Diary of a Used Car Salesman: It Was A Horse… It Was A Mule

I’m a third generation mule trader. Grandpa literally bought mules and cows from the rural outskirts of Bavaria and sold them at the nearby cattle auctions. Dad’s been a food importer since 1949 for a company called Roland where he’s sold to Chinatown wholesalers and store owners for nearly 59 years. As for yours truly? I have auctioned off and horse traded the modern day mule at thousands of dealer sales. I love cars. I love the auction business. Most importantly I love learning. Educating people about cars and auctions, creating the urgency to buy, and learning about managing cars AND people is what I do outside my family life. It’s engaging. It’s a pain in the ass. And it would be completely unnecessary if people looked at a car the same way I do.

My car is a workhorse. For now it’s a 2006 Toyota Sienna that I bought with over 100,000 highway miles. I maintain this one owner vehicle to the T. I prefer to purchase them used with a combination of highway miles and low stress, and run them until the repair costs become more expensive than buying another one just like it. Since the economy has gone down the tubes, thanks to all the liars and spendaholics amongst us, I’ve found these really do make the perfect daily drivers for those looking for a cheap long-term runabout. They have far higher depreciation, are generally better maintained,  and tend to go for far lower money at the auctions… and consequently at the retail lots.

Cases in point. I bought a silver 2002 Ford Taurus at a sale this past Thursday for $1425 ($1300 plus auction fee). One owner, zero acidents, 158k highway miles, and a long list of options from a sportier suspension and spoiler. To a sunroof and 201 horsepower Duratec engine that is far better matched to a modern Taurus than the mummified late-80′s Vulcan V6. The combination of modern conveniences, low insurance costs, and un-hipness make it a good fit for folks who want a well-optioned point a to point b vehicle. I’m selling it for $2500 or financing it as a $500 50/50 ($500 down, $50 a week for 50 weeks).

Minivans are usually even cheaper than most midsized cars these days at the auctions. Most folks in suburbia who ‘haul stuff and people’ are better served buying one over a pickup or SUV. But again, un-hipness keeps some away while others, mostly older folks, couldn’t care less. The one I bought was a 2001 Dodge Grand Caravan Sport. Four door, rear air, 3.3L V6, 12 disc CD changer, and an absolute ton of highway miles. However it was garage kept. The records are all there. One owner in rural Georgia. Zero accidents, and everything is in good working order. I’ll be selling it for the same price as the Taurus with the same finance options.  More than likely it will be sold to an older fellow for cash… which is really the only way to buy a car ride you intend to keep.

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One Response to Diary of a Used Car Salesman: It Was A Horse… It Was A Mule

  1. Scott Kelley says:

    Interesting article.

    Nice blending of past and present; adds much interest to story in my opinion.

    “Minivans are usually even cheaper than most midsized cars these days at the auctions.”

    Info such as that can be quite useful for a reader who happens to currently or possibly in the not-too-distant future be seeking a used vehicle.

    With the knowledge base within this site I wonder if a “Q and A” area where answers to reader questions can be offered by in-the-know writers.

    A message board format would allow others to chime in giving their opinions.

    The message board format with readers in general able to opine would assist in conveying regional differences, etc.

    Having multiple moderators to weed out spam, inappropriate content, etc would assist in keeping things clean.

    I think of a version of “Bob is the Oil Guy” message board.

    Just an idea, a thought, in an increasing rare moment of lucidity.

    If such a message board exited one of my first questions would be regarding the ins-and-outs of a local for-profit-to-me service assisting others in buying a new or used vehicle.

    My main target market would be females who may fear being taken advantage of.

    Heck…. I just thought of also offering a service where I accompany the gal if she is having her vehicle repaired!!!!

    Input would be helpful.

    Ideas, suggestions would be a delight.

    Message boards can also assist in developing a sense of community.

    Okay, I rambled on enough.

    Enjoyed the article.

    I would also enjoy an article-type even if the commodity-type was solely one of the past.

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