The Story of Grandma’s Park Avenue, AKA "Two Germans in a Buick"
Saturday, August 13 2011 @ 12:08 AM PDT
Contributed by: matt
When my grandmother stopped driving, she gave me her car: a white 2005
Buick Park Avenue with a beige interior and super low miles. It was only
driven to the cardiologist on Mondays, and it was in perfect condition.
I found some good advice on how to sell the car, but I let the
great white whale languish in my driveway for ten months. As I have
always said, "procrastination pays off now."
Plus, I have to admit that I enjoyed the guilty pleasure of poling the
Detroit barge down Washington State's freeways from time to time. The
hull also featured a cavernous, 4-body trunk that easily engulfed my
model airplanes and other man-toys. Sure, Grandma's Park Avenue couldn't
have felt any more numb if it was fuel injected with lidocaine, it had
brakes like a freight train, it wallowed through turns like a hippo with
vertigo, and it delivered an alarming jolt of torque steer when you
stepped on the gas... but I was still enjoying it!
From mile 14888 to 17780, me ‘n’ Grandma’s Park Avenue had some good times on the high seas.
one, I'll never forget the time that I gave a German particle physicist
a ride. My highly educated guest--who was a friend of my regular
carpool companion, also a German--was sinking into the back seat's leatherette upholstery when the Dynaride Suspension kicked in. The wheezing MmmrrrRRRRrRRRrrrrRRRRsound
of the ride-leveling technology was no lullaby to his Teutonic
senses,and he began to look alarmed. Do BMWs have ride-leveling? If so,
it probably sounds like an ocean breeze, not a garbage disposal.
"Don't worry, mein Herr," I said. MmmRRRRrrr... "The vehicle is just leveling the passenger cabin." MmmRRRRrrr... "That sound is perfectly normal." MmmRRRRrrr... "The Dynaride system is capable of accommodating the fattest Americans," I proudly added as the mechanism wheezed to a stop.
filled the perfectly leveled cabin. "This isn't my usual car," I
continued. "I only drive it once in a while. It's really a car for older
folks... people old enough to still be upset about the war."
Thankfully, the other German in my Buick managed to turn the
conversation to high-energy physics, salvaging what could have been an
The Dynaride's anemic groaning accompanied every
engine start, but Grandma's Park Avenue had another feature that was
less reliable. I refer to the automatic headlight system, ambitiously
named the "Twilight Sentinel." Unfortunately, my Twilight Sentinel was apparently drunk most of the time, putting a more sinister figure on duty... the Twilight Assassin.
Twilight Assassin was a cunning and ruthless foe, with the patience of
the grave. He waited for night to fall... switched on the headlights, as
if all was well... and then, when you least expected it, he turned them off.
In the event of an attack, standard procedure was for all passengers to
put their hands up and scream "TWILIGHT ASSASSIN!" until I yanked the
manual headlight knob to banish the night once again. Good times!
could have gone on dueling with the Twilight Assassin for many more
months, but selling Grandma's Park Avenue was the smart thing to do, and
I resolved to get it done while the car was still in excellent
condition. And in the end, I didn't have to deal with AutoTrader or
Craigslist at all, because I found the absolute best way to sell a car:
1. Buy a new BBQ 2. Invite a friend over for BBQ. Also, make sure he is an experienced used car lot sales manager.
was one of this year's three nice Seattle summer days when our friend
Ron came over to the house to eat meat cooked over fire. Ron saw the
Buick and we got to talking about my plans for it. "Let me see what I
can do for you," Ron said. "You'll have a hell of a time selling a car
like that yourself, because only Grandma wants that car and she isn't
online. So, what are the adds?" he asks.
Options," he explains. I tell him the car is actually pretty light on
adds, but describe the fun and excitement of the Twilight Assassin. Ron
checked out the car and quickly got in touch with a few other used car
"First, we'll call Bob," said Ron. "Let's see what the
light money is... Yeah, hi Bob, this is Ron from so-and-so of Seattle.
Hey, I'm standing in front of this 2005 Park Av... White with beige
guts, in the wrapper... The owners are friends of mine, an active young
couple. Grandma left it to them, but they just don't need a car like
this and I wanted to help them out with an easy deal, and get them all
the money in the world for this thing...Clear title, yeah. OK, I'll text
you the VIN."
Bob's offer was indeed the light money, but after
five minutes and a few similar phone calls Ron has me another offer for
$10,500, and a backup offer of $10,000. All I have to do is wash
Grandma's Park Avenue and drive it to a dealership where Keith, the used
car manager will be waiting for it. I’m happy with the price, but also
curious about the business. "How much will Keith resell the car for?" I
"He'll probably sell it for $14,000-16,000," Ron
answered. "If he has the right buyer, someone who really wants the car,
A few days later, I drove Grandma's Park
Avenue to the dealer to meet Keith. By chance, I parked next to a
salesman with an older couple who were eyeballing some other bland
sedan. Before I even stepped out of Grandma’s Park Avenue, the
60-something gentleman shopper in a Hawaiian shirt excitedly said, "is
that car for sale?"
"Yes," I said as I exited, "but I'm actually here to sell it to the dealer."
"Wow, honey, look," says Hawaiian Shirt, motioning to his wife. "It's not even an Ultra, so it'll run on regular gas!"
moment later, my contact Keith was standing by my side. We introduced
ourselves, and Keith gestured towards Hawaiian Shirt and said, "Can they
take a look at it?"
"Sure," I said, and gave the other salesman
the key as I went inside with Keith to do paperwork. Fifteen minutes
later, my business with the dealer was done. I had a big check and no
more Buick. While I was waiting for my ride, I watched Grandma's Park
Avenue pull in from a test drive. Hawaiian Shirt, his wife, and their
salesman spent a long time walking around the car and talking. I took
that as a good sign. I hope the dealership got $14,000-$16,000, and I
hope Hawaiian Shirt and his wife got a car they love. Despite all my
jokes about boats and occasional attacks from the Twilight Assassin,
Grandma's Park Avenue was a pretty good car.
That afternoon I
called my grandma to tell her that I had sold her Park Avenue,and to
thank her again for giving it to me when she stopped driving. I made
sure to tell her that I thought the new owners were really going to love
it. Grandma was happy to hear that. But I’ve never told her that I gave
a couple of Germans a ride in her Park Avenue... After all, she might
still be upset about the war.
NOTE: The names in this story have been changed. No Germans were harmed during production.