I had been saving for months to buy my first car, browsing the Sacramento Craigslist for cars in the $2000-$3000 range. One night, I had a realization: I wasn’t sure how long I would need a car, so why spend all my savings on it? I expanded my search to the SF Bay Craigslist site, and set the price parameters to $500-$1500. Quite a few entertaining possibilities showed up, including a tiny Ford Festiva, a rusted Cadillac, a massive old Chevy van…and a curiously clean-looking 1995 Volvo 940 for just $1,300. It had under 160,000 miles; low for a Volvo. I’d been hoping for a 90's Volvo, but there weren’t many being sold in my price range. I called the number on the listing, and the owner, Maurice, told us that he’d cut us a deal on the car after we told him we were hesitant to drive 2 hours to Oakland to buy it. The next morning, my dad and I journeyed to the marking lot he specified somewhere in East Oakland. It wasn’t in a good part of town so I was a little nervous sitting around with an envelope of cash in the car. After about 10 minutes, my fears were washed away when I saw two beautiful yellow rectangular headlights approaching through the light rain. After a quick chat with Maurice and an inspection of the vehicle, we learned that Maurice bought cars from insurance auctions and flipped them for profit, and we found an unavoidably vibrant orange paint spill dried up in the trunk, a missing left side mirror, as well as a small plant growing there! As an early price negotiating tactic, I pointed out the plant and told Maurice that this car looked like a greenhouse. My dad and I inspected the engine, and found an oddly out-of-place Kia battery, but no major mechanical faults. We took a test drive, during which Maurice told us how much he hated Taco Bell food. I decided this was the car for me, and confronted Maurice with my arms crossed. “Maurice!” I said, “You said you’d cut me a deal.” “Awww, you gon put that on me?” he replied, “thousand.” He knocked $300 off the price, just like that! With a big smile on my face, I shook his hand. I ended up using that $300 a couple hours later, to pay DMV fees to register the car and get license plates for it. I also had to pay a premium to get it smogged before the official sale. The mechanic seemed to take his time, and we sat outside for about an hour while he performed his painstakingly thorough smog inspection. Thankfully, the Volvo passed, and with the new license plates in the trunk, I exchanged cash for keys. I discovered on the windy highway out of Oakland that the gas gauge wasn’t functional, remaining at empty even after I put $30 of gas in the tank at what I thought was an emergency pit stop. Several months later, I had replaced the side mirror and rear tires, shampooed the carpets twice, vacuumed, washed, waxed, and dusted. I knew that I was buying a slow car, so I upgraded the speakers and replaced the original 1995 cassette tape player with a CD player with AUX cord input, bringing the radio to the 21st century. I had also decided on the perfect name for my car: Wilma. It’s a bit of an old-fashioned name for an old-fashioned car. She’s white, so the name naturally starts with “W.” “Wilma” is even a Swedish name that means “resolute protector,” because she was made in Torslandaverken, Sweden, and Volvo cars are renowned worldwide for their advanced safety features. This car has been a pleasure to drive daily, and I look forward to years of driving Wilma.
This site was created by Tony Gargiulo using HTML, CSS, Bootstrap, Juicebox, jQuery, and a lot of love for a little car.