Ah, the rich look of leather car seats. The expensive feel of fine hides.
The pleasing aroma of fine furniture. Nothing makes the new car shopping
experience more emotionally enticing than the smell of new leather.
But once you’ve been anesthetized by the smell of new leather, the car
dealership and their highly trained sales-surgeons will quickly begin to
operate on your bank account. And for those who find themselves under the
numbing effect of the anesthesia but a few dollars short in their bank
accounts provisions have been made. The finance department specialist are
skilled at making debt implants into your personal financial life at
interest rates that are customized for your current credit worthy condition.
It might be interesting to note that the smell of new leather is
commercially produced according to an article written by James R. Healey and
published in USA Today titled, ‘Carmakers resort to eau de leather.’ The
article explains that for years the leather used in expensive cars was
tanned, processed and colored in order to neutralize its natural smell. It
was then injected with industrial aromas. Today a process used by leather
suppliers called ‘re-tanning’ puts fragrant oils back into leather.
‘We have a specific aroma at Ford, which we’ve used about two years. Senior
management came in and smelled swatches. It’s very subjective,’ says Bonnie
Cunningham, Ford Motor design Manager in charge of leather.
Nick Showish, sales and marketing boss at the leather supplier Seton said,
‘We have a whole library of different aromas.’ Seton supplies all Chrysler’s leather, and some to General Motors, Porsche, Nissan, Mercedes-Benz and
According to Healey, ‘Chrysler, like Ford, uses a single fragrance. But
some makers use differing scents to give the impression that higher priced
models have more leather, or richer leather.’
The love affair that Americans have had with their automobiles unofficially
began on October 1, 1908, when Henry Ford used assembly-line production to
put the first of his Model T’s (nicknamed the Tin Lizzie because of its
lightweight sheet metal body) on the road. The 4-cylinder, 20-horsepower
Model T was available in two styles. The runabout sold for $825, the touring
model for $850. The combination of reputation, quality, and low-price helped
the Model T become the first true car for all classes of Americans.
But has this inanimate love affair with the automobile turned into a
financial prison sentence? The sad truth is that the number one consumer
debt item that cripples most American households today is the automobile.
How much car can you really afford? Should you buy a used car, a new car,
new luxury car or sports car? Should you pay cash, finance it with a
minimum down payment or just lease it? These and other questions are often
only briefly addressed as the emotions are stirred to trade-in that once
loved beast in the garage for a newer, prettier, more up to date model.
For the Christian, there is Biblical guidance concerning the issues
surrounding the purchase of automobiles. First, I must inject that there is
absolutely nothing wrong with the purchase of a brand new luxury automobile.
The question that every Christian should ask before the purchase of any item
is, ‘Am I being a good steward (manager) of God’s money by making this
The Biblical principle of surety should be the first concern for the
Christian who is debating whether to purchase an item with debt that
depreciates or is consumed. “Be not thou one of them that strike hands, or
of them that are sureties for debts.” Proverb 22:26.
Surety is a condition
that exists when you have no ‘sure’ way to repay someone for an item that
you have obtained. According to statistics provided by Consumer Reports and
others, a new automobile will depreciate at a rate that is much faster than
most typical auto loans can be repaid. The widening gap in the value of the
financed auto and the amount owed to the lender results in the borrower
being in violation of the principle of surety. This is commonly referred to
as being ‘upside down’ in the loan.
The second concern for the Christian should be the issue of slavery. “The
rich ruleth over the poor, and the borrower is servant (slave) to the
lender.” Proverb 22:7. The willingness of one to voluntarily surrender
their freedom in exchange for the short-lived emotional effects associated
with the purchase of a new or different automobile only goes to show the
powerful effects of ‘The Smell of New Leather’.
Biblical and practical wisdom points us to the road that leads to True
Financial Freedom. Beginning your journey is a choice that only you can
make for yourself. The focus of our ministry is to provide you with the
education and tools that are necessary for the trip. As I once heard
someone say, ‘Success is found in the journey not at the destination.’
Mike Coe is the President and Founder of the non-profit teaching ministry,
Christian Oriented Education, Inc. He specializes in seminars, classes and
speaking engagements dealing with personal finance from a Biblical and
practical perspective. To learn more about his ministry you can link to his
web site coeinc. Mike will be doing a monthly feature on Christians
and their money, so stay tuned for more each month.
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