Two cars sold and one car bought, all in ten days



Our '93 Chevy and '98 Toyota Camry sold on the spot for the full asking price to the first people who looked at them. Peggy sobbed when she looked out and saw that the Camry was gone because she didn't get to say goodbye. I don't know how much good that would have done her, but I too feel wrecked. Given how fast they sold, I'm wondering if we could have gotten more money for our vehicles, but if we had traded them in, we would have received a total of $1,500, but by selling them on Craigslist, we got $5,000, so I guess I can't complain too much, and even if we could have done better, it would have prolonged the misery.

I was completely forthcoming about every little thing that was wrong with them, even sharing information that made no difference and that the buyer almost certainly wouldn't have discovered had I kept my mouth shut...

We got twelve responses within hours of putting the Camry online, and I had the thought that of all the cars on the road, a Camry was probably the easiest to sell (the Japanese sure kicked American ass on that one). One man wrote that his daughter is a veterinary student who needs a good car for the 40-mile commute to Oregon State.  He went on to describe what a sterling student she was and ended with a plea that I "help her out" by dropping my price $800, which was all he could afford. I thought about not responding, but instead turned him down very courteously. I thought that would be the end of it, but he immediately wrote back offering more money. Someone else offered $400 less than the asking price without even having seen the car. I'm fine with people bargaining for something they know they want, but am offended when they do it on speculation.



It's sad to have sold cars that we  owned for so long and loved so much (cars are like pets in that we humans are totally responsible for their welfare, so it feels like a betrayal to sell them), but at least's it's over, and I feel more relaxed for it. We ran errands in the RAV4 yesterday for the first time since bringing it home, and took turns driving it. When the car belonged to the dealer, our goal was to see how we liked it, but now that it's ours, our goal is simply to avoid wrecking it. We know our unease will diminish every hour that we drive, but it sure was pronounced yesterday. I especially hated that dealer's tag announcing to all the world that it's a new car because I wouldn't be surprised but what some moron would ding it with their door out of envy. Am I more paranoid that most?

Tim said that when he started working as a car salesman, his biggest fears were damaging a car and learning how everything worked on the many models that he was trying to sell (he was also intimidated by having to dress nicely and work with people who were shopping for cars that cost way more than he could afford). His words put our fear of our new car into perspective, but why is it that we didn't used to worry about damaging a car? Is it age-related, or is it because this car is more complex, luxurious, and expensive, than anything we ever owned? Just the instructional manuals make a stack four-inches tall, and being surrounded by all those buttons that we don't know how to use makes learning to drive a RAV4 a bit like learning to land a jet on a carrier. I'm joking, of course, but there is a lot to be said for simplicity, and by our Model T standards, this is not a simple car. 

I've been counting up all the cars we've owned in our 44-years together (I owned others before we met, and then there were the ones that I bought to resell). The list comes to two Fords, two Chevys, three Datsuns, and four Toyotas. Of these, three were trucks, and one was a van, and one a station wagon, leaving a total of five sedans and the new SUV. I'll forever miss most of them, partly for what they were, and partly because they marked epochs in our lives. We're now a one car family for the first time in years, and the sale of our van means the end of our camping days. Will this be our last car or our next to last car? Life can be measured in many ways--time, cars, pets, houses... My mother used to say things like, "Well, this will be my last vacuum cleaner." I thought it was a bummer of a way to look at things, but now I too am doing it. For instance, I know that if our cats live a normal lifespan, we'll never have another baby animal because it would be cruel to get a pet that would outlive us.

19 comments:

BBC said...

I've had my Dodge Dakota for years and plan on it being my last rig. MY NEW BLOG..

Charles Gramlich said...

Sounds like you did good! Congrats.

kj said...

i have no doubt you'll enjoy your Rav. i have two dings on mine simply from stubbornly trying to fit into the garage around twigs and brush that should not have been there. i was surprised at my stubborn carelessness.

the only car i lamented leaving was prissy, JB's used mercedes, named appropriately. we left her in the honda parking lot, alone, and looked back with actual guilt. we knew prissy would be sold for parts, which was in a way complicit murder. i remember hoping she wouldn't exact some revenge :^)

best of luck, snow
love
kj

fiftyodd said...

I totally get that - although I have found in the past a shameful lack of loyalty to my old car once I have driven 2 miles in the new one. By the way, ditto our house which sold much too speedily for my liking!

fiftyodd said...

Also, 'snap' we got a new white, Rav 4 last month - loving it.

fiftyodd said...

I hear you - I had many doubts when our HOUSE sold much too speedily for my linking. I have to say I am shamelessly disloyal when it comes to cars: I sob crocodile tears for my last one and forget it within two blocks of driving the new. SNAP - we got our new, white Rav 4 - last month. Loving it.

Strayer said...

The scammers and beg artists were in fine fashion sounds like, when after the Camry. Happy you sold them quickly, with little fanfare. I remember when I got the Scion, the first time driving it, on the freeway, I see some guy in a van, weaving, coming up fast behind me and just knew he was drunk and going to smash me from behind. Instead, he passed me on the right, in the side strip, had to cross the wake up bumps to do that. I was able to get into the left hand lane as I watched him careen onward.

Snowbrush said...

“i was surprised at my stubborn carelessness.”

Maybe you were having a moment of hard-headed rebellion against the unreasoning obstinance of reality. The incident sounds like the kind of behavior that young males are especially known for, but that anyone can engage in given the right circumstances.

“I have found in the past a shameful lack of loyalty to my old car once I have driven 2 miles in the new one.”

