Saturday, February 13, 2010

Spring Must Be Close...

Seems like every spring, my father and I are affected by the same bug. We get a far-off twinkle in our eyes, our mouths get dry, and we must feel the newness of vehicles that are not ours yet. Yep, we both are victims of the "new car bug." I have found as I get older, I am better about resisting the vernal urge to go look at cars. Plus, the Interwebs have provided a much less costly alternative, in that I can browse thousands of cars online and never have to set foot on a car lot and be subject to all the other intoxicating stimuli. Must. Drive. Cars!

However, this year (and not by choice), is one of those rare exceptions. The time has come for us to replace ESM's aging Saturn. We actually leased the car new in 1999, and it served us well. When it came time to turn it back in, ESM's parents needed a reliable car so we purchased it out of the lease and sold it to them for the same price. Win-win...they got a good car for a decent price that they knew had decent care, and we didn't have to pay the lease over-mileage fee we were looking at.

They drove the car for several years, and had decent luck with it. Then my mother-in-law needed to go in for double knee-replacement surgery. The Saturn was a manual shift. No way that was going to work. So we traded them straight across for an automatic-equipped mid-nineties Ford Taurus with low miles and got the Saturn back.

With our lifestyle changes in the last few years, unfortunately the poor little Saturn hasn't gotten the care it should have at times, and is now in dire need of some repairs that are necessary for it to pass our state's air quality emissions test so it can be re-licensed. However, the cost of those repairs is way beyond what the book value of the car is at this point. That violates one of the prime car-ownership rules my father drilled into me as a young man. "When the repairs cost more than the car is worth, usually the wiser money goes into a new(er) car."

So, that means only one thing. Spring car shopping.

I began the search with simple criteria. Budget: $7,000. Mileage: Under 60,000 IAAP (If At All Possible). Front-wheel drive, for better snow performance. Then ESM added one more...automatic transmission. Good, we have our criteria.

As we began looking online, there were cars out there that met our criteria. Good, that's hurdle #2 over. However, as ESM began looking at what cars were coming back, she added another criteria. This one is proving to be a little more of a challenge. She did not want some boring, 4-door grocery-getter. DO NOT WANT! So now I needed to add words like "exciting" or "unique" to the list. That makes things a bit 'arder!

However, we did look at a car last night that may fit the bill. We are planning on looking some more today, but if nothing pans out, we're going back to look at this one again. It's a 1998 Supercharged Buick Riviera. A sleek two-door coupe, with all the options available in that year (sunroof, heated leather seats, auto climate control, [mouth getting dry]), plus less than 70,000 on the odo, and the price is WELL under our budget. Sounds like a recipe for a decent deal. We both drove it, and I must say... What. A. Car.

Whoa there fella! Can't go writing checks yet! Let's check the Interwebs and see what '98 Rivs are all about. It IS an American car, after all. Found no big quality or reliability oddity for GM. A few mechanical things are mentioned, but nothing that is terribly expensive. Mileage is not great, but not much worse than my Mazda 5. However, Premium fuel only...that one'll hurt.

We are headed back out today to one dealership we found that had at least four cars on the lot we want to see. Just want to make sure we aren't jumping on the first thing we find. But, if nothing there is interesting...headed back to give the Riv another look in the daylight. I'll keep you posted.

-- Sundown, Out

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