Our real test drive was in Nevada - and 1 mile into that we knew without a doubt that this would be a great car. But the trick now was to find one at a dealer, and haggle for price. This was a brand new car at the time and finding one at list price had been proving very difficult for buyers across the country. Many or all Honda dealers had been marking them up.
A certain dealer inside the city of Austin had all of their S2000s marked up by 10,000 dollars - without any options. No discussion. On ethical principles alone, we weren't going to go near that place.
Then one morning we were reading the paper and came across an ad for a new S2000 at a dealer far south of town. The price was too good to be true - "$10,000" OFF and "on sale". And it had all the dealer options: car cover, wheel locks, front, side, and rear spoilers, alarm system, and 6-CD player (in trunk). No rustproofing or fabric guard BS from this dealer, just a huge discount on the price. The full price of the car was $44,000 dollars including considerable markup... with 10 off of that the sale price was a bargain. We made an appointment for a Friday afternoon and got ourselves down there quickly.
We always test drive a car well in advance of actually buying one, so we didn't need to make a decision about wanting the car or not at the dealer. They tried to start by giving us a tour of the car, but we said we'd already had driven one extensively and knew all about it. We were only interested in making sure this one was ok, that it checked out mechanically, and then we would close the deal. The salesman drove it off the showroom floor and we were off - with him driving. That lasted about 300 feet... when he turned it over to us. Then the fun began...
|The test drive:|
|START - the location of the dealer.|
"OK, YOU DRIVE IT NOW" - when the salesman turned the car over to me.
"HOW FAST CAN YOU TURN" - the salesman's challenge to me on the highway ramp. Challenged answered!
"SLOW DOWN" - right after he told me to open it up, he changed his mind.
100 MPH - what we hit, just to make sure the engine was ok :-) Seriously: it was a long deserted stretch and the salesman told me to go. I take some orders to heart!
"LOOK OUT FOR THAT TRUCK" - salesman (by now gripping the door handle with both hands) sees a truck several hundred yards away. We turn around.
"GOOD BURGER PLACE" - salesman (now calmed down and saying he has just had the test drive of his career) recommends a good burger joint - but for some other time, as his stomach is too upset now.
FINISH - mission accomplished, the car checks out mechanically.
We pulled up to the service writer bay and we asked to see how the top worked. Except that the top wouldn't go up because when they spliced the Honda security system into the wiring harness they forgot to plug the top switch back in. The service manager is apologetic and fixes it in a minute.
The salesman, meanwhile, had totally disappeared.
During the quick fix, we wandered back into the dealer, where we were met by the sales manager. He told us the salesman was off telling everybody about the test drive and that he would give us the tour of all the departments in the place and introduce us to everyone. Good dealer - we met everybody and heard from each of them the story about how they had just heard the over-excited salesman describe the "test drive of his life". He was impressed... doubtless he didn't have a clue what the car would do (it was a routine S2000 drive for us, quick but safe given the isolated straightaway in the middle of nowhere).
The salesman then reappeared and he and the sales manager braced me in his office: they had to tell me that the ad in the paper was a mistake. I pulled out the ad and said I insisted on getting the car for that price and that there wouldn't be any discussion. After a lot of embarrassment on their part, including calling the ad manager out to chastise him, they gave it to me. So, I walked out with a new 2000 S2000 for only 2 grand over list, with all the options (the factory hardtop wasn't available yet, but they did show me a printout of it and offered to sell one to me for only 3500 installed. Sure!). A sale means a sale price.
The delivery of the car would be the next morning... we had to get a ride back to "south of town" (note that we are not identifying this dealer, and they don't exist anymore anyway) from a friend. We picked up the car, and in a moment of graciousness told my friend that she could drive it to lunch. We followed in her car. Yes, she enjoyed it :-) and kept true to my instructions not to VTEC it (it was too new, and we had planned to put a thousand miles on the car within a week anyway).
After a quick lunch, hastened no doubt by my barely covered impatience to start my own drive of the car, we left and headed to some of my favorite roads outside of Austin to the northwest. We didn't get home again until midnight. The rest is history...
We drove in an event at Texas World Speedway a month later with the car.... and afterwards sent the sales manager a large photo of us taking it around the track. It hung in his office for a year until the dealer was sold to another chain. Hopefully some other new S2000 buyers saw the photo and got the point!