01-22-10 - Friday

I'm spending too much time trying find a damn car, it's stressing me out and wasting massive amounts of time and concentration. I just want to buy something now to get it over with even if it's not perfect. I also need to just bite the dealer's rotting gangrenous cock and pay the $5k ridiculous markup, because the time cost of finding a decently priced car is not worth it. The problem is - I just can't find the car I want for any price.

The other day I drove a 911. Yeah, I think that's the car. I won't do a full review, but basically it has the wonderful feel of like a 370 or Cayman without all the drawbacks - it's got great visibility, tons of glass all around, the cabin feels spacious and comfortable. At low speed it feels sort of bulky and much more clumsy than the Cayman (even though the weight difference is only 300 pounds or so), but at high speed it seems to shed weight and become nimble and agile. I think I want like an '06 4S or so. And there just aren't any.

So I started looking at shit like ebay motors. That's a terrifying scam risk. I found a car that looks great, good price. I call the guy up and ask if I can have it inspected. He says no, I have to agree to the bid on ebay and put down a $1000 non-refundable deposit before I have it inspected. WTFBBQ no way jose. Just for kicks I say okay, let's ignore that problem - assuming we work that out, I would want to pay through escrow.com ; he says no they don't take escrow. Okay then.

He says I should trust him because he has "positive ebay feedback". That's a huge LOL. For one thing he has inflated his rating by obviously buying lots of shit on ebay just to get more ratings; he has like 10 seller ratings and 100 buyer ratings. Yelp and eBay ratings are also now ruined by sellers & shops who police their feedback. If you ever write anything negative, they'll try to give you some freebee to get you to change it. If that fails they go to arbitration on the site and complain and get your account banned.

I don't understand; if I was buying a $100k house, I would have agents, inspections, escrow, blah blah blah, actually way too much dilligence. On the other hand buying a $50k car I'm supposed to just wire the cash sight unseen. I'm also at the point where I would just pay a car buyer agent to take care of this shit for me, and they don't seem to exist at all. I mean there's those useless services that will give you prices for new cars from dealers for you, but not someone who will hunt for the spec you want and go inspect it and all that, eg. like a realtor but for cars.

I mentioned before that I think the best way to get accurate credit ratings for financial instruments would be to make the rating agencies offer insurance on their products - then you can look at the price they set for the insurance and know what they really think the risk is. Similarly, dealers could give you accurate condition reports by pricing insurance ("warranties").

Anyway, it's really fucking frustrating. I'm tempted to buy something completely different that I don't really want just because it's available and I can get this fucking phase of my life over with. Or buy the fucking ebay car from the shady seller and just take the risk. I'm spending my time alternating between talking to car dealers (ugh) and scanning the car listing web sites which are all so god damn broken and painful to use. (I've ranted before about the big problems with these listing sites : the biggest single thing they need is "never show me this again", but it would also be useful to have inline notes, persistent item links, and proper option filtering).

Vice Do's and Don'ts stands out for being actually smart and having a sense of humor.

Dave Moulton has a good post on how Eugene routes traffic well for both cars and bikes. San Francisco does a decent job of setting up parallel streets where one is very car friendly and one is more bike friendly, but they don't do enough to discourage the cars from going through on the bike-priority street. It's a real fucking douchey move to drive on the bike priority street, but the converse is also true. It annoys the hell out of me when bikes use Lake Washington Blvd through the Arboretum here in Seattle. It's a narrow street that's an artery for cars and has no bike lane, and there's a very good bike-priority route that runs parallel to it right over at 26th. Get off the fucking car-priority artery you damn bikes! If you're a driver on a car-priority street, do not go slow and hover behind a biker - pass him, close if need be. And fucking hell go ahead and pull out into oncoming traffic a little bit when you pass, the lane divider line is not some inviolable barrier; learn from the asians!


Tom Forsyth said...

You're way too skinny to drive a 911. You need to start feeding your face and get up to at least 350 pounds. Not only will this help balance the car properly, but when the appointed time arrives for it to complete its natural life cycle by snap-spinning into something solid at inadvisable velocities, the layer of blubber stands a fighting chance of keeping you alive.

Stop agonising over the decision and buy a blue 2002 WRX like the rest of Seattle. Then you'll be totally free to claim any ridiculous Buck Rogers rocketship is "your next car" because everyone totally understands you'll never actually be able to part with that great "Just Works" Scooby feeling.

Aaron said...

Oi, this is the absolute most dangerous way to make your decision, and it's a trap I fall into it almost every time I try to decide something big. I do a crap-ton of research, then get burned out and go 'oh fuck it, I'll just get whatever', then I screw up the decision and regret it like crazy.

