Tuesday, December 13, 2011

I never planned to buy a Lexus. Really, I didn’t.

I had no thought of buying a car when I got up this morning.
Yes, I realize that our ‘94 Honda del Sol and ‘02 Subaru Forester are showing their age. Both are well past the 200,000-mile mark. The paint on the del Sol is blasted out, thanks largely to having to park it under bird-infested maple trees at our Thorntown house. The window tinting film is bubbling and peeling and there’s a piece of windshield molding flapping in the breeze on the starboard side.
It needs new shocks and new tires, but the engine and drive train are sound and, speaking of sound, it has a killer sound system thanks to the addition of an XM-capable Pioneer tuner/CD player. It’s still a fun car to drive and I figure it’s got maybe 50,000 more miles left in it – maybe more.
But I had to send Maria to work in it this morning because I needed the Subaru’s carrying capacity to haul Jack in a dog crate to the vet for his rabies shot and 14-week checkup. He’s thriving, having gone from 18.2 pounds three weeks ago to 23.6 pounds this morning.
By the time Maria got to work, she had decided that my del Sol is a ticking time bomb, a death trap. Never mind the air bags, she’s sure it affords as much crash protection as a cardboard box.
Not one to ignore what she perceives as a problem, Maria asked one of her reporters – a car guy who restores old autos and dabbles in re-sales – if he knew of any good deals on a used car.
Of course he did.
The next thing I know, I’m test driving a 2004 Lexus RX330 SUV. The car got severely beat up in a hailstorm last summer and was written off by the insurance company as a total loss at 78,000 miles. The reporter’s friend bought the car and smoothed out all of the dents with the thought of selling it to a dealer at a modest profit.
I told him I wanted to think about it and we went to lunch. I whipped out my netbook, checked out the Blue Book values and pulled up the CarFax to confirm what I’d been told about the car’s history.
Everything checked out and, recognizing that we’re probably going to have to replace at least one of our beaters in the next 12 months, the asking price seemed more than reasonable. More like a crazy-good deal. Unless, of course, there is a hidden problem lurking in there somewhere.
So we pulled the trigger and now Maria doesn’t have to worry about me getting smashed by a semi in my little cardboard box on wheels.