Happy Birthday to my car
Blogs are perfect for this sort of minutiae, aren't they? Yes, it was one whole year ago that I got it in my mind that it was time. After driving my parents' '86 Toyota Van for about two years I happened to be going down to San Diego for a weekend visit and figured that this was as good a weekend as any to "drop off" the van. Mom and Dad said they'd kick down a little change to help out with the down payment (an early graduation present, as it turned out) so I did a final couple of hours of research at Edmunds.com on things like price, negotiating tactics, etc (I'd been doing this kind of research ever since I lost the 626 in the accident). Armed with bits of paper and a calculator, Dad and I drove down to Hine Mazda in Mission Valley (near Qualcomm Stadium). I instantly saw the white 2003 Protegé5 on the lot, saw that it was a 5-speed, saw that it had a sunroof and even a 6-CD player, and saw that the price was quite a bit lower than what my research had to me to stick to in the bargaining process. Enter the salesperson (sorry, don't remember her name). Enter the test drive, which I remember because I missed the exit she asked me to take from the freeway so we took the next exit, but then couldn't turn around for another mile or so. Hehe. As far as test drives go, it was fine though. A quick consult with Dad followed and I told the nice lady, "Ok. I'll take it." No negotiation needed as far as I could tell. The advertised price was really quite fair, and it allows me to splurge for the moonroof deflector and compass/temperature rearview mirror. Heart rate increases as we begin to fill out the paperwork for the loan application and credit check and so forth -- I'm trying to remember if there's anything I'm overlooking vis-a-vis the buying process. Is the price TOO good? Am I inadvertently buying some add-on or other (like body rust protection) that Edmunds warned me about? Nothing comes to mind, so we hand over the paperwork and wait for the manager to come back with the interest rate. 6.x% somethingorother -- because it's the first car I've purchased by myself, he says. Hmm. Oh well. Slight fiddling with the down payment amount to get the monthlies to a good amount. A new person enters the arena while the paperwork is being processed, the guy who talks you through the manual and other little things.
Paper work arrives. $19,254.67. Dotted line is signed upon in eight places.
By this time the car has been backed up to the door and is all sparkly and clean, and the new person goes through the "pre-flight" check, demonstrating the CD player, the mirrors, extracting the jack, etc. Finally, he takes a picture:
I say a quick "See ya, and thanks" to Dad, get in, and drive off the lot. Car instantly loses 75% of its value or something like that. ;-)
What to do now? Drive, of course! The very next day I took a 300-mile drive through the desert of eastern San Diego and Riverside counties, all the way to the Salton Sea. That's what I bought the car for, after all. Great sense of freedom after two years of driving a work-a-day bucket of bolts that could go from Point A to Point B just fine, but which couldn't be trusted to go all the way to Point Z. Nearly 20,000 miles later here we are at the first "birthday" of my car.
Posted: Sunday - February 15, 2004 at 02:41 PM