Okay, he's sixteen and he's relentlessly hounding me that he needs a car and his freedom and everyone else has one (and you know the story if you have ever been a parent of a teenager). He's also a pretty good kid and it would help out the transportation system at our house (and buy me a little extra sleep).
So, ....I had to go talk to used car salesman. Other than politicians, reporters, pedophiles, and pond scum, these may be the slimiest things on the planet, but they had the product we wanted.
I told my son that I could contribute $2000 to the purchase and he had to put in anything extra. To him, this meant putting in a CD player, CB radio, brush guard, ....you get the picture.
This means that the car would have to cost no more than my contribution, and he would probably end up having to do some work on it to fix it up (as good vehicles in that price range are rare).
I went to one car lot with eager and anxious son in tow (okay, he dragged me). The place was advertizing a 1965 Dodge Pick-up. Funny, but the add said that it had a wooden truck bed that was "mostly intact."
Mostly, if I recall my math class, means "more than fifty percent." It wasn't much more. There were huge, gaping holes in the wood. The floor where you put your feet when you drive was also "mostly intact." If you didn't leave your left foot resting on the clutch, you'd have to do a Fred Flintstone and stop the car Bedrock style.
This truck also had "three on the tree" (as opposed to "four on the floor" or automatic transmission). The problem with that was it only had "three." There was no reverse.
Needless to say, this fixer upper, project car was a really quick "no."
Our second stop was another used car lot with another slimey salesman. This guy actually tried to tell me that a Ford Tempo was a one owner car, owned by a little old lady who only drove it to church and the grocery store. When I said, "boy, that sounds proverbial," he didn't get what I meant. Even my son knew that this story had to be fake.
Interestingly enough, the Car-Fax showed five previous owners of this one owner car. Not surprisingly, we left.
At stop number three, I believe that the salesman may have been a promoted mechanic. He still, however, was starting to wear the slime. Every car on the lot seemed to have the same story: "This one, a couple traded it in and bought a Suzuki Samuri." We heard that story at least four times and I didn't see a single Suzuki on the lot!
We also saw several campers and conversion vans, but I wouldn't even let my son look at them. Two reasons, of course, were in my mind. One of them was poor gas mileage. The second was that no man would ever let his little girl go on a date with a kid driving a camper. My son, however, gave the old joke about putting a bumper sticker on one that said "Don't laugh, you're daughter may be in the back."
At the same stop, we test drove an old 1980 Ford Side-step Pick-up. They only wanted $1500. It drove really well for the first five miles, until I took it on the freeway. It was here that we noticed a burning oil smell.
When we got back to the lot and popped the hood, there was an obvious oil leak. Funny, but the owner said that they would fix the leak and sell it to us for $2000.
We're still looking, but I think I'm at the point of seaching the car ads in the papers and the Thrifty Nickel. I'd now rather buy from the owners than from the car lots (and I can run the CarFax at home with no problems or discussion).