The last time I bought a car with this little time between the start of the process and driving it off the lot was probably 25 years ago, some time in the late 1980’s. That time it was lust – this time it was more mature, with overtones of inevitability.
That time it was an Oldsmobile Cutlass Ciera and the crisis was a car accident that suddenly left us with three kids, my job, and no transportation. I had been drooling over this particular car for months with no way to afford it or any justification to get it. Faced with a situation where I had to either rent a car for a few days or a week or two and figure out what to do, I went and paid full MSRP for my “lust-mobile.” It was a great car that met a horrible fate, of which we will not speak.
This time it’s a Honda Fit, but this time the crisis is the aging nature of my existing car and the sudden onset of potentially fatal repair bills. I saw it coming and had done my homework, but hadn’t had a good reason to give up on the old van when it was running okay. Faced with a situation where I have to either rent a car for a few days or a week or two and figure out what to do, we went and paid about 99% of MSRP. Lust had no part in the equation.
It’s not the car I would have bought if I had won even a small part of the $1.3B lottery tonight – but it will do. Most of the cars I lust after these days are $70K or more – this one lists at about $22K, then throws in some extras and ends up about $26K plus tax and so on. Most of the cars I lust after will go zero to sixty in about five seconds or less – I’m not sure the Fit will go zero to sixty in less than twenty seconds if you pushed it off a cliff.
But it’s practical, it’s roomy (for a subcompact), it’s got lots of cool electronics and things (voice activated commands, satellite radio, GPS navigation system, rear view and right side view cameras, etc), it’s gotten excellent ratings from Car & Driver and the like, and most user reviews are highly positive. The only reason we got any discount from MSRP is that the MSRP is so freakin’ low to begin with, there’s just not a lot of wiggle room.
The feelings are completely different. The original lust-mobile was an expensive car for its day and way more than I should have even dreamed of paying at the time in our financial situation. This car is cheap but practical, costing less even than the cars we got for the kids when they were teens, and we could have paid for it on credit cards. Literally.
That’s when you know you’ve become an olde farte. When the comfortable, cheap, and practical wins out over the flashy, cool, and expensive, you’ve crossed over a line that’s hard to go back across.
Here’s to the next (cheap) 180,000+ miles.