“This car is track-ready...and the BMW M3 isn’t track ready.” Those were some of the first few words this teeny-tiny, blonde, middle-aged saleswoman spewed from her mouth as we walked out to the 2016 Cadillac ATS-V I was about to test drive. I winced a bit, paused, then decided not to bother arguing. There was nothing to be gained by doing so.
But we’re skipping ahead in this story. Let’s back up a bit. I’ll make the boring part concise. I drive a 2011 BMW M3 sedan, my CPO warranty is coming to an end, and I’m shopping for a replacement. There, simple as that.
I’ve owned a bunch of different cars, I’m an equal-opportunity car enthusiast. I am not a badge whore, BMW just happens to build vehicles that fit my personality. I never blink. So before I plunk down more money than anyone with sense should really bother spending on a car, I should check out the competition. The Mercedes C63 is out because I want a proper manual. Too bad, because the Merc makes a blend of noises both sinister and sweet. Audi’s out because well...VAG. But there’s a newcomer in this space. The Cadillac ATS-V.
Internets here I come...beep boop...ok found some manual ATS-V’s in my area. Easy peasy. So they exist, but what do they cost? Obviously MSRP is a good baseline but we all know some cars can be had far below MSRP while others a good chunk above (I’m looking at you, Mustang GT350). I use a number of sources to find what a car should cost; forums, news articles, Edmunds, True Car, etc.
The ATS-V appears to be a car that sells for a few grand below. According to TrueCar, there are certified dealers in my area. There’s even a $2,500 cash back offer right now. So it was time to find out for myself if I’d be replacing my BMW key with one built by the General* (both keys are undoubtedly built by the Chinese)
Pretty darn straightforward. And what do you know, moments after requesting this information I have emails, texts, and calls from dealers that all want to sell me a car. Hooray connected world.
One such dealer is right on my way home. They even have a low-option car (No Cadillac, I don’t want five thousand dollars worth of carbon fiber that will scrape every curb). I reply to their email and receive a call right away. A perky woman excitedly tells me she’s got what I’m looking for, and asks if I want to see it. I tell her I’ll be there around 4:30. Hey, isn’t this easy?
Thirty minutes later I receive another call from her. “Hey Mr Carguy (name redacted but totally accurate), I just realized your car is in the showroom. Are you sure you will be here today? Because it’s a lot of work to get it outside.” She sounds like she’s running five thousand miles per hour. Shuffling cars is serious work. But I put her mind at ease. “Yes, absolutely. I will be there.” She seems satisfied with that response and we end the conversation.
Another thirty or so minutes later she calls again. “Yeah uh, Hi The Stig...it’s me again, we just moved the car outside and now I just realized, oopsie it’s an automatic....and we don’t have any other manual COUPES.” I tell her, “well that’s fine because I’m looking for a sedan. Which is what I chose in the internet research, what you sent me in an email, and what we talked about specifically.” She responds, “ohhhhhh I’m so sorry! We DO have a sedan in manual though...I think. Wait, yes, yes we do...Yaaaay! Ohhh I’m so excited!” I try my best not to sigh over the phone. “See you at 4:30.”
I arrive at 4:30 on the dot, ask for the salesperson I had dealt with over the phone, and out comes pretty much EXACTLY the person I was expecting. Except in my imagination she was taller, but I digress...We walk out to the car, which apparently looks like all sorts of emotions this salesperson is barfing out of her mouth hole. And that’s where we pick up where we left off at the beginning, at the track-readiness part. She shows me around the car, tunes the radio to classic rock because I guess Sammy Hagar is THE shit to most Cadillac buyers, and we go on a test drive.
I’ll summarize, I liked it. Enough to go see some numbers. And that’s what we do. She has me fill out some info so she can run credit, etc, etc. Now I should explain, this ain’t my first rodeo. I’ve owned some 25 cars. I’ve purchased many from dealers. And I’ve negotiated the price of the vehicle in many different ways. I’ve negotiated via the internet, site unseen and had cars shipped. I’ve negotiated over the phone then walked in and signed docs. I’ve negotiated at the dealer doing the back and forth game. I’m not saying I’m a professional car buyer, but I know how the process works. And like most recent car purchases, I have made it quite clear that it’s more important to me to just settle on something between us that’s fair early on, rather than playing the pennies game over and over. My time is more valuable than that. I want a fair deal and I want the dealer to make enough money to keep Ditsy McDitspants employed. She needs the job, trust me.
So I mentioned to her that obviously I had been contacted by them because of my inquiry through TrueCar, for which they were certified. And honestly to me the TrueCar price...or maybe a pinch under, seems pretty fair. So she says, “Trust me honey, I am going to get you the best price I can.” And she walks away into the dealer void. Where we all assume she’s talking to a manager that “knows how to business”, but she might just be taking a shit while texted her husband. Who really ever knows.
And wait a little more.
She shows up with a smile on her face. She’s ready to make that sweet deal. She’s ready to let this Bimmer-guy ZIG. She plunks down a stack of papers and in big fat writing we have a number. It’s....wait for it....STICKER PRICE. I have to admit I was initially caught off guard. I expected them to come back with a number that was a bit higher than I wanted to pay, one that maybe we could tweak a tad with one more trip to the toilet, but I really didn’t expect to see a number higher than the TrueCar estimate THEY replied to. I especially didn’t expect to see one without the $2,500 cash from CADILLFUCKINAC.
I could have countered. I could have done a lot of things. Instead, I decided I was done. I told her that I was honestly insulted that she would even try to play this game. She tried to tell me that this car was a rare unicorn-farting-laser-dragon. That THIS price was so good, I should be thanking Jesus himself, Carlos Santana. I told her, “I don’t care. You have seriously wasted my time. Now I am leaving.” At this point she is telling me that she’s insulted. I can see she’s distraught. But I am leaving. Again she tries to stop me. She tells me, “we just sold one of those CTS-V’s for $5k over!” To which I responded, “yeah good for you, that’s ludicrous for anyone to pay that.” (Bragging that you rip people off is good business) And she still tried to justify it as I walked out the door.
As I approached my M3 in the parking lot, the sales manager (whom I presume was summoned via rape whistle) came running after me. “Why are you leaving like that...what did we do?” I told him, “you wasted my time. Not only are you trying to sell me this car without the manufacturer’s rebates currently being offered. You are blatantly ignoring the TrueCar quote. And I’ve been offered those lower prices elsewhere already anyway” (which is true by the way, this dealer just happened to be convenient for me). Now he’s screaming back to me, “Did you show us any of this info? No...no...you didn’t. Where’s these sites? Where’s these other quotes?” By that point I was baffled by their “sales” tactics beyond reproach. I replied, “I don’t have to...this isn’t a show and tell game. This could have been a car sale, but you guys changed my mind.”
Now comes running, the salesperson. She’s got her hands flailing in the air and she’s screaming, “HE SAID I INSULTED HIM!!!” The sales manager is now standing behind my M3, blocking me from leaving. This is all starting to feel a little too texas-chainsaw-y for my comfort. I rev my motor to announce my exit. They scream at me a few more times. At this point I may have “inadvertently” disabled DSC. And well, that v8 sure does rev quickly. Who’d a thunk it would have left rubber the whole way out. Good thing it’s not a Mustang.
Man that v8 sounds good. FUCK CADILLAC. I’m out.