Winnie and I officially joined the ranks of two-car-owner families again this past Saturday. After a lot of discussion and some new-car shopping, we opted to go with an inexpensive used car. It really came down to just needing something inexpensive for my commuting to the local bus stops, occasionally driving into work, and getting around on weekends when Winnie was at work.
We ended up with a 2000 VW New Beetle, manual transmission, in pretty nice condition, purchased from a private party this past Saturday.
Winnie and I did some new car shopping the weekend after the moped disappeared and ended up feeling pretty discouraged. The sales people were annoying and bordering on obnoxious. The new car prices meant we’d have to take out another loan after finally clearing out all our loans (other than house mortgage) just a few months ago. As a topper, after three personal incidents with vandalism and theft at the local commuter lots, I really don’t feel comfortable leaving anything “nice” parked there during the weekdays.
So we talked some, and decided to go with an older inexpensive car for my primary use. Way back last year, when we first started looking for cars, Winnie was attracted to the VW New Beetles. She was also attracted to another small German car called “Porsche,” but I pretty quickly explained the difference to her… Anyway, she had a bit of trouble reaching the pedals on a VW, and the automatics were more than we wanted to pay, so we moved on to looking at other types of cars.
Now, with the car being for my primary use, we immediately went back to looking at the New Beetles. I went on line at E-Bay and Craig’s List and shopped around. There were several cars on Craig’s List in our immediate area that looked good and were within our price range. I made a few calls and hooked up with a private seller last Tuesday afternoon to see their car. It ended up being the one we ultimately purchased.
Once again, the local Metro was invaluable. I simply arranged to meet the seller at the metro station nearest to her and used the metro to ride over and see the car after work. The seller and I ended up driving the car for about one hour, and then I hoped the metro back home. Winnie met me at the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station which is the stop closest to our house.
I liked the car right away, and the seller seemed honest about what she was offering. During the remainder of the week I attempted to view some other cars I saw on Craig’s List, but couldn’t quite get anything going. Most cars listed were through dealers, and they were not interested in meeting me at a metro stop.
One gentleman had a VW I really wanted to see, but the he kept putting me off showing it. After the third time I called attempting to arrange a test drive, I gave up. (This seller actually called me back while I was sitting in the DMV registering the car I purchased. It gave me a bit of pleasure telling him he was too late.)
Friday night, I called the seller of the car I test drove and made an offer that was accepted. Winnie thought I paid too much, and I possibly could have gotten the seller down more, but I felt I had a good price. Of course, we had a bit of adventure in getting the car.
Saturday, we met the seller at the Franconia-Springfield Metro Station, expecting her to be driving the car and taking the metro back home. Instead, she met us driving another car and planning to take us to the VW parked back in Alexandria. She explained she just had a mechanic friend do some work on the car and wanted us to talk with her friend. We took a ride out, talked with the mechanic, and felt satisfied that the car was mechanically sound. He had a computerized diagnostics machine and showed us the readouts – I was truly impressed.
We paid, but then I had a concern with the title – the seller had owned the car a bit over a month, and had never registered it. I was reluctant to take the title to the DMV with a month-long gap in the ownership transfer, so the seller came with us to the nearest DMV to take care of it right away.
It turned out she had to take title and pay taxes on her sale, then transferred it over to us right there at the DMV and we were then given clear title. But it was not a problem otherwise, and I felt it was decent of her to work with us on the title without any complaints or bad feelings.
So, we’re a two car family again. I drove the work this morning, just to get the feel for a Monday morning commute. The trip convinced me of what I was already pretty sure of – I’ll be taking the bus in most days still. It actually took as long to drive as the bus normally takes and I didn’t get to read the morning paper. The one change in bus commuting I might make is trying other bus stops closer to the freeway. The stop closest to our house is also near the end of the line. I’m going to see if I’ll get home any quicker by catching the bus closer to where it comes off of the freeway.
At some point I’ll need to at least show Winnie how to drive a stick. That’ll be exciting.
No Good Deed Goes Unpunished : An adventure in car parking and being honest.
This and That, German Holiday Edition : Catching up on current family news including our whirlwind trip to Germany and Italy.
1976 Alfa Romeo Alfetta 1.6 Four Door Sedan : The history of one of the more exotic cars I’ve owned.
2000 Volkswagen New Beetle GL 2 Door Hatchback : Our history of owning a 2000 VW New Beetle car.