Springtime is a dangerous time for me and car showrooms. Beginning in spring 2004, we’ve bought a new car each year. However, we haven’t always been wise about our auto purchases, and I think the automakers have targeted me directly because they know my weakness.
The Chevy dealership who sold us our Malibu sent us a letter saying they are “low on well-maintained, used chevy cars and would like to buy ours“. I know this was just a ploy to get me into the showroom, and I wouldn’t have gone except for a little note at the bottom of the letter which said:
Visit the showroom before April 30th to get up to $100 CASH just for test driving a new or used vehicle!
Now, I love test driving different vehicles. I love discovering the differences between each, and cataloging the details for future reference, when perhaps a friend or family member asks for my opinion of a car or truck. The highlight of this obsession was when my parents asked my honest opinion to help them choose a used car for my dad, and then bought the vehicle I suggested (they had a low budget). It’s right up there with my mom asking my advice on managing their finances, when I was always the one whose “money burned a hole in his pocket.”
I decided to give it a shot and see what I had to do to get the full $100 cash. I took the Malibu to the dealership 4 miles away prepared to test drive whatever was available. When I arrived, the salesguy met me at the door and saw me walking up with a letter. He said “that looks like an excellent vehicle for our used lot!”
They appraised the car while I took a 2007 Chevy Colorado base model for a test drive. I was actually quite impressed with the handling, suspension and solid feel of the truck considering what I’ve read about older models in reviews and Consumer Reports, and if I didn’t already have my Honda Ridgeline, I would consider the base Colorado with a manual transmission, given that it’s half the price of my Ridgeline and gets 10 more miles per gallon.
So, when I came back in from the test drive, I got the numbers for the trade and truck. Of course I chose not to sell the car, especially since they offered $3,000 less than what I could get on the open market for the Malibu. But, the salesman took me over to the Wheel of Cash, where I could spin to win up to $100 cash.
Obviously they only had one Ben Franklin on the wheel, and I had a good chance of leaving with just $5. I spun the wheel in The Price is Right and Wheel of Fortune fashion (had to pass start once), and saw the $100 bill coming around. I figured it would go by and end up on the $5, but…I WON $100 Cash!
Yep, the wheel stopped on the last rung for $100. For only 1.5 hours of my time, I think it was a good investment. Plus I got to test drive a new truck. It makes me giddy, even if it WAS a $15,000 4 cylinder truck.
I called my wife and told her I was on my way home. I told her I had to spin a wheel, and grumbled something so she would believe I didn’t get the $100 (it worked). I said I’ll just give her half of what I made when I got home.
I went inside and told Stacie “here’s the half I promised you” and handed her a $50 bill. She was pleasantly surprised, but it IS half her car too!