Bark's Bites: All The Things You Ain't

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
by Mark "Bark M." Baruth

I bought a car yesterday ( as seen below). I’ll do the full reveal and write-up for you tomorrow. For now, let’s talk about all the things I considered buying but didn’t, and how it might help you make your own buying decision in the future.

And yes, I bought it. I didn’t lease. We’ll discuss that tomorrow, too.

When people buy cars, typically it’s a journey of exclusion. What do I mean buy that? Simple.

According to our own Tim Cain, there are approximately 300 different models that anybody in the US of A can walk into a dealership and buy today. That’s an overwhelming amount of choice, and that’s just new cars. Imagine how complex and difficult your decision becomes when you throw all the used cars available in the marketplace into the mix.

It’s impossible for anybody to test drive all of them. It’s improbable that anybody will even test all the cars in a particular consideration set. So what do we do? We exclude.

We exclude anything without four doors. Or all-wheel drive. Or a tow rating below 4000 pounds. Or engine output below 200 horsepower. We take a massive selection of cars and we narrow it down to a select few, and then we start the real research process.

Car dealers don’t understand this. They think customers look for reasons to include them in searches. Many of them are under the impression that customers still have some sense of loyalty in the car buying process, but nothing could be further from the truth. As such, dealers fail to differentiate themselves from others in the marketplace, and inventory ends up being the deciding factor instead of the dealer experience. Unfortunately, the exclusion process means many dealers never get a shot at customers they could do an excellent job of ultimately servicing.

However, it’s during this exclusion process that we have the potential to miss some truly magnificent choices. I’ll walk you through my selection process and tell you why I excluded some cars, and why I ultimately started including others. It might help you in your next buying process, too.

Often times when people write to Ask Bark, they haven’t really determined what’s important to them. Before you go shopping, build out your consideration set, including the following:

  • Price
  • Brands you like/want to avoid
  • Body style
  • Street capabilities
  • Track capabilities (if you’re interested)
  • Features/functionality you can’t live without

My price limit was $50,000. I wanted something more powerful than my Fiesta ST. As much as I love the FiST, I missed the feeling of raw power that came with mashing my foot down in the Boss 302. I also wanted a comfortable daily driver with some creature comforts. The Fiesta, although it’s many things, including a capable track rat 3-5 times per year, luxurious it is not. I also wanted a capable autocrosser ( even though it’s not racing) in the event I felt like standing around and picking up cones on a Sunday afternoon.

So what did I consider?

BMW 228i M-Sport: Gosh, I wanted to buy this car. I really did. I’ve never owned a BMW, and I have to admit the reminder of riding around in my Dad’s Bimmers as a kid gave me a certain sense of nostalgia. Also, Jack seemed to think it was the best of the little BMWs — better than the M235i and the M2.

However, when I mentioned I had an appointment to go drive one, Jack reminded me, “You’re paying Coyote ‘Stang money for something that won’t see a Coyote ‘Stang at the track anywhere but pit lane.”

Fudge. He right. You’re excluded, 228i.

Mustang GT: This idea has been stuck in my head ever since I sold the Boss. The new GT is faster than a Boss 302 in nearly every way, and a yellow GT with a black stripe was available right down the street from my home. But let’s admit it — a GT isn’t as special as a 302, even if it’s a little faster. Also, a Mustang’s back seat is becoming less and less practical for my growing kids. Excluded.

Dodge Charger Scat Pack: Everything about this car said yes to me. Everything — except the badge. I just don’t want a Dodge. Also, I think it would be incredibly fun to drive on the street, but painful and laborious at the track, not to mention on an autocross course. Excluded.

Ford Fusion Sport: I liked the idea of this, too, but the track/autocross duty just didn’t seem like it was gonna work out. It would have been the best of the street cars, but the worst of the track cars. Also, I hate to admit it, but to the rest of the world it’s just a Fusion. Since we know how vain I am, the Fusion wasn’t gonna work out. Excluded.

Just like everybody else, I expanded my set the closer I got to the purchase date. What else did I add to the search?

Camaro 1LE: Excluded, for the same reasons as the Mustang.

Mercedes CLA 45 AMG: Probably the fastest car available in my price category, but it’s a freaking CLA. Everybody knows that those are for poseurs.

Audi S3: I think they’re neat, but they’re ultimately just sedan versions of the GTI. I drove the GTI and the Golf R a few weeks back, and neither made it into my consideration set. Excluded.

So what did I buy? Come back tomorrow and find out.

Mark "Bark M." Baruth
Mark "Bark M." Baruth

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4 of 106 comments
  • Lightspeed Lightspeed on Oct 07, 2016

    He got the Lexus LS Ultra Luxury. C'mon dude is gettin' old and he's got a bad knee.

  • Trev Limiter Trev Limiter on Oct 08, 2016

    Enough with Bark's claim that autocross isn't racing! Yes, there are significant differences between it and wheel-to-wheel circuit racing. Autocross is slower, safer and cheaper, but to go so far as to say it's not racing is ridiculous and snobbish. It's like an Ivy League alumnus saying to a state school alumnus, "Oh, no, you did not go to college. That doesn't count."

  • The Oracle Going to see a lot of corporations migrating out of Delaware as the state of incorporation. Musk sets trends, he doesn’t follow them.
  • Foo Eh. Net present value is in the red, once you add in rapidly rising insurance, late by months basic repairs-and-no availability, battery replacement, future hazmat recycling fees, and even faster depreciation. Wait until litigants win for "too heavy" in accidents... The math is brutal but if you value virtue signalling, some will pay anything.
  • Lynchenstein @EBFlex - All ICEs are zero-emission until you start them up. Except my mom's old 95 Accord, that used to emit oil onto the ground quite a lot.
  • Charles The UAW makes me the opposite of patriotic
  • El scotto Wranglers are like good work boots, you can't make them any better. Rugged four wheel drive vehicles which ironically make great urban vehicles. Wagoneers were like handbags desired by affluent women. They've gone out of vogue. I can a Belgian company selling Jeep and Ram Trucks to a Chinese company.