In a fit of doing something sensible for a change, I bought a used Toyota a few years ago. It's been the best car and the worst, for the same reason.
Nothing ever goes wrong with it. After all these years and 90,000 miles, I can't think of one good reason to trade it in. We have a gentleman's agreement, my car and I. I get its oil changed regularly, and it takes me to BART regularly. It rarely goes as far as San Francisco. I really don't want to drive anywhere, but I don't want anything to go wrong getting there. My Toyota is reliable.
But I'm sick of it. I really want a different car, and I don't care if my Toyota knows it.
Two weeks ago I spent two hours at the local Volkswagen dealer's. Test driving, kibbitzing, fencing about extras, deciding between new and used. The saleswoman was a delight and persuasive. I was sold. So she turned me over to the sharp pencil. The closer. The salesperson's salesperson.
The conversation was nothing about me or my needs --- just about dollars. I told him I'd call him.
Later the same afternoon, parked in front of me at a coffee shop, was a car and it was love at first sight. And it had a for sale sticker on it. A camel-colored convertible beetle with a camel-colored top. I wanted it. The complete opposite of my mild-mannered Toyota.
No hours of haggling. No sensible evaluation. No checking the Kelly Blue Book or history reports. I just wanted it.
Funny, I probably would've bought a VW from the dealer a few hours earlier, if it weren't for the closer. In his zeal to keep me from walking out the door, he bled all the fun out of buying a car. Insisted I focus on terms and loans and rates, when I wanted to think about trips to Sonoma and Napa, driving to North Beach for a cappuccino, or pulling up at a four-star resort with the top down.
I bought the used bug. I haven't really had the heart to break it to my Toyota, but I will. And it was a great lesson in salesmanship.
I'm a romantic pushover, and for me the sale was about the experience. All the rest is just papers in the glovebox.