Rent, Lease, Sell or Keep: 1995 Lincoln Town Car – Signature Series
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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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.
28.3 MPG!?? I can't get more than 20 MPG with my 2001 70K miles grand marquis (70% highway/30% city)!!!