Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Four in the Driveway...

GTI GLX VR6 - Could VR be short for Vroom?
Sorry it's been a few days but the project of buying Brandon a car hit high Gear this week after I stepped in and took over the search during the Holiday weekend. After months of stalking dealerships, thumbing through auto-trader magazines and scanning e-Bay and on-line listings we finally found a GTI worthy of Brandon and the list price.

Truthfully, buying a car is right up there with visiting people in hospitals... I mean, there really are fewer things I'd rather Not do! However, just when I was about to throw in the towel for the day on that Saturday we decided to take a ride to check out the last GTI on the list relatively close to home - The next one on Brandon's list was somewhere near the Georgia border so we were especially Thrilled that what we found in Clemmons was Perfect! Since Brandon was at work we checked it out and drove it for him - I took photos to show him after he arrived home from work. Since he (really) liked what he saw we worked it out with the Seller to invite Brandon over to drive it on Sunday during his break for lunch.

The car is in Perfect condition. It has low, low miles and is exactly what Brandon wants in his price range. Of course, there is the R32 he's desperate to own but this GTI is what Brandon wants when he's awake and not Dreaming! It even has a little sticker on the window behind the driver door that reads: "Certified ding-free." The seller is a 73-year old, former professional Porsche race car driver who told us he bought it on impulse because it was, "Too perfect to pass up." He bought it from the Flow VW dealership here in town and since they are known for overpricing every car they offer, we're guessing he probably paid somewhere in the $16-18k range. He said he knows he's taking a little bath on it by asking only what the car is worth but he's ready to part with it. A seller in touch with his Reality... Quick! Where's my checkbook?

Our seller loves VW as much as we do but he said he really has no use for this car. Since buying it a year and a half ago he's only added 2,500 miles to it because he said he prefers to tool around in a 1983 VW Cabriolet he loves better... Too fun!

Any way, the car he's selling (us) is a 2003 VW GTI, GLX VR6 2.8, which in plain-speak means it's FAST! The Jetta we bought Brandon for his 16th birthday was also a GLX VR6 and it felt like a rocket to me. But the Jetta was an automatic and therefore,
not exactly what Brandon wanted. The fact that it was a Gift that came with no financial strings attached did nothing for Brandon, and he never took care of it. I was unprepared for such a reaction because remember, I'm the girl who got a Pinto around Brandon's age! Seriously, the first car my parents gave me was a 1979 Ford Pinto hatchback, not exactly my dream car either but I couldn't have taken better care of it or appreciated it more... Especially given the alternative of buying my own!

If it sounds like there's pain there, There is! I mean, who says we have to give our kids a car at all? Let alone their dream car? I'm forty-something and still don't drive my dream car... Partly because I have no idea what that would be, except for convertible. But in our defense, we tried!

We shopped for GTI's for months the first time and even drove 400 miles to see one Brandon said the seller told him was in, Excellent condition. Well, let me tell you... It was all I could do to restrain myself from smacking the guy in an Excellent way because what we got for our effort was a ride in a GTI we couldn't take out of the neighborhood because none of us thought it would make it to the end of the street - Let alone the highway! I refused to get into the car, but I got the look that said I was being a party-pooper so I played along... But after the kidney-busting ride and before I handed him his keys back, I let the guy have it! I said: I drove 400 miles to see your GTI and you can't tell us the bottom might fall out during the test drive or something obvious, like there's no paint on the hood? Because your price, and what you told my son suggested something else! I was steamed... So when we found the Jetta a week later we jumped on it - Stick-shift be damned!

But it wasn't what Brandon wanted and we heard about it almost every day... Especially on days when we asked if he might like to take it through a car-wash! So in total, for maintenance and repairs on the Jetta, including: tires, brakes, shocks, new heater and parts for the sunroof and window Brandon broke, plus the $250 insurance deductible I paid to have body damage repaired after he took out a rather plump wild turkey whose only mistake was crossing the road, we spent another $4,600+ on top of what the Jetta initially cost. And, don't get me started on the insurance and Legal fees!

So this is a 6-speed, manual transmission and is everything Brandon says he could want in a GTI... It surprised me a little to hear Brandon promise the Seller to, "Baby" it because between you and me, Brandon's ability to baby anything remains unproven. Tested plenty but yet to be proved.

To me, this car feels 10X faster than the Jetta ever did. In fact, I got a little nauseous on our test drive (I wasn't driving) - Therefore, it's not even here yet and I'm already fretting over what this purchase might mean in terms of Brandon's tendency to exceed all Speed limits. This is an issue since we had to promise the Judge we were ordered to appear before on June 15th last year that we would keep Brandon off the road for a year! And, to our credit, we have.

I even sold the Jetta, which for me, was a huge exercise in tough-Love. The whole experience left me with a lot of hurt feelings especially since the young, single mother who bought it couldn't have been happier for it. The day we exchanged cash for keys she hugged me with tears in her eyes and thanked me for what she said was her, dream car. I couldn't help but remember the first time Brandon saw the Jetta... All he said was, it's not a manual. But look, I replied, it's in perfect condition and it's black, has a spoiler, the rims you like, all leather, power-everything, and it's FREE! Still nothing. No thanks, not even a smile. Brandon drove it like a rental no one knew he had. And, when the Law said he shouldn't drive any more he was happy to turn it back over to me.

