The going price for a car and some nostalgia…

May 11, 2009

So how much does a used car cost outside of the commercial car lots in one of those vacant lots or parked on the street? Apparently about $5,000 cash.

I’ve noticed several cars and pickup trucks in my neighborhood recently (the for-sale-by-owner kind) and the little signs in the windows all seem to say they’re asking about $5,000.

And I saw a lady pull up in a red Cadillac Coupe Deville the other night and leave with someone else in a SUV. The sign in the window said it was a 1999 model. $4,000 was the asking price (“serious people only”).

I think most of these $5,000 vehicles were in the neighborhood of ten years old.

I was just struck by the fact that some of the cars and pickups were big, some medium and some small, but $5,000, notwithstanding the Cad for $4,000, seems to be the standard price.

I don’t know from what about car prices or cars for that matter.  A lifetime of spending so much of my paychecks on car payments and car repairs has worn down any interest I might ever have had.

I did watch a classic car parade recently. We have one every spring here where I live but I never went. Didn’t want to fight the crowds. But on a recent night I jumped in the car and drove down to where it was and by luck walked right up to the street, pass the curb, so close I could have touched some of the cars going by. It was quite a show. Most of the cars were 1950s and 1960s models, many of them in original conditon and many others fixed up like hod rods.

As I watched some of the 57 and 55 or 56 chevies go by I couldn’t help but think I watched the same thing from my front porch on Tulare Street in the town of Tulare in California’s Central Valley when I was a kid. We lived directly across the street from the high school. But then these cars were brand new or nearly so. And now to think back on it, it kind of suprises me that so many teenagers back then were apparently driving fairly late model cars — sure some of them could have belonged to their folks, but a lot of them were fixed up, some lowered in front and some lowered in the back. They called it “raked” back then, as I recall.

I enjoyed the car show. I even enjoyed the gas fumes. It all kind of reminded me of innocent times when we didn’t have to carry guilt or worry about pollution or energy costs and being green meant you were new to something.

And to think, those old cars were made with steel. You were in something solid that would not just shatter or melt. Of course they did wreck.

Now you don’t know whether to buy a car powered by gasoline, diesel, kitchen grease, electricity or what.

But I do know where $5,000 or  even just $4,000 will get you a set of wheels.