Sunday, September 12, 2010

New Bike Hauler - Phase II

Project $500 Jetta has been declared dead. Here in the scenic state of Washington, emissions check must be performed before changing the title over - so we've been told by the DMV office.

On Saturday, I drove the mighty $500 Jetta to the emissions testing center, where it promptly failed for various reasons. Reasons hack mechanic me don't wanna deal with - like failed O2 sensors, electronic error codes, and dead Check Engine light. Add in the wasted suspension and dead power windows to the repair cost, even with me doing much of it, and Project Jetta hits the KBB worth of $1500 or so. Ouch.

Plus, count the time spent in the driveway with skinned knuckles and greasy hands. I'd rather go ride my bike. If the emissions passed, I would have continued as planned with the $500 experiment. With that defeat, I think I'm done.

After the 'cross race today, looked online for another car, including the dealer where I tested the White Whale. Lo and behold, they had a mini White Whale. Not quite as cool as the hot rod/cult Chevy, quite the opposite in fact, a boring Camry wagon. It warranted further inspection, so the family drove over for a look see.

We arrive and it looks super clean for 1994 Toyota with 140,000+ miles. Really clean. And the Car Fax report shows regular maintenance from a local Toyota dealership. It even has a 3rd row jump seat that folds into the floor, so fits 7 people. With the rear seats folded down, two people could easily camp as well. Similar attributes I dug about the White Whale, minus the massive (and fun) V8 motor. This could be the new family/bike/camper mobile. Let's test drive, shall we?

Test drive is typical Toyota, the thing still drives like new. Wacky enough, as we pull into a church parking lot to further inspect and change test drivers - so Lori could sample all things Camry - a similar Camry wagon a few spaces away. As we're looking things over, owner of the other Camry exits the church and walks over. Tells us his Camry wagon has over 200,000+ miles and runs well. Possible sign from above? One never knows, huh?

After the extended test drive, we decide to make an offer. It's a bit boring, yet useful, and ugly enough to be sorta interesting. After suitable bike racks installed to roof and appropriate bike stickers carefully applied to windows - yes, I could live with this for awhile. Dealer excepts offer of $3500, paperwork is signed and we now own a 1994 Camry wagon.

If it last a few years, all will be cool. Time will tell. $3500 for a car these days is still pretty cheap. We'll spin the wheel and give it a chance.


  1. Nice find! I've owned four Toyotas and all have been great cars.

    Mini white whale = Beluga?


  2. @J - Yeah, not a bad deal. I've canned the Jetta idea and was sick of looking. For my low budget price range, $3000 - 4000 or so, this seems to be a decent deal.

    With that mileage, always a crap shoot though - could run for years, trans could blow tomorrow. With a Toyota - chances are better however. We'll see.