We’ve been looking to buy a second vehicle for some time. DesertRoomie is being groomed to be a manager for the gas station/convenience store chain she’s working for and that means she needs to be able to have the flexibility to get to any store in the district she’s in (about fifteen miles square) at any time; manager’s spell each other and fill in if there’s some sort of emergency. Furthermore, she shows dogs so we were looking for something that would be able to take two or three dogs and all of the paraphernalia – I swear they’re worse than two year-olds in that regard – doing such entails. We’ve taken one dog and stuff in the Honda and that required careful packing.
So, a couple weeks ago in one of those vacant lots people park their cars-for-sale at I spotted a ¾-ton Dodge cargo van. It looked like it had been used by a plumbing contractor or something because you could see scars on the inside where shelving had been removed, and it still had the cage behind the two seats. I called the owner and he wanted $1,800 for the thing, a 1994. Checking prices showed that was half to two-thirds the usual price around here. I wanted to have it checked over, and it took a while to arrange that at the local service complex I use. Finally, last Wednesday evening, the van’s owner dropped it off at the complex, and I took him back to his house after letting the folks at the garage run my card to pay for the inspection ($96, it was).
Thursday afternoon after work, I stopped by for the verdict. “The good news is that there’s nothing that can’t be fixed,” they tell me. “The bad news is that it would be about five-grand.” It looked like not a whole lot had been done to maintain the thing during it’s lifetime. All but one of the hoses were OEM as were all of the suspension components. Worst of all were the brakes. There was absolutely nothing left of the rear brake-shoes and the drums were scored. The front pads had some bit left on them, but the rotors were below minimums and would also need replacing. The owner was at work until seven that night so it was the next morning before I picked him to take him to the garage, tell him the bad news, and watch him drive away.
Afterwards I was talking to the people there. “What did you want a cargo van for, anyway?” they asked; they’ve never seen me bring in anything but small stuff before. I told them the reasoning, and one of them replied, “Ya know, the boss has been trying to sell his Suburban for months without any luck. Why not take a look at it?” I go out to the impound yard out back and talk to the guy in charge while we look at the truck, a ½-ton 1994 Chevy Suburban. He said the boss offered it for $4,500 about six months ago right when gas was sky-rocketing and had no takers. It had been reduced to $3,900, then eventually to $2,300 (the last was still painted on the side window) and still hadn’t a nibble. They gave up and it had been sitting in the yard for some months – the tires were low. I fetched DR to have a look while he pumped up the tires and jumped the battery.
We tooled around in the lot – no plates so doing a road test was not an option – and DR said she was comfortable with its size. The boss was gone on an errand so I told them, “Tell him I can pay $2,000 today, or the $2,300 after payday in a week and a half,” and went home to await the decision. Forty minutes later they called. “$2,000 is okay with him – cash, no check.” I draw the money from my account, we pay it off and get the title and bill of sale. The MVD is right across the street so, after the mandatory bureaucratic wait, we get the title, registration and plates for $35. By then, DR had to go to work, so I take her there, went to the insurance agent to get insurance ($293), then back to the garage to screw on the plates and take her out.
Handling was fine, all the way up to 70 on the freeway. Only flaw was the AC didn’t blow cold. The compressor was cycling, so I hope it’s just a recharge. I made a ten-mile circle, parked it back at the garage, and took the Honda home. DR was off at 10pm but we let the truck sit; didn’t feel like fooling around with a strange vehicle in the dark. She worked again from 6 to 2pm yesterday so finally, we got it home after she got off work. This morning, she took it to work, happy that she didn’t have to leave an hour early to get a ride in with me, and wait an hour after for me to get back.
So it’s sitting in the carport next to the Honda, while the latter recharges. No name for it but I’m contemplating “Moby” – it’s white. Need any soccer balls hauled?