Thursday, November 3, 2011

Easier than I thought

I had thought that it would be emotionally difficult to sell the Miata, but as it turned out in the event it was something of a relief. In fact, I think I dodged a bullet. It started when I received a notification that I had an interested buyer responding to my ad on after only a few days running. The first email was pretty much along the lines of "Hey, glad you still have it, is there anything horribly wrong with it, and by the way your asking price is about $600 over blue book." That last part came as no surprise; I had pulled the $3,850 asking price out of thin air. I'm surprised it was even that close, to be honest.

After a reply that all of the major deficiencies had already been disclosed in the ad and the inclusion of an internet link to a few more pictures, I received a missive that positively exuded enthusiasm for buying the car. All that remained to be accomplished was the securing of a loan and a test drive. A visit was scheduled for a couple of evenings hence. On the eve of the test drive, I decided that a better impression would be made if I brought the car back home (it's been stored in the hangar with the RV-6 - its corpse wasn't even cold before an opportunistic Co-pilot Egg laid claim to its bay in the garage) and washed it up. After a good scrubbing and a drive around the block, I arrived back at the hangar and was surprised at being greeted with the smell of antifreeze. It's never exhibited that particular odorous trait before, so I was concerned. Things that I'm trying to sell have a long and sordid history of breaking at the last minute and I was afraid that the unfortunate trend was to continue. Story of my life, in glorious 3D and Dolby surround.

I didn't have time to diagnose the problem at the time, so I decided to contact the presumptive buyer and ask him to try to come a little earlier than we had arranged. I figured I'd tell him that there might be a problem, then drive around for fifteen minutes or so to get the fluids hot and pressurized; surely if there was a leak we'd be able to find it. I was hoping for a loose hose. After a nice drive through the country, we arrived back at the airport and popped the hood. I looked all around the radiator and the various hoses running to and from it, but was unable to find the leak.

"Here it is," said the buyer. "It's leaking at the head gasket."

"Ohhhhh, nooooooooo!" I thought. Having recently spent something on the order of $1,500 having a head gasket replaced on one of my other cars, I figured this was the end of the deal. With blue book at $3,200, I figured I'd be lucky to see $2,500 in light of this revelation. He hadn't walked away yet, though, and he wanted to talk price, so I steeled my nerves prior to hearing how bad it was going to be. I figured whatever he offered, no matter how low, I was going to take it.

"So," he said, "what with the air bag being broken and the head gasket leaking, I don't think I'm going to be too close to your asking price. How does $3,300 sound?"

At which point I opened the trunk, pulled out my sombrero, and did the Mexican hat dance.

Well, not really, but I was having a hard time adopting a stern, pensive face while I pretended to be reluctantly deciding whether or not I could live with such a ludicrously low offer.

"Well," I said thoughtfully, "I guess that's fair."

So, it's on to the replacement. There's been a rather interesting development on that front as well. I had been planning on finding another relatively low budget convertible, as you may recall, and had briefly considered an eight year old Ford Mustang. I wasn't thrilled about the comparatively high fuel costs of a heavy car being dragged around by an anemic V6, though. A discussion with the Co-owner on the topic has shifted my viewpoint.

Having used the Miata to keep 44,000 miles off of our "good" car, it is in great condition and has far less that the 101,000 miles on it than it would have had without the Miata bearing the brunt of my daily commute over the last four or five years. Having recently bought a nice, comfortable SUV, we no longer really need the four door car in the way we did before. The upshot is that she suggested trading it in the low-mileage sedan and getting a new sporty car rather than another old beater that would inevitably face the same end-of-life issues that claimed the Miata. With that in mind I started researching newer cars. As it turns out, Ford replaced the old V6 engine in the base model Mustang for the 2011 model year. The new engine puts out 50% more horsepower, yet improves the EPA mileage from a measly 24 mpg to a respectable 31 mpg.

Wow!! Mexican hat dance! Where do I sign??

So here's what I'm thinking about now:

Of course, I'm not going to do anything until 1) after winter, and 2) the RV-6 is sold. But it sure is nice to have a plan!

With all of that going on, plus being weeks overdue on a couple of game reviews for Gaming Nexus, I haven't done much on the airplane. As you may recall, I had slathered on a bunch of cake icing around the canopy to fill in the low areas of the fiberglass. I also mentioned that I'm not very good at icing cakes. That was no false modesty:

Well. That's really going to take some sanding, isn't it. Good thing I have a machine for that!

Even as I was sanding I could see that I'm going to need at least two more filler coats of icing. I did manage to scrape up a spare half hour to get a batch mixed up (thicker!) and spread on. I hope to get out again soon to give the new batch a light sanding prior to applying yet another batch. For as long as this is taking, I'm glad I decided to hold off on ordering the engine. I had thought this would only take a couple of weeks; it's shaping up to be harder that I had expected.

That kind of outcome was bound to come around again, eventually. Story of my life.

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