Today's Automotive Bargain?

Posted on March 1, 1988

After coming off two back-to-back Limousine & Chauffeur Shows we will be going to a single, yearly SUPER SHOW in 1989  where selling and buying limousines is the raison d’être. I am surprised at the price tags on some of the new models When I hear, "Boy, those new limousines are expensive." I wonder what people are comparing them to.

The cost of today's limousine is a veritable bargain when compared to other luxury automobiles. A walk through two recent auto shows allowed me to check the pricetags on the $60,000 and $70,000 Mercedes and BMWs. For $45,000 you can buy a new limousine.

The $45,000 and $55,000 pricetags seem to be most shocking when we get calls from writers doing limousine articles for the consumer press. For some unknown reason, they think limousines sell for $100,000. Although some limousines do...most don't.

When you talk to some of the oldtimers (meaning those who have been in the limousine business for ten years or so) like Matt Baines at Limousine Werks, Lyle Crowder of DaBryan Coach, or J. Meyers of American Custom Coach, one gets an opportunity to put prices in perspective, Ten years ago, a buyer could have paid as much as $45,000 for a 42-inch stretch. People-in- the-know didn't pay that much, but many people did. Buyers typically paid at least $30,000.

Today, you can purchase a longer limousine with more features and better engineering for that same $45,000. How can that be when the price of most other automobiles has doubled in the past ten years? A decade ago, there were a half dozen limousine manufacturers of note. Needless to say, a limited supply of vehicles and excellent profit margins made the manufacturing business lucrative. The phenomenon did not go unnoticed by those selling the vehicles, some of whom set up shop and began manufacturing too.

We now had competition entering the picture which made it difficult for manufacturers to in crease prices. Buyers benefitted not only from level prices, but also from increasing choices in limousine design and construction. "You can have any color as long as it is black..." thinking went out the door. Not only that, standardized parts and production efficiencies reduced manufacturing costs.

As a result, you can now purchase some of the finest limousines ever made at very fair prices...actually bargain prices by some standards. But don't fell anyone these bargains exist. Everyone will want one. The demand will outstrip the supply and prices will go up. It's basic economics.

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