Sunday, September 17, 2006

On the road again - with a new vehicle

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Yesterday, I took the plunge and bought a new vehicle.

I shopped around our used vehicle sale this weekend while working - I usually shop around and find vehicles that I like, but then get cold feet and refuse to purchase one. I can't tell you how many Focus hatch-backs I've found that I've liked but either couldn't afford or chickened out on.

Friday I found the Suzuki Aerio above, and it was really the only vehicle that caught my eye at the sale. The Car Company was asking $8,333, which was a bit beyond my price range. So I walked away, and didn't think much of it.

Then I showed up Saturday and decided to give the little bugger a test drive. It's a manual, so getting used to a stick was a bit tricky. But it didn't take long, and I zoomed over to grandma's to show her and ask her opinion. I told her I was going to try to wittle the price down to around $6,000.

"You'll never get that price," she said. "They won't go that low."

When I returned from my test drive, the dealer asked if I wanted it.

"Yeah, for $6,000," I said.

He gave me a look of dumb horror. "Are you kidding?" he asked. "We can't go that low. We have to make some money on this vehicle." He scampered off and asked his dad, who owns the dealership, and returned with a price of $7,333 - $1,000 lower than the asking price.

"No, I can't afford that," I said. "I'll take it for $6,000 - and I'll let you guys think about it." And I walked away.

Later, the owner came up to me and asked if I was going to buy the car. I told him yes, at my price. "Well if I sell it to you at $6,800, I'll be making about $200 on it," the dealer said. I said I understood, but $6,800 was a bit too much.

Work sent me home - it was a slow day - and I woke up from a nap with my boss on the phone: "The guys from the Car Company want to talk to you."

I couldn't help but smile. This negotiation stuff was new to me. I'm usually a no-haggle guy - why bother? - but a few guys from work were talking earlier about our credit union CEO being a ruthless negotiator, and how it was kind of fun to watch him wheel and deal. So by dropping the price by over $2,000, and giving the dealers an afternoon to think about it, I was trying to be Mr. Tough Guy. Would it work?

I got up, drove back to the sale, and sauntered over to the car.

"Are you going to buy it?" the dealer asked me.

"Yeah, if you reduce the price," I said.

"Is $6,800 still too much?" he asked.

"Yup. I can afford right around $6,000."

My friend Ginny came over and we chatted about the car, and the sale, and just talked for a bit, the three of us.

Then the dealer turned to me. "Would you take it for $6,500?"


So now I have a new car.

It's a great machine. I've always been a fan of the compact hatchback models - the Chevy Aveo I took out west, the Ford Focus, etc. - and anything that gets great gas mileage is a plus for me, especially as much as I travel.

It's black, even though I prefer a silver or blue car, and it's a stick, even though I'm not that experienced with a manual, but I got it at a great deal, and it's a slick-looking machine. It's grandma- and best-friend-approved, which helps.

Today I took it for a real spin, down 127 to my dad's and through the backroads on the way home, and it's a lot of fun to drive. I still have to get used to the parking break, and I'll have to get comfy with all the esoteric dials and switches, but I really love how spacious it is, and the hatchback (which will be great when I go grocery shopping), and even little touches like the digital speedometer and RPM gauge.

I gave the Dynasty back to grandma, since she's been vehicle-less for months now, and it will be sorely missed. She put 50,000 miles on it in 12 years, and I doubled that in three years. It's been everywhere, and it's been a great companion.

But now I have a new chariot to get me where I need to go.

Who wants a ride?

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