Mercedes dealers are offering 1.9% to 2.9% APR for up to 66 months on the S550 AWD, a spa of a sedan with a climate-control system that adjusts itself according to the position of the sun, leather seats with air bladders that fill and deflate to cradle your body if you happen to be a squirmy driver and all-wheel-drive "so robust you will laugh at snowplows as you cruise by," St. Aubin says, adding that current market conditions mean "you can walk out the door on a decent S class these days for under 90K!"
Meanwhile, the U.S. Department of Transportation has launched its Car Allowance Rebate System (CARS). Better known as "Cash for Clunkers," the trade-in incentive program gives you money to swap your father's Oldsmobile for a sweet, new ride. If the new car offers a fuel economy rate that's at least four, but less than 10, miles per gallon higher than the vehicle you're trading in, the feds will give you $3,500. If the new car is at least 10 mpg more efficient, you get $4,500. To qualify, your clunker must be younger than 25 years old and have fuel economy of 18 mpg or worse. In other words, the bigger the gas guzzler, the bigger the reward.
Sadly, the new car must have a sticker price of $45,000 or lower to qualify for CARS, so Cash for Clunkers doesn't apply to the Corvette Z06 and its $73,925 MSRP. (The Z06 has a highway mpg rate of 24 mpg, in spite of sporting a V8 engine and looking about as eco-friendly as Knight Rider.) "It's the muscle car of the new century," says John Spooner, a Corvette aficionado and technology analyst in Portsmouth, N.H.
But Chevy is offering up to a $1,500 cash refund for the Z06. And 2008 Vettes now qualify for zero-percent financing, at least through the end of the month. What does qualify is the Ford (Stock Quote: F) Mustang GT Bullitt.
Take heed, though: While the economic downturn might mean it's the best time to buy a car, it may be the worst time for anyone to crash into you. A January study by the Insurance Research Council found that for every 1% increase in the national unemployment rate, there's a 0.75% increase in the number of uninsured motorists. The group estimates that by 2010, 16% of motorists will be driving without insurance. If you want to leave your garage without worrying about that, you might be better off sticking with your Hyundai (Stock Quote: HYMTF).
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