I have only purchased four cars in my life. I suspect that could be some sort of minimalist record. I believe in buying a car new and driving it until it dies. As a result, I have had infrequent occasions to purchase cars for myself, although I have often been engaged in the process of car buying on behalf of other people. Here is my car ownership history:
- 1981 Ford Escort - I purchased from what used to be called Burt Ford in Englewood. It was my first car purchase and I used a $1000 inheritance from my wife's grandmother's estate as the down payment. I was a babe in the woods and I was abused by the salesman and the finance officer. As we closed the deal the finance officer took all of the papers I had signed and stapled them into a closed envelope. That aroused my suspicion. The first thing I did when I got home was open the envelope and examine the documents. To my shock I discovered I had just purchased credit life and credit disability insurance. The charges for those insurance policies had been rolled into the loan. I returned to the dealer the next day and had those policies removed. Lesson learned--don't trust car salesmen. The car was a piece of junk. It had an aluminum block engine and the block cracked shortly after 100,000 miles. Another lesson learned--don't buy American made cars. Due to the cracked block the car was smoking so badly my next door neighbor reported me to the police as an "environmentally hazardous vehicle". I received a letter from the police telling me that they could not cite me but that I was guilty of environmental sins. Third lesson learned--don't trust neighbors, police or environmentalists.
- 1987 Toyota Tercel - I had learned my lessons on the first car. When it came time to purchase my second car I studied Consumer Reports to give myself the best opportunity to purchase a car that would be mechanically reliable. I studied Edmunds to give myself the best opportunity to get a good price on a car. When the Escort died I purposed to buy a reliable car at a good price. The Toyota Tercel (hatchback) was a great car. I had to go to several dealerships before I could get the exact price I wanted. I considered that a good sign that I was not overpaying for the car. It gave me eleven years of faithful service and gave up the ghost with a little over 350,000 miles. Near the end of its life I was less than cautious in the way I operated it. The car saw plenty of off road miles. One summer I had driven it a long way up a four wheel drive road on a backpack trip. I arrived at an obstacle that was too rough for me to get through so I turned around and parked there. When I returned to the car a week later it would not start. I decided to "jump start" it. I was coasting downhill on a jeep road at a good rate of speed when I hit a bump and went airborn. I popped the clutch and it roared to life. Like I said, a great car.
- 1989 Subaru Impreza Wagon - My all time favorite car. This was the first car in which I had a radio/tape player and air conditioning. It also had all-wheel drive. It also had power windows and door locks. Wow! When I first purchased this car I felt like I was living in the lap of luxury. It too was subject to adventures on all sorts of four wheel drive roads. I was driving down a jeep road outside of Silverton (in the San Juan mountains of Colorado) one summer afternoon when an approaching driver in a four wheel drive vehicle stopped me. He rolled down his window and said, "I can't believe you got that Subaru up here!" I heard that comment many times in the backcountry over the years. That car could go anywhere that did not require high clearance. Just two years ago I drove it down the west side of Weston pass, near Leadville. Those of you who know four wheel drive roads know how rough that road is. Although I scraped the bottom a couple of times, I made it down safe and sound. All good things must come to an end. Last week I was driving on I-70 eastbound through Denver. I was on the viaduct portion of the highway, surrounded by traffic going at high speeds. Suddenly the Sube died. I coasted down the next off ramp and pulled onto a side street. I called Goodwill (I highly recommend using Goodwill to donate your old car) and the old girl was soon being taken off into the sunset. Final mileage -- 458,519 miles. I contacted Subaru to see if they were interested in my story. They weren't.
Knowing what it was we wanted, it was time to talk to the salesman and experience brain damage. I know the routine well enough to play the game and go through the motions of negotiation. We were in for a very pleasant surprise. Our salesman was Rob Pence. After we described what we wanted he made no attempt to sell us up. He actually listened to what we had to say. He was very knowledgeable about the car and answered all of our questions thoroughly. The car we wanted was not easy to find. He did not have one on the lot. It took about a week to find the car we wanted but he persevered and found the exact one we wanted. He was upfront about the difference between the MSRP and what we would end up paying. He pointed out what was negotiable and what was not. He even went so far as to suggest things we could do to lower the overall price of the car. For example, he told me that Costco members (a discount "membership" grocery retailer like Sam's Club) get a lower price on cars. I joined Costco that day. I had never experienced that type of service before. Here was a car salesman who was actually listening to the customer and actually acting in the best interest of the customer. I almost fell out of my chair.
So, here's to you Rob and Go Nissan of Littleton, Colorado. You did a great job and you have a very satisfied customer. If you are in the market for a Nissan, go to Go Nissan and be sure and ask for Rob. I can't vouch for the others. And for all of you readers who think I never have anything positive to say.....HA!