Hammer Time: Older And Bolder

It was mine. A 1992 Lexus SC400 with only 78,000 miles had gone through a small dealer auction back in early 2009. Paint a little blotchy. Driver’s seat front had a small rip. But I really didn’t care. I knew it would be the last of it’s breed I would see in a while. After being halved to death ($50 bid increments), I bought if for $3450 plus the $120 fee. Threw in $300 of paint, $100 of upholstery, and financed it to an enthusiast for $8500. $3200 later the economy caught up with my customer and he voluntarily brought it back. $270 for a windshield and alternator and 11,000 more miles left me with a quandry. Do I keep it or finance again?

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Hammer Time: Cheap, Cheap and Cheap

Why that car? My cousin was slightly amused at the sight of my 2004 Ford Taurus SES. A rental car seemingly loaded with penny-pinching mediocrity and cut corners. An unusual choice for the holidays. It had made the long journey from Northwest Georgia to Jewish Florida in a day’s time. The leather was cheap, but functional. The buttons were cheap, but functional. The price bought it for was very cheap…

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Hammer Time: Behind The Gavel

Six hours to showtime. We have 58 vehicles and 1 motorcycle for today’s sale. It will be a very interesting day between the first dealer conversation and the last car that rolls (or gets pushed) through the lane. We’re going to be managing an on site sale for a large financial institution that is most definitely not in the car business. Their business is the money business. They will demand 59 checks in hand within 24 hours, and these vehicles must help keep their books healthy for the end of year bonuses.

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Hammer Time: The Seven Deadly Sins

There are some cars that no one will appreciate… but the owners. A bad brand name. Fatal and expensive defects from times past. Even a body style made of a designer’s frump can turn a brilliant vehicle into a showroom relic. This week I majored in buying unloved cars. Seven cars. Seven sins. More than likely seventy-seven plus days on the pavement.

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Hammer Time: Black Friday

I’m not the ‘new’ guy at TTAC. When someone starts talking to me about their 2010 C-Class or A8, my instinct is to find some darts, get a beer, and ignore the conversation. Most new cars really take the fun out of driving, and they cost way too much compared with almost everything else on the road. But there is one time during the year where ‘new’ makes me smile. That would be Black Friday. Here’s what I got.

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Hammer Time: There's No Place Like Chrome

They say beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Fat Chance! Beauty is sitting in a barclounger leather recliner and watching the world go past at 85 miles an hour. Of course in this 1985 Lincoln Town Car with 45k, the speedometer also happens to give out it’s all too shaky geriatric needle at 85 mph. So anything beyond that I consider ‘warp speed’ as I drive through North Georgia listening to some old time crooners from the Garden State. Speaking of that, did I mention this thing was bought new in two Jerseys? That would be Jersey City, New Jersey. As in Frank Sinatra’s hometown… the king of swing and the purveyor of all things cool. Well, that would actually be Hoboken. But close enough. Driving a Mafia and Spock sized coffin like this Lincoln is definitely a leap to my childhood in North Jersey. A friend of mine’s Dad actually became the head of the Gambino family for a short time. He’s thankfully only been in Federal prison twice so far. Then there was the house that burned down on a lot and remained a charred remnant for twenty years. A healthy reminder of who was in charge of our local government’s services.

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Hammer Time: Bye-Bye Miss Minivan Pie

It’s heartbreaking. To see a major company that literally carried a healthy portion of America’s heartland go up in Euro-flames. I remember the beauty of it. The 1990’s minivans that completely obliterated their competition. LH sedans that were state of the art for their time. Cloud cars that had more power and road feel than their American brethren. Neons that were so good that even Toyota was jealous. Believe it or not, I still think the talent base of Chrysler is there. But to get it out…

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Hammer Time: Finding A Good Home for a 1988 Saab 900 Turbo

The old Saab was virtually perfect. 1988 900 model. Turbo. Convertible. It was as if the vehicle had been taken through a 21 year time warp right to my lot. The prior owner had become tired of frequent $85/hr fixes and now needed a four door instead of two (in Orwellian speak). He traded it straight up for a 1990 Volvo 240 that had also been cared for so that part of my work was done. But what next? This beautiful red Saab had only 150k original miles and had plenty of life left thanks to a healthy maintenance regimen and the use of OEM parts. The owner was downright wonderful and it was now my responsibility to make sure this level of care carried forward to the new owner… and hopefully beyond.

