Editor’s Note: The following was written by our youngest son “Bad Driver”. It’s his first new blog since 2018 (See: McLaren 650S Spider vs. 720S and Insights on the Porsches) as college, covid, and starting a new job kept him quite occupied. He gave himself the “BD” name but to be honest, he’s probably the most skilled driver amongst our children. Back when we used to take “BD” carting as a child, he was quite quick. Although this might have been a related to “BD” severe allergy to using the brake pedal. Over the years “BD” has driven just about every car that’s come through our garage, so he does have a wealth of insights on various McLarens, Ferraris, Maseratis, and Porsches.
This past year I left my job on the east coast to move out to Los Angeles for a fresh start. A few months before the move, I began researching if I could trade in or sell my 2012 Audi A4 for something newer with fewer miles. The car was running great, but at 10 years old there were little things that were starting to fall apart, and certain modern amenities were lacking. I got the car my sophomore year of college and had put on a decent amount of miles 5 years later. After a few months of searching, I had a friend suggest I steer away from the German builds I had been eyeing and look a little further south. He suggested an Alfa Romeo.
Unfortunately, I had lived in a smaller city, and I really never saw any Alfas out on the street. But the more I researched, the more intrigued I became and found a dealership that would take me for a test drive. When I got to the dealership, the salesperson informed me that they had sold their last used Stelvio the day before, but I was welcome to test drive some of the newer 2022 models. While I knew getting a new car wasn’t in the cards, I figured going on the test drive would be helpful for when a used one finally comes to market.
The test drive went really well and the car was everything I had been looking for in an upgrade. Although it was only a short ride, the salesperson made sure I was able to see what the car had to offer. The thing that struck me the most was the size. I knew moving from a sedan to an SUV was going to be a change. I know the Stelvio is on the smaller side of SUVs, but the car felt small to drive yet spacious on the inside. While our stint on the highway was brief, it also told me that despite the size, the car could move. One of the things I loved about the Audi was the power of the turbos and acceleration merging onto the highway. The Stelvio felt no different. When I put my foot down, the car moved. After the test drive, my decision was made.
The next part was trickier. I still had the A4 and needed to sell it quickly and cleanly before my move. I turned to some of the online car retailers to see how they would value it for either a trade-in or a straight sale. I checked through a few but I was shocked by one in particular. Their original offer was 80% of what my parents originally had paid back in 2017. Given the age of the car, that was incredible. Unfortunately, the timing wasn’t perfect and the price bled a bit as the summer went on, but I ended up getting what I thought was great value for a 10-year old car with over 50k miles on it.
A few days before my flight to LA, I began googling for Alfa Romeo dealerships in the greater LA area. I must have reached out to 15 different dealerships that had a used Stelvio until I finally found the model I was looking for. A few days after I landed and got settled in, I reached out to the dealership to begin the negotiation. It was a beautiful 2019 Stelvio Ti with 13k miles. It wasn’t perfect, but without buying new that was never going to be on the table. I spoke to the salesperson on the phone initially and we discussed my budget, which was below what the dealership had listed the car for. We traded back and forth a bit before he let it slip that in a few days the car was going to auction. Big mistake. It was clear that his reservation price was only a bit higher than what my budget was, so I kept pushing. I told him I could be flexible on the amount of financing required, and that seemed to be the key to winning the deal.
By just shifting a few thousand dollars from upfront payment to the financing, they were willing to drop the price on the car by over $3k. To me, this was a no-brainer. I had always planned on aggressively paying down any auto-loan I needed for the car, and the incremental interest amount was significantly less than the $3k I would have been paying otherwise. It was at that point that we came to an agreement, 25% down up-front and 75% financed over 3-years. The deal was done and both sides were happy.
I picked up the car the first Thursday I was in Los Angeles, ubering directly from my new job to get there before closing. It felt great to have found a car I wanted at a price I could afford. When I finally got through the doors of the dealership, everyone was incredibly friendly and welcoming. They had me sign a few papers and swipe my credit card for the down payment. This was a huge bonus for me as most dealerships I had spoken to were going to require a cashier’s check or a wire transfer, but with this one I was able to capitalize on a huge credit card point opportunity. They handed me the two keys and a few pieces of paper to take home with me before taking me out back to see the car in person. There it was, electric blue, shimmering in the sunlight.
We went over a few basic functions in the car before they sent me on my way. I drove home along the Pacific Coast Highway, happy with my purchase and excited for the new adventure.
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