Some of you may know that I began a hunt for a convertible a while back, and that I decided to consider used cars for my first time ever. Well, it’s been an adventure. I learned a bunch about used cars and a few things about myself along the way. I drove a Miata, a Z4, a Boostang, an E350, and several Jags.

Car#1

This was my first ever time in a Miata. It was a blast. I may or may not have giggled like a little girl while driving it. It’s everything everyone says it is. I kept checking the speedometer because I thought I might be speeding, but nope. Ultimately though, its inability to handle wheelchair storage makes it too impractical. If it’s only a one seater, I can’t share the fun.

Car#2

Since I first saw this generation Mustang in the magazines, I was sure I’d love it I couldn’t wait to try it. So we went out to try this lightly used one. It accelerated and handled great. But it just didn’t connect with me somehow. I knew after that drive that I would not be getting one.

Car#3

I found a good looking 2009 Jaguar XK, black with tan interior. Clean but for a couple blemishes, and it drove fantastic. The engine note is phenomenal, and the instantaneous acceleration is a treat after 13 years with a rotary powered car. The car had been for sale almost a year. So I figured I had a couple of days to think about it and let my credit application go through. Alas, right after I drove it, some came and bought it. It was is Illinois less than a week later.

Car#4

Sticking with the Jag theme, I found a great looking black 2008 XK. I didn’t think I’d like a black interior with light wood trim, but sitting in it felt special. It looked immaculate. It also drove well. Driving with top up at 75 on the highway is as quiet as a hard top, no noise penalty for a rag top at all. Jaguar did a great job. I took it for the presale inspection and found out it had about $3k of things that needed fixing. Bent control arms, bent rims, dent repair body work, a few other things, and it had been painted, but not very well. Dodged a bullet there, I think.

Car#5

The Indy Jag mechanic who did my inspection put me on to a green 2007 XK that he had worked on. His friend, the owner, had sold it to a Ford dealer, where I found it. It turned out to be a car that I already had visited at the dealer, but couldn’t test because it wouldn’t start. That, and the fact that it had 88k miles on it put me off, but knowing that it was in great mechanical shape from the mechanic that worked on it brought me back. Also, green! The dealer drove it to my house once he replaced the ignition switch to make up for it not running when I came for my appointment. It drove well, and I resolved to buy it. I even made the drive up Memorial Day to sign the papers. But here was the thing. It had a lot of tiny paint chips in the front end and some orange blemishes to the tan interior. I had gotten the dealer to agree to fix those things, but when I showed up to sign, and he said he had had the detail guys clean it up, the paint chips had multiplied up the hood to the hundreds, and the orange marks were everywhere like someone had scrubbed it with a chemical that took off the color. It was as if every time they cleaned it, they made it worse. That and the high miles had a corner of my brain screaming “Nope!” I knew they’d never be able to fix it to my satisfaction.

Advertisement

Well, I balked and walked away from the deal. I know it was the right thing to do because I immediately felt more at ease.

So here I am, still with no new car. I’ve learned that buying a used car is quite a bit more complex than buying new, and the dangers are real and many. I’ve also learned something important about myself. I like new. I like the shiny, virgin newness feel of a new car, and I really don’t want something with blemishes or wear and tear that comes with an old or well used car. If I buy used, it’s not going to be something 10 years old. It will be something like new, maybe a year or three old, preferably with remaining factory warranty, but used enough to get me that nice initial depreciation. I can wait for the right car. I’m patient. But it likely won’t be a luxury marque like Jaguar, since the newer ones are out of my price range for now.

But I’ll still keep test driving because how I feel about a car can change completely after I’ve had wheel time.

The search continues. . .