Rent, Lease Sell or Keep: 2001 Cadillac Deville
I buy a lot of cars from the last week of September thru mid-November. This is a dead zone for the dealer side of the business. We have no major holidays that encourage spending. No Christmas bonuses or tax reasons to spur demand. Plus a lot of the auto finance companies try to liquidate their used inventory so that they can hit their earnings for the year.A lot gets sold and if you’re quick about it, deals can be found.
A quick call to the local dealership also lead to my discovering that it needed a front 02 sensor for the ‘Service Engine Soon’ light. I test drove it at the auction for about ten minutes. Let it idle for about a half hour. It was perfect. Buyers are often scared of Cadillacs due to the head gasket blowing nature of the Northstar and the temperamental electronics of these beasts. It leads to serious discounting at the auction. A $2400 bid was all it took to buy this loaded up Deville with 129k miles.
The deal was done. So should I….
Rent: Cadillac Devilles were in abundance at Enterprise Rent-A-Car and Avis for a very long time. GM’s pre-bankruptcy desire to stack them high and discount deep played a big role in this. But there were other attributes that made the Deville a worthwhile rental queen.
For a ‘new’ luxury car, these vehicles were supposedly among the lowest cost for ownership. The Northstar only needed 87 octane. Fuel economy was better than with the Panther vehicles. Most maintenance items didn’t need to be touched during the first several years of ownership. Plus… they were excellent road cars that attracted an older clientele who were willing to pay a premium for luxury.
As a ten year old luxury car the sweet spot on this Deville likely would yield me around $30 a day in the Atlanta ex-urbs. Except for one small thing. No one wants luxury cars with big V8’s to rent these days. If they are headed out of town with family and friends, the minivan will win ten times out of ten. Devilles, Town Cars and Roadmasters have all sat on the lot while the Grand Caravans, Previas and Odysseys pulled the brunt of the rental duties.
This vehicle will not work as a rental.
Finance: Is the sweet spot for well kept Caddies… so long as they hold up. Devilles tend to attract older and more mature folks. Since the intake manifold has already been replaced and the coolant has been regularly serviced, this particular Deville would be perfect for a finance deal.
$1000 down, $70 a week for 24 months. Yes this does represent a strong profit. But there’s also a lot of risk involved as well. A lost job. A major repair issue. Buyers who are liars. Dropped insurance followed by a severe accident. All of these risks and plenty of others lead to serious price premiums whenever you tote a note.
As a consumer with good credit you can easily find better deals. But if you have cost someone thousands of dollars, especially more than once, the finance markets handicap that risk to the point where many simply won’t want to deal with you at all. In my experiences, this vehicle is priced right for the market I serve.
Sell: This dealer kept Deville would likely sell in the $4500 to $5000 range. Customers love it when you can authentic the maintenance history of a car since day one, and this is one of the very few that offers this edge. In the real world having this information can add anywhere from 15% to 30% towards the bottom line.
The bad side of selling a car like this is that due to all the rental Devilles that have been unloaded by rental companies through the years, this one will very likely be lost in the shuffle. Just like the minivan market, there is a severe imbalance between the plentiful supply of V8 luxury sedans, and the demand for what’s seen as a gas guzzler for old or ‘unhip’ people. Yes you can hit the mid-20’s miles per gallon and upwards with a light foot. However today’s buyers of big cars want SUV’s. Most of which get even worse mileage.
Yes, it’s a strange world these days.
Keep: If I were constantly on the highways keeping would definitely be a consideration. The Deville offers a lot of quiet and exceptional comfort for not a lot of money. In fact several of my friends drive them on a regular basis due in part to the fact that you can buy a good one for not too much more than a Crown Vic or Grand Marquis.
Heck, they’re even pretty close in price to the Corollas at the auctions. People ‘pay’ for finance fodder and the Toyondas get absolutely obscene prices these days. Last generation old school Caddies are the exact opposite, which makes many of them worthy companions for the long haul.
This particular Deville though is a rolling profit of anywhere between $1500 and $5000 for me… and the long-term maintenance on it may go anywhere between those two numbers. These models can be buggy bastards and so I probably don’t want to keep it.
My world as a dealer is far different than your world as consumers. So what would you do? Rent it and heavily market your rides to the ‘Early Bird Special’ crowd? Finance it and roll the dice of risk or return? Sell it for the quick profit and move on? Or keep it so that you can always ride in Cadillac style.
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