Those of you who know me will be aware of the fact that I’m not the kind of person who defines himself by the car he drives. Accessories are not for me, be they chrome wheels, 5,000 Watt stereos or any of the other multitude of gewgaws and embellishments that some people are so keen to lavish on their vehicles. It’s only fair, however, to point out that for the past 13 Years I’ve been driving a BMW X5, either the one owned by my ex and I or the one belonging to my ex Father in Law. I got the X5 as part of the divorce settlement as it was the only vehicle that had my name attached to it and there was no way that the Suburban would be of any use to me even if I’d had any claim on it.
All was fine and dandy until late last year when I learned that I would need a new starter motor some time in the future, but there was no need ( nor indeed, the cash) to fix it there and then. Fast forward to a few weeks ago when during a regular inspection I found out that the car needed repairs costing in excess of three times the Kelley Blue Book value. Indeed the labour on just one of the repairs – replacing the timing chain guides – was more than the car was worth. I have the suspicion that all BMW parts are flown in by chartered Zeppelin directly from the Fuhrerbunker, such is the cost.
I decided to just run the car until it failed and look for a replacement in the meantime.Of course, when the car did die, it was at the perfect moment – just as I was taking my daughter to her first soccer game of the season. I had no choice but to call my ex who picked up the kids but didn’t even offer to give me a lift. Of course, I wasn’t going to give her the satisfaction of asking, so I missed my daughter scoring two goals in her team’s 4-0 win. Bugger. To cut to the chase I ended up buying a 2008 Honda Accord. Not my ideal car, but affordable, reasonably well equipped and with only 30,000 miles on the clock too good to pass up. Added to which, it was a pretty easy process – I gave it a test drive after trying the Corolla and paid for it there and then. I am still getting used to it, and I miss the oomph of the BMWs 4.4 litre engine, the rear wiper, etc but as cars go it is pretty sweet.
My sweetie, on the other hand, had a nightmare. She found a 2014 Fiat 500 with only 5,000 miles on it online , so we duly packed the kids into my car and headed off to the dealership. It had the features and colour scheme she wanted and she enjoyed the test drive while I stayed and chatted with the lead salesman who seemed to be a pretty decent chap, which just goes to show what a bad judge of character I am. Once she returned we began the pantomime of price negotiation. He knocked $1,500 off the $14,000 price ( not what we’d seen online) and after mentioning that we’d seen the same model cheaper from online dealerships and asked him if he could come closer to them, he came back from a chat with his manager and said in a very snippy tone “I think you’d better buy your car online then”. My extreme surprise this was beaten only by the fact that he didn’t actually say ” And don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out”. We left immediately, feeling confused, upset and offended at his truly dickish behaviour and the abrupt end to the afternoon.
A couple of days later the dealership called my sweetie and after some messing around, including refusing to deliver the car, she went back to the dealership and got the car for cost. Fiat 500s don’t sell in that part of the world, an area dominated by full size pickups and muscle cars. Still, they messed her about, arriving late to pick her up and then wasting so much time she missed the boat they knew full well she needed to catch. We also caught the dealer in a lie: he’d said he couldn’t deliver the car as he didn’t know how to drive a manual transmission, but later said he’d had the car shipped to the dealership because he wanted to see how it drove.
The kids. however, love both cars. The first thing my son wanted to do was read the owners’ manuals the first time I picked them up, and he helped my sweetie set up the bluetooth in her car so she can play music directly from her phone. I really resent the way the dealership messed her around over a car they knew damn well wouldn’t sell, and even their attempt at redemption was full of major league dickheadishness. I bought mine through an agency and it couldn’t have been easier, so I guess we experienced both ends of the spectrum. With any luck it will be the last car I own and I’ll get a good 20 years out of it.