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Closing the Deal

Dennis Friedman, 1:53 am ET

I HATE BUYING CARS. I can’t think of too many sales transactions that are more loathsome. When I look back at all the times I purchased a car, the one with my father in 1976 was the most memorable.

I needed a new car. I was living in San Diego and often driving to Los Angeles to visit family and friends. My 1966 Volkswagen Beetle couldn’t take too many more trips.

I asked my father if he wanted to come with me to look at new cars. My dad was a nice guy. But he could also be quick-tempered and impatient. Those aren’t good qualities when negotiating the price of a car.

We went to a Lincoln Mercury dealer and I saw the new Capri. It was bright yellow and sporty looking. I’d like to say it was my dream car, but it wasn’t. My dream car was a Fiat Spider, but it was out of my price range.

The salesman was new at selling cars. He didn’t know much about the car I was interested in. He told us he spent most of his career selling clothes. But I could tell why the dealership hired him. He could sell you anything.

The salesman said, “We have to work together as a team when negotiating a price for this car. You want to buy a car and I want to sell you a car. But my manager has to approve the deal. He’s the one we have to convince.” The way he said it made me feel like he was on our side.

The team concept didn’t last long. My dad grew impatient and got involved in the negotiations. We were close to a deal. But my father and the salesman were arguing over a last-minute price increase of $20.

I sat and watched them argue back and forth over a measly $20. Finally, I took out my wallet and laid a $20 bill on the table. I said, “Here’s the $20 you’re arguing over. Take it.”

I could tell by the look on my father’s face that he couldn’t believe what I just did. There was a brief silence. Then my father and the salesman started to laugh. The salesman gave me back my $20 and we quickly came to an agreement. I finally had a new car.

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SCao
SCao
16 days ago

I used Costco’s auto program to buy the Honda CRV a few years ago. No haggling, and just paid the Costco price.

Andrew Forsythe
Andrew Forsythe
21 days ago

I also hate buying cars but the internet revolutionized the process. I narrow down my candidates to one or two and then do a quick test drive at the dealership to decide. After that it’s all email and I purposely don’t give out my phone number.

I send a blast email to every dealer within about 100 miles (including where I test drove) and ask for their best price on that make and model. It quickly gets down to just a handful who are seriously competitive on price. And from there it doesn’t take long to have a winner.

Doug K
Doug K
21 days ago

only once bought a new car, during Cash For Clunkers – $4500 off MSRP, bought a Honda Fit and didn’t try to negotiate anything.
Once tried to buy a used car from a dealer. Being immigrants and unused to the USA way of hard selling, we were a bit shocked. My wife started crying at one point and the salesman thought it was a negotiation tactic. We walked out.

All my cars otherwise were bought used for cash from the owner in private sales..

I am tempted by the new Ford Maverick, 40mpg in a pickup truck. The MSRP is $21 490, low enough I’ll just pay it.. my first and last new car 😉

Mike Wyant
Mike Wyant
21 days ago

We bought a car and a truck, and had a house built, all in the past year. Sheer torture! Hopefully this is our forever house and the last vehicles we’ll have to buy for at least a decade. Also wish I still had my ’66 Mustang!

R Quinn
R Quinn
21 days ago

I share your dislike for car buying – good thing it doesn’t happen too often. I sure would like my 66 VW back, loved those cars. I drove my 1964 VW across the country. Paid $1,895 for it and the monthly payment was $49. Some things you never forget.

Jeff Bond
Jeff Bond
21 days ago

I owned a 1973 Capri that I bought (used, it was 9 months old) while still in college. I drove it all over the place and kept it until it couldn’t move anymore. It was great. My oldest son, born in 1989, remembers riding in that car. Some automobile memories are forever. I hope your Capri provided memories like that.

Mik Cajon
Mik Cajon
21 days ago

I remember the Japanese brand cars from the 70s set a new standard in quality …everything else not so much.

Last edited 21 days ago by Mik Cajon

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