and then just let him look around.  Buying a car is such a personal decision that it is best to let the man decide for himself what appeals.
      Thanks for your input, though.  Do appreciate it.

  • avatar

    Keep is definitely the right answer! 28.3 is probably the trip computer being a little optimistic, but not by much, if it was used as a hwy cruiser getting in the mid 27 range is the norm. Does it have twice pipes? If so that is a sign of having the HPP, Handling and Performance Package, which does considerably improve the handling w/o any real decrease in ride comfort. The 3.23 gears also contribute to the better MPG over the 3.08 gears in a standard version. I know it seems backwards but that slightly higher rpm puts the engine closer to its’ sweet spot and keeps it in OD on the hills. The HPP CV I had would pull down ~27 MPG consistently on long trips while the non-HPP GM would only do ~26 in similar use. Just be careful as Panther love is hard to shake and no sooner than it rolls off the lot a long road trip will surface and you’ll be wishing you had the TC a few hours into said trip. When it does come time to part with it selling it outright or on a payment plan to the right customer is the way to go.

  • avatar

    Id definitely keep it. Or just sell it for 3k$ to some guy who exports them to Europe. People pay up to 10k$ for a Towncar like this here in Germany.

  • avatar

    One of the last American cars that looked like an American car.   Beautiful.

  • avatar
    John Fritz

    165K, sell. To me.

  • avatar

    Ask yourself, WWSD?  New shocks and sway bars and some mild engine mods, Panther love FTW!

  • avatar

    You also had that Roadmaster in your inventory for a while, but this Town Car seems in much better condition.
    As you said yourself, a creampuff in showroom condition will negate the miles, so I would keep and enjoy.  At least for a while.

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    If only I had some money lying around…  I’d know what answer to give you.  (I’d have to be a cash buyer on this one, cause I wouldn’t finance something this old.) 

  • avatar

    On a buisiness trip two years ago I drove a Lincoln TC 2009 from Sacramento to SF. I was really surprised to see 27MPG. I would love to have a Panther here in Sweden but most american cars that was never sold here in Europe are not allowed to tow nothing. I bought a Cadillac STS 2005 and this is rated by GM to tow 4000lbs here in Europe versus maybe 1000 lbs in the USA! However, I like the car a lot but this 3,6V6 gives me 22 mph on the highway and it doesn’t matter if I’m doing 60mph or 75mph. But the gas is only just over 7 USD/gallon here so it’s not that important;-)

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    It may be a cream puff, but it’s also a 15-year-old domestic car that can pull a Patsy Cline on you at any time. Sell it asap.

  • avatar

    Ohhh, talk about a tough decision!
    To me this was one of the few Ford products that was worth every penny of it’s purchase price when new.
    My grandparents have a 1991 TC Cartier sitting in their garage, and I told them that when they are dead and gone that I want it. I have absolutely no need for a car of this type and size, but yet it just “does it” for me. Ironically though, if the car does ever come into my possession, I would trade it for a well kept 1995-97 TC Cartier in a heartbeat.
    So I say drive it for a bit and enjoy a bit of nostalgia :)

  • avatar

    Can’t your friend buy a 2011 Lincoln Town Car? They are still in production, otherwise an F-150 King Ranch or Expedition King Ranch comes to mind.

    • 0 avatar

      Mandalorian, we’ve been there and he doesn’t like the ‘melted’ look of the current models.  He likes the sharper, more defined looks of the old panthers.  That’s why he still drives that ’95 Crown Vic. And let me tell you, he’s got some money tied up in that thing,  Among other things it has a completely rebuilt AC system, rebuilt radiator, brand-new (not rebuilt) Alternator, new hoses, belts, tires, etc, with much of the work done by him and me. It is one clean car!  They say you can keep anything running if you just replace the broken or worn out parts in it.  Here’s the proof.
      He has a 2006 F150 Supercab that he also keeps in immaculate shape.  The Crown Vic was driven by his wife but she has since quit driving because of her age and infirmities. We liked what was recommended, and bought.
      Thanks for your input. Appreciate it.  I really appreciate input from people I don’t know.  It sure helped me when I, myself, was shopping for a new car and a new truck.  That’s why we bought what we bought, because of input we received in response to our question.

  • avatar

    Where is this car?  I’ll but it if it’s in the southeast?

  • avatar

    Since I’m a non-sentimental type when it comes to large sedans (not so much if you had a similar-age Mustang GT in decent condition), for me the decision comes down to sell vs. finance.  Assuming $2,500 is a reasonable market price, if you can get $700 down then you’ve got $1,800 in opportunity cost invested.  On that basis, 50 bucks a week for two years is 276% APR, and 60 bucks a week for 18 months is 365% APR, so I’d say go for the finance deal.
    Looked at another way, I know from my life spent in the auto finance industry that the period of maximum default risk starts around nine months (assuming you’re a good-enough judge of credit risk to avoid the customers who don’t have any intention of making the payments), and if you can get the customer to make nine months of payments on this one you’re at least cash-neutral to a little cash-positive compared with selling it outright, plus if you repo it you’ve got the unit back for another turn.  Yeah, I know there’s some percentage of successful skips, and the creampuff you sent out the door a year ago is really trashed out when you repo it, but I’d still say go for it.  The finance deal looks worth the risk to me.

  • avatar

    28.3 MPG!?? I can’t get more than 20 MPG with my 2001 70K miles grand marquis (70% highway/30% city)!!!

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