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Yale 62

Selling My Car
2017 Ford Lincoln MKZ

By Al Chambers

I just sold my wonderful car because there suddenly were so many reasons to do so. This is one of those rare stories concerning decisions and money, where everyone involved came away satisfied.

This is the first time in more than 40 years, which is when the Chambers family returned from 11 years living abroad, that we now depend on just one vehicle. It was 1978 when we first became suburbanites.

So far, so good, after about ten days. It will be a new opportunity for good planning and communications for Alice and me and also a chance to rent Zipcars when needed.

Let me ‘fess up at the start that we were advantaged, because as a Ford communications executive, I was entitled, first as an employee and then as a retiree, to company lease cars. That included the right to buy a vehicle at the end of the lease, at a favorable price. Yes, it was a good perk, even more so because during the lease, Ford owned the vehicle and covered insurance and maintenance.

I never thought of myself as a Lincoln person, but we ended up with the 2017 MKZ car as the replacement for a hybrid I had ordered, which became unavailable because of a supplier issue on the hybrid battery.

2017 Ford Lincoln MKZThe Midnight Sapphire Blue sedan was a winner from the start and confirmed my continuing preference for cars over trucks, crossovers and SUVs. This was at the same time that the nation, including, no doubt, many of you, were switching from cars because of the higher driver seat. Women were the leaders in this major change in product preference. When our lease was up in January 2020, I did what was called “tagging” the vehicle, which meant the Lincoln was ours and at a good price.

Usually, a writer doesn’t tell the ending of a story this soon, but when we sold the MKZ, with just a bit of negotiation, we received exactly what we had paid (not counting tax). If somebody had suggested that might happen back in 2020, I would not have considered it remotely possible.

We all know that vehicles lose value non-stop from the day you buy them. In today’s market, however, because of computer chip shortages and other supply chain issues, reasonably new but nonetheless used vehicles are in unprecedented demand.

Some of you may have seen recent announcements from the giant automotive companies that their sales of new cars plunged between 15-20% in the First Quarter. In contrast, earnings guidance was projected higher because of strong price increases on the limited number of new cars available. For nimble dealers, costs were down and large margins in the suddenly booming quality used car business are keeping them going. Yes, it is a sign of inflation, but it’s also supply and demand working just the way capitalism intends. It seemed the right time for us to cut back, which we possibly should have been doing, anyway.

Another rubric is that it is almost never a good idea to sell to a dealer except as a trade-in. But this time, it was. The folks at Ann Arbor’s Varsity Ford dealership were looking for cars such as ours and offered a price that took into account that they would need to replace the scraped front bumper and check out everything else, but would still realize a large profit on the resale. The new owner, probably a younger senior, would own a top certified car with an attractive warranty. Dealer Sean counseled that I could almost certainly sell the Lincoln myself at somewhere near the midpoint between the dealer’s buy and sell without replacing the bumper.

I wasn’t keen to meet and greet unknown people coming over to test drive our car nor to spend the time and money on the bumper. It was another example of how Covid changed our attitudes.

2017 Ford Lincoln MKZThe pandemic is very much part of this entire story. We had taken only one extended road trip, visiting family and friends on the East Coast in 2018. That proved our MKZ handled well and was comfortable. When we bought the car off the lease in 2020, it had low mileage and no problems. Two months later, on March 11, the coronavirus risk changed our lifestyle. By this March, when we decided to sell, we had added only about two thousand miles, so the car was super low mileage (16,500), as well as being single owner vehicle with no accidents. Everything else needed to be certified at a high level by the dealer.

In the midst of the discussions, our son’s stalwart 2008 Mercury Milan, which initially had been our lease car, signaled that it was ready for major repairs, which were not worth doing. Taking into account what I had learned, I offered Jonathan a terrific deal to buy our car. He considered it seriously, but said he just didn’t think of himself as a Lincoln owner and went out and purchased a 2020 used Ford Fusion from Varsity Ford. It is slightly smaller and not as well appointed as our almost luxury Lincoln, but built on the same platform. He, too, thinks he made the right decision and is genuinely excited about his almost-new wheels.

As for the Chambers, we still have a Ford Edge as a lease car, which also has been a very good vehicle. The lease has been extended twice because Ford suspended its lease car program. The company needed its limited supply of new vehicles for retail customers. If and when the auto business returns to what was previously called normal, my guess is that we might tag and buy that vehicle and try another round. The Edge has done well and also will have low mileage.

