Well, that was quick. Last week I was debating whether or not all the repairs I've been putting into our cars lately still make it cheaper than having a car payment. This week we're unloading the old blue mare for a new Subaru. There we go doing something impractical again. Well, SOMEONE has to fund the economy, I guess.
I was asked how it would feel getting rid of my ten-year-old Mazda 626, given we have had it longer than we've had our children. Sure, it's like selling a child, but in return we get a new one that is quieter, behaves better, and doesn't make a mess on the floor. If I could do that with my kids I would replace them too. And when my wife asks me if I would trade her in for a younger, faster model, I tell her yes and to leave me alone. Ah, "me" time!
This was a week of endless moral struggle. Do we do the theoretically-environmental thing and buy a hybrid? Do we go for gas mileage over comfort? Do we finance? Do we sell or trade in? Do we go with Obsidian Black, Spark Silver Metallic, or Satin White Pearl? Are we stupid for not waiting? Are we helping the terrorists? Does the fact that some guy on the internet called our new car's interior "craptastic" have any bearing? And is he comparing that to, say, a Yugo, or an Aston-Martin DB9? Man, what a stressful and unproductive week.
Truth is, we are only looking for a few things in a new car. Safety is #1 on my wife's list (I haven't told her yet that what I REALLY want is a motorcycle...or a jetpack...but that's a whole other issue). #2 is an Auto-stick. Actually I want a standard transmission, but she can't drive a standard, so an Auto-stick is the next best thing and will probably keep me from trashing my clutch in the end. #3 is an iPod connector. And I'm not talking some flimsy AUX port, but a real iPod dock connection so I can blast Depeche Mode with full digital clarity. And lastly, I want a solution for staving off a midlife crisis. I need to buy a car that, in eight short years, I could foresee handing down to my daughter once she starts driving, and sneaking out the back door one day to come home with a Boxter (or, by then, a jetpack).
In the end it came down to a Subaru Impreza (no, not the WRX...I really don't need to wrap myself around a Jersey barrier) or a Honda Fit. On paper and in my brain the Fit makes so much more sense. It's cheaper, much better on gas, more practical, more spacious. But when it came right down to it, I liked the Suby better. And in the end I found three winning justifications. First, which car could I see handing down to my daughter? Second, which car would get my wife to stop chickening out every time we wanted to drive a long distance in winter time when there might be a threat of snow? And third, do we really need another minivan (we have an Odyssey already)? So the Subaru (or as it's already been nicknamed, the Scoobydoo) comes out victorious. This damned thing better last for 300,000 miles like people say they do, or I'm never going to hear the end of it.
Now the question has come of what to do with the Mazda. I was planning on trading it in, but then my coworker expressed some interest in taking it off my hands. Knowing that my coworker's car, a Buick he picked up for $6k a year ago and has since spent an equal amount repairing, had a far worse record than mine, I didn't really feel uncomfortable selling my car to someone I knew. Plus I gave him full disclosure that included a complete maintenance log along with a detailed account of every gripe I ever had with the car. This included the possessed radio volume knob, the broken electric antenna, and the mystery rattle coming from somewhere around the catalytic converter. Despite that, it will likely be a done deal once my coworker gets the required SSA (second-spouse approval).
But to make things a bit more interesting, it turns out that this car would be for my coworker's son. And the son got money to buy the car from his grandfather. And the grandfather was my main professor in college. How's that for cosmic lattice of coincidence? So I'm thinking this car had better work out for him or else I risk having my Bachelor of Science revoked.
BTW many thanks to Dave in Texas who gave me perhaps the most detailed honest opinions on everything car-related I could have imagined, from tips on color selection to match my eyes to interest-bearing savings accounts from ING Direct. If I could have flown him up here to go shop for a car for me, I would have. Kudos as well to my friend Howard for introducing me to this OCD-riddled gearhead.
Pictures of my new child will be forthcoming once I actually buy the thing and get the roof rack installed. Hmm...if only one of my daughters came with a roof rack.