Submitted by Rich Loney
If you've been a member of Northern Ohio Chapter for any period of time, you may have read a few of my ramblings back in 2010 about my oldest son Ryan's quest for the holy Grail of young adulthood, a driver's permit. You may also have read about my somewhat obsessive search to find him that "perfect" first car, wielding my smart phone and the craigslist app. If you have time to burn, these and other articles from all contributing writers are posted to www.nohiocbmwcca.org. Now, jump forward to 2014 and it's son number two, Kyle, who has grabbed that learner's permit golden ring. Man, time flies! That "Life comes at you fast" commercial where the attractive young lady watches her equally attractive young boyfriend jump in one end of the pool and emerge from the other end as a weathered and worn 70-year-old man is so spot on!
Kyle will be 16-years- old on May fifth (Cinco de Kyle, as it's known around Casa Loney). Ohio law states that drivers-to-be must get their temporary permits 6 months prior to taking the road test. So, the multi-part plan was set in motion. Part One: Take Kyle to the local DMV on November 5 for his temporary driver's permit, providing me with a leisurely 180 days to embark upon my online safari effort to hunt down and bag that rare, low-mile trophy vehicle.
So, test day comes and Kyle passes the written exam with flying colors; part one of the plan is accomplished. (Truth be told, he got down to the final question with no more wrong answers available, suddenly creating for himself a high-pressure pass-or-fail exam. Good for him, I say! Those are the types of situations that build one's character!)
Part Two of the plan was scheduled for January. Enroll Kyle in the local drivers' school. Things were going beautifully! With all the days off school, due to bad weather, he was able to burn through the in-class sessions without missing any homework or after school football workouts.
Oh, and making things better, I had just downloaded an updated version of my craigslist app, so Part Three, "Big-Game Online Vehicle Safari, The Sequel," would commence as scheduled with no timeline pressure whatsoever. The plan was rolling out so flawlessly, that I was beginning to strain my shoulder muscles from patting myself on my back.
What's that you say? Hadn't I totally forgotten that you never ever taunt the "I-have-a-plan gods?" Yes, indeed, I got sloppy. I let my guard down, and that's when it happened. The family and I were headed to yet another of my son's basketball/football/game/practice/scrimmages (you pick; they all blur together) when we drove by my buddy Steve's auto care shop. Sitting way in the corner of his lot was a Rallye Red Honda Element with a greasy thumb stained "For Sale" sign in the front window.
My brain synapses trigger in rapid-fire succession. Honda reliability, check. All-wheel drive, check. Larger safer size, check. Being sold by a trusted party, check. But what about "The Plan?" It was only January and "the K-man" didn't need wheels for another 5 months! Then I thought to myself, no worries. The seller is probably asking way too much for the Honda and I bet is has 200K on the clock. So, I call Steve to get the skinny on the big red box-of-a-car on his lot (a now very trendy vehicle style). Turns out the car belonged to his niece who graduated college and moved out of town a few months back. Since it was no longer needed, Steve's brother-in-law wanted to get it out if his driveway. So, the "why it's on the market" side of the equation made solid sense. Steve, being the car's caretaker, had years of documented serviced records, so the mechanical history checked out as well. As did the mileage; this '05 Element had logged a low 78K in the past 9 years. Best of all, it was priced several thousand under book value.
So, without a single online search, I jumped on it and in early January the "Kylemobile" was added to our stable of vehicles. Best of all, I'm now experiencing a "Holy Grail" moment of my own. I waxed the jet black paint on my 135i, carefully rolled on the car cover, and parked her in the garage, because, for the first time in my life, I officially have a "winter beater!" At least, until Cinco de Mayo rolls around.