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Hammer Time: Bumming A Ride

I always tell folks that when I retire from my work as an auto auctioneer, I’ll be walking. They think I’m joking. Fat chance. I currently waste anywhere from ten to fifteen hours a week on the open road. Now given I’m not stuck in an office building or bathed underneath florescent lights. But all that road time is still about ten to fifteen percent of my waking hours inside a car. All that time. I’m on the radio, the phone. Just sitting. Driving. Passing the time. I could opt for far shorter commutes. But I have three nagging issues.

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Hammer Time: The Misguided Dream?

I keep on having this one strange dream. I open my front door. The driveway is completely gone. The street is gone. In fact, there isn’t a single piece of asphalt anywhere. What was once the road is now just grass with a few basketball and tennis courts on the far side. There’s a softball field hidden in seclusion along with a volleyball court, a small library, and an arts and crafts center. While wandering even further, past several other asphalt-free houses, I finally come onto a single road. I see about a half dozen vehicles nearby available for everyone. All of them old, but in good running order. Is this a good thing?

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Hammer Time: Dead Brand Pool 2010
Hammer Time: Chrysler's Retro Halo

It’s heartbreaking. To see a major company that literally carried a healthy portion of America’s heartland go up in Euro-flames. I remember the beauty of it. The 1990’s minivans that completely obliterated their competition. LH sedans that were state of the art for their time. Cloud cars that had more power and road feel than their American brethren. Neons that were so good that even Toyota was jealous. Believe it or not, I still think the talent base of Chrysler is there. But to get it out…

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Hammer Time: An Enduring Dilemma

I used a 15-year-old Ranger to pick up some AMG wheels this evening. The ride was . . . pleasant. Light jazz on the radio. Engine and stick shift in good working order. Intermittent wipers and ABS for the rain. Alloy wheels for show. Did I mention this thing is 15 years old? Anyhow, my mind wandered into the world of ‘what if’s’. What if someone decides to buy this truck and keep it for another 7 to 10 years? It has only 150k and the prior owner took good mechanical care of it. Paint’s cheap. Parts are even cheaper. So…

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Hammer Time: Barnacle Bitch

I hate my *^%%! Mercedes. A year-and-a-half ago , I bought a 2002 S500 for $12,600 at a public auction. $300 of a/c work and a detail later, it looked like a million dollars. But it drove like a big fat Camry with a big fat engine. My mechanic swooned at all the gizmoids. I groaned and drove everything but that car. Everyone likes it. No one can afford it. I’m getting tired of looking at it. So . . .

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Hammer Time: Fetid Distraction

What’s the first thing you notice when you step inside a car? Some folks look at the seats. Others will set their eyes on the carpet or the far side of the dashboard. For me… it’s smell. I swear at times I can actually tell what auction a car came from given the smell on the inside. Brands also give forth their own odorous emanations. Fur starters . . .

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Hammer Time: What?

Ever have someone test drive your car and then seriously piss you off? Lowballers. Nickelshitters. Liars and scum aplenty who think they have the right to NASCAR your car? Phony little fruitcakes who drive to your place in a complete POS-mobile and then whine about a loose cupholder? Unfortunately, I’ve seen it all in the retail world and as an auto auctioneer… and I’ve created a few healthy coping mechanisms.

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Hammer Time: Suburban Expeditions

Why do so many folks hate SUVs? Is it angst driven? Environmental? Ideological? Or maybe a fear of domestication? I honestly don’t know and rarely did I give two flips about it until late August 2005. Once Katrina hit, the car market in the United States forever changed and so did yours truly’s viewpoint on the All-American SUV.

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Hammer Time: Protectionism Uber Alles?

I love stability. Give me a world where folks can put forth a solid effort in their work and not worry about their future, and I’ll gladly join it with membership in hand. But then with too much stability also comes mediocrity. In times of yore, a lot of folks could simply get by with offering products and services that were less than world class. To put it kindly, they sold crap. But they also benefited from a playing field where the strongest and fiercest were kept far from the action and their kids inevitably got the education needed to make the laggard company successful. Auto Companies in South Korea, Japan and now China have benefited from protectionist policies that offered different degrees of medium-term stability and long-term learning for their once weak automakers. Should we follow suit?

