On More Thoughts on Buying a Car

I have previously written about the psychology of car buying here. As a social experiment, it is fascinating. As a process to sit through, it’s a lot of waiting followed by quite a huge amount of debt for a long time.

I’m writing this because, mere months after paying off my last car, I decided what I needed to be doing was to get a new one. Not a new-new one, you understand; a new-to-me one. And, as all of life offers us opportunities to learn new things, this is what I learned from buying my latest car.

Green Is OK

I have long held an aversion to the color green. It’s OK for Kermit, sure, and for grass and the wonders of nature. The Hulk is also pretty cool, but for me? No thank you.

And that’s why, when I went to start my new life as a VW Beetle obsessive, I disdained the dark-green 2018 Beetle on offer and first test-drove an older model. The sales guy loved this older car. It had Apple Play, which Sales Guy seemed to think was the greatest thing since the moon landing. My personal audio tech love in cars starts and ends with Bluetooth – Apple Play seemed like an unnecessary tech step too far. And that feels weird for me to say.

And, as for this Beetle, the driving felt wrong. The brakes were funny-feeling. The whole experience was bleh.

Stop me if my effortless slip into automobile-technical-speak is intimidating to the lay-person.

And when we got back to the car lot, my co-driver and I, we noticed that the green 2018 Beetle shone. It gleamed. And it didn’t need Apple Play to try to impress me.

I swallowed my pride, got inside, and fell in love.

Long story short, I named him Jurgen and took on the responsibility for his well-being for the next 5-6 years.

Be the Finance Guy

Jurgen was gently-used when we rescued him. The used-car section of the dealership where he had made his home was situated a short walk and a million miles away from the main building. Inside the (let’s be honest) slightly shabby used-case building, the desks were close together, the decoration sparse. A small TV sat in the corner; a half-eaten apple rolled around on the Sales Guy’s desk. He offered us bottles of water while we went through the long process of shouldering vast amounts of debt.

As we made our way up the car-buying ladder, finally we were allowed access to the main building. There, everything shone with a righteous internal light. There was a huge TV and a coffee bar. The finance guy, when he arrived, looked like a model and treated us in a manner not unbefitting visiting royalty. In his personal office – no cubicles here – instead of a straightforward desk, he had a touch-screen desk. All of our paperwork appeared on this touch screen. We dabbed at virtual buttons and scrawled our respective signatures on this from-the-future marvel. There were no half-eaten pieces of fruit in view. My wife and I both muttered WOW under our breaths far too many times to be considered cool.

In the used-car building, I’d spent the time with the sales guy by talking about movies. He said he’s taken his two kids to see the new Hellboy movie at the local dollar cinema. He loved the dollar cinema. In the gleaming main building, the finance guy told us he’d just bought his wife a new car and that he was at the front of the queue for the self-driving electric Volkswagen van when it finally arrived.  

Do you see what I’m saying? Be the Finance Guy is what I’m saying.

Love Driving

…Or, at least, learn to like driving. My previous car was bought as a necessity. I’d been rammed by a Porsche (phrased to add drama to the post) and my first car was not going to make it. I needed a replacement within my limited budget. The car I got was OK, but I never loved it. It never helped me over my general apathy – if not outright anxiety – about driving. It got me where I needed to be when my wife wasn’t around to take me.

Jurgen is different. I look forward to climbing into the black-and-red interior. I volunteer to take us places. We’re planning a road trip – and I will do my share of the transportation work! So, if you’re an unenthusiastic driver, maybe it’s time to look not for a mode of transport but more for a tech-friendly tiny galaxy on wheels. It, so far, seems to be working for me.

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