If you're gonna give up on the careful decision and just 'wing it', you should just buy a normal commuter car and not make yourself poor over a snap decision.

Or, if you're still gonna look in race-car land, buckle down and really put in the effort for the home stretch. Give yourself a hard deadline for finishing your purchase and hit it.

Assen said...

There's this blog about games, cooking and whatever written by two funny Peters, peterb, and psu; they had a piece about "how to buy a car, no, really":


You probably already know what they have to say, but at least you might like the blog.

cbloom said...

Yeah, Aaron, I know that in theory, but it's hard in practice. The truth is the rental car is so cheap that I could basically just keep renting for ever and not lose much on it. The big problem with the continuing search is the lost brain time.

If I'm not getting the car of my dreams, I'd rather just get the super cheap commuter, like a Fit or whatever. Cars like the WRX just make the perfectionist side of me really upset because they have these little flaws that really bug the hell out of me. Whereas driving the Versa rental my perfectionist side just relaxes because the whole thing fucking sucks.

Assen, I think buying a new car is pretty trivial in a game theoretic sense. And honestly, sweating about getting ripped off a little bit is a big mistake. Even if you pay $3k to much for a car, that's nothing compared to the cost to run it over its lifetime, and getting exactly the spec you want is more important.

Used car searching involves much more hard decisions, because you have to trade off the time cost of searching, the secretary problem, and getting the spec you want vs getting a good deal.

Aaron said...

I'm not so much worried about you getting a good deal as you getting something you like. If you're gonna spend big bucks on it you should really like it a lot. It really doesn't seem like you're finding something you really like even in the high end though. Why didn't you want a 1-series again? If you're fine renting and tired of searching, just keep renting for a couple more months and come back to the search later :)

cbloom said...

I'm pretty fucking delighted with the 911. Like it's almost perfect (except that the engine is a bit too far back, and the social stigma is annoying, and the cop magnet, and that I don't like having cars I have to worry about scratching). Even the Cayman S is pretty fucking great. The problem with them is their new price is so out of hand that I have to buy used, and then finding the spec I like is hard.

The 1 is a great piece of technology, but it just feels a bit numb and computerized to me. I was pretty close to buying one, but then Ryan did and I couldn't get the same thing. I actually like the old (E46) M3 better than any current BMW.

MH said...

Haha, I love my E46 M3. I just imagine being in a particular spot and Im there.

I dont know about the cop magnet thing. Mine is red[1] and Ive never been pulled over in 5 years. I dont ever do less than 80 in regular traffic.

Seattle is probably different though. Just last night, I was passed at 90 by a cop while I was moving along. Who then pulled over an SUV. Ive never seen a BMW nor mercedes nor bently+ pulled over on the 405. I realize my sample set is only 320 miles a week, but alas.

Get whatever makes you smile. Life's too short otherwise.

[1] Not really my color, but I like irony.

MH said...

There. Everyone's driven something. Sadly there's no unique cars. Well, that we can afford.

Now pick something fun.

The 1xx series looks great.

MH said...

Fuck you and your lack of carminity.

John said...

Hmmmm..Charles...a week ago, while out at a bar with my wife, I decided that I would give my old BMW 328ic with 170,000 miles to my sister because she had no transportation. My sister cares for my mother who is in an assisted living center and she really needs to have a vehicle.

I called my sister and told her about my decision and she was incredibly grateful.

But..now..I had a problem. I needed a new car. What I really wanted was to buy my friend's Acura NSX. I know the car very well, have driven it quite a few times, and it is in pristine condition. But, I had to accept the fact that even though my friend can now buy any car he wants (He wrote three Iphone apps this year that have, to date, generated over a half million dollars in revenue) he just isn't going to part with the NSX.

Since I already own a replica 1955 Porsche Spyder I thought it would be cool if my daily driver was a Porsche as well.

I searched on auto-trader, then on craigs list. I found a car that sounded perfect on craigs list, a 2003 Porsche Boxster with only 50k miles on it for 15 grand.

I called the owner, spoke to him for a while, and then sent a deposit by paypal.

I did all of this while sitting in a bar, on my iphone, and the total time to purchase decision was about 30 minutes.

Sometimes Charles, I think you just make things too difficult for yourself.


cbloom said...

I stopped reading when you said you liked the NSX.

Make things too difficult? Well duh, that's like the defining trait of my personality. However, I do think the time spent agonizing does lead to a severe reduction in the time I spend annoyed with my choices or regretting my decisions (something I often observe in others). It's hard to say whether my way is a net win or not in the long run.

