Friday, November 19, 2010
Since I recently paid tribute to my trusty ol' Mazda MX3, the first car I purchased with my own money back in 1993, I thought it was only fitting to show off the vehicle that I replaced it with—a 2010 Mazda 6!
So far, it's been great fun to drive, as evidenced by the fact that any excuse to run an errand in it is fine with me. It helps that we got a higher trim that's fairly loaded, with standard moonroof, iPod connector, and Bluetooth. My wife had initially encouraged me to purchase something that was sporty and zippy that would be fun for me to drive. Though that was a consideration, I actually wanted a sedan that was a practical alternative on long trips to our current primary family vehicle, a 2002 Subaru Forester. The 6 is definitely a more grown up car—I call it a "middle-age mobile"—but it's still sporty and more distinctive than what I thought was the more pedestrian and popular choices of the Camry/Accord/Altima lines that are in the same vehicle class of mid-size family sedans.
It's a long story, but I ended up purchasing the vehicle through CarsDirect, doing a lot of my initial research at that site as well as at Edmunds. I highly recommend the convenience and relative low stress of purchasing through CarsDirect—it required no negotiation, no fees or deposit, and I purchased the vehicle exactly at the price my extensive research had found was a fair deal, taking into account factory-to-dealer incentives and other rebates at the time of purchase. After entering the vehicle's make, model, trim and options online, the site automatically generates the price CarsDirect can get it for—my CarsDirect rep founded it within 30 minutes of our conversation at the price that had been promised online. (Taking into account that this is a vehicle that there was plenty of good inventory on.) In fact, it was these incentives that brought the higher trim into my price range—I got the car about $4500 below MSRP (and $3000 below what the dealer had offered). The dealier even delivered it for free from about an hour's drive away across L.A. freeway traffic.
I must admit, it's taken awhile to get used to driving so much car, going from my MX3 and a stick-shift Miata convertible, which is our third vehicle (the Subaru has always been easy to drive from day one). The 6 is roomy and a cushy ride—it feels like a luxury vehicle but certainly didn't cost as much as one!
Contrary to what some people have assumed, I didn't purposely set out to get another Mazda, but the 6 turned out to be my top choice (along with the popular but slightly smaller Mazda 3) after my research and test drives. Also on my short list were the 2010 VW Jetta and the 2011 Hyundai Sonata.
Let's hope it lasts as long as my MX3! Though it's been nice having no car payments for the past 6 years, this was way overdue and it's nice to have a car with 21st century amenities!
Below: Old car and new.
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
My wife and I recently purchased a new family sedan, so after 17 years of faithful service, I sold my trusty ol’ Mazda MX3, which had 215,724 miles on it.
I must admit I got a little emotional realizing I’d be selling her. My first car was an ‘80s Toyota Tercel, a second family car that I received after graduating from college. I ran up that brick-red Tercel to 93,000 miles, but the MX3 was the first car I purchased on my own, in 1993. I initially got acquainted with the MX3 the year before when my then-girlfriend/now-wife drove it to Tahoe as a rental for a ski trip. I enjoyed the vehicle so much that I bought it the following year when I decided to upgrade.
I always said the MX3 was not really as fast as she looked, but it was still pretty zippy. She had a good-sized trunk and when the back seats were down, with the hatchback it could carry quite a bit of cargo—especially useful on my trips carrying boxes of comics to exhibit at the San Diego Comic-Con and other conventions in California! I occasionally called it the Batmobile because of its low cockpit seating and automatic power seatbelts—in fact, when I was younger, there were occasions when I would cruise down the freeway at night at high speed with Danny Elfman's iconic Batman film score blasting on the stereo, which was pretty atmospheric. (By the way, since everyone always asks—the decal on the back means "Mazda" in Japanese.)
When my wife and I were expecting our first child in 2001, we purchased a Subaru Forester as our family car—the MX3 was a 4-seater, so once the kids were large enough to sit up in a booster, on the fly it served fine as a backup family car for short trips. But with the kids getting older and all our cars getting up in miles, it was clear we needed a new family car to supplement the Forester, and it was better to get it sooner than later given the current buyer’s market for cars and record low loan rates, rather than wait for the MX3 to give out on us and be forced to scramble.
Over the years, I put quite a bit of money into the MX3's maintenance, but it was still always better than having the regular car payments of a new car—I always said that if I truly had gotten tired of it, I would have gotten a new car years ago, but the combination of saved money and the car driving and looking well made me on no rush. I should add that all the repairs were pretty much wear and tear given the mileage—the car had never been in any major collisions. (I had to rebuild the transmission back in 2004, but that was my fault in not getting it to my mechanic earlier after seeing certain symptoms.)
Anyway, I sold her on Craigslist. On paper the Blue Book value was not very much (one site stated that a dealer would pay $57 for the car based on age and condition), but I saw estimates for private sales as high as $700 – $1000. But after seeing the surprisingly crappy condition of many of the cars being offered on Craigslist, I realized my sporty-looking MX3 might look pretty appealing to some buyers and offered it for more than the $400–500 I initially planned. As noted in the pictures accompanying this blog which I used for the ad, I tried my best to make her as appealing as possible.
Indeed, within 20 minutes of posting it, I started getting flooded by emails expressing interest in the car. I probably could have made a bit more than I did, but ultimately I’m glad I found a good home for her. The guy who called me about the car told me emphatically, “I want that car!” then drove 80 miles to see it, handing me the money before he even test drove it. Apparently, he had a buddy who had purchased a ‘92 MX3 recently for $7000—though that car had been obviously souped up.
In any case, I’m glad I found a good home for it, with someone who’ll appreciate it.
Next: What I bought!
Below is the original Craiglist listing for the car:
Sporty 1993 Mazda MX3
Date: 2010-10-22, 10:18AM PDT
Black 1993 2-door Mazda MX3 w/black and teal cloth interior in good-to-fair condition for sale by original owner. Just over 212,700 miles. Very sporty, cleans up well (see photos and link below for more photos). Runs great, engine is in solid working condition (transmission was rebuilt in 2004), oil changed regularly, just passed smog check—have nearly all maintenance records/repair receipts on file. Power windows and locks, power seat belts, AC, alloy wheels (w/wheel locks), added CD/radio with removable faceplate, all in good working condition. Back seats go down creating large open cargo space.
l have purchased a new car and am looking for a new owner who will give a vehicle that has served me well a new home. This vehicle is in great working order, fun to drive, and looks good. Some minor scratches and dents from 17 years of use, but otherwise this car has never experienced any major damage. Some tears in the upholstery due to normal wear and tear over the years. Cargo cover also beyond repair (I have it but don't use it). Minor bug with seatbelt light occasionally going on even when seatbelt is engaged.
For additional photos go here.