Was looking for weeks for a used car that was to my liking, ended up buying something available. A tree Fell on my Vibe, mostly missing it but doing enough scratch and ding to write the poor thing off. That was a car I also bought, used, from a dealer (who I know) pretty much on the spot for cash. He knocks the price down a bit without my having to bug him, I pay the price and never bitch about something wrong with some widget you don’t need on a cheap used car. Both leave happy.

I shopped around awhile, and I travel constantly for work, so I got to see all the small town dealerships, the wholesale stuff, the local buy & sells. In about 3 weeks I browsed all the used cars in a province of 1.2 million people, most of whom drive full sized trucks. No shortage of Big-Ass trucks around here, cars not so much. One of my recent cars came from out-of-province because I couldn’t find twin cam manual wagon saturn I wanted. (not a great car by design or quality standpoint, but had the weirdness and fun to be a superb people and dog mover). That one I had time to find a good deal on a somewhat rare machine (bout 2500 like it that year, last year in Canada). I had a beater, a chevelle, a cr-v, and maybe my truck by that time, so there was no hurry. Got a good deal on the car I wanted in it’s best looking colour. The Vibe I got Because I had murdered the driveline in my brown manual wagon of the day (cr-v), And that was the only manual Japanese wagon on the only honest “Honest John” used car guy’s lot. So I bought it. It was great. I had it less than a year and the 45,000 Km I put on in nine months were hard miles. It gained a few rattles in that time. So this time around, I was looking for a 4 cyl ute type thing, with manual if at all possible, keeping in mind I will have it pounded out in 2 or 3 years.

I have always wanted a Honda Element, Mrs doorhandle and I even test drove a brand new, 5 speed root-beer brown example but we didn’t pull the trigger. Those all seem to be thrashed-out or are being sold as “RARE Honda Element”. They’re not rare yet, just a used Honda, but such is the way with “culty” vehicles. Nice Elements cost too much for the hard life my work vehicle has, so I became open to other things. First gen CR-Vs are now very cheap, and a low miler would go forever, and I know most of the things that go wrong with them, but I’ve had two, so looking for something else.

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The little panel wagon popped up on the lot and started me looking for a panel with a stick. Found one, but it was far too nice for work duty (it was an old guy’s baby, special ordered, all options, leather, orange.) So I bought the little slushbox breadbox. It’s good. Drives a lot like a minivan, just smaller. It eats up 200 pounds of tools and electrical equipment and has storage boxes instead of a rear seat. The ride is definitely more “domestic” after a long line of Honda Daily drivers, but that’s good because of the roads I’m often on.

It’ll do. It looks cool and it was cheap. But I wound up with it because it’s what there was, and just odd enough for me. But used cars are a problem where I live. There’s no saftey inspection taking them off the road, so sub $1000 vible cars are out there. But there’s nothing between the “buy here-pay here” guys and the premium used on the dealer lots. The problem is, besides from Mazda which is independent, is that 3 or 4 guys own all 2 dozen dealerships, and the mid-market lots that get their used cars. nothing more than 3 years old on the dealer lots, nothing more than 5 or 6 on the second-tier lots. The gang controls thge flow of used cars in the market. Used cars are overpriced here because it’s finance-or-nothing. Cash-priced used cars do not enter the market, they go east to rustier areas. If there’s no mid priced cars out there, you might as well get new, or a nice $35,000 used bucket, sign right here. And It’s getting worse, the guy I got the HHR from can’t keep stuff on the lot, there’s not enough Cars to meet demand. It’s either ship stuff in, or stock junkier cars, which are not worth the hassle of selling on a lot.

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Anyone else suffering a used cars conspiracy? It’s a reasonable sized city, in a boom time, but old habits die hard and there’s still some Big fish-small pond Guys out there who’ve ruled their little bubble for far too long, I’ve worked for a bunch of them. Not naming names because I need to work in an industry controlled by the 4 guys I’m badmouthing.