In any case, I don't really see how to get this done any easier. There are just no cars for sale up here. It would be so much easier in LA.

Aaron said...

There seem to be a number of Cayman S's for sale at various Tacoma dealerships according to Cars.com at somewhere called 'Larison Porche Audi'. All around 40k. They seem to have a pretty beefy website, themselves.

An artist at Zipper has a Cayman S, and he looks totally legit driving it. That car would visually fit your body-type and personality pretty well I think. You could also fly down to LA for a long weekend and pick up a car there if the selection is really that much better. Flights cost nothing. Plus then you'd get to really wind it up on the way back up here on HW 1.

cbloom said...

"There seem to be a number of Cayman S's for sale at various Tacoma dealerships according to Cars.com at somewhere called 'Larison Porche Audi'. All around 40k. They seem to have a pretty beefy website, themselves."

Yeah, I've seen all of those. None of them have sport seats. The only one around that does is in Bellingham and is it's shit brown color and also overpriced at $45k or so.

You cannot even comprehend the levels of my internet search fu. Maybe I'll make a blog post about it just to school people.

cbloom said...

Cayman's a great car; I find it a little claustrophobic, particularly for weaving in commuter traffic situations, and it's not a great car for the wet. I think a 911-4 is a better choice, but I would get a Cayman S if I could find a good one that's local at a reasonable price.

t.w.seddon said...

A posting about internet searching skillz would be appreciated.

I like to kid myself that I have some ability in this respect, so some schooling is probably warranted.

Aaron said...

Hadouken! The web sez just buy some sport seats for a couple grand.

stuart said...

Can you get Mitsubishi Evos in the US? An old friend of mine had one (a IV) and it was great in all weather and practical, though I don't know if they have the same flaws as the WRX which bother you.

Porsches are great, but I always thought they're for when you have a midlife crisis.

slyid said...

If you liked the 911 and the Cayman, maybe a Lotus Evora would be a good choice?

cbloom said...

Evos & WRX'es are just really overrated IMO; I'm not a fan in general of tiny engines that are turbo'ed up, the power response is too nonlinear, and they're just stiff cheap plasticky rattlecans. I think there are a lot of better choices in that sort of price range, I'd rather have a naturally aspirated little hatch like a Mazda 3, or if you're gonna be that uncomfortable go with a Lotus Elise.

As for the Evora, that's interesting, I hadn't really considered it, but they cost as much or more than a 911 and are impossible to find in the US (and don't exist on the used market). I'm biased against the Evora because the car snobs poo poo it as being too heavy to be a real Lotus, but the car snobs are retarded, looking at it now it seems reasonably comparable to a 911 - a bit lighter, a bit less power, same pointless rear seats. Both are flawed and yet face almost no competition in the segment of sports cars that are practical daily drivers.

There are a surprising amount of cheap Elises available around here, but they aren't much less than a Cayman which seems to be a very similar car but is just way more practical as a daily driver (like, you can actually adjust the seats).

I actually like the stripped out cabins of Lotuses; I hate fucking computers and gadges in my cars. But I need seats that adjust, and traction control would be nice, and adjustable suspension is pretty rocking, and air conditioning is not bad.

slyid said...

The Evora is still a Lotus, but a comfortable one. Others are for hard-core drivers.

If you'll use it mostly for commuting, forget Elise/Exige. If you'll often go on track, maybe the E*i*e would be a good pick.

Fifth Gear, Top Gear and iMotors all prefer the Evora over the 911:
FG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=X_OyguSrueY
TG: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uwZHN4P84Dw
IM: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4Xzv_W4GXig

IvyMike said...

> if I was buying a $100k house,

Is this example from the '80s?

cbloom said...

No, it's from Detroit.

Actually, that's a $10k house. The $100k house is now in Florida, Arizona, Texas, Ohio, etc etc etc

Just the other day we noticed that you can now get houses in rural WA for $100k. That would be sort of interesting to me except that I hate WA.

cbloom said...


"Fifth Gear, Top Gear and iMotors all prefer the Evora over the 911:"

that's a bit of distortion, Tiff (who is the only one of the 3 I really respect) doesn't give any opinion, Clarckson is well-known anti-porsche and also well-known mentally retarded so that doesn't count, and iMotor does indeed vote Evora.

Anyway, the Evora looks great except that they just don't exist in America. I care more about the car being fun at 45 mph than about its acceleration or top speed, which is a vote for the Evora.

old rants