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Hammer Time: Maine Cars

Retirement. We all dream of that day when we can take our cell phones and chuck them in the ocean… forever. Some folks dream of painting Tahitian nudes after that beautiful moment. Others simply want to live in a planned community with everything but kids and ‘stuff’. As for me? I just want solitude. A good axe for chopping wood. A nearby library. A garden… and the seasons. Oh, and a car.

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Hammer Time: ACD

I saw the strangest thing yesterday. Driving down a country highway there appeared to be a tattered old Toyota pickup and a 1990’s Chrysler LHS spread amongst five foot tall weeds. Further peering in resulted in an Escort Wagon, 3 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertibles and 2 Sebrings. I wondered… had Monsanto finally invented some special car seed to plague the Americas? Not yet. Thankfully. Instead it was a dealer friend who was literally hiding his compulsions amongst the kudzu. His case may be extreme since he apparently has nearly 30 vehicles strewn throughout his prairie land. But he’s not alone.

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Hammer Time: Retail Hell

I’m sitting inside one of the largest auto retailers in the world. Khakis. Shorts. Blue shirts are wandering. Aimlessly. Finally a family of ‘fish’ enter this pond of corporate hookery. They look at the displays. And then a nice middle-aged female lady comes to make her greeting. And the fun begins…

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Hammer Time: Hybrid Vs. Beater

Most folks believe that hybrids are frugal. If only it were so. Hybrids carry a price premium worth their weight in cadmium. Despite over a million sold, it’s damn hard to find a good deal on one. In five years of searching I’ve only found three solitary steals. Conventional gassers though can be as cheap to buy as a wore out mop. Name your brand (within reason). Name your size. If you’re patient enough, you can almost name your price. Gas beaters are truly cheap to buy. But to own . . .

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Hammer Time: I'm Gonna Git You Clunka

The nearby junkyard has over 450 Clunkers, with a couple hundred more to go. Explorers, Suburbans, Town Cars, Durangos, Rodeos, and Expeditions are literally growing like kudzu. You want parts? Forget the dealership. In fact, you can even forget the parts store and mail order companies at this point. The gravy train of cheap has come to feed the hogs of yesteryear. For John Q Gearhead, this may mean that the economics of beaterdom have changed forever. Namely . . .

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Hammer Time: You Bought a What?
Hammer Time: Honor, Duty, Love

No car is perfect. Regardless of the myth of brands, a Toyota can get engine sludge. A Honda transmission can go south for eternity. Even the vault that is an old Mercedes will need to be lined with the insulation of greenbacks from time to tomb. There are definitely tendencies when it comes to cars. But no absolutes. Nada. Like the game of baseball, the winners are threshed out through experience. What makes the real difference in all that time?

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Hammer Time: The Toyonda Premium

Go to any auto auction. Chances are you’ll see 2001 Accords and Camrys go for higher prices than 2003 Tauruses and Grand Prixs. Is that premium justified? Well, I’ll put it to you this way.

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Hammer Time: Free Falling

Guess what happens to the car market between Labor Day and Thanksgiving? Nothing. Nobody buys cars unless they absolutely need to during this time. You have no shopping holidays. No ‘tax season’ with refunds aplenty. Not even a hint of any government windfall or pork barrel rolling down Capitol Hill. This is the time of year where 2009s and even 2008s will slowly make their march to the ‘deep’ discount aisle. Should you buy?

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Hammer Time (Eagles Edition): My Maserati Does Thirty-Four Five
Hammer Time: Castrating the Cooters

I’m neither Republican nor Democrat. To paraphrase the late Frank Zappa, I realize that stupidity is indeed the building block of the political universe. Thanks to a long line of political careerists at all levels of our fair land, we now have speed limits laws that encourage a lack of respect for the law and a strong hatred for governments. We also have thousands of police officers who aren’t pursuing bad guys anymore. They’re busy being meter maids for the state. The same is true for code enforcement officials, toll booth collectors, and the ever lovable camera brigade. What’s the solution to all these unproductive resources that are used to subsidize our government’s (cross out safety) activities?

