Saturday, March 26, 2005

Barter late than never

We finally sold Just Hunky Dory ... our '98 Saturn SL2. This was the first car I ever owned. I bought it new before Miriam and I were married, before we started dating (the second time). In 1998, I drove this car to Denver with James to see They Might Be Giants and The Violent Femmes at the Lodo Festival. In 1999, I drove to Salt Lake to visit my grandparents. In 2000 I drove to San Francisco, Mountain View and San Diego to find a job at the beginning of the end of the dot com bubble. In 2002, Miriam and I loaded the car on a trailer while we drove JHD's sister, Little Blue, across the country to our new home in Virginia. In 2003 we drove JHD to Niagara Falls to visit some of Miriam's family, and in 2004 JHD had his first and only fender bender at the Cheese Haven in Sandusky, Ohio.
It wasn't a difficult decision to sell the Saturn. When we first started trying for Joe last July, we knew we'd have to sell the car and get something larger. First we looked at the Saturn VUE, then the VW Passat wagon, Chrysler Pacifica and finally the Honda Pilot. I love the Pilot, but I feel a little guilty driving such a gas guzzler. I guess I'll have to ride my bike to work twice as much to make up for it.

We first listed JHD on Craig's List about three or four weeks ago. We actually got a few nibbles from Craig's List, but no one actually came out to see the car.

Last weekend, we listed the car in the Washington Post Classifieds. That Friday night, we got two calls. Only lady from Maryland wanted to take a look at the car the next day, and a gentleman in Virginia wanted to buy the car right then, for $3,000 ($1,500 less than our asking price). I told A, the guy, that if I didn't get any other calls, I'd give him a call the next day. I had no intention of selling the car for so little.

The lady from Maryland never showed up. Saturday night, while Miriam and I were at St. Matthews' Game Night, A called back, asking if we had sold the car yet. I told him no, but also there was no way I could take $3,000. We went back and forth, and finally agreed to $3,800. Not great, but at least we'd be rid of the car. "You promise not to sell the car to anyone else?" "Yes."

Monday, I meet A at his office. He's there with his wife and brother-in-law. A and his wife seems to like the car. BIL walks around, looks under the hood, and they take it for a test drive. When they come back, they rattle off a list of things wrong with the car (small oil leak, needs new break pads, break light needs to be replaced). They will only pay $3,500. Now, I may have been willing to go down to $3,500, but we settled on $3,800 Saturday night. They say: "but we didn't know these things about the car." We say: "then you shouldn't have made a final offer. You shouldn't have made us promise not to sell it to anyone else." We stood in the cold for a few minutes, and then drove JHD back home.

This morning, we took the car at the edge of the Wal Mart parking lot. I replaced the break light bulb, and went home to wait. I was certain no one would call. Then, around 11, I get a call. I run up to Saturn of Sterling to get a copy of the service record for JHD, and then run down to Wal Mart. I meet H and C, who own a cleaning business, and are looking for a small car to drive during the week (instead of their Nissan Armada). We walk around, H checks under the hood, C comments that the car is very clean, and then we pile in to drive it around the parking lot. They ask some questions, and I answer as best as I can remember. Then they offer $4,000. I take the offer without very much hesitation.

So, JHD has a new home, and we made just about as much money as we wanted. I miss that car a little, but I'm glad to have this ordeal behind us.

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