mad anthony

Rants, politics, and thoughts on politics, technology, life,
and stuff from a generally politically conservative Baltimoron.

Saturday, October 02, 2010

catching new car fever...

There is a disease that affects most people at some point in their lives, although it tends to affect guys more. It's highly contagious - you notice that the cars on the road, the cars your friends and coworkers drive, are all nicer than yours. You notice that there are things you don't like about your current car - it doesn't do everything you want it to do, it's got some dents on the outside and some wear patches on the interior, and it doesn't have leather/navigation/heated seats/ipod connectivity/ect like the newer cars out there. It's new car fever.

I'm a car guy. I spent lots of my time as a kid playing with matchbox cars and reading my dad's copies of the Consumer Guide auto issue and Motor Trend. As you can imagine, I wasn't a real popular kid. But that also means I'm a little obsessed with cars, and even right after I bought my current one I was thinking about what the next one would be. Now that it's been a few years since I bought my current ride, I'm starting to wonder if it's time to get something newer.

The current ride is a 2006 Ford Ranger xlt crew cab 4x4. It's bright yellow, which seems to attract cops like flowers attract honeybees. It's got about 64,000 miles. It's paid off, and set up well for things like the hamfests I occasionally sell at - it's got a spray-in bedliner and hard tonneau cover over the bed. But it's showing it's age - the interior has patches worn smooth, the exterior has dents from my bad habit of running into things and from using a steel-tipped shovel to clean it out after the previous winter's snowpacalypse. I sometimes wish I had a backseat, heated seats, a cushier ride.

I've toyed with a bunch of ideas - buying a second, sporty or collectible car (for about $20,000 I could get a late-80's Bentley Arnage!), or buying a used luxury SUV. But most likely when the time comes, I'll probably buy a new, nicely equipped, truck-based, non-premium-brand mid-sized SUV. Which probably means a Toyota 4Runner, because almost every other SUV smaller than an Expedition or Tahoe has moved to a car platform (except for the Jeep Grand Cherokee, but after owning a PT Cruiser that had all sorts of electrical gremlins, I've soured on Mopar).

I have two rules for my next car - I'm going to buy it with every option I could possibly want, because I don't want to kick myself a year or two later, like I have with my current truck, where I pretty much bought the cheapest one that had the stuff I couldn't live without. And I'm going to pay cash for it, because as long as I am buying a vehicle because I want it and not because I need it it's stupid to finance it.

And that means that I'm going to have to learn to live with my new car fever for a while, because a fully-loaded 4runner stickers around $42,000 and even after trade my bank account is quite a bit shy of that. I refinanced my house a few months back and threw in some cash at the same time - think of it as a cash-in refi - so I don't have as much cash on hand as I used to.

So now I need to convince myself that instead of buying a new truck, my goal should be to get my current one to hit 100k. Which at my current rate of driving would mean that I'll be suffering from new car fever until about Januar 2013.


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