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Hammer Time: Road Warriors

600 to 1500 miles a week. Some of you may consider this travel excessive, or, perhaps, bordering on the psychotic. In the auto remarketing business it’s a way of life. Wholesalers, auctioneers, ringmen, and managers of varying stripes all have to spend their time on the road. Auctions are often separated by several hours and states. Not to mention that the folks in the Great White North often have to travel to different provinces, upwards of 2000 miles a week, to get where they’re going. That’s a lot of time with a seat, a dashboard and a radio. You may think that a Camcord or some type of hyper-efficient vehicle would be the car of choice for so much travel . . . but you would be dead wrong.

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Hammer Time: Avalon

Now that cash for clunkers has gone the way of GWB, used car values are plummeting in earnest. Last Monday, I visited three auctions in the metro-Atlanta area. Sale number one was without their two heavy hitters and prices were down a solid 10% across the board. 2008 Land Rover Discovery HSE with TV’s and 30k miles? $32,000. A few weeks ago it would have been closer to 36k. Sale two had fewer buyers than any time since November 2008. An immaculate 1991 Chevy Suburban with 142k went for only $700. A 1998 Trooper? $500. A 1997 Avalon with only 43k original miles and dealer maintained? That was the surprise. $5700. Tthat one was a dogfight, though, and it was one of the very few.

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Hammer Time: Fix or Sell?

Youthful turns to Faithful, which eventually turns to Old Faithful, with the oil leaks to show. You’ve loved Old Faithful. But all around there are hotties and hussies that tempt you. Some are fun. Others are Chryslers. But the moment has come. It’s time to either fix or sell. What to do?

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Hammer Time: 15,000 Miles in a Civic Hybrid

My wife has probably driven every single minivan and wagon model of the last six years. It all started with the second kid. Before that time, we always kept our rides as sporty and nimble as possible. We love driving. But when the wife was eight months pregnant with kid two, the thought of some ignorant Billy-Joe-Jim-Bob plowing into the progeny became too much to bear and so . . . we upsized. We found cupholders and comfort in the minivans. Flashbacks of sportiness in the Subarus. Luxury and strength in our Volvos. Finally my wife got fed up with playing musical cars and wanted a ‘keeper’. The requirements? The color silver, safe, economical, and . . . a hybrid? Enter the Civic.

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Hammer Time: Dogfight!

No, we’re not talking about becoming the official web site for Michael Vick. This one involves two stronger dealers in a financial wrestling match. Yesterday afternoon there was a rarely used camper conversion van at the Carmax sale. The model year was 1993. It was a Chevy Van (of 1970s singing fame) with a mini fridge, plastic toilet, furnace and all the hookups you would need to go camping. A very nice package with only 43,000 original miles. The prior owner had been in the military and kept it all in tip-top shape. But then THEY arrived . . .

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Hammer Time: Let My Sheeple Go!

Well, I knew it was only a matter of time. Down in the furthest recesses of a new car dealer’s lot, I saw a line of vehicles with windshields covered in chalk. They all said the same thing: “C.A.R.S. Impound from K.O. Towing Company bought July.” There was a Ford Explorer, an Isuzu Rodeo, a purply swirly conversion van, and about 30 other bastard orphans. They were forsaken by their prior owners. Some voluntarily. Others perhaps on the influence of drug-laden stupidity. Then the real surprise came out . . .

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Hammer Time: Two Uglies and a Brute

Her aquatic face. Her distorted contortions . . . a Kermit Green 1998 Ford Taurus Wagon was coming through the auction lane. She had been loved by at least three other mommies and no doubt had an affair with at least a half dozen mechanics. She was big. She was beautiful. And for $600 she was mine. Then I put down the beer . . . “What the hell am I doing!” When the Carmax auction was all said and done, I had bought three cars that were the equivalent of automotive leprosy. The Taurus wagon was one of them of course. But the clean interior and Duratec engine took the sting out of that lapse of reason. She also drove well on the forty mile journey through Atlanta rush-hour traffic. This fat lady could apparently sing. But the other two?

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Hammer Time: Cash for Flunkees

I admit it. Freebies are awesome. Whether it’s a free portion of dim-sum in exchange for car advice, or a mowed lawn in exchange for storing industrial machinery at my auction holding yard. I relish the word free. To paraphrase Gordon Gecko, “Free is good!” and I’ll gladly Sawyer my way through the daily grind in pursuit of it. But there’s always a catch.

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Hammer Time: Old Volvos Never Die. Except When They Do.

