Chasing the 1998 luxury sales title, Cadillac and Lincoln moved a lot of metal late last year.
They also moved the calendar.
The two rivals extended the sales year to Jan. 4, spokesmen for both companies acknowledged last week.
As it turned out, Cadillac won the race, nosing out Lincoln by 222 units.
While the two competitors both added sales days to December, vehicle registration data from Polk Co. implies that Cadillac flogged sales with far more vigor in the final days.
Cadillac sold 23,861 fleet and retail units in December, but 7,547 were not registered until January. The discrepancy suggests that Cadillac sold a pile of cars in the last few days of 1998 and during the New Year's weekend, too.
For contrast, Lincoln sold 16,856 vehicles in December, of which only 160 were unregistered.
So, Cadillac won the 'sales' race for 1998, but Lincoln's vehicle registrations outpaced Cadillac.
Industry observers say automakers often employ Clintonian logic to define 'month.' Toyota, too, confirmed last week that its December sales ended Jan. 4.
Toyota sold 55,050 Camrys in December, of which 13,473 were unregistered. The Camry was locked in a tight sales race with the Honda Accord for honors as the nation's top-selling car.
Given the industry's elastic sales periods, does a race like Lincoln vs. Cadillac have any validity? Executives at Ford appear to be sick of the whole controversy.
'Last year is done,' sighs Lincoln Mercury spokesman Tom Mattia. 'We're off and running in 1999.'
Added Ford Motor Co. President Jac Nasser Thursday, Feb. 18, in Los Angeles: 'Who cares?'