Remember that song about making an ugly woman your wife so as to be happy for the rest of your life? It applies to cars just as much.
Like the pretty girls, everyone wants the pretty cars. This drives up the cost of acquisition. Also, one tends to put up with more hassles than one otherwise might.
Ugly girls, on the other hand, are appreciative – and inexpensive (usually).
Same goes for ugly cars.
Consider, as a for-instance, the notoriously unattractive Pontiac Aztek. And – even more so – its almost-as-homely sister, the Buick Rendezvous.
Just ugly ones.
Result? You could – and still can – pick either up of these “babes” for an extremely attractive price. Less than $5,000 will buy you a pristine one, in fact. Low miles, the body cladding still intact (if loosely fitted). They make look ooglay, but don’t forget that the mechanicals aren’t. The boilerplate V6 engines that power both are identical to the ones you’d find in more popular (and more expensive to buy) GM vehicles and they run just as well in the not-so-popular Aztek and Rendezvous.
Never forget the object of this exercise: To not spend much on transpo. And keep in mind what Ben Franklin said about gray cats and dark rooms… .
There are other examples, cases in point.
A hail-damaged car, for example.
The good news – for you – is that most buyers won’t overlook it. The car – even if it is a popular model – is suddenly a hard sell. Which makes it a cheap sell. They ship hail damaged cars from places like Texas and Oklahoma to other places – usually, via auction – where the bidding is typically low. If you have never thought about attending a car auction as a way to find a cheap date, you ought to.
Faded/peeling paint is another form of cosmetic defect that bears no relationship to the functionally important parts of the car. You will pay top dollar for a shiny/pretty car. Even if it is functionally inferior to the not-shiny/not-pretty (but lower miles/better-kept) car they’re trying to hide on the back of the lot.
Go there first.
Don’t be afraid of minor rust, either. Emphasis on minor. Meaning, not structural (frame, chassis). It takes a long time (usually, at least 15 years from new) for rust to become a structural rather than merely cosmetic issue. Some Swiss Cheese in the fenders is like crows feet on the face. Both usually mean a discount for you. Just know what you are dealing with – and if you’re not certain, don’t risk this one.
Can you abide a girl who smokes (or dips)?
Ok, me either.
But you don’t have to kiss the car.
If it’s previous owner smoked in it, it’ll smell. But it’s not the same as actually sitting next to a smoker (much less kissing one) and – if you can abide the smell – you are positioned to score. Because these days, smoking is barely step behind kid touching as far as social pariahood and not many buyers will want to buy a smoked-in car, which dramatically reduces its salability. Ask any salesman. They send such cars to be soaked in eau de new car smell as a way to mask the smoky smell. It never works.
If you can, snatch it up before they sheep dip it. The smoke smell isn’t that bad. You learn to live with it, just as you would the otherwise hot chick who can’t stop lighting up.
Life is, after all, about compromises.
But never let the person you’re looking to buy from know you know this. Make them think the opposite. That you are appalled, put off – disgusted.
And yet… you just might consider…
Like last call at your favorite bar. It’s 2 a.m. and there she is. Maybe not much to look at, but she runs ok – and she won’t cost you much.
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