Sunday, January 8, 2012

Out with the old, in with the new!

As those of you Facebook friends know, last month we decided we needed to replace our faithful, trusty old 1995 Toyota Camry Wagon, which we had owned since 2001. Mike got backed into in the high school parking lot, and as soon as the car left the body shop, the oil light went on. The mechanic gave a terminal diagnosis...it could need a new engine. He advised us to think about buying a new (preowned) car.

Since we knew we'd end up purchasing a minivan eventually, we decided to take the plunge. After viewing a Toyota Sienna out in Gresham--being sold by a Russian guy and his sister--we started to feel suspicious when he seemed reluctant to negotiate on price after we noticed the van had a crack in the windshield and didn't seem to want to give us the VIN number. Although we thought it was on the up and up, we smelled a rat. We almost bought a Kia Sedona until we called our mechanic to get his advice and he told us to steer clear of Kias. Fed up, we got the name of a broker from a friend and chose to go that route instead. Our broker, Jim Hoff, did the scouting for us. And all this was happening over the holidays!

Yesterday we finally sold our beloved Toyota Camry Wagon, our "anti-minivan," because it had a fantastic third seat. Toyota stopped making this model in 1996; otherwise we might have replaced it with another one. However, our quickly growing young men were outgrowing the car.

We advertised the car on craigslist and autotrader.com as a "mechanic's special," but got little interest in it until we lowered the price. We ended up selling it for less than we were hoping for, but at least it's sold. The buyers were three Middle Eastern men, one of whom was supposedly buying the car for his wife and one-year child. That story is highly doubtful, as the buyer gave Mike a fake address and what looks like a fake driver's license number. Fortunately, they paid cash...but when they burned rubber driving away, Mike had the same suspicious feeling we did with the Russian guy. Apparently Oregon is a profitable place for shady car dealers, as the regulations are not as stringent here. (Typical!) Many foreigners--probably for lack of other employment opportunities--end up in the car buying and selling business, not always scrupulously.

It made us feel yucky to know that we sold our beloved car--which got us through two babyhoods and many, many miles of driving with our family--to people who appear to be crooks. However, this topic is off limits in our home now, as we had Kieran rather worked up last night. He was dramatizing the situation, convinced that they were going to return to kidnap him and his brothers!

When I told my dad we'd sold the car, he asked if I was feeling sad...and it never occurred to me to feel sad until he said that. Yes, I think I am a little sad. Our last car sale was to a coworker, and it felt better to sell to a nice guy. Now I suddenly feel sentimentally attached to this car. Isn't that ridiculous?

Goodbye, sweet little Toyota Camry Wagon!
But time to move on. A car is a car, right? We ended up buying a 2006 Honda Odyssey EX--essentially a loaded minivan (which we were not looking for!). Leather (and heated!) seats, entertainment system, auto everything, eight seats, moon roof, security system. We've never owned such a nice vehicle. I do like driving it, because I'm elevated so much more off the road (this is good for a short person!). It's also nice for the kids to be able to spread out more. Time for a road trip!

Those of you who know me realize that this is very unlike me, to wax lyrical about cars. We tend to view our cars as utilitarian possessions...something to transport us from one place to another. This blog post is primarily for the benefit of my mother-in-law in England, who has requested photos! So here they are, Olga! Plenty of room for you on your next visit!









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