Da set up.My father had a beaten-down, 23 year old car that he did not want to part with. While my mother has a driver's license, she has not driven in the last 20 years. My sister who lives with them, flat out doesn't want to drive. Every time I talked to him about replacing it with a safer, modern car that was smaller, he'd say that this was his last car, since no one else in the household drove. I told him that his excuse was a poor one, because he could simply sell the newer vehicle if he stopped driving, or could keep it around for other members of the family to use when we came down to visit.
I call it da-unsafe-at-any-speed-car.For years, the car's suspension would bottom out, whenever driving through a curb ramp. That was somehow fixed, but then the shocks were extra-bouncy, making speed bumps more like a trampoline ride -- go over a bump and bounce for the next 10 seconds. This being Hawaii, there was rust everywhere, but to cover it up, my father simply bought a can of white spray paint and sprayed over the rust. So not only was there rust spreading everywhere, but because he spray-painted over it, you couldn't tell if some body part was marginally attached or not. Then there was the sagging roof upholstery that constantly sat on my head, the broken pieces of the interior, and the scratched up windshield.
Last December -- my previous trip back -- I'd noticed that the speedometer was way off. How far off, I don't know, but it was at least 10 MPH off. That made me wonder if the odometer was off, too, which would have made his mileage figures all wrong.
The rear view mirror was also loose, requiring an over-adjustment to compensate for the loose neck. The overdrive button cover had gone missing, the radio just plain stopped working, and something was definitely wrong with the rear wheels because I could hear and feel them wobbling around, but not like a balance problem, but more like an ABS issue.
But the worst part, considering that this was hot and humid Hawaii, was that the AC was no longer cold. We brought the car in to refill the refrigerant, only to find out that the AC compressor was about to fail and the fan wasn't working. We filled up on refrigerant, and it seemed that we bought a little bit of time. Two days later, while driving, I saw smoke coming out from the compressor's side, just as the AC stopped being cold, and I knew that the compressor had blown.
He finally seemed amenable to getting a new car, so I built a visual spreadsheet of about 8 different small vehicles, used and new, to choose from. He picked, as I expected, the Chevy Spark, among his top-3. I'd been talking about the Chevy Spark, back in December, even stopping at the dealer just to take a quick look at it while on the way from the grocery store, so he was familiar with it. The big selling point on it, was that it was the smallest 4-door, and would be easy to negotiate around narrow the driveway.
Da dealer sales fail.We finally had an excuse to visit the dealer and take a closer look at the car. Amazingly, it took the front sales guy about 30 minutes to pull out a car for us to look at and test drive -- at times I thought that he'd abandoned us. They wanted to negotiate, despite my telling them that we were only interested if they offered us the median KBB price. Incredulously, they used the same sales tactics as I encountered 25 years ago. Just to get their best price, I had to stand up and pretend that I was leaving. His first best price was the face value of the MSRP, and then his final best price was the employee discount rate -- neither of which was within the median price buyers paid. So we walked.
I wasn't lying, after all, when I said that we were only interested in buying the KBB median. But the middle sales guy did lie to me, often. I nearly called him out when he insisted that the LS price listed by KBB was not the same as the LS1 package he was showing. All I needed to do was pull out his own sales brochure on the Spark, to show that there was no LS1. He even denied knowledge of dealer holdback. That he got into a little huff when I expressed disinterest in the employee price -- it was amusing theatrics, but I think the problem was that he just never could figure me out (most people can't ready me). I wasn't going to chase after the vehicle if he wasn't prepared to give me the KBB median.
Following our walk out of the dealer, my father then vacillated for the rest of the time that I was there, between buying a new car, a used car, or spending either $2,000 or $4,000 on repairing his old car.
Da tantrum.There was a point where I thought that I had convinced him to get a 2-year old used Spark that a different dealer had available. The next day I drove him out to that dealer, and he went off on some tantrum about how the blue was lighter than the blue one we had test-driven the other day. I took offense that a man who required eye surgery, glasses, vitamins for his eyes, and can't drive at night, was telling someone who can discern 98% of the Munsell Hue Test, that the two colors weren't the same. But then I realized that it was his way of expressing displeasure about something else, and that the color was merely a convenient point to express his tantrum about something else. So naturally I printed the colors from the two different years, and inserted it into the Spark brochure so that he could see for himself that they were the same.
It was at this point, that he expressed certainty that he wasn't going to buy a car, and instead would spend $4,000 to fix up the old one. I figured this was yet another expression of a tantrum. But since I was leaving soon, I decided there was no point to reiterating the ridiculousness of his intention to spend $4,000 to fix a car worth maybe $500 at most.