Ed's
2001 Toyota Celica
and the story behind how
he came to purchase it

 

May 2014 Update! 
For those of you who are asking, yes, I still have this Celica! 

In fact, it's only been in the shop once!   163,000 miles and still runs like a champ!  Whoo hoo!




 

In mid February of 2001, while just a couple of blocks away from home, the engine suddenly died on my 1987 Toyota Celica. A couple of friends, who both know more about fixing cars than I do, came to look at it... and could not figure out what was wrong. All attempts to restart it failed. Thus, a day or two later, I was forced to have it towed to a nearby mechanic. The diagnosis? The timing belt broke.  I was given an estimate it would cost $1,100 to fix it.  Uggh! At first I thought my mechanic was kidding... but after talking with him and then spending a couple of hours online later that night, reading up on all what the timing belt is... and does... and the damage that is often caused when it breaks, I knew he was not.

It's almost unbelievable... damage can often result to the cylinder head, bent valves are common, damage to the engine itself is not out of the question... In fact, my mechanic said it was very possible the final cost could be higher... the $1,100 estimate was just that... an estimate.

Thus, I told him don't bother fixing it... and I had it towed back home.  I did not wish to put any more money into fixing that car.  I knew I would probably be better off it I put that money towards something else.  Actually, I was planning on buying something newer and more reliable later that summer anyway. After almost 250,000 miles, it was time for this Celica to retire. Not only was it an eyesore, but the gas gauge didn't work, the speedometer did not work, nor did the odometer, tripometer, radio, interior lights...

So, my attention immediately turned to car shopping. What to get? Something new? Used? What make? What model? How to pay for it? Cash? Make payments? Lease? Aggh! Too many choices!

Actually, I knew what I wanted... another Celica. Everyone seems to have a favorite car and mine has always been the Toyota Celica. In fact, I've had my eye on the new 7th Generation Celica for over a year now.

The Internet makes it very easy to shop for a car these days. There is a wealth of information out there, all of it free. One evening I spent several hours alone at CarBuyingTips.com. The only thing you can't do online is actually test drive a vehicle... but you can do just about everything else.

Before looking at the new Celicas, I first test drove a used, 1995 Celica.  I happen to live almost directly across the street from a Ford dealership and I happened to notice this Celica in their used-car portion of their lot.

This was a very clean, nice car. (It's amazing how clean dealers can make an engine look.) However, the dealer wanted a little more than what I wanted to pay for this six-year-old car. We hadn't really started to negotiate yet, but he would have had to have come down about $1,500 to $2,000 before I would even have considered buying the vehicle.  It was $9,988 sticker and although the Kelley Blue Book amount for this vehicle is $12,760, while searching online for two days, I saw a lot of ads from private parties who were asking between $8,500 and $9,000 for 1995 Celicas, with the same approximate mileage.)  According to the salesman, they received this car as a trade in and I knew they only paid around $7,000 for it...if that.  I felt they should have been very happy with my $8,500.

However, later that day I also test drove a new, 2001 Celica... and I knew immediately I wasn't going to be happy with anything less. As I told my sister later that evening... "OH MY GOD!" It was so nice.  In fact, it was a nicer feeling than I remember having when I first test drove, and later bought, a new 1992 Toyota Celica, nine years ago. 

There is an online forum/bulletin board called "The Celica Files" I enjoy taking part in. (Actually, for the most part I don't really contribute to it... I simply read the posts.) One evening, while reading as many posts as I could, I noticed many people were talking about the low price they paid for a Toyota at carsdirect.com.  One person even went on to say a dealer told him he didn't know how carsdirect.com made any money... he, the dealer, simply couldn't offer a car that low. 

Well, after running all over town and talking with a couple of Toyota dealers one afternoon, I asked myself, "What the heck am I doing all this for?" So far no one had even come close to the price carsdirect.com was asking... so I jumped in an ordered one online from them.

After an initial contact a day later with a representative from the company, it took a few more days before he informed me he was having a hard time finding the exact car I wanted.  If I wanted less options his job would have been easier... if I wanted more options his job would have been easier.  But because I ordered ABS brakes but no spoiler... because I ordered the sporty 15 in. allow wheels... but no moonroof... because I wanted a red Celica... etc. it was all but impossible to find this exact match... assuming one even existed at all.  I said okay and simply settled the matter by ordering a little more than I had originally planned. Hey, I can live with a spoiler and a moonroof! :)

After that it took just another day or two to find the car, fax some paperwork to me to sign and send it back to him. The car he found was still at the port and wouldn't arrive at the dealership until Friday or Saturday afternoon... but it was now reserved for me.

That's it! Just a little more than a week after I ordered it I was told I could come on down to a nearby Toyota dealership (Longo Toyota) and pick it up. I went down the next day, signed a few papers, and drove it home. It had a total of just six miles on it when I picked it up!

It's hard to imagine how the whole process could have been any easier!

I'd like to thank two people, for making my life a little easier for the brief period when I didn't have a car:

My mom, for allowing me to borrow her own car on
several occasions so I could get to and from work and...

...my friend Paul Hengehold, for giving me a lift to and
from work during the times when my mom needed her car.

Oh yea, so here's what I bought!

A 2001 Celica GT 3-Door Liftback
Color: Absolutely Red

Options:

Power Tilt and Slide Moonroof
Upgrade Package: Power Windows, Power Door Locks, Cruise Control
15" Alloy Wheels w 195/60R15 Radial Tires
Rear Spoiler
Fog Lamps
Carpet Floor Mats

The total sticker price (MSRP) on the above, including delivery and the processing and handling fee, was $20,941.00.  However, I paid just $19,155.00 at carsdirect.com.

Below are the initial photos I took:

 

Click on each image for a larger and more detailed image.