It is a Jeep. Yes, you read correct a Jeep. Perhaps not the Ultimate Driving Machine, but as Jeep proclaims, one that will allow us to Have Fun Out There. And, fun it has been on a recent trail crawling along at a snails pace and stopping to wave at a caravan of various 4x4s as they passed us. But, hey we’ve been driving Bimmers and Minis now for the past 11 years both on and off the track and its going to take a bit of getting used to this new higher wheel base and dirt.
We always start out by emailing local dealers to see what they can do with regards to price and once narrowed down we make our choice, finalize the transaction via email and briefly visit the dealership to take care of the paperwork and payment and we are out the door. The purchasing of this Jeep took many emails and 12 hours of time at the dealership on a recent Saturday. It should have been simple–the dealer was suppose to honor their advertised AutoTrader .com price of $2,000 under invoice, which did not show two add-ons of $399 each. Instead, I still cannot believe that we had to argue from MSRP down with every Manager at the dealership?not only about the price, but that we didn’t want to use Chrysler Financial because we had our own financing. In the end it did result in $1,200 under invoice, a poor survey response and an immature email from our salesperson stating we were not deserving of another tank of gas promised to us because of our poor survey response to Chrysler. I caught myself laughing out loud as this reminds me of the Soup Nazi episode of Seinfeld no gas for us.
Ok, so most folks would of told this dealer to take a hike much earlier on in the day, but amazingly in this turbulent economy no other local dealer wanted to move much at all off MSRP. I find this funny because our 1999 BMW E36 M3 was built in the last month of production. The Atlanta dealer gladly sold us our car with seven miles on the odometer for $4,000 off MSRP no add ons. This was an extraordinary deal considering that the E46 M3s would not be released until a year later. In 2006, the newly released unibody pick-up, the Honda Ridgeline, was taking a while to gel with the American public. We were able to purchase one for $6,000 under MSRP at a Charlotte dealer and when we sold it just last year, the cost of ownership was close to nothing.
So in concluding I ask, Is this an American thing? The pricing games and long hours spent at the dealership, or is this a left coast game. We’ve all heard in the enthusiast world that many of our west coast counterparts have far out spent us when buying a car. I almost want to believe it is indeed what goes on in purchasing an American made vehicle and I say this because last year I had a very pleasant Mini Cooper S buying experience with Brecht Mini of San Diego, CA. I even received $500 off MSRP and free floor mats on this top ten seller. But, maybe it’s just a Phoenix thing after all I had to go to San Diego to purchase a Mini.
#1–2003 Cooper S
#2–2006 Cooper S Convertible
#3–2007 Cooper S
After picking up and moving across the country in the winter of 2006 we decided that a 4-wheel drive truck (Honda Ridgeline) was no longer a necessity for hauling home landscaping supplies. That sole factor started us thinking of Mini again and the fun you can have with go-kart like handling and acceleration.
Deb set her mind on it and started searching for a Mini dealer a little closer to our new home. The first two Mini’s came from Flow Mini in Greensboro, NC. They were easy and great to deal with and only 2 hours away–more like 3 days away now. Yes, we did even discus the potential for such a trip as a last resort. She found Brecht Mini in San Diego, CA; feedback on the Mini boards was pretty positive. After a couple of evenings building the perfect Mini on the website we were ready to commit.
Jump ahead a couple of month’s and we were off for a Saturday morning flight to get the car. We had grand plans of driving the car in CA and enjoying the coast. None of that was meant to be–San Diego and Riverside Counties had just been ravished by careless wildfires in the previous weeks and the area was still in upheaval. All along the highways the burnt landscape was visible and workers worked to put barriers in place to prevent further damage from upcoming rains. Given the situation we grabbed a quick lunch and piloted the new Mini back to Phoenix via the I-10 and the desert.
Visit to the Photo Gallery to see more photos from the Pick-up and drive home.