The bastards! I could deal with destroying the Cherokees, the Lincolns, even a Dynasty with a trombone case red interior. But a brick? These sick twisted bastards are going to take that one holy grail of tightwad functionality and turn it into a steaming pile of drek. Apparently the old Nordic God of automotive longevity is now on Washington’s ‘whacked’ list which means that defensive measures need to be taken. Stat!

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Hammer Time: Other Than That, How's the Car?

Sajeev is lookin’ for a steenkin’ Lincoln. Well his dad is at least. They want a late model Town Car in black that hopefully, preferably, has less than 50k miles on it and a very certain trim level. It’s not an easy request for me to fulfill. Despite the fleet focus for this model, Ford has well over a dozen different trim combinations for TC’s (e.g., Signature, Limited, Cartier). Visits to the auction for this type of inventory are surprisingly rare. A few keystrokes. A secret password. And I get to see everything within a 100 mile radius. I find . . .

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Hammer Time: The Cheapest Car

A 1994 Impreza for $25? Bought one back in 2003 with an auto tranny and all the paint stripped off. It needed a new battery and . . . that was it. I sold it on eBay for $1576 to a fellow who flew in from California and drove it all the way back to IOU-land. He was a rally coordinator for Subaru and although the car was going to be modified, it ended up slogging through So Cal traffic instead for another 50,000 miles. I’ve always wondered whether it would have been more profitable to keep it? Perhaps.

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Hammer Time: Shopping

The good old days of 2007. A time when I could visit a parts store and walk away with hundreds of dollars in free stuff. I remember O’Reillys giving me 24 quarts of synthetic oil for about $8.00 in taxes. Advance Auto Parts seemed to have access to every cheap Chinese tool set ever made with mail-in coupon in tow. As for Autozone? They gave me 12 free batteries when I established a commercial account there. I used them all that winter and made money on the cores. Ahh, those were good times! They’re no more. But you can still pick up a good deal here and there.

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Hammer Time: Kibbutznik

I must have been a kibbutznik in a past life. Whenever I buy something of value, I never have the urge to keep it. Perhaps it’s due to too many bouts of suburbia. A neighborhood with twenty lawnmowers, twenty The Lion King videos, and fifty to seventy vehicles seems to be a bit too much. Yeah. I know that most folks aren’t willing to share their ride. Some won’t even loan you Simba. But if I lived in a place where we all put a smaller chunk of our change to a ride, I wouldn’t go cheap . . . except for possibly an old Volvo wagon. These would be my top picks:

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Hammer Time: New Cars Suck

Someone parks two cars near you. The first? A sports car. It could be a Porsche 911 C4 Cab, a Ferrari F430, or a Z06 ‘Vette. Something special. Expensive. Exotic. The other car is an oldie. Let’s say a 1976 Toyota Celica or a 1984 Volvo 240 wagon. Which one would interest you?

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Hammer Time: Expectations

I started the bidding at $275. The faces in front of me went instantly from melancholy to downright sullen and FU’ish. Low end dealers, auto recyclers, crushers par excellence, this was an impound lot sale. A final howling call for the dead, the dying, and the DUI’s. In the past few months I had started the bidding at $100. But the tow company’s finances had taken a cliff deep dive (they lost the county contract). With one of his regular wreckers already being used for spare parts. The owner was clearly on the ropes. You know what? The strategy worked . . . and . . .

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Hammer Time: Land of the Nuts

How many of you would pay $400 a month for a Ford Ranger? How about $600 and change? Not you? I didn’t think so. But you would be surprised how many actually do. As a remarketing rep for Capital One, it was my job to deal with the failures—over 10,000 per year. Good people. Bad people. Mediocre people. It didn’t really matter in the end because none of them could make the sub-prime car payments. It’s a vicious cycle at the auctions. Retail cars are sold to wholesale buyers. These cars are then sold with cheap credit and inflated prices to an ever clueless public. Here’s today’s question: “What’s the alternative?”

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Hammer Time: Big Hair Cars and Beemers

A few of my friends had their tongues hanging out. The year: 1984. The car: a brand new Toyota Celica Supra. It had the words ‘SUPRA’ in big bubble letters on the rear. Just in case you missed it. Pop-up headlights. Seats that actually had bolsters on them. A sunroof, and the very best AM/FM Cassette money could buy. My brother, that lucky and overachieving bastard, got it brand new as a thank you for the 4.0’s that would eventually land him in the world of radiology. After experiencing my very first “Holy Shit!” moment as a passenger (my folks were lifelong right lane drivers), and watching a five-speed shift for the first time, I was smitten. Later on that evening I watched my first Knight Rider and then all hell broke loose.

