One Girl's Journey...
A Jeep Love Affair Part 2: Bargain Hunting
I have always driven used cars. I'm a bargain hunter, a good New England girl. The high that people get from "that new car smell" has always been lost on me. To me, a car should have history. I like trying to figure out who the previous owner was, why they loved and eventually sold my beast. My very first car, a gift for my 18th birthday, would have been completely undriveable to anyone else, but I loved it. My 13-year-old Chevy Cavalier had most definitely -- if movies are to be trusted -- been the vehicle of low level drug runner. It had a false bottom; the trunk key was fake and no amount of lock picking ever opened it. It had a NO FEAR windshield decal and crown air freshener on the dashboard -- details I left intact as evidence of my car's previous life where it took more exciting trips that carting me to my job at the mall. How did I find this gem? A guy one of my sisters was dating, who may or may not have had mob connections, "found" it for me.
Car #2 was willed to me when my grandmother passed away. It still had her CB radio in it, which she used to chat with truckers. I bought car #3 from my mother's boyfriend's sister; a free spirited woman about whom my mother told funny stories. All of these cars had three things in common: 1. I loved them 2. They had great times with their previous owners 3. (This is the important one) I didn't buy them. Not until the Subaru wagon I currently drive, did I actually go somewhere and negotiate a price with a stranger. I got a pretty good deal because the dealer, who primarily dealt in Toyota pickups, regretted taking it in as a trade as his customers had no interest. He was friendly without being pushy, and I walked away with a good feeling after working with him. I also had an insurace check from the death of #3 for the bulk of the price, so there was no need to discuss financing.
So, Jeep hunting I went. No insurance check, no mobster gifts, I'd have to get some kind of loan. For my bank to give us an auto loan, the car would need to have fewer than 70,000 miles and be newer than 2003. It's a small bank and they have to be careful -- I don't blame them. However, that pushes a rig just out of my price range. I don't want to spend too much for something I plan to put beat up on the trail. So I checked into dealer financing. After one promising test drive last weekend, the dealer told me the best she could do was 28% APR -- despite good credit and a 15% downpayment. Another rig at a different lot was nearly perfect, but I didn't like the particular guy with whom we had been working. Had I dealt with any of the other salesmen who offered their help during the 45 minutes it took him to find keys and a plate, I might have even paid something as ridiculous as 28%. I just couldn't give him my money. Nothing else I saw really spoke to me. Needless to say, I am still Jeepless.
I know that somewhere out there is a rig that runs well, being sold by a likeable salesperson who can offer me an interest rate lower than my age. There is a Wrangler with personality, a great story and an I-6 engine just waiting for me. I just have to find it...
EDITOR NOTE: If you can help Corinne, our new Customer Service Manager find her perfect Jeep, post here. She needs help!