But today is today and Brandon's twenty years old now and has the ability to buy his own car. Naturally we'd prefer he buy something for cash that he could Insure for less; however, at this point, it's not up to us. So if he wants this car we can do little to stand in his way...
Except to refuse to co-sign, refuse to pay for college or say something really Parent-like, such as, "Not as long as you live in my house." Having said all that, the kid is my Heart that walks outside my chest and since making him smile has always been a hobby of mine, I'm willing to give Brandon another chance. And yes, you've probably guessed that while standing next to his soon-to-be new GTI, Brandon swore he's done speeding. For real this time, Mom! Sweet music to my ears... But I still worry since this car is a lot like a Great desert in the same way you can Look at cheesecake and gain Five pounds. Just looking at this GTI... Well, you can fill in the rest.

Just so you'll understand, I'm not talking about one ticket, or two or even three tickets... Oh, No! Our Brandon went for the Gold and brought home
F-O-U-R speeding tickets in less than three years. And, the last one... Well, it was huge and when he finally called to tell me why he wasn't home for dinner, I was just glad he was the one calling and it wasn't the Sheriff calling to ask if I owned a black Jetta! So needless to say, I have no sense of Humor about speeding tickets left in me. I've met and paid to keep more Lawyers in Armani suits and Herm├Ęs ties to handle his tickets than I care to recall. So why buy this, faster GTI? Well, aside from the fact that Brandon needs a car to get to school and work and he will eventually have to give William his Jeep back now that William is also working, I'm not keen on quitting my Dream-job to become Brandon's full time chauffeur.

Additionally, we drove another 2003 GTI, a 1.8 at the Flow VW dealership in Greensboro and it was a Putt-putt, which of course, we both know is what Brandon needs! However, that plain-Jane, 1.8 stock GTI at Flow was ON SALE for $14,999, originally $16,999 (which again, is just Flow being Flow) so compared to that one and everything else we looked at, this GTI is overall a better deal... And, none of the other GTI's we saw were in the same pristine condition this VR6 is in so we feel that passing on this one, if for no other reason than Resale value, would be dumb. Bigger, better and less Expensive has always been in my book better than Smaller, worse and More expensive!

So we made an offer, and while the Seller didn't accept $13k on his $13,800 asking price, he did counter back at $13,500.00 and we agreed. We know he doesn't
need to sell the GTI so that's why he's able to stick to what he knows the car is worth. And, if we don't give him what he wants, someone else will. Plus, I'm sick of looking at cars and I know finding another GTI this close to home, in this condition is not likely. This one is sitting in storage, parked behind a vintage Chevy under plastic and next to a 1971 Honda Accord station wagon with a Yale bumper sticker (too cute) the seller is currently tinkering with. He also has a black 198-something Mercedes, two Honda Spree scooters and a VW Bug Baja in there too. When he opened the storage door to reveal the GTI to us, the Seller told me, "I'll tell you that there's a million dollars in this storage garage; problem is, in ten years you'll never be able to find it." And, when the Door rolled up I could see he wasn't joking... That storage garage he has is packed with cars and Treasures from corner to corner and floor to ceiling. I always wondered what people put in those storage places... Now I know!

So we had a deal on July 6th but it's been on Ice until today since Mr. Seller had to pay off the car and wait for the title to arrive from VW credit in Illinois, which finally happened today. Of course, Brandon is itching to get his foot on the clutch and is as Excited as he's ever been about anything... Including the $13,000.00 worth of motorcycles and riding equipment he couldn't live without that is now just collecting dust and taking up space in the Garage. Both motorcycles are in almost-new condition but I cannot Give them away! Well, I could give them away but before I do that I'll let them Biodegrade in the garage. I paid cash for all that and in my mind, as long as those Bikes and his equipment is in the garage, my Money is still out there too. The minute I sell it for peanuts I'll be reminded of what I lost, and I hate to Lose!

Oh, oh! Before I forget and I know I've shared this with you before... but I have to say it again!! Driving a stick shift is SO much fun - our Test drives during this process have been a blast! And, I can't really blame Brandon for wanting this GTI. After all, his father was driving a clean, black 1985 GTI with Giddy-Up to spare the night I met him! But I digress...

The strain I'm feeling over this whole thing stems from the fact that I don't want Brandon to be in debt at twenty so I'd rather buy the car for him, and from my inability to believe that Speeding is really in his past. I am Catholic but my religion is Worry; I've practiced decades of it. I worry that he'll get into trouble with this car or worse, hurt himself or someone else. So the only thing I could think of to decrease the Odds of that happening is to make Brandon accountable for the car and the cost of insuring it. So this time, instead of Paying cash for the car, paying the insurance and handing him the Keys carte blanche, we've decided not only to require Brandon to pay for the car (we only co-signed on his loan with USAA), we're leaving the insurance Payments up to him as well. And, just to make it sting a little up front, I requested the loan for $500 less than the purchase price. This means Brandon has to spend just about his whole paycheck tomorrow to finalize the deal and he may have to take a Dip into his savings to register the car. I hope this initial personal Investment he makes provides Brandon the incentive he needs NOT to leave the windows down in a thunderstorm (like he does!) or even
think about Speeding. This time it's his Money on the line and he knows if he gets even one more Ticket he'll lose his license. I cannot think of anything worse for a Twenty-year old young man than having to ride the City bus with the other Hooples while working to support a car and insurance payment on something he cannot drive - Can you?

So I worry. But I also know that All we can do is put the information and Advice out there. As it is with everything in Life as a parent... The success or failure of anything attempted by our Children is primarily
Up to them!

So this now makes Four cars in our driveway... I'm beginning to think it's time for these young men we've Raised to consider getting their own place to park their new rides because I am not widening the Driveway any time soon!

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