Y’all are probably wondering what the headline has to do with Opposite Lock. Well, it’s car-related. I hope that’s sufficient enough.
Here’s some context: I’ve been searching for a job for the past 10 years, and realized that my lack of a car has been a major handicap in addition to my ‘disability’ (I’m deaf). I have to rectify this as soon as possible.
So now that I’ve got a job that pays close to state minimum wage, in a region that’s got a rising cost of living, my priority is turning towards saving up for a car.
Here’s the rub: I want a car I can maintain easily on my own, but have plenty of long-life potential. That is to say, a lifetime car.
I looked at a variety of options, and settled on a simple set of criteria.
- It must be body-on-frame, not unibody. This allows for more affordable body repair and maintenance.
- It must have a V8. Mileage be damned.
- It’s gotta be a sedan.
- It’s gotta have a reputation of being rock-solid, reliable, and not prone to breakdowns.
- It must have only the barest minimum required for electronics.
- It must have a massive surplus of automotive parts on the market, and have commonality with other vehicles of the same - and different platforms.
I came upon one car model that fit the criteria: The second-generation Ford Crown Victoria Police Interceptor. This car has had some teething issues prior to the 2008 model year, but for the most part has proven to be a stellar vehicle for police departments nationally. It has commonality with the 1999-2004 Ford Mustang, Mercury Grand Marquis, and the Mercury Marauder. That means, with the high numbers of Mustangs still riding the roads, the CVPI is more likely to remain serviceable for two to three decades.
I’ve heard some people say that the Crown Vic is a hit-or-miss purchase, and I don’t disagree. Some LEO services are not as likely to be impeccable with their maintenance, and as the vehicles begin to reach the end of their service lifetimes, mechanic departments will become less concerned about keeping them in tip-top shape. That’s why I’m leaning towards specific criteria regarding the vehicles.
Now, they’re being liquidated nationwide at Government Surplus Auctions (GSA’s), and often get turned into taxicabs or ghetto-mobiles by poor-ass people who’d rather just stick some 20" rims on to the tune of $3,000, a mighty lousy financial decision on their part.
Me, I’m more interested in having fun tinkering with it in my free time. I want it to last me a lifetime, like that centenarian with a Rolls Royce from 1920.
Here’s the rub, though. Since I’m deaf, lack personal means of transportation, and public transit is spotty in general, and I’m generally far from the auction lots in this county, I have doubts about whether or not I can get the car I want locally.
The $5,000 question, at this point, is simply: “What can I do to acquire the car I want, affordably?”
There are two apparent solutions after spending the last few weeks researching the question.
- I can hire an agent who has experience with auctions and has a dealer’s license.
- I can buy directly from an auto broker who deals especially in surpus auctions.
There’s another problem. The former is extremely difficult to accomplish, as many independent dealers and brokers are less likely to work with me due to the low market value of the Crown Victoria.
The second issue is, if I went with the latter option, there are no brokers in the Washington State or Pacific Northwest region that I know of who handle these kinds of sales. They’re a rare breed.
However, I have found a third possible option: purchasing from out-of-state. The problem at that point then becomes the ability to have the vehicle shipped to me, if I were to purchase it from those brokers. I am extremely inexperienced in the matter. Due to my employment obligations, I cannot just ask for a week off so soon after being hired to fly down, get the car, then drive it back up here. That would make for some really bad optics.
The first two options are extremely difficult to guarantee in any reasonable capacity. The third option, while more expensive, is more likely to produce the desired result.
“But why don’t you just go to the local auctions anyway?” you might say.
Sonny, weren’t you reading carefully? I wrote that I lack essential things that would enable me to personally participate in auctions. Which would be timely, reliable personal transportation to convey myself to the auction lot after my shifts, and the ability to locate a reliable mechanic who won’t just half-ass the inspection job. And then there’s being able to bid - some auctions are online, some aren’t. If I win a bid, I’d have to be able to reliably reach the auction lot to retrieve my vehicle.
At every turn, there is something that either A) makes the time investment too costly to me due to my responsibilities, or B) the communication barrier makes things extremely difficult.
At this point, I honestly have no idea what to do going forward. I have plans to save up my money until late spring or early summer, so that I don’t have to deal with financing shenanigans on the part of auto dealers if I ever have to go that route. With that in mind, this places my purchasing window somewhere in 2018.
In fact, I visited an auto dealer this week, and while they tried their best to communicate with me, the repeated attempts to get me to commit to financing was a tremendous turn-off - I found that to be quite disrespectful given my circumstances.
Now I don’t like dealers.
I suppose that about sums up my overall issue that I thought to convey to y’all at Opposite Lock. If you have any thoughts, suggestions, or recommendations to share, I’d love to read ‘em.
Update: I just realized I have absolutely no friggin’ clue what to expect with out-of-state title transfers if I decide to pull the trigger on a car outside of Washington. What should I expect, and be prepared to do?
One of the issues I can see being a problem is not being able to sign the paperwork. Is there any way to handle this remotely?