My First "New" Car: 2000 Honda Odyssey
- 05/08/2012 |
- by Karl Brauer |
- Karl on Cars / Karl's Cars
There was something truly ironic about the first car I ever drove off a new car dealer lot. The year was 2000 and the Honda Odyssey (redesigned in 1999) had suddenly become the hottest vehicle with sliding doors since NBC cancelled "The A-Team" in 1987.
Before buying that dark gray minivan ("Slate Green" was the official color name, I believe) I had owned over 20 cars since acquiring my driver's licence in 1985. Actually, I owned several cars before I had a driver's licence, including a 1968 Dodge Charger R/T (seized engine and no title, ended up parting it out) and a 1974 Chrysler New Yorker (bought it for the 440 engine I originally planned to use in the Charger). Those cars were followed by a 1969 Plymouth GTX, a 1970 Plymouth GTX, a 1973 Dodge Challenger Rallye, a 1987 Dodge CSX, a 1989 Dodge CSX (both turbocharged Shadows with Carroll Shelby's name attached) and a 1991 Dodge Stealth R/T Twin Turbo.
So you can imagine the strange sensation I had while signing the paperwork and agreeing to a car loan on a 2000 Honda Odyssey minivan. I rarely bought my cars on loan as I preferred to pay cash and not carry debt. And most of the cars I purchased before the Odyssey cost less than $10,000 (the Stealth was a real budget buster at $12,500).
So what led me to splurge on not only a new car but a new car that was philosophically the antithesis of my prior vehicular history? The same things that force most car geeks into the reality of what they should buy -- family. My patient wife had driven our newborn son around in a 1970 Plymouth GTX for the previous two years. But as she approached her due date with our second child it seemed unreasonable (even to me) to expect her to use a 30-year-old muscle car with no airbags or ABS as family transportation.
Another ironic aspect of that first new car -- I paid over sticker for it. Yup, the Honda Odyssey was so "hot" at the time you had to pay over MSRP to get one -- if you could even find one. The dealer I called told me four had come in the day before but one was sold and another was being test driven as I spoke to him. I drove over to learn the test-drivers had bought that one, leaving two for me to consider. One was white, and there was no way I was buying a white minivan (the logic of a growing family could only push me so far...). So I test drove the Slate Gray one, negotiated a price $2,000 above MSRP and drive away with my new family car.
And here's the real irony -- I sold the Odyssey less than 18 months later. I knew the 2002 model was going to offer side airbags and more horespower, meaning the existing 1999-2001 versions would finally have competition from a "better" Odyssey. So I sold it for $2,000 less than MSRP, leaving me with a $4,000 net loss, or $222 a month for an 18-month lease as far as I was concerned. Not a bad deal, right?.
Oh, and my second new car? Well, that's a story for another column.