When we decided to start spending every other week at the farm (with alternate weeks in Arlington), we had to decide which car to use for the 300-mile commutes to Floyd County and back.
My daily driver is a 2000 Jeep Wrangler Sport, fully decked out with winch, tow package, and will also have a congo cage as soon as I get around to installing it. We bought it new in early 2000 and have put 28,000 trouble-free miles on it.
Amy drives a 2002 Jeep Liberty, which we bought in November 2001. It has nearly 40,000 miles (also trouble free) on it, thanks to multiple 825 mile trips between Arlington and Illinois during the year-and-a-half it took to settle her late mother’s estate.
So the lower-mileage Wrangler gets the nod. But the car that makes the trek down from Arlington every other week also serves as my daily commuter for the 15 mile drive between the farm outside of Willis to the studio in Floyd, which means Amy is left without transportation unless she chooses to come in with me in the mornings.
So Amy wanted to buy a “farm car,” something older that would let her make runs into Willis, Floyd or Hillsville. At first we sought out the 2004 equivalent of the “$100 pickup” that served so well back in the old days.
Except finding a servicable, cheap, 10-to-15 year old vehicle ain’t that easy in today’s environment of “pre-owned cars.” We hit used car lots in Christiansburg, Blackburg, Hillsville, Floyd and Roanoke. So changed the wish list to a 5-to-10 year old Jeep, preferably a Wrangler in Amy’s preferred colors of red or yellow.
We found a yellow 2000 Wrangler SE (four-cylinder, automatic) at Shelor Motor Mile in Christiansburg, but the high-pressure tactics of the saleman turned us off and we left. A 96 Cherokee in Blacksburg looked interesting but it turned out to be a repo headed back to the bank. When we headed back to Arlington last Sunday, we stopped and looked at some other lots around Roanoke and made notes on some possibilities.
On Tuesday, I was finishing up some client work on my laptop while using the Wi-Fi network at a Starbucks in Ballston and decided to try Autobytel.com. A search of Wranglers turned up a red, 1995 Wrangler with 75,000 miles at Rosenthal Chrysler-Jeep, just two miles from our home.
We drove over to look at it. No rust, clean interior, top and body in good shape for a 10-year-old car, engine tight. It drove well and Amy quickly pointed out it had fewer rattles than my 2000. Even though the posted price was less than the Kelly Blue Book value, Amy offered $2,000.00 under the sticker. The salesman countered with $1,000.00 under. She countered with $1,500.00 under and stated that was her final offer. He played the usual car salesman game of going to his manager, but Amy had sold cars for a living once and refused to budge, and — after two attempts to get the price up another $500.00 — accepted her final offer. After 45 minutes of paperwork, she wrote out a check and we became a three Jeep family.
Our first stop was the local Goodyear store for a new set of Wrangler RT/S tires, followed by a call to Quadratec for some hand straps and other accessories we consider necessary for a Wrangler.
We spent a good part of Tuesday night on the Virginia DMV web site researching available combinations for the license plate. Amy has narrowed it down to three choices and she will decide sometime today. On Sunday, her Wrangler will follow my Wrangler for the 300-mile trip to Floyd County and its new home on the farm.
Three Jeeps. Two people. Who’d a thunk it?