I had a number of things on my "to do" list for this break. Go to IKEA, go see a movie, buy a book and read it through, play World of Warcrack, etc. But one thing that was nowhere near my list was "go purchase a new car."
Back in January of 1994, I was teaching in my first year of teaching and felt I could afford to buy my first car. I'd been driving mom and dad's old 1984 (IIRC) Dodge Omni, but I wanted my own car. It had 3 criteria - had to be manual transmission, had to be green, had to have air conditioning. Everything else was extra. Well, I found a lovely green Dodge Shadow that was manual and had A/C (and not much else in the perks biz. They did put in an aftermarket tape player for me - it was cheaper than getting one already in).
So for the last 20 years, I've been driving the Shadow, which I named Miriam after Lovejoy's car. (I'd called the Omni Bessie after the Doctor's car). It's been a wonderful car and despite a few issues (A/C crapped out at the end of last summer, trunk doesn't stay open, rusting on top, starting to leak, more things shake than should, etc) I had intended to use it for several more years to come.
Spring Break begins and my parental units ask me what sort of plans I have for the break. I tell them stuff from above and some more ideas and they ask "and are you going to go looking for a new car?" Wait, what? It turns out they've been a little concerned about Miriam getting me to and from places, despite the fact that she's a very reliable vehicle. Well, she's a very OLD and reliable vehicle. That has survived my "benign neglect" style of management. So the seed was sewn... Would it grow?
Alas, it grew. So I gathered up the list of "non-negotiables" and "negotiables" and "don't really care" for my "dream" car and we went out car shopping. Here were my non-negotiables: Great mileage, 4-door and mom and dad had to be able to get into and out of it easily, air conditioning, bluetooth audio system (or installation of aftermarket), ability to put a bike rack on it. My negotiables (if I *had* to change them): manual tranmission (though I knew automatic was more prevalent and might be easier to get), green or purple paint job (which I figured would be hard to get), and cruise control. I knew I'd buy the vehicle. After all, I bought my first car all those years ago.
We started out by going to Ron Irwin's Crysler/Dodge/Jeep where I'd originally purchased my Shadow. Thankfully Ron wasn't in himself (he's a very good salesman). I tried out a manual transmission Dodge Dart and it was fine, but didn't really have much in perks. So our next stop was Honda.
The salesman at Honda, Wally, was very nice and knew a lot about their product. The car with the best mileage (that was in my price range - so hybrids were out) was the Honda Civic. I test drove one and liked it. They didn't have green, but the red was a very pretty maroon/burgundy. When we looked at purchasing options, Wally also suggested leasing. When he brought back the numbers, they were... impressive to say the least. For $187/mo for 35 months, I could lease the car (if I got the automatic). No money down. I returned home to research the Civic and the bluetooth sound system. I also checked through my budget to see if I could afford to buy (was pretty sure I could lease it with my budget).
The next day, the folks took me to Kia to check out their options. I was surprised to discover that the Rio actually had worse mileage than the Civic. They also didn't have a green car and manuals were rare. And their prices were nowhere near what I was offered from Honda. So then we checked out the Toyota place. Finally, a green car. Not manual, but still, green. And a (slightly) better mileage than the Civic. However, it was more expensive. And when they brought the numbers to me, for purchase and for lease, neither were as good as Honda's offerings (though the 0% finiancing was a perk). Basically if I'd wanted the Toyota, I'd be putting money down. And since car buying had been nowhere in my immediate plans, I had other plans for my current crop of savings.
Although the Toyota Corolla was very tempting (and would still be an automatic), I had made my decision before we left the dealership that we'd go to Honda to sign that lease. Sadly, Wally was off on vacation at that point (well, not sadly for HIM, heh) but he had left clear instructions for his supervisor and they took good care of me. No issues with credit (my score was over 800 - whee!) and we scheduled the pick up for the next day (today) at noon. I was unable to sleep last night.
This morning, I got up early and got Linus off to the vet for his first teeth cleaning. He wasn't too happy with me since he didn't even get any breakfast. Then I headed off to the folks. Mom and I shopped at Kohl's (got a few shirts) and then off to the book store (bought Neil Gaiman's Fortunately the Milk) and then we got dad and headed off to Honda for my car. Took about an hour with paperwork signing and the showing off of the car's systems. They even helped me with syncing my phone to the car. Then I got to drive her home!
So now I have a Honda Civic LX that is a burgundy red, an automatic, and I'm leasing her. Soooooo not what I had pictured. But dang, is it all lovely. I think I'm still giddy. I named her Lillian. (See, I've decided my cars are female and should be named after famous cars. But there's not a lot of female famous cars out there. I decided on "my mother the car" and rather than name her Linda after my mom, I named her Lillian, after the name on my mom's birth certificate. (Short version: Grandpa apparently didn't read the birth certificate for detail.))
May I present to you all, my new car, Lillian: