An Open Letter

In case you dear readers have been wondering…we have been busy, and that is an understatement.

Part of our busy-ness has been due to looking for new to us vehicles.  A few more months and my mini-van will turn over 300,000 miles.  Shane’s little beaner car (green geo prizm)?  Well, the motor’s running strong, but let’s just say since it kissed the hedge post it hasn’t been quite the same.   MO state inspection is due in May and we’re not sure if it will pass, so we’re looking.

I have been in garages almost all of my life.  My Daddy has always tinkered with cars,  an old VW bus, motorcycle and even a golf cart graced our house before I was 12.  At one point, he detailed repo cars for his friend that worked at the bank so they could be resold.  He’d often buy cars, fix them up and resell them.  My growing up memories include many hours working alongside my Daddy in the garage.  My Uncle also owned a shop, used car dealership and then the SAAB dealership in Knoxville, he also did some roadracing and I’d crew for him in my early teens.  Most often that meant writing his time on a chalkboard, running across the hot pits, leaning across the guardrail, so he could see how fast he was running,  but hey, it was FUN!   When I grew up, I found my way back to SCCA (Sports Car Club of America) and spent a few summers autocrossing, in a VW Rabbit and then a tricked out, street legal VW Scirocco and crewing at the road races with friends.

I say all this to say that I’m no dummy when it comes to cars.

Autocross pic 001(In case you’re wondering, this is me at an autocross in Knoxville, at a drag strip in the late 80’s, early 90’s.  I was driving a friends rear wheel drive Dodge Challenger.  I  had just hit the guard rail and done a 360…see that smoke coming off the tire?  Another friend just happened to catch this picture, isn’t it cool?  You can click on it if you’re intersted, and it should make it bigger).

So, today, with the fact in mind that I’m not dumb when it comes to cars, I want to write an open letter to all the folks that think their car “in GREAT condition” that only needs a motor, tranny,  head gasket, car that’s overheating and “shouldn’t” take much to fix, etc.  is worth a small fortune because it gets “great gas mileage and will run forever, if you fix (insert MAJOR repair).

Dear owner of “car in great condition with 200,000+ miles, that only needs _____ and will run forever”

There might be some dummy out there that will take that old, worn out Honda Accord, Honda Passport, Mazda, Chevy Cavalier, Dodge Neon, or other such similar car off your hands that you’re asking a small fortune that you describe as a “great car that NEEDS a MOTOR” for $2000, or “only problem is no reverse, if you park where you can drive through you’ll have no trouble”  Or the car (and I don’t care if it’s a Honda) that has nearly 300,000 miles  and will “run forever” that you’re asking $2500 for me to take off your hands because you KNOW in the near future it will need significant repair work just because it is OLD.  Oh Yes, and these cars all get “great gas mileage”

Well, let me just explain, in case you haven’t figured it out, that a car that doesn’t RUN, doesn’t get ANY gas mileage!

Maybe you don’t know about Kelley Blue Book, or NADA.  If  you don’t, you probably should do some research and find out, as these are the authorities for used car values and have been since your Grandfather’s time.

KBB (Kelley Blue Book) would rate a car in non running condition as POOR and they won’t even list a value for it!

Fair Condition:


  • Needs servicing, but is still in reasonable running condition with a clean title history


Why, dear reader, would I purchase your 2000 Passport, a car that is nearly 15 years old,  that needs a motor, for $1500 and put another $3000 into it to replace the motor when the car in EXCELLENT condition on KBB is only listed with a value of $2900?  In case you didn’t get it above, a car that needs a motor is NOT even close to EXCELLENT condition!  And while I’m here, let me just state that a car with a salvaged title (of which there are many) is NOT in Fair condition either!

While I’m on my CL soapbox, let me also state that “your baby” that you’ve taken excellent care of, has aftermarket sound and cool expensive rims, except for (insert major repair costs) that you think it’s well worth the extravagant price your asking ONLY because it was YOUR baby isn’t worth all that!

Check the BLUE BOOK.  Here’s the website, just in case you don’t know.  It has been one of the leading authority on resale values of used cars since 1918!

Or if you’d rather, NADA (National Auto Dealers Association) has been around since 1917

Just for an example, the NADA ROUGH condition for that Honda Passport I mention above?  Meaning it needs significant repair (yeah, I’d say REPLACING AND ENGINE, qualifies!)  is $1525!  So, I’ll pay more for an engine on a car where I have no idea what I’ll find once I replace said engine than the car itself is worth!)

Here’s what I’d like to find and I think it’s reasonable.  We want a  cheap,  $1000ish, dependable car that runs, and gets good gas mileage and will get my husband from point A to point B, so he can do his job and provide for the 6 of us.  We really don’t care what it looks like, or if it has an aftermarket sound system, rims etc.  It just has to get good gas mileage, be reliable, and CHEAP! (Stick shift preferred).


No Dummy When it Comes to Cars

Yes, folks these are snippets and pieces of actual Craigslist ads that I have been reading and put together for this post.

Maybe you’ll understand my frustration.

Maybe, someone that’s been listing their clunker car for an extravagant price will read this and reconsider their price.  Maybe, just maybe, we’ll find a reasonably priced used car for Shane so he can do his job and support his family soon and life will slow down to somewhat normal  (I can dream, can’t I?)


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