When trying to change one’s image, there are a plethora of options available. Buy a tailored suit. Get a new haircut. Learn to use a salad fork. But the first avenue of attack for a large percentage of young men is to enhance their automotive sex appeal. In August of 1991, I was no exception.
Miraculously, a used black ‘84 Toyota Supra wound up in a Brandon north hill used car lot. Not a classy establishment either, but one of those fly-by-night sleazy joints that offer the privilege of bone crushing interest rates. It was a place only desperate idiots go to buy an automobile.
And yet here I was.
My lizard brain had come up with the idea of a personal makeover. That was a good idea. How I decided to go about it…not so much. Change was required, and what better way to accomplish this than to ignore inside character, and instead focus on exterior flash. What I needed was a sexy car. That way, I could lure chicks in like a magnet. Celeste? That would be yesterdays news. Once I had my Supra I could up my game to the next level.
Plus, I just wanted so bad not to be driving a heap.
Obtaining the object of my automotive desire would not have been an issue but for one thing; I still owed money on the Mustang. You remember that car right? The one that died a year prior? Well, its immobile, rusting carcass still demanded financial reimbursement to what was essentially a loan sharking firm. I paid 18% interest back then. An unthinkably insane thing to agree to, and yet I was back again trying to sell myself to Pharaoh and deeper into slavery.
“How much for the Supra out front?” I asked, acting like I could pull a gold bar from my pocket.
“$3000. Got your eye on it, I see?” I was fooling no one. The dealer had me pegged for the sucker I was.
So we went out and I did my tire kicking. It had a stick shift, which meant I had a hard time suppressing excitement. The body was in excellent shape and she drove like a dream. Well, better than a Dodge Omni anyway.
“What do you have to trade?” The dealer asks. I wave my hand towards the Omni. He’s not exactly blown away.
He fishes for more details. “How about a down payment?”
And this is where the wheels started to fall off.
“I was hoping to trade in and finance.”
His desire to haggle with me was limited, since unloading this car wasn’t going to be a problem. To his credit, I think he knew I wanted to lose the bucket image and upgrade to a cooler ride. I doubt he would have humored me that long otherwise. He then gives me his terms.
“I can give you $400 for the Omni and we can work out the financing.” Ouch. I just bought that car barely a year prior on student loan money and now I was prepared to toss it for half price. It may not have been pretty, but she was still worth a little more respect than that. I decide to negotiate hard.
“Let’s do it.”
So we went over the numbers. He asked what my income was and just froze when I said the amount.
“You live on your own and manage to eat on that income?” he said. He sighed and figured he could still make it work.
“Any outstanding debts?”
Right there, the dream died. Let’s crunch some numbers for old times sake and a few laughs.
The Supra was $3000. Over double what I paid for the Mustang that still had $700 owing. All I had was an 84 Dodge Omni that looked like it had seen better days and no down payment.
But the kicker was the student loan from my failed semester at Brandon University. And go figure…the bank wanted their money back in nice, tidy payments. Sure, I could go to the bank manager and explain how I needed a hot car to attract chicks, but I suspected that would not be a fruitful endeavor.
As such, on paper I was a severe credit risk, so no way I was getting prime rates. I was getting the Loan Money to a Hobo rate. It would have taken every cent I had left just to make the payment, leaving no wiggle room.
The agent tried fudging the numbers but even he had to concede that this car was simply out of my range unless I wanted to give up activities such as eating. That was an eye opener.
My parting gift was the dealer’s business card and some advise to “come back when you have a real job, kid.”
I returned to my non-Supra car and took one last look at my fantasy automobile. Breathing a defeated sigh, I knew it wasn’t going to happen. Heck, it seemed a lot of things were just out of reach.
To rub salt in the wound, it was gone the next day.
Mint was right. There just wasn’t any reason to stick around. Job prospects were so terrible I couldn’t even get a car from a dump like this. I was now officially sick and tired of always being broke. And I was really sick of making payments on a dead car.
Both me and my dashed dreams head back to Junior Mint’s car-wash. Once there I make a beeline to that smug punk in the office, Mr. Mint himself. Barging in, I stand at the counter and stick my hand out.
“Give me the form. I’m in.”