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Renting Hot Wheels

February 26, 1987

You're young, you're classy, you're upwardly mobile. You want to look good, to impress your boss, you want comfort. You want to rent a car. You rent a 1987 Lincoln Town Car.

"Our customers think of it as a boat." says a clerk at Budget Rent-A-Car in Universal City. "They port it."

The Lincoln Town is a pain to own but a pleasure to rent. "It's like a Cadillac, but larger," says the clerk. "Nobody wants to own a car that's that hard to park, but they love to rent it."

OK, it's hard to park, it's huge, it's not even computerized. Its dashboard clock has hands. So why does everybody want to rent this car? Well, for one thing, for a huge car it gets an average of 20 miles per gallon. Also, says manager Bobby Franklin of Budget: "It's comfortable. It handles well. A lot of people from the studios rent them for the day. They can impress their clients, fit six of them in the back seat. They use it for drama."

Speaking of drama, this no-frills car is popular with the celebrity set, too.

"Steve Garvey comes in here once a month, rents a Lincoln, drives it down to San Diego," Franklin says. "Billy Dee Williams owns a Jag, but he came in just the other day, rented a Lincoln Town. He took his family and his mother-in-law to Vegas. Wanted to drive, didn't want to fly. Ed Asner rents a Lincoln Town every time his Olds is in the shop. Handles well on the road for long drives."

Big wedding parties also clamor for the big car. "It makes sense," says Franklin. "Why spend 500 bucks on a limo when you can rent a nice, white Lincoln Town for $45 a day?"

But some people have mixed feelings about this huge car that's all the rage to rent--one of them is a North Hollywood bellhop.

"It's real nice to drive them, it's like you're sitting in your couch in your living room," he concedes. "But, man, I hate parking them and I'm always the one who has to park them."

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