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Buying a 1987 Jeep J-20 - Trail Head

Posted in Features on January 1, 2007
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Why would anyone want to buy a brand-new vehicle? I've never been all that interested in being the first one on the block to have the newest, best, or biggest anything-unless it was something I built myself. Oh, don't get me wrong, I don't want to discourage anyone from buying a new vehicle. Heck, I'm glad that someone buys 'em because without them I'd never be able to own good used ones.

I've only bought a new vehicle once in my life. It's not that I like to punish myself by constantly buying and driving beaters and rust buckets with interiors that smell like an ashtray in a locker room. In fact, I think I deserve a new vehicle every couple of years, it's just the money tree at the bank is dead. Although, with all the no-money-down and EZ-financing schemes available today, even a homeless guy could be driving a new JK Rubicon Unlimited with all the bells and whistles. It's amazing how common it is for someone half my age to be driving a $40,000-plus 4x4. How can they afford it? Most of them must be leveraged to the moon.

The sales vermin that run rampant on the dealer lot certainly add to the new-car experience. For me, they are more of an annoyance. I mean it's really sad when I know more about the vehicle that they are trying to sell me. If I were a car salesman I would focus on the product and work on knowing everything about it instead of freshening up on my profit-margin skills. You should never accept a contract based solely on what your monthly payments will be. This is what most individuals do because they only have a set amount they can afford. In the long run, some of these people end up spending way too much for a car they can't really afford. Years later (sometimes months), many of them end up owing more money than what their vehicle is even worth.

Perhaps the most offensive dealer scheme is the convenience fee. This is where the snooty dealer decides it wants to charge a premium for a new-to-market vehicle that they think they can get full price for...and then some. As I'm writing this, there is some sucker at a Jeep dealer looking at a line on a JK window sticker that reads "Convenience Fee." Why? Because it's one of the first ones on the lot. You're already losing at least 10 percent (sometimes more) of the purchase price the moment you sign the paperwork and drive off the lot. That's a high price to pay for that new car smell.

By the time you read this, the dealer lots with be full of JKs and that convenience fee will have magically disappeared from the sticker price.

And why is it that the dealer never has exactly the Jeep you want in stock. Most of them are optioned out with do-dads and gadgets that you don't want and may never use? Simple! It's called an add-on sale. We used to do it at 7-Eleven with candy and other crap that would sit right by the cash register. However, in this case you don't have a choice unless you want to wait six months or more for your special-ordered Jeep to show up. Most of the time if you're looking for a new car, you need it now, or at least soon. So the less-expensive custom-order route is not an option. You're stuck with more-expensive, optioned-out vehicles the dealer has on hand.

So what am I really complaining about? I really like driving a reliable, fresh-smelling, new vehicle on occasion; I want a new Jeep; and I'm jealous that others can afford it. So I guess I'm stuck in my stinky '87 J-20 until someone gives me one.John Cappa

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