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Hammer Time: Investing in Detroit

I love investing. Not so much the garbage that comes from Wall Street infomercials or the ‘Get Rich Like My Dad’ crapola. I’m talking the real thing. A group of folks that take their money and smarts, and build something awesome. Computers. Schools. Lights. Movies. Paints and Wastebaskets. We may laugh at the minutiae of it all, but if we take the time to look between the lines of any great product, we can always find the beauty that makes that product worth buying. That’s because in certain businesses, those who are passionate about their work can influence the outcome. In the case of Chrysler and GM we’re the investors. But how can we get out?

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Hammer Time: You Deserve a Break Today

Evening time. Time for conversations, drinks, jokes and . . . spreadsheets? Apparently so. I’ve caught this nasty computerized bug lately. The symptoms are harder to shake than swine flu and almost as appealing. It’s figuring out my ‘cost to own’ for a variety of cars. The goal: get my cost down to 10 cents a mile. Three hours and too much wine later, I wondered. “Can it really happen in this world of $3 gas?” With purchase price, insurance, gas, opportunity cost, maintenance, repairs, and government fees aplenty, not to mention a junker selling price with inflation to boot, I wasn’t quite sure. In fact my head was spinning. The final answer?

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Hammer Time: Cheap Tricks
Hammer Time: How to Cheat on the Cash-for Clunkers Program, Part One
Hammer Time: Gunfight at the Cheapskate Corral

A 2008 Suzuki Forenza. After reading the owner reviews, it pained me to even think about buying the car. I found a 2008 S model on eBay for $6700 (incl. bogus fees). Only 7500 miles? What a deal! But for whom? Since this car was sub-par for a multitude of ‘too cheap for their own good’ owners, I deep-sixed it. That left on eBay a Kia Rio LX, a Chevy Aveo LT, a Ford Focus SE (with about 15k more miles), and the ringer: a 2008 Toyota Yaris. Prices/mileage were $7100/16k, $8000/21k, $8500/33k and, ahem, $10,700 with 12k. All automatics. All with power windows/locks. None with sunroofs or any other high end stuff. Just good solid A to B transportation with a lot of good owner feedback. On second thought, screw it. I don’t believe a tightwad would be happy with real world fuel economy in the mid-20s so I’m nixing the Aveo. Begone! As for the other three . . .

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Hammer Time: The Clunker Cabal

What demographics will win in the recent “Cash for Clunkers” legislation? Well let’s take a gander. In the cars section, all but the last two primarily appeal to folks that are north of the double nickel. Traditional Caddies, laid back Lincolns. Throw in some nasty old British hardware, a couple of misguided pseudo-imports (LS and Aurora), and the guido enriched pre-’92 F-body and you have the whole fleet. Also those who are into old-school Benzes and Q45s should definitely qualify, along with pre-1990s full-sized Detroit metal. But apparently Consumer Reports forgot about them. Oh well. So enthusiasts should get a couple of nods. For trucks?

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Hammer Time: Bogus Fees

I had to travel 1000 miles to buy my first car. At the time Toyota dealers in the Southeast didn’t have Camrys with optional ABS (1994). Why? Supposedly you didn’t need it. Unless you bought the top of the line model, which cost an extra $3000. Thanks to this pearl of wisdom from Toyota’s Southeast distributorship, I went to New Jersey where my brother and I bought respective Camrys. Should I have bothered? I’ll put it this way. Back in the Clinton era this regional cabal offered a really nice Scotchguard protection deal that had the word ‘Toyo’ in it along with windows etched with your VIN and about $7 worth of hocus pocus that no one really cared to have. The surcharge? $699. They all did it. After my third or fourth visit to the local new car rodeo, I said “screw ’em” and headed to [New] Jersey.

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Hammer Time: Oil Get You for This!

The oil in the Honda Insight’s engine was overfilled by nearly half the length of the dipstick by the new car dealer. I was 40 miles away from there with a well deserved vacation on the horizon. So, I did what anyone in my neck of the woods would do and fixed the problem myself. Except the problem didn’t get fixed. It got worse. Boy, did it get worse.

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Hammer Time: Witch Croft?

