Have you ever shopped for cars and heard this pitch: "Oh, and this one's got a water bed"?
You must have been in the wrong showroom, because at the Howard County Fairgrounds, at yesterday's auction of exotic cars and limousines, you could buy the ultimate vehicle for your driving -- or partying -- pleasure.
This 1991 Lincoln stretch limousine -- make that streeeeetch -- features a wrap-around leather couch, two TV sets, a CD player, a tape player, a karaoke machine, a VCR, four champagne sinks, a couple of dozen champagne glasses, a moon (not sun) roof, a trunk that doubles as a hot tub, and back seats that fold into a water bed.
"It's got just about anything you can imagine," says Tony Toskov, the owner.
And "imagine" is the operative word for us working stiffs, who seem forever to be peering into a limousine's dark windows only to see the reflection of some poor soul staring back.
All American Auctions, out of Elkridge in Howard County, and a couple of Marylanders who own limousine-service companies have organized this sale of 50 vehicles -- antique cars, courtesy buses and vans, but mostly limousines -- mostly very long.
Richard Parron, an organizer who owns Dynasty Limousines in Baltimore, says this is the first limousine auction on the East Coast since 1989.
Most sellers are from Maryland or hereabout, but buyers have come from as far as the Bahamas and Wales.
Nearly everyone is in the business of driving people around for fun and profit. Not a soul seems to be buying a limo for their personal commute into work.
Terry Lentz, 47, owner of ATL Limousines in Owings Mills, buys two to add to his fleet of four. He pays $7,050 for a 1985 Lincoln stretch and $8,150 for a 1988 Lincoln stretch.
Puffing on a cigar, he says he got great deals. And he did. Other limousines, longer ones, sell for as much as $43,000.
Mr. Lentz's new limos are impressive on the street, but rather run of the mill in here. They're stretch, only six-passenger stretch.
But Mr. Lentz is delighted. He loves this business.
"What other business is there where you're always around people who are having fun?" he says.
Only about 20 of the 50 vehicles sell, and the organizers are pleased with the percentage. The 30 others don't attract bids high enough to suit the owners.
Dennis V. Pye drives his 1951 Rolls Royce Silver Wraith back to Glen Burnie, where he operates a foreign-car-repair and Jaguar-restoration business. His Rolls was once owned by the Lord Mayor of London. That's the Lord Mayor's coat of arms on the door.
Mr. Pye wants $42,000 for the car. The highest bid was $27,000.
"That's a car," he says, looking at his own. "These others, you've seen one, you've seen them all."
He refers to the stretch limos, of course. But one stands out even in this highbrow company.
That's Mr. Toskov's. He owns All Stretched Out, an appropriately named limousine service in Severn.
His limo is stretched 194 inches, which is a little longer than 16 feet. The stretch is the part your Honda Accord doesn't have, xTC that luxurious part between the front and the back doors where all the action is.