Hammer Time: Batter Up!


The goals are loaded and the score tied. Two out in the bottom of the ninth. 3 balls 1 strike

You know this pitcher better than your brother. The last pitch had nearly cleared the left field post and the entire stadium. Your swing was as beautiful as Mickey Mantle in his heyday. Just a few inches to the right and he would have been on his way to a private party with friends instead of another walk to the batter’s box.

The receiver gives you a signal and you stick a finger out of the corner of your eye. fastball The pitch comes right down the middle. It’s almost like a dream, and yet you can’t help it.

Your stomach contracts from stress and anxiety while the rest of your body remains motionless. You see it happen. The hit on the catcher’s glove. The referee yelling “Stttaaarrriiiikkeee!!!” Your manager told you not to sway and now you have 50,000 fans booing as you curse under your breath and walk away from the batter’s box.

Will you get such a good pitch again? The pitcher smiles because now he knows that his mistake ended up giving him an advantage.

That’s what I felt yesterday afternoon. This manager I wanted to fire was a neighbor I bought a car from almost eight years ago. A four-year-old Cadillac Seville with only 26,000 miles, the CPO warranty still in effect, and the exact color they wanted for $12,600. It was nearly $4,000 less than what the nearby dealership had offered for the same type of vehicle. Except his was a year older and had 10,000 miles on it with no warranty.

For 8 years, they were content to make it their retirement vehicle. Lots of long distance trabeling and one of my mechanics kept the vehicle in good running order. There are no problems with the Northstar engine. Some oil leaks around the 100k mark. but nothing out of the ordinary considering what it was. They were happy and I was happy for them.

Then a Solara driven by an idiot decided to take a wrong turn and…. boom!…. Hospital visit and car totaled.

The good news was that people were fine. Bad news? All the airbags did their job and a 12 year old Seville was not a prime candidate for replacement of this safety equipment and the sheet metal that surrounds it. The car has been totaled. There was some pain. An honest apology from the bad driver, and another page would be turned for everyone.

I got the call that night: “Steve, someone just trashed the car. We are in the hospital”

“Is everyone okay?”

“More or less. Our friends are in their 80s and have been in a bit of shock. A bit sore. But no broken bones. Can you come to the hospital and pick us up?”

“Of course. I’ll be there.” I grabbed the keys to a nearby 2003 Camry and headed to the hospital against rush hour traffic.

It took a few hours to download. Since there was no bleeding or death, we would have to wait a long time. I parked at a nearby church where my wife teaches Sunday school and made the long drive to the hospital.

“Is everything okay with you guys?”

An old lady was resting on a bed and my neighbors and a strange old man were waiting their turn.

“We’ll be fine. But Manda will most likely need a few days off before he goes back to Ohio.

I became a good listener for the next half hour. Finally, the subject made it to his next car.

“Can you help us find a Malibu?” »

Sure, what are you looking for?

“We thought we would get another silver car with leather. Two years. Maybe around $10,000.

“I hate to say it, but you’ll have to wait another two years to get this kind of car, if you’re lucky.”

“So what do you think we should drink?” »

A tricky question, and I had to wait a while to formulate the correct answer. These people had conservative tastes, and I knew I’d be dealing with people who wanted a show car at the same price I got eight years ago. This deal was love at first sight and the auction market is much more competitive in 2014 than it was in 2006.

“Go ahead, when you feel like it, go to a dealership and test drive a few vehicles. See what you like and let me know.

It turned out to be a blessing and a curse. The blessing is that it brought them back to the reality of modern car prices. Everything costs a lot more these days. The curse came from the fact that they were testing cars with cloth interiors that they didn’t like and leather interiors that they thought were bee knees.

“Can you get us a 2010 Buick Lucerne or LaCrosse for around 10,000?”

I sighed with my eyes, “Yes, but the reality is that a one owner car that has been repaired at a dealer and has a perfect Carfax is going to command a very high premium at auction. If you want to buy a clean car, you have to pay the price of a clean book.

I showed them the clean prices from the Manheim Market Report for these two vehicles.

“Well, we can handle a few hits here and there…”

Nonsense! People who insist on leather for a late model vehicle will not tolerate scratches and scuffs. They want the perfect car, and that’s perfectly fine. But there is a price for that.

This is called net book value.

I decided to do some searching while my neighbors were busy discussing the car when I found it. The perfect car.


A 2007 Saturn Aura XE in the same silver color as his old Cadillac. He had half the total miles for Sevilla (68k vs 136k). The 07 Aura had also been reconditioned by two dealers that I like to buy from because they don’t skimp on prepping their vehicles on the front lines.

An owner. No accidents. Extensive maintenance history. It will most likely be the best car in the auction that day.

“Hmmm… well, that’s interesting. Can you tell me about it?


I showed them the Wikipedia list. I explained that the 3.5-liter engine and four-speed automatic transmission were the same ones used in my wife’s old Malibu Maxx that they had loved so much. I told them that Saturn was now an orphan brand, but that any GM dealer can service these vehicles and that vehicle would probably be at least a thousand times cheaper than the Buick, since most major auto finance dealers They don’t buy Saturn anymore.


Nobody buys a Saturn anymore.

“Yeah, but I’m not sure I want a Saturn.”

“Okay, I’ll get the Carfax out and let you read some of the reviews from the actual owners. I have to eat with the family. Let me know what works.”

An hour later, I got the news I was waiting for…

“Barbara really wants to have the Buick. Just keep your eyes peeled and if you find one let us know.”

The next day, the Saturn sold at auction for $7,500 plus a $200 auction fee. Add my $500 fee and they could have bought the Saturn for below clean wholesale value. It would have been an easy hit.


Instead, I ended up buying a 2003 silver Volvo S80 with 130,000 miles for just under $3,000. Had a remanufactured transmission installed only 2000 miles ago and the car just had its belt changed at 122k. The only reason I was able to get it was because the alternator was weak and only one of the other 108 dealers took the time to check the history.


Most longtime dealers just assume these Volvos were swapped out for a bad transmission. Also, Volvos tend to be slow, but this one has the right color and recent service history for a finance deal. I’m going to take my chances.

I can’t wait to see Saturn go by. It was the perfect car with everything else perfect. Will I have another nice easy fastball in the middle? I will eventually. Unfortunately, my chance at success now hinges on two managers who are probably still busy arguing.


This Aura will now be featured by a dealer in Alabama. And what about you? Was there ever a car that you knew would fit the bill? But someone, somewhere, decided otherwise?

Source : thetruthaboutcars.com

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