Cory02 writes:

Something interesting happened with my nearest former Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep dealer (Dave Croft Motors in Collinsville, Illinois): they appear to be selling new Chrysler products again. In the days approaching the “drop-dead” date for the culled dealers, I thought it was odd that they not only kept the large “Chrysler/Dodge/Jeep” signs on their building but also kept them lit at night (I would have personally taken them down out of spite). The owner went through the motions of crying to the media, proclaiming that he would stay in business as a used dealer, and then moved all the new cars to the very back of the lot and put them in neat rows to await pickup and delivery to another dealer after June ninth.

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Hammer Time: College Cars

Freedom. It’s a blessing and a bitch. As graduates of the 21st century, the average Jane and Joe are loaded with expectations aplenty. Cell phones, computers, and iPods® are a given these days. Credit cards? Perhaps only for gas and groceries. But that’s on the list also. The expenses of the young are laden with a thousand cuts of consumerism. But none of them compare to the cost of a car. So, what should all the members of the family do? Think. Think. Think.

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Hammer Time: Two For One Special (While Supplies Last)

I’ve been very lucky as of late. Last week I found a 1976 Cadillac Eldorado with only 33,000 original miles sulking in a friend’s garage. New battery. An oil change and the beauty flew like a wing of God. I still have goosebumps over that ride and for $4,000. Definitely worth the thought. Then I found a more contemporary 1988 Lincoln Town Car on the side of the road. Perhaps this would be the first opportunity to plan for the government’s impending debt-icide for this country? What do you say John Q government subsidizer? As a dealer, should I now plan to start accumulating these insatiable steel coffins of eternal debtnation?

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Hammer Time: Second-Tier Standouts

Even if I were a billionaire, I would still buy the store brands at the local supermarket. Names really mean nothing to me and the better deals always seem to be with the unproven or unpopular brands on the bottom shelves. Especially if they come with the right coupon as an incentive. When it comes to cars, I generally have the same attitude. Yes, there are brands that I personally disfavor on the low side (Daewoo-based Suzukis) and on the high side (BMW) as ‘keeper’ cars. But in between I’ve found a lot of great cars that simply carry the wrong name on their hood. And the loser – winners are . . .

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Hammer Time: The Ghost of SUV Past

What was the best selling import SUV ten years ago? 4Runner? Passport? Daihatsu Rocky? It’s really a trick question because the vehicle in question was actually made in Indiana. Nope, not a Subaru Forester. It was the last successful GM import model, the Isuzu Rodeo. For most of the 1990s, Isuzu was indeed the star player in the import SUV segment. The Rodeo was their big one hit wonder. So big that Honda decided to trade badges and give Isuzu a minivan (Oasis) in exchange for the Rodeo’s street cred. On the flip side, their other SUV was the Trooper: a tall and awkward SUV on stilts that somehow managed to become . . well . . .

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Hammer Time: The $2 Bet

Let’s assume you do about 5000 miles of commuting a year. It’s a typical miserable commute. But the job is great and come hell or deficit spending, you’ll be there as long as you like. While daydreaming about those glorious TPS reports you get to write every day, there’s a knock on your door. The fellow down the street who you’ve known since Clinton was enjoying his office has an offer you. “If you pay me $20 a week to help me with gas, I’ll drop you off at work and pick you up every day until 2020.” Your friend also offers you his car for those times when he’s on vacation, and should he move, die, or become another OJ, you get his car free and clear. The spouse overhears the conversation and exclaims, “This is great! We can sell the car and become a one car family!” You don’t care because like most employees of Dunder Mifflin, cars mean nothing but transportation to you. Your life revolves around the office. Here’s the question:

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  • FifaCup Loving both Interior and exterior designs.
  • FifaCup This is not good for the auto industry
  • Jeff S This would be a good commuter vehicle especially for those working in a large metropolitan area. The only thing is that by the time you put airbags, backup cameras, and a few of the other required safety features this car would no longer be simple and the price would be not much cheaper than a subcompact. I like the idea but I doubt a car like this would get marketed in anyplace besides Europe and the 3rd World.
  • ScarecrowRepair That's what I came to say!
  • Inside Looking Out " the plastic reinforced with cotton waste used on select garbage vehicles assembled by the Soviet Union. "Wrong. The car you are talking about was the product German engineering, East German. It's name was Trabant.