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From the Armchair – Selling A Friend Or Relative To Further The Automotive Habit

For an auto enthusiast, selling a car can be likened to the idea of selling a friend or relative. Unlike family, car ownership is often cyclical and there comes a time in your life when you have to sell off this old friend. Sure, for some of us it might be a love/hate relationship, but there’s no easy way when you love your car.

I remember the first time I sold “my” car. It was an ’82 Scirocco with such recurrent electrical problems at the end that it was literally towed away. I sat in my parents’ driveway and listened to a couple of songs over the cassette player as I recounted my days of ownership – road trips with friends, parking with girlfriends and driving to my highschool’s senior week at the beach while blasting M.C. Hammer’s “You Can’t Touch This” over the stereo that I’d learned to install myself. It was hard to part with the car, despite the fact that it didn’t drive. Although I had a newer Scirocco 16v to replace it with and ease the pain, its departure still smarted.

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Fast forward more years than I’d care to count and I find myself in a similar situation. Back in December of 2000 I bought a rather unassuming 4-door Golf, however equipped with the sought-after 1.8T engine. I’d always wanted a 4-door Golf with a hotter engine, so when VW offered it for two short years back then, I was quick to pick up this Indigo Blue example, built in Wolfsburg no less.

Over the next four and a half years, the car would serve me well. We launched it as one of our first, if not our most bodacious, project cars here on VWvortex and a recent column about some flack I took over the car’s sleeper nature quite simply surprised me when I subsequently learned how many people followed the series.

Overall, I think the project was a success, and would like to thank all of the companies that helped us out, folks on the forums who helped us answer questions we had, or owners who pioneered a modification before we had a chance to do so.

Given the time and/or the money, would we have done more? I have to say, the car got pretty close to my ultimate vision for it. I have a TT short shifter around somewhere that I picked up at the dealership and never installed. I’d have loved to do the R-line body kit and some 18-inch BBS CH wheels, R32 e-brake handle and shift boot with silver stitching and maybe a Stage III engine upgrade, but never really got the financial inclination. There’s always more we could have done I guess, but when I look back on the original plans for the car that I drew up in late 2000, I see the Golf is surprisingly complete.

I’ve caught my share of flack, too. Like from my friend who let me know how lame the car was a few months back – the subject of my aformetioned previous column. Not all have seen the wisdom of my modification path. Surprisingly, convex Sharan emblems that cost over $100 to install by the time it’s all said and done don’t impress all that many people. Who’d have thought?

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Still, in many ways, I have to say the Golf has been one of the best cars I’ve ever owned. It’s small size and abundant flexibility have made it invaluable. Some of the modifications we’ve done to give it better performance and higher option content made it essentially the perfect car for my family and me. I could blast down the highway and still get near 30-mpg fuel economy or take it into DC and park it in Georgetown parking spots where larger cars wouldn’t dare squeeze

One could call the fourth generation Golf without GTI equipment rather unassuming, but I love the car. I hear Prince William of England also owns one, and I suppose if it’s good enough for a future king, then it was certainly good enough for me.

Sadly, like all good things, my ownership of this car must come to an end. Like my old Scirocco, the pain will be eased somewhat as a new S4 is being delivered this week that will for now take the Golf’s place. Keeping a third car is an extravagance my wife has made me aware I don’t need and all the silver-tongued debate in the world won’t do diddly to change that sentiment.

The next question becomes, how do I go about selling it? I’ve developed a fairly effective formula with past cars by listing them on our website, AutoTrader.com and/or Craigslist.org, though it’s the after-sales I sometimes become most forelorn about.

Being that I’m in the VW community and most of my cars I’ve sold have been enthusiast-oriented, it’s common but tough to see your car again after you’ve sold it. It’s like an ex-girlfriend. The encounter can be exciting and quite uncomfortable at the same time. I’ve seen a previous car that was well kept, and I’ve seen one that had been modified quite in contrast to how I’d have done it – the latter an encounter I’d rather avoid in the case of the Golf.

I joke with my wife sometimes that I ought to take applications for a new owner, ensuring that it’ll get well-taken care of – much like one might do with the adoption of a pet. She just rolls her eyes. Realistically, if I can get a fair price and the car ends up in the hands of someone who will appreciate it, then that’s really all that matters. It’s not for me to say where it goes from here, but it will be sorely missed just the same…. and just like a member of the family who’s moved away, seldom to be heard from again.


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