I don’t adjust so well as you. I can tell myself that it’s pointless to feel loyalty to machinery, but I can’t help doing so. Sometimes, I think I might be better off if I were a little harder about some things, but then I don’t know what I would be giving up in the process if wishing could make it happen. I do know that getting past grief and adjusting to changing circumstances are major factors in determining who lives to a ripe old age and who doesn’t. Victor Frankl wrote that the best people died in the camps, meaning, I suppose, the most sensitive ones.

“The scammers and beg artists were in fine fashion sounds like…”

I’ve sold quite a few things on Craigslist, and I once wrote and asked a guy why he would offer less money than I was asking for something he hadn’t seen, and he said that his offering price was all he could pay, so why come see the merchandise without knowing that he could get it for a price that would work for him. Still, I don’t come down on price unless it’s face-to-face because people who offer less money sight-unseen aren’t offering evidence that they’re serious about buying, and I’ll be damned if I’m going to degrade myself by bargaining with someone unless I know they truly want to buy, and degrade IS the operative word because by putting the item online, I’m demonstrating that I’m earnest about selling, so I need potential buyers to demonstrate that they’re earnest about buying, and they can do only do this by coming to see the item.

Sparkling Red said...

I can relate to your attachment to your old vehicles. My husband and I felt that way about our old car. I also felt that way about my last apartment. Before I locked the door on it for the last time, I walked over to a doorjamb so that I could hug it goodbye.

Elephant's Child said...

It sounds as if you could have got more money for them. However, it also sounds as if you got what you wanted, and the buyers got what they wanted. Win/win.

Stephen Hayes said...

There's always the thought you could get more if someone quickly accepts your price, but this may or may not be true. It could be that the right people happened to come by.

Jen said...

I've heard that RAV4s are excellent. I've no doubt you will be pleased with it!

E. Rosewater said...

the last car or the penultimate car? i'm facing the same question and the answer probably rests with the evolution of electric cars.

Snowbrush said...

“There's always the thought you could get more if someone quickly accepts your price, but this may or may not be true. It could be that the right people happened to come by.”

I had people lined-up to look at both, but a whole more were lined-up to look at the Camry. Tim had suggested that we list it in the $3,000 to $3,500 range, but, since Blue Book was only $2,300, I just couldn’t do it. I always thought of Kelley Blue Book as being to car owners and buyers what the New Testament is to Christians, so I was astounded that so many people flipped to see the Camry at hundreds of dollars more than the Blue Book price. As for the van, I had a woman who drove 130 miles in order to get here ahead of someone who was already scheduled to see it, only to find that I wouldn’t show it to her because he had the first appointment. So, maybe I did luck out with the people who got here first, but I doubt it.

“I've heard that RAV4s are excellent.”

I trust the quality of Toyotas like I do no other manufacturer. It’s ironic to consider the brilliance that goes into making cars versus the frequent aggressive tackiness of the people who sell them. It would be so much better to let the product sell itself than to turn the screws on potential buyers. Tim says that things are getting better in this regard due to Internet ratings. I know that they mean a lot to me.

“the last car or the penultimate car?”

Good point. It’s amazing how many safety features you can now get, things like collision avoidance systems that will take over control of the car if you don’t address the situation. Then there’s a system that will warn you if you’re running off the road, not to forget back-up cameras, overhead view camera (taken from a satellite, I assume), and cars that will park themselves. I’m amazed, however, by how few accidents there are given how many cars are on the road, and I know the reason for this has more to do with the drivers than with the current optional safety features. One other things about this car is that it has eight air bags, would you believe, and is mechanically designed to sacrifice the car in order to save the people in it. Even the headrests are superior to the ones in the cars we sold. One thing we didn’t want was a navigation system. I’m sure they’re safer in some situations, but, like the self-parking feature, they take away a person’s ability to do certain things for himself.

CreekHiker / HollysFolly said...

wow! You guys sure move fast! I will be in the market soon and dread both buying and selling my old one!

Practical Parsimony said...

I did cry and could not enjoy the new luxury car I drove away from the car lot because I left behind the car bought new just for my by my husband. That car had something like a 480 engine in it. I could pin the kids to the back seat when I floored it to pass something. It was a powerful car. I still think of it fondly.

Yes, you sold the cars too low if they sold fast. But, I would rather not have to deal with so many people just to eke out a dollar more. I always price cars to sell. I like that van.

Practical Parsimony said...

What do you mean "sacrifice the car"?

lotta joy said...

When I bought my 2002 Explorer, I called it my 'grave car', because I knew it would be my last. I still have it, but just to spend my daughter's inheritance I added a new Buick Enclave to my cemetery parade. In 14 years, the Explorer has not one ding or dent on it, due to a heightened sense of alertness. Now, I'm scared to drive my Buick, or park it. I go to Walmart, park it in the middle of a field, and 10 minutes later a '64 Pontiac will shimmy as close to it as possible and unload the neighborhood kids. So there's always that.

If you really want to feel misery, accidentally see your sold car sitting in a parking lot and walk up to it. You'll see dirty laundry, half eaten sandwiches, old KFC boxes, and forgotten diapers on the floor. This happened to us after we practically gave Joe's custom van away to a very "picky" couple.

Beth Brown said...

Snowbrush - your comment on my blog made me cry happy tears. Your comment changed my day in a very good way.

I feel a tad more normal now that I know I'm not the only one who feels a kinship with an inanimate object. For me, it's not only my teeny Suzuki SX4 but my sewing machine. My Suzuki damn well better outlive me.

Beth