I've got this friend.
For the sake of argument we shall call him Karl. Karl has been lusting over a BMW M3 Coupe for three years now. I've seen him on BMW's website building his dream car, choosing wheels, options, interior colors. I watch his head snap every time this black BMW coupe drives by, usually around 11:30 when its owner goes to lunch. Though I haven't seen his bedroom, I bet there's BMW brochures stuffed beneath his mattress, all moist and matty.
I find myself infatuated with different cars on an hourly basis. Just today I fell in love with a Dakar-yellow Toyota FJ. I just had to have one. By 2 p.m. I had forgotten all about it thanks to an Audi S4 Avant. Seriously, I need one of these. My life depends on it.
Karl's still burning for an M3. I don't understand how he can stand it. Maybe he'll just blow a gasket one day, strap a 1/43 scale M3 model to his head and run off naked while making engine noises.
Being the good friend I am, I cruise various outlets for pre-owned M3s. You can get a smoking deal on a used M3, especially in the current economy. Some poor guy just wants to get out of the loan no questions asked; just pay the balance. It sounds like a great deal to me.
Karl has a problem with used cars. In short, he hates them. Nearly ten years ago he purchased a brand-new SVT Contour and maintained it with 10-point precision. This car has never seen the inside of an independent shop, places I'm sure can do the same work for much less. Karl's Contour is a pampered dealer pet with a thick stack of receipts in its glovebox.
There's a certain purity in Karl's belief. He wants to be his car's "first." He wants a "virgin" experience.
I don't swing that way. In fact, I'd prefer that a former owner actually loved the car I was buying. Let him sweat recalls and repairs. Regarding sullied carpets or sweat-soaked steering wheels-it's nothing that won't wash away.
Some time ago the term "pre-owned" replaced the adjective "used" when referencing cars. While I think the former sounds better, the latter is probably more accurate. If a car has been purchased, driven, and then resold, that means someone has used it. It is therefore a "used" car. And while leasing is very popular, the term "pre-leased" sounds like the driver didn't like the car enough to buy it. He just rented it for an extended period and tossed it aside like an old cell phone.
Cars seem to be the only thing that suffers from the "used" stigma. Our three-year-old ranch horses were not described as "used" when we got them. My dog wasn't "used" when I rescued him at the animal shelter. I don't see advertisements for "used" homes or "used" parcels of land. Even bicycles somehow dodge the "used" bullet. Ever see an ad for a "used" 10-speed?
I don't think my sister refers to her husband Jerry as "used" (well, maybe "pre-owned" from a first wife, but not "used"). She has mentioned that Jerry is well-trained (he puts the toilet seat down, he's a good cook, and he's generally neat). I guess that's a bonus.
Why cars get hung with a "used" banner seems unfair. And sadly, the effect on Karl will cost him. The second he drives his new M3 from the dealer lot it will lose nearly 20 percent of its value. That's a steep price to be a car's first. And given the fact Karl has limited financial resources, he's going to need every penny he can get.
BMW's CPO (Certified Pre-Owned) program is hands down the best of its kind, one I hope Karl will accept. BMW CPO cars must pass a rigorous multi-point inspection before wearing the certified badge and BMW backs them up with comprehensive warranties. I kinda wish there was a CPO-like program for people going into second marriages. I'd like the next Mrs. Bidrawn to undergo a thorough multi-point inspection before she starts parking in my garage. I don't mind getting a "pre-owned" model. Just make sure recalls and repairs are sorted.
I wonder if I could get a warranty with that?