auto

Bad weather means best buys on new car

Terry JacksonNasty winter weather is rarely a pleasant thing unless you're able to spend the bitter days and frigid nights before a roaring fire. But it's an ill wind that blows no good and in this case a dose of wicked winter weather can mean a good deal on a new car -- especially a sports car or convertible.

Imagine that you're a Chevrolet dealer in the Northeast. Snow is piled high all around your lot. Two sparkling Corvettes grace your showroom floor.

The Corvettes, with sticker prices of $55,000 or more, are not attracting a lot of shoppers. When the mercury stays below freezing, interest in sports cars and convertibles becomes as frigid as liquid nitrogen.

Yet those Vettes are costing the dealer money in "flooring costs'' -- interest the dealer pays to the manufacturer until a car is sold to a consumer -- that adds up the longer the cars sit there.

So what an increasing number of dealers are doing is going to sites like eBay to move such cars to buyers in warmer climates.

A recent check of eBay revealed a dealer in Michigan offering a Corvette convertible with a sticker of $62,670 for $56,281 -- a discount of more than $6,300. A Massachusetts dealer was offering a lightly-optioned Corvette convertible for $49,506, down from its sticker price of $54,320.

Compare that with a check of Corvettes in stock at a South Florida dealership: Most carried stickers with "added dealer profit'' -- that means over and above the sticker price -- that boosted the price of a Corvette convertible to $71,115. The dealer's "online'' price was listed at $65,031.

The conclusion is that it's always good convertible sales weather in Florida and that dealers there can get top dollar.

But if you live there or in any other relatively mild climate zone, it's well worth it to shop for a convertible or sports car at snowed-in dealerships.

Even factoring in the cost of a one-way plane ticket to pick up the car and drive it home -- or paying a transport company to truck the car to you -- the potential savings can be thousands of dollars.

Here are this week's reader questions:
  • Driving for Dollars: Bad weather means best buys on new car
  • When should I start to ignore the dings?
  • Why not back out of a deal? I did it.
  • How much will my new car be worth in three years?

 

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