Tuesday, May 31, 2011

A little bit of irony and a whole bunch of crazy

     So after failing to accomplish anything on Saturday, I set out to make up for lost time on Sunday. I followed up on the craigslist ad for 1988 lifted Jeep Cherokee and went to Redwood City in the morning to take a look at the car. I have to admit, it's not the best car in the world. But it has one hell of a personality, and I kinda fell in love with it on sight.
How could you not, right? If the mildly dented exterior of a former rock-crawler isn't enough to sell you, try on the zebra-print interior accents.
Pretty snazzy, huh?

     So Jason drove me out to yet another San Fransisco suburb to this garage sale, and I began investigating the car. As much character as the car has, it does have some non-ideal things about it. For starters, the sway bars are in the trunk, which is not where they're supposed to be. They should be visible here:
... Yea, they're not there.

Ok. So I can't corner too quickly, unless I want to find myself on three wheels. Luckily, I wasn't planning on being too aggressive in the corners anyway. At the very least, I have the swaybars, so I will be able to reattach them if necessary. The truth is, they do slightly reduce the off road capability of the thing, which is 90% of the fun of owning a Jeep.

     Apart from that minor issue, the body work has a few nicks in it, but for the most part, it's in pretty good condition for something that has spent a good portion of its 206,000 miles and 23 years away from conventional roads. The rear floodlights (and quite possibly the front floodlights as well) are not hooked up, but that's an easy job, and they're only necessary for off-roading and high-beaming the a-hole behind me (as Lou would do). The interior is a bit utilitarian, but that's exactly what I want. Perfect for getting covered in mud. Just pop off the zebra-print seat covers and throw them in the washing machine. The exposed wiring is a little questionable, but it just makes it easier to work on.

     So the owner (a woman in her mid twenties, if I had to guess) offered to give me a drive around the block to see how she ran. I went to get in the passenger seat, but the door was locked. So she tried to unlock it. No luck. We tried again. No luck. Her boyfriend (his buddy used to own the car) came over and wrestled with the lock a bit. No luck. You can see a pattern forming here. Eventually, we wrestled it open. I'm pretty sure it just needs some WD-40. So the passenger door doesn't unlock, and it also appears that the trunk doesn't lock... I'll put that on top of my list of things to fix.

     We took it around the block, and she seemed to run fine. Upon returning, I told the woman and her boyfriend that I was sold. When it came to the topic of price, the boyfriend and I didn't really know where to go. The woman asked, "Has either one of you ever sold or bought a car before?"
"Aw, this is adorable! I'm just going to stand over here and let you two figure it out"
Not much negotiating was done. Unfortunately, I feel like I'm overpaying a bit. However, they do have another Jeep coming soon that is busted but can be salvaged for parts, which they'll let me have access to for free. And apparently the boyfriend's mother works for NAPA, so they have agreed to get me discounts from them. Even still, it seems a bit high. I've got my copy of the blue book estimated cost, and we'll see if I can talk them down. Worst comes to worst, if I can't talk them down, it's still less that I was planning on spending on a car. Having the ability to go off-road over the weekends will certainly make this summer more exciting, and the cost of fun is probably equivalent to whatever extra amount I pay.

     So that was it. The car was mine, as soon as I could pay for it (damn you, local banks). The woman ran off to get her paperwork while her boyfriend manned the garage sale and Jason and I sat in his car listening to the Red Sox game. Upon returning, we signed some things and made some copies, and at one point, I showed them my license. The woman exclaimed, "O wow! I've never seen a New Jersey drivers license before! It's so cool! Mom, I need to get my Polish drivers license"
"Wait, you're polish? Me too!"
Heh, fancy that. I'm buying a Jeep from a fellow Pole. Her mother and grandmother were there, and we exchanged some words in Polish (mine was rather broken and slightly embarrassing), but suddenly, everyone seemed to trust each other a lot more. It was a pleasant little coincidence.

     I left with a copy of the title and a signed agreement, stating that the car would not disappear on me (like that 190E I was hoping to buy, but was sold right out from under me). On the way back, Jason and I passed a little reminder of home:
Unfortunately, that's a bluer sky than the real Mass. Ave ever sees.

     Now that I think about it, it's a bit ironic that I'm buying a lifted Jeep, seeing as I'm working on zero-emissions cars. As Nick so accurately put it, now that I 'have' a lifted Jeep, I'm going to have to get a lowered Prius to make up for it. I'm not sure if I really want to drive this thing to work every day. Among other things, I'm not sure if the spots are wide enough to park it. Tesla has increased the number of employees and therefore the number of parking spots. However, the parking lot has not changed in size, so the parking spots have just gotten narrower. There seems to be a fundamental problem with this approach. I'm sure they'll realize it soon enough.

     After the whole car bit and a tasty burrito for lunch, I decided to head to San Fransisco for the remainder of the day. This is where the "whole bunch of crazy" mentioned above comes into play. However, it's late, I have work in the morning, and I'm not really in the mood to keep typing at this point, so I'll have to recount my odd experience in SF tomorrow, at which point, I will hopefully be in the possession of a "brand-new" 1988 Jeeeep Cherokee.

     I'm thinking "The Chief" is a good name.


  1. Well, I would recommend driving the car yourself at least ONCE before buying but that's just me. ;) ;)

  2. Not gonna lie, I was sold on it the second I saw the zebra print.