2011.09.21 Used cars out there, odd résumés and all

Written by David Green.


I’m sure you’ve seen the news reports about the rising prices of used vehicles. For several reasons, the supply of good used cars isn’t as big as it used to be, while growing demand for certain types of vehicles has forced prices to higher levels.

In some cases, you might as well buy a new vehicle if you can afford it as the price for a new one often isn’t much more than a pre-owned model. The down side is you’ll miss out on the odd seller claims and backstories that come with some vehicles. If anything, the advertisements I’ve seen lately seem to be getting even stranger.

For instance, people hardly use the cliché about the car being owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church anymore. Instead, I have an ad for a 1979 Lincoln Continental that the previous owner “used for shopping and her Thursday bridge game.”

Or this 1968 Buick convertible: “Mom’s car, she drove to store/golf course until her death in 1993.” I’m not sure if this 1965 Jeep Wagoneer was owned by a man or woman, but I love the explanation for it only showing 65,000 miles: “Used only 5-6 times a year to tow jet skis and Sea-Doos.” Whether it was Grandpa’s or Grandma’s old Jeep, at least they had fun with it.

There is such a thing as making an ad too boring, such as this one for a 1965 Volkswagen Beetle, which was “owned by one family for several years.” That’s it? That’s the best thing you can say about it? And you still want $7,450?

Even worse, though, is making a statement too strange to be true. Like, say, the ad for a 1969 Chevy pickup which claims “Hop in and it will bring you back to Woodstock.” Really? I don’t think a 1969 Chevy pickup would remind me of Woodstock even if there was a Country Joe and the Fish 8-track playing in the stereo.

The supply of vehicles with “celebrity” backgrounds seems to be growing. Is anyone interested is a 1981 Zimmer “owned and driven by Liberace and on display in the Imperial Palace for years”? It even includes “Liberace signatures and memorabilia.” Only $42,900 and it’s yours.

Or if that’s too pricey, but you still want a vehicle with Las Vegas glamour, how about a “1981 Lincoln Limo, previously owned by Wayne Newton”? Only 37,000 miles, immaculate condition, and, compared to Liberace’s car, a reasonable $9,500. Start writing that check.

Not exotic enough for you? Any interest in a 1947 Rolls Royce that is said to have belonged to Yugoslavian King Peter II while he lived in exile in London? Supposedly beautiful, definitely $24,500.

Are you a movie fan? There’s even a good selection of vehicles with Hollywood connections. For instance, a 1975 Cadillac Eldorado that “has been in two movies and a Shredded Wheat commercial” is available for $29,000. Apparently, the movies weren’t good enough to mention by name. Someone else has a 1954 Chevy Bel Air used in “The Brinks Job,” with no price listed. A 1936 Auburn replica driven by Madonna in “Dick Tracy” is available for $79,995.

Want a really odd movie collectable? Someone is selling a 1941 GMC 2 and 1/2 ton 6x6 truck used in “Band of Brothers” for $25,000. It’s big enough for the whole family, as long as they don’t mind riding in the back of an open truck.

On a tight budget? A 1970 Chevy Nova that “was featured in one of Oprah’s movies which aired in 2001” is a mere $5,577. Heck, Oprah probably makes that much in an average hour.

The last one in this group is my favorite. Someone is selling a 1970 Dodge Challenger whose credits include being driven in “The Bucket List” by Jack Nicholson and the television series “NCIS” by Mark Harmon. I never saw the movie, but I see an identical car in the NCIS opening credits every week. What’s more, it’s just $26,500, a good price for a Challenger with no history at all. Out of all these celebrity and movie vehicles, it most deserves consideration.

But the most creative ad I’ve seen lately isn’t any of the aforementioned. It’s for a 1975 Pontiac Trans Am and says, “watch that shaker hood twist from all the torque when you punch the gas and you’ll know this is a fire-breathing piece of American history.” I have to say that whoever came up with that line is wasting their talent just doing car ads. Someone having that much imagination should be writing for the movies. Has there ever been a movie about car ads?

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