I’m at a crossroads. I’m looking for a cheap – laughably cheap – like less-than-$3,000 cheap – car for my next daily driver. It’s got to be economical (near 30 mpg hwy) and fun to drive, with decent aftermarket support (so I can throw a couple mods at it – I’m a gearhead). Oh, and since I’m 6’1″ and have a 1-year old daughter, it needs a back seat.We can skip the DSM/Mitsubishi reliability warning.
Tag: Hammer Time
It would take an immense amount of effort to prove that VW was not telling the truth in their latest Super Bowl commercial.
First you would have to pool registration data from dozens of different countries within the US, EU, Japan, China, Southeast Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.
That’s one tall order. To even make that remotely possible, you would have to get the data from the various states within those countries. Quite a few of them would likely have a hard time even coming up with data that is easily downloadable.
As for verification of mileage? Good luck with that! Even in the U.S. of A., not all states require emission and registration checks that verify the mileage.
So let’s remove probability altogether from VW’s Superbowl proclamation, and deal with the cold hard facts related to the wholesale side of this business.
By the time you read this, I will have bought the last $100 car sold at a public auction… that actually runs!
This 1994 Ford Explorer XL has just under 94,000 miles and has been sitting at a local water department for a couple of years now. The exterior is nothing special, but the interior is surprisingly intact and well kept.
Which begs the question, what the hell should I do with this thing?
There are some things that I am too damn old and open-minded to understand.
Like hating a car brand. Especially in those common cases where folks haven’t been exposed to any level of vehicle derived hardships.
Toyotas are boring. BMW’s are Yuppie-mobiles. Mercedes-Benzes are for snobs. On an on, through the lexicon of cliche and generalizations comes the silliest of stereotypes. As much as I hate to see it, hear it, and read it, I’m resigned to the fact that there is always going to be some version of this nuttiness in our world.
But what if there was an easier means to defeat it? In fact, as many of you know, there already is. A force of human good that can outdo any scam artist or snake oil salesman.
The enthusiast forum.
Life is sometimes about extremes, and with the extreme life of buying and selling cars comes two cars, recently purchased by me, which easily represent the polar opposites of all things automotive.
98 dealers are busy looking at 89 vehicles. Check engine lights are being scanned. The hoods are opened, engines are revved, and Bluetooth is the technology of the moment. Wholesalers, along with professional car buyers like me, are busy making arrangements with those dealers and individuals who want to buy an auction vehicle on the cheap.
There’s only one problem with all this. We’re on the eve of tax season. A time where everyone short on dough files a tax return on the expectation of a nice four-figured refund in early February. Millions of those refunds will eventually be used towards one of three purposes: paying down debt, purchasing electronics, or putting a down payment towards a nice used car that will likely be financed to the hilt.
The prices at this specific auction are always high. But today, they were in outer space.
“You can have any car you want. So long as it’s a Toyota or Honda.”
My parents had offered to split the costs of a new car with me back in 1994. That matching policy eventually included an awful lot of disclaimers and exclusions.
“No V8! No V6! No turbo! No stick! No convertible! No small car! No! Nein! Nyet!”
I eventually settled on a red Toyota Camry Coupe that served me well for 12 years and nearly 240k miles. It’s still on the road, which is funny because my brother, who had an equal bent on the Toyonda reliability supremacy, did something unusual recently.
He bought an Audi. Then he did something even stranger than that… he bought another.
In the world of auto journalism, there are a laundry list of used car buyer’s guides that end up molderizing on shelves and stagnating on servers.
These self anointed guides will offer the typical consumer nothing of value except puffed up prose designed solely, and soullessly, to make you feel better about your own car buying biases.
Let me take that back. Did I say nothing of value? My mistake. I meant negative value. As in you’re probably going to get royally screwed if you ever take their advice. Here’s why…
I live in a small, genteel, Southern colonial home that comes with all the local goodies.
An over-sized ceiling fan in every room. A little front porch that offers a palatial view of the rolling prairies of Deliverance country.
Throw in a mint julep, homemade lemonade, and the belting baritone of Paul Robeson, and the world becomes my oyster.
Except not right now. It’s too damn cold outside. Which got me to thinking…
“You know, I always wanted a…”
Those words are about as common as kudzu at my Georgia car lot.
They aren’t usually reserved for the late model vehicles though. When it comes to the primary drivers, customers are always willing to fork out the money for their dream car.
It’s the second older dream car, or third-string beater dream car that slides down the scale from want to nothingness.
You know what the most popular ‘almost’ car is these days?
The three year lease.
It entrances and traps the most spellbound car aficionados into a monthly payment that keeps them at the altar of the car payment.
Is that a bad thing? Well, depends on the way you want to look at it. What can’t be argued is that both sides get what they want, and after three years, that customer can choose to stay with the manufacturer or go somewhere else. To me at least, that seems like a fair bargain.
But what if the automaker could offer a better deal? For both parties?
Imagine you’re going on a 27 mile hike over the course of three days.
It’s a long journey ahead. Hills nearly as big as mountains. Wet and slippery ground everywhere.
And the sun? It can beat you down to the point where you feel as ragged as a wore out mop. There will be no hiding from the obstacles ahead. None.
Now imagine if your partner for this journey came up to you, and the first words he blurted out were, “Those are some nice boots you have! But I got a killer deal on mine.”"
Would you think they were, well, a schmuck? To put it lightly?
Now consider this…
Video contains offensive language — JB
“Sweetie, please don’t tell them I’m a car dealer.”
“They already know Steve. Oh, before I forget, Jeff will be asking you where to find a cheap transmission for his Dodge Caliber.”
“Hmmm… you know what? I think maybe I should change my name to Siri. I could have the guys pull my finger and the women…”
“No you won’t! And don’t go on about fixing Johnson Valves and torquing your nuts. And please, don’t brag about your John Holmes drill either.”
At what point are you willing to accept a low-ball offer for your old beater?
Is it when the tranny blows out? Or does it eventually come through the scourge of rust, and the constant breaking of electric doo-dads that no longer work all through your doo-dah-day?
Some folks simply get bored of their ride. While others just try to drive their cars until their bodies become the rolling representation of swiss cheese.
Everyone has a reason to curb a car. Thanks to the efforts of Nick Lariviere (<— Click the link!), and the cooperation of an automotive conglomerate with more money than some state governments, I now have 257,020 purely anecdotal examples of this type of personal decision making.
I now need to figure out one simple thing.
What does all this data tell me?
I admit it. Every once in a while I buy a vehicle that simply doesn’t work out.
Everything checks out at the auction. But then, I get a birthday surprise.
It could be a transmission that randomly goes out of overdrive after about 20 or 30 miles. Or an engine that has far too many aged wires for me to easily track down a stubborn check engine light.
Sometimes I buy a 4000-pound ATM machine that only allows you to put money into it; a rolling lemon, par excellence. Then I have to figure out how to make it into lemonade, lemon meringue pie, lemon tart, and even repair fodder for the other rides on the road that are still lemon-free.
Lemons are never fun… but every once in a while fate has a wonderful way of smiling on a pitiful set of circumstances.