Cash for Clunkers won't be official for a few weeks, but some automakers are already looking to cash in on the once in a lifetime opportunity to take up to $4,500 off the price of a new car or truck. Smart is offering its quirky little Fortwo runabout for just $99 per month with the trade-in of a 'Clunkers' eligible vehicle.

Even though we were not terribly impressed with the car in our recent review, $99 per month with no money down sounds decidedly tasty, and a payment term of only 36 months sound even better, but closer inspection shows that the promotion is way too good to be true. Here is the stupifying fine print on the promotion:
$99 monthly payment based on customer trade-in of an eligible vehicle qualifying for the CARS $4,500 voucher level and a 36-month balloon loan with $0 cash due at signing and a final balloon payment of $6,667 at the end of the loan term and a $ 13,335 MSRP which includes the destination charge and excludes tax, title and dealer fees.
A $6,667 lump sum is one hell of a payment – more than most of us could reasonably fork over at once – and certainly more money than most people who are seriously considering a $99 lease could afford. The total payment, which doesn't include taxes, title, or destination, comes in at $14,731 on a vehicle with a $13,335 MSRP.

[Source: Smart USA via All Cars All The Time]

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