If you are thinking of buying a new car in 1992, don't wait until the end of the model year in September.
This summer is likely to be the best time to start looking. Because if you wait for the traditional clearance sales in the fall, you probably are going to find slim pickings.
Now that auto sales are on the upswing,chances are that automakers will be rolling toward the end of the model year with lower than usual inventories. That means this year there probably will be far fewer leftover 1992 models on Oct. 1, the traditional first day of the new-car season.
"Dealers have ordered [1992 models] very prudently," said Ford spokeswoman Della DiPietro.
As always, the more informed you are, the better chance you'll have to get a great deal on a new car.
This summer the best bargains are likely to be found on vehicles that are going to be discontinued or updated with a fresh look. Dealers will want to stock up on plenty of the new models, and the only way they can do that is by getting rid of the old ones.
Automakers usually close factories in the summer to get them ready to produce the new models in the fall. In the coming weeks dealers will be placing their last orders for 1992 model new cars.
For instance, Ford has a new version of the Probe sports car on the way for 1993. If you like the original Probe, now is the time to start looking. As the summer wears on, your chance of finding the right color and model will diminish as inventories shrink.
Chrysler has just introduced the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but the nation's third-largest automaker isn't killing off the old model.
The old-style Jeep Cherokee will be "repositioned" in the lower end of the market to compete with the lesser priced imports, according to Chrysler. Right now, however, Chrysler is offering $2,250 in rebates and incentives on the old Cherokee.
The Probe and the Cherokee are two examples of how it can pay to be informed on model changes and how you can use that knowledge to your economic advantage.
"I've never seen a more competitive domestic scene. Everybody is trying to get the idea that we've been after for a few years now: The customer is king and queen," said Ford spokesman Tom Boyle.
As always, it pays to keep up with rebates and incentives offered by manufacturers. General Motors is expected to kick off a new -- possibly higher -- round of incentives for the summer.
"We're always monitoring closely our sales incentives, and we will make adjustments according to market demands," said Chevrolet spokesman Ron Shannon.
Although automakers haven't yet revealed all of the changes for 1993, some details are out. Here's a rundown on some of the 1992 vehicles that you are likely to see go cheaply as the model year draws to a close.
Ranger: In September an all-new Ranger compact pickup truck with a rounded, aerodynamic front will replace the current model.
Lincoln Mark VII: Ford's luxury division will bring out a curvaceous, high-tech successor to the Mark VII luxury coupe. It'll be called -- what else -- the Mark VIII, and feature a 32-valve four cam V-8 said to develop nearly 300 horsepower. Look for it in December.
Escort: The 1993 Ford Escort is already on sale. The new model was given a minor face lifting and some other trim upgrades.
Probe: The 1993 Probe is scheduled to hit the streets July 9. It's smaller, more aerodynamic and much more aggressive looking.
The Eagle Premier/Dodge Monaco, a matched set of baggage acquired during Chrysler's 1987 purchase of American Motors, went out of production in January. The Premier is to be replaced late this summer by the Eagle Vision, while Monaco gives way to the Dodge Intrepid, two of a trio of new family sedans.
New Yorker: a flashy new New Yorker, based on a stretched version of the new Chrysler sedans, is scheduled reach dealers in January.
* GENERAL MOTORS
Chevrolet Caprice: Because Chevy has been rocked by a loud chorus of disapproval over the Caprice's styling, the GM division will bring out a redesigned version of the big sedan in the fall, one year earlier than planned.
Chevrolet Camaro/Pontiac Firebird: If you like the current version of the Camaro/Firebird, grab one now because this fall new, faster, smaller models roll into showrooms.
Geo Prizm: A new model closely resembling the Toyota Tercel replaces the current Prizm this fall.
Oldsmobile Toronado/Custom Cruiser: Both of these cars will be discontinued at the end of the model year, but the Toronado will reappear in 1994 as a four-door sedan. Dealers will be anxious to clear out remaining '92 models.
Scoupe: The 1993 model gets a new engine, and a turbocharger will be available.
M30: Both the coupe and convertible have been dropped but dealers still have a few cars in stock.
Stanza: Nissan's compact sedan will be replaced this fall with an all-new four-door called the Altima.
325: A convertible based on the new body style is scheduled for the 1993 model year; 7-series cars will have V-8 engines.
9000CS: A redesigned version is due by the fall.
XJS: Both the coupe and the convertible will be available with six-cylinder engines. The XJ6 sedan gets some detail refinements.