Car Buying Experiences

Mike Splane © 2005


Story #1 - My first car


As a teenager I walked onto a used car lot to buy my first car, accompanied by a high school buddy of mine. I saw a car priced for $900. The dealer told me a guy had just made an offer on it for $950, but he had gone to arrange financing. He told me I could have it for $1000 if I paid right away. I was foolish and gullible and believed him.


Later I found out that this is a typical scam.


I really liked the car, it was a British model called a Sunbeam. It ran for about 2 weeks; then it broke down. At the time, I had two girls in the car I was trying to impress. They were not happy with me after having to walk home. But that’s another story.


I couldn't get parts in the US, of course. The mechanic told me the odometer had been tampered with, the car probably had 100,000 more miles on it than I thought.


I went back to the used car lot - they were out of business, the lot was vacant. I sold the car for $500 to a mechanic about 3 months after I bought it.


I couldn’t believe that adults would deliberately cheat kids. It was a good lesson.


Story #2 - Older and wiser.


Twelve years later. By now I had learned a few tricks.


I walked by several used-car lots in the evening after they were closed. Eventually I saw a car I liked.


I went home.  The next day I visited the library and looked in the Kelley Blue Book to find the price range for that type of car. This was before the internet, so I used to visit the library often. 


I waited until the last day of the month to return to the lot because I'd heard they were usually more willing to give discounts then. I stood in the car lot until a salesman approached me. He asked, "See anything you like?"


"What about that blue car over there? How much does it cost?"


"Ninety-seven hundred."


I spontaneously burst into laughter. The blue book range was $4400-$5400.


I shook my head, turned and started walking away.


"How much do you think it's worth?" he called after me.


I stopped and turned around. "About forty four hundred."


Then he stunned me with, "I think we can make a deal."


I had to sit in the closing room for a couple of hours, and got up to walk out several times, but the final price I paid was $5400. The car was loaded and worth it. I kept it for 13 years.


A few days later when I came to pick up the car, he said, "You really swindled us on this deal."


"I know," I grinned.