As you can tell, we have had quite a ride adjusting to, and we think benefiting from, previously unknown disruptive circumstances.

 

We welcome your comments below.

7 comments to Selling My Car

  • Bill Weber

    Al,

    Great story and much different from what might have happened prior to the pandemic.

    I used to be in the car business from 1976 thru 2020. During that time I had a Volvo, Jaguar, Triumph and MG dealership. I closed that out in 1983 and went to work for a while at a Chrysler dealership. Then I went to running a used car operation on a limited scale, buying cars at dealer auctions and doing well until two things happened: My partner died suddenly and then within a year the pandemic hit and totally messed up the car auctions, later followed by supply issues of used cars brought on, as you described by new car supply shortages and the consumer push to SUV’s over regular sedan.

    You really did well and had a good ride as well.

    BTW—all I do with cars now is fool around with my 12 cylinder models. A 1999 BMW 750iL, a 1996 Jaguar XJ12 and a 1989 Jaguar XJ-S. They are fast and nice to have as a remembrance of the “good old days”

    .

  • Joe Holmes

    Hey Al. Loved your car story. Mine is similar with a different finale. Like you, I like cars, good sized roomy cars, better than SUV’s et. al. And I agree in the special value of used cars coming off lease (sent many of our kids in that direction). But for the last dozen years I am the leasor. A Hyundai Azera, 2 Kia Cadenza – – good size cars with V6 engines. So the lease just ran out on the ’19 Cadenza and given the used car market, I decided to buy the car at the fixed “residual” price. (You called it “tagging”).

    When I stopped by the Genesis dealer to check out what it might take to get into one of those (on a lease) the dealer went nuts when I told him I was about to own my car free and clear. Only had 30k miles and was absolutely impeccable. They LUSTED after my car. Made a very unusual deal. A 3 year lease but paid out up front in cash. The amount asking was 20% LESS than I was paying on the kia over a 3 year period. So I traded my car, paid off this reasonable lease, and for 3 years I’m driving the top of the line G80 3.5 T Sport. Hot damn. I mean how many more years do I have anyway.

    Anyone who has a Bimmer 750 in the garage could likely relate.

    • Al Chambers

      Thanks, Joe. Cars and car stories can be wonderful, but what your experience and mine have in common is how important knowing as much as you can about the used car you are buying can be. And the best way is if it is a car that you had on some sort of lease and know that it is a good one. Now, you have another winner. It sure sounds as if you came out well on your latest and quite unusual Genesis 80 Sport deal.

      As for Bill Weber’s experience (above}, he is a member of the Yale62 communications team, but I didn’t now he had been in the auto game for so much of his life. Those three dandies he has probably are very special. Bill, have you competed with them either for speed or appearance?

  • Bill Weber

    Al and Joe,

    Yes the BMW 750iL is very fast and comfortable, but not in good shape cosmetically. imagine a 2 ton car with 340 hp engine that gets 20 mpg on the hwy.

    The Jaguars are quite nice cosmetically, fast and comfortable. no showing beyond the occasionally “cruisin night” in the local village of Penn Yan.

    Thanks for asking. Bill

  • Joe Holmes

    Bill

    Do you live in, or vacation in Penn Yan? Poppy (wife) and I vacation at Canandaigua Lake annually (a few weeks in August). Stay at Bristol Harbor.
    My email is Joeswing@optonline.net. Lets connect.
    Joe

  • Bill Weber

    Joe,

    Yes, I live right on Keuka, the West branch south of Branchport, 12 miles from Penn Yan. I will send you a note.

  • Neal Freeman

    Al:

    Thanks for that. I know nothing about cars but have stumbled into a formula that works for me and might work for others. I wasn’t smart enough to be an executive of the Ford Motor Company but I know a guy who runs a Chrysler-Jeep-Whatever dealership and is married to a fancy lady. She drives a top-of-the-line new car off the lot each year, has it washed whenever a fleck of dust defaces its appearance, guns it occasionally to 50 mph on the way to the hair salon, and then turns it back to the dealership, new-car smell still pungent, the day the new models arrive. I, loitering watchfully at the dealership, thank the fancy lady for both her car-picking and test-driving contributions, and buy the car.

    (Signed)
    Satisfied Customer

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