It’s been a little quiet around here, what with an addition to the family and an extraordinarily busy summer keeping me out of the garage for the past few months. One of the things that derailed my transmission installation was a search for a new daily driver. The Caddy is generally rust-free, but it’s only a matter of time before a decade-plus of Ohio winters takes its toll, and a number of minor but annoying mechanical issues persuaded me to sell it while it still has some value; I felt like if I didn’t get rid of it soon, I might as well continue to drive it until it completely fell apart around me.
So for the past several months, I’d been scouring Craigslist, Autotrader, and other outlets for cars that fit my criteria. Of course, the addition of a third child into my household altered those criteria a bit, as I would now need something capable of holding three child seats for the next few years. I’d basically narrowed it down to the Pontiac G8 and the Dodge Magnum, with the G8 by far the primary choice. Last week, after months of searching, calling dealers, advice from friends, and suffering through negotiations, I brought home this Sport Red Metallic ’09 G8 GT.
I’ll summarize the purchase process like this: there’s a reason people hate buying cars. I was unfairly lowballed on my trade-in, so I’m going to sell the Caddy myself. The G8 had a distinct pull to the right that the dealer fought hard to avoid fixing. They gave me the car with less than 1/4 tank of gas – something I didn’t notice because I left the dealership as they were closing and they literally locked the doors behind me. But enough about that experience.
I’ll summarize the first week of ownership like this: I freaking love this car. It’s more powerful than anything I’ve ever owned but comfortable and pleasant to drive, it’s good-looking and aggressively styled without being ostentatious, and it sounds so good I find myself turning down the radio so I can hear the engine better. The trunk is huge, big enough for my golf clubs, a load of groceries, and a small stroller all at once, and the backseat is plenty wide enough for the kids. Speaking of which: my oldest daughter keeps exhorting me to drive faster, so if I get a ticket I’m blaming her.
I wasn’t sure about the color at first, but it’s really grown on me. The car has the optional Sport package, the main difference being the 19″ machine-faced wheels and stickier tires (which will likely necessitate snowshoes in the winter – don’t tell my wife). I’ve yet to really open it up, but it’s alarmingly quick, stops on a dime, corners unbelievably flatly for a car its size, and has so far been responsible for more grins and giggles in a week than the Caddy was for 5 years.
One of the fun things about having a new car (at least for a geek like me) is figuring out all the little quirks and design details that are incorporated. For example, there’s a nifty window on the rear shelf that allows the trunk light to pass through so you know if the trunk lid is ajar. The headlight switch pulls out to activate the fog lamps, which to my hydrocarbon-addled brain feels like an homage to the pull-out switches on classic cars.
There are a few flaws, of course. The stereo and HVAC are controlled by a large LCD screen, which will cost a fortune when it breaks and is sometimes hard to read in direct sunlight. Being a used car, it has some scratches and curb marks, but maybe that will make me less annoyed when I inevitably scratch it. It remains to be seen how it will handle the winter, but I’ve spent most of my life in rear-wheel-drive cars and I’ve survived this long.
As my jealous father-in-law pointed out, this is like buying a 1968 GTO in 1970 – if you listen to the automotive press, we are living through the second (or third) coming of the muscle car, and I actually own one when (relatively) new. I still love the Tempest, and like I keep saying, there’s a certain something that classic cars have and modern ones don’t, but suddenly the old car has some competition for seat time.