Last night, after some hunting on mobile.de, we found a candidate car for our Siberian roadtrip: a 1991 Toyota Corolla from a single (retired) owner with 60,000km (37,000 miles). The asking price? A paltry €1,300! We promptly called the dealership advertising it, and they informed us it wasn't sold, but the papers for it wouldn't be ready until Monday.
This morning, we checked the address for the dealer in our GPS. It was only 2km away! We both eyed our Garmin suspiciously at this discovery, feeling a little incredulous. Could buying our car really turn out to be this easy? Rather than wait until Monday, we decided to go for a stroll, stopping by the dealership to have a look at what might become our newest method of transport, right then.
On the way, we snapped a few pictures, but mostly we were preoccupied with excited thoughts about driving across Russia.
After a short walk, we arrived at Imperial Cars, located inside a parking ramp. The salespeople were refreshingly relaxed, and they left us alone as we took our time exploring their large inventory. While we weighed the pros and cons of the various vehicles, we decided definitively that one large enough for us to sleep in and store our bicycles was out of the question. Anything fitting this criteria was well out of our price range (€2,000), and we realized the poor gas mileage would likely outstrip any savings we made by avoiding campgrounds/hotels with it.
No matter what we looked at, we kept coming back to the Corolla. So, I took it for a test drive.
It really was in great condition. The entire maintenance history was in the glove box, there were no leaks, no squeaks, and no smells. It was spotless under the hood, had good belts, good tread on the bridgestone tires, good brakes, and a good spare with the tools required to use it. All the switches and lights worked, and the interior was practically new. The exterior looked properly faded and worn for a car its age, and apart from the red, it was completely unassuming.
We were sold. The only question that remained: could we actually fit our gigantic bicycles into the teeny tiny trunk? We thought so, but just to be sure, we walked back to ba noi's, grabbed our bikes and cycled over to eye things up in person. It would be possible, though it would require taking our bicycles apart right down to the frame. This, while time consuming, would be no problem. I built them once, I can do it again!
Already elated by the ease with which this task was coming together, we spoke with the dealer about our last concerns. Can US citizens purchase a German car, titled to them? Can they get insurance? International insurance? Is it valid in Russia? Though we'd researched all of this earlier, and knew that the answers were likely a yes, it was reassuring to hear them say, "yes", "of course", "it is no problem" to basically everything we requested.
So, with everything in order, we made a down payment of €200 and arranged to return on Tuesday to pick it up. In the meantime, we have a whole slew of new things to think about which we haven't considered in ages, such as: parking (you can't just lean it against a pole…), gas (can't just fuel it on pastries and beer and cheesy pasta…), and how far to drive in a day (perhaps a wee bit more than 60 kilometers…)!
Woo hoo, we can't wait!