Sometimes I wonder about my sanity, other times I’m sure…
So in 2 weeks I’ve bought 2 cars and run all over the place including a “jaunt” to Las Vegas… Something in the water or what?
The Banana Boat was pronounced not worth it for me to make it into a continental covering expedition car again. Florida doesn’t know how to fix anything older than 2000 A.D. (as many mechanics there refused to consider working on anything without a computer to tell the parts changing monkeys what to do, including the Mercedes Dealers.)
The spousal wagon is an ’89 that needs to go in for more repairs, as all cars eventually do, so I bought her a newer E300 wagon, and that older wagon is now the “spare car”. As a “2nd Wagon” it also fills the role of the Banana Boat in my constellation of travel things. 6 Cylinder Gas Automatic instead of 4 Cylinder Manual, but you get the idea. About the same car, though the Banana Boat got better gas mileage despite being bigger and heavier.
But that still left me with Car Envy. Thus my “surprise” trip to Las Vegas for a Great 420 SEL with really clean interior and a nice white color with brown interior in Great Condition… that turned out to be a cream (think not quite yellow but not really white either) with chocolate interior (think not quite black but far from the regular tan that’s usually called brown) with a drivers seat where stuffing can be seen and a rear seat with stitching letting go and a rumble from the exhaust that really wishes it had a muffler to speak of and a misfire in the engine as the seller could not remember when was the last tuneup but thought his Dad had bought spark plugs a few years ago… And I decided sushi at a brewpub was a much better idea than buying that Fine Gem in Great Shape!!!! (Despite only 133 K miles, it was worn out by neglect and sun, IMHO with “ample” dash cracks and the “small crack” in the windshield that was really several feet of spiderweb cracks from some impact…)
After a dozen hours on the Grey Dog, I got home…. without that fine car…
And today I bought a 2001 Subaru Forester…
Impeccable interior. Paint is great other than some clear coat issues on the roof where you can’t see them ;-) Needs the front suspension and drive system fixed (that click on turning and wobble at 80 MPH in a turn) and the brakes done, but otherwise OK. No overheating and no evidence of oil in the water or the other way around either (so head gaskets likely good). 200k miles and can’t get the maintenance history, so I’ll be having the serpentine belt done on general principles. $1400; so even with $1200 to $1600 to “make it all good” I’m inside what it is worth all fixed up. I’m OK with that. Oh, and a new battery. The “flipper” I was buying it from had it up for sale as dead battery. Seems the actual owner hadn’t used it for several months and the battery ran down. After running an hour or so, it’s acting fine again and starts smartly.
Now, the thing that got under my skin a bit. BOTH of the cars I bought in the last 2 weeks are from “flippers” with various stories.
The first guy it was “bought it for my daughter but she doesn’t want it”… well, except the paperwork was from a “dealership” that was his “cousin” who “bought it for his daughter”… and nobody ever bothered to register it… OK, it cleared DMV THEN I gave him the money… and got a 2001 4-Matic Mercedes wagon in pretty good shape for $2500. (I’ll find out exactly how good when My Mechanic gives me whatever bad news there is… but my assessment is it needs cleaning a bit – we cleaned “goo” off the steering wheel buttons likely from hand cream… the rest of the interior is clean) and a new drivers seat cover. Plus it needs 2 front tires. Everything else seems OK.)
The second was a guy and his wife who were “selling it for a friend” but also had other cars they were selling and on pressing they admitted to flipping cars they bought but didn’t bother to reg. OK… So I might have to add a smog test and who knows what to the Subaru. Then again, for a 2001 Forester, I’ve got a fair amount of headroom in what I paid for it to still do OK on the deal.
In any case I’m set to get my feet wet on just what Maintenance issues are like with a Subaru. I expect it to be much cheaper than the land of Mercedes where my Florida Friend calls it the “Thousand Dollar Car Wash”… The dealer there gives you a “free” car wash with maintenance… but everything ends up over $1000… I’ve budgeted $1500 to cover “whatever”, and we’ll see if that works out OK.
FWIW, my Son said “Oh, at last you’ve bought a car from this Millennium!”… Oh, yeah, I guess there’s that ;-)
I’m still keeping my 1980 Mercedes 240 D as the “backup car”. BUT, I expect to put far far less maintenance money into it. As just one example: I hit a pot hole a year ago. Didn’t know it until I did the Chicago and back trip, but it busted up some of the rubber in the suspension. Entirely ate the inside edge of the two front tires in 3000 miles… OK, two spare junk tires are on it now. BUT, the money I would have put into that suspension fix will go into the ‘new” Forester instead. The 240 D gets about 1000 miles / year on it “around town”, and I’m OK with that with alignment not right as the scrub rate is way lower and there’s no real risk. Maybe next year I’ll get that suspension work done… Essentially, I’m sending maintenance at the Subaru to “build it up” and “make it right” first, and with the Mercedes being, instead, fix as needed… really really needed.
For big cross country trips, we have the 2 Mercedes Wagons for now any way; so the other cars are basically grocery runs and maintenance spares only at this time. In a year or so the Subaru needs to be ready for a Florida run, but until then, it’s looking at 30 MPH grocery runs. Plenty of time to get it caught up on differed maintenance.
The really good news is that I’m now done with the whole “update the fleet” stuff for another half dozen or dozen years. Moved from 1979 and 1980 to 2001. That’s a nice jump up ;-)