Oh! Soul-oh! Me-oh!

IMG_0002On car buying and losing weight…part two. This is a cautionary tale. When you sign a lease for the car, pay attention to those mileage limits.

So I’m weighing (no pun intended) my options and I discover that I’m already over the mileage limit on my leased Kia Optima. Sort of snuck up on me like those daily calorie counts. I take off to the Kia dealer to see if I can negotiate. But, no. If I buy elsewhere, I owe the last 6 payments, 20 cents per mile over the limit (already racking up at $540 and on its way to a gut-wrenching $1870 by August) plus a $400 penalty for early termination.

I’m sitting there in a morose mood, waiting for the finance manager to work out what the deal would be if they pay off the leased car for me and I buy a new one from them. Enter stage left…Dante, an amiable low-pressure sort for a car salesman, who asks if I’ve ever considered a Kia Soul. Well, I’ll admit, color freak that I am, I’d had a slight hankering for the boxy little chartreuse green (aptly named Alien II) charmer. I gave a moment’s thought to the Solar Yellow which is almost Corvette-ish but makes the Soul look like a Stingray that got smashed between a brick wall and a semi and morphed into a pudgy yellow cab.

feature_soul_2014_18-alloy-wheels_S--Kia-600x-jpgSo off we go on a test drive in an Exclaim (!) version with all the bells and whistles and the snazziest 18″ alloy wheels I’ve ever seen. I’m a sucker for wheels…and a few other things in life!

I found the 2.0 L engine was powerful enough but a bit sluggish on the acceleration as the car mags say (okay, I shoulda gotten the Porsche Cayman and attached a trailer for the little ones….but then there’s the arrest and jail time, etc.). The three driving modes took me from cushy comfort to hard-driving sporty, the high end audio system had speakers that glowed different colors and vibrated with the music (and just who is looking at their speakers at the bottom of the side doors while they’re driving…maybe the young have better peripheral vision), and, compared to the Mini I had been salivating over the day before, one can actually put five full-sized adults in the car without first shrink-wrapping them. Also, because it rode a bit higher (reminding me of my long-deceased 1972 Chevy van) and with windows all around, I had the visibility that an old person like me needs in order to avoid making a squishy mess out of pedestrians and splintered relics out of telephone poles. I suddenly realized that I could have semi-sporty, major cute, even that stand-out-in-a-crowd vibe, and have a way out of that onerous lease.

Then the part I dread…the deal. There was $400 off for this and $1000 off for that which sounded fair to me, but I knew I needed to consult my daughter first–the one I had not consulted when I signed that lease. Mom, she muttered with great annoyance and authority, get out of there right now. We need to comparison shop. On my obedient way out the door, the finance guy, in Superbowl warm-up mode, almost tackled me by my ankles and offered another $1000 off, but out the door I went.

Later in the day, my daughter took me to another dealer–who ended up quoting $1800 less on the exact same car (they would bring it up from the first dealership I had visited). But my daughter escorted me out that door as well. She gets on the phone to the first dealership and closes the final deal. If I come back in–by now it was nearing their Sunday 6 pm closing time–I could have it for $2100 less than their morning offer. SOLD AMERICAN…or should I say Korean.

IMG_0003The moral of the story…take along whomever among your family or acquaintances can function as a premier wheeler dealer if you are ever car shopping. And keep your mind open. Your car is out there. I found mine…c’est moi and it matches the lime and pink Fragonard fabric on my couch.

Thelma and Louise

hot summer nights

Ah, summer! And Danville, California’s Hot Summer Nights Hot Rod & Classic Car Show. Row after row of the cars we all necked in the back seat of back in the Fifties or wished we could ride in but were too dorky to snag the cool guys who drove them.


Mergy I’ve been a car buff since I got my very first car at age 16, a Morris Minor that seemed more like a blue-gray pre-pubescent VW Bug. Of course, I didn’t even drive stick shift on that 16th birthday day and poor “Mergy”–named after my dread of merging into freeway traffic–suffered the arrows and slings of grinding gears for several weeks. But once mastered, Mergy became THE mode of transportation for me and my three best high school friends. It took us to evenings at Oscar’s, the local drive-in restaurant, where root beers and french fries sat on metal trays attached to the window. In my college years, it made the trip up and down the coast of CA to college at Stanford and then UC Berkeley (yes, I went one year each to both of these rivals, causing each to lose Big Game when I attended!).

MercedesUpon graduation from college (by then it was San Diego State, and, yes, much to my mother’s chagrin another school was interposed in between), I somehow talked said mother into car number two, a stunning 1959 Mercedes Benz 190SL. This photo was taken in 1965 just before I drove back to graduate school at the University of Illinois via Route 66. And the thrill of driving the last leg from Salinas, Kansas, without reverse, 1st, or 2nd, and no starting motor. Found a motel on a hill and popped the clutch in 3rd that last morning of the journey.

Alas, the Mercedes succumbed to the evils of Midwestern winters (sold it for $3000 to my father’s milkman–now worth $95,000!) but it was replaced by a 1966 green Mustang, another classic I wish I still had. Check out this ad1966 Ford Mustang Ad-01 from the era.

My era of cool cars disappeared as I entered into marital bliss and was talked into a 1968 Plymouth Fury III in a sickening pea green combo.plymouth But it did have a hot motor to help us escape from the Hawk (the wind blowing off Lake Michigan in the winter).

thelma and louise

THELMA & LOUISE about to go on the lam!

So back to the car show which I attended with my best friend. The owner of a too-cool Thunderbird took pity on us poor old ladies without a ride of their own and took these great photos. So here we are–Thelma and Louise. I actually was hankering after a Jaguar Mark II (of Inspector Morse fame) and my friend got hung up on hood ornaments!

Maybe next year I’ll have my own entry for the show.

hot summer nights

LAVERNE & SHIRLEY at the drive-in!