It’s 6AM, and I’ve been up for about an hour. This is because Sunday night I only got about an hour of sleep, and after I got home from Carson City Toyota last night, I collapsed right away and slept. Here’s the story so far:

Sunday evening, I sent some inquiries via to the Toyota dealerships in Reno, Carson City, Fallon and Auburn. All of them sent auto-replies. At the same time, I applied for loans through Capital One and E-Loan. Both of them, if approved, will send you a blank check that you can use to pay cash for the car, and whatever you put on the check will be what your loan is. Nifty feature. Both instantly approved me, but both said “we’ll call you tomorrow morning to tell you what your APR is”. I was beginning to think that they were actually the same company.

Monday morning, I first got a call from E-Loan. I was approved for up to $30,000 at 8.7% ARP. Thanks but no thanks. While I was on the phone with E-Loan, Capital One called, which made me even more sure it was actually the same company behind the scenes. I expected the exact same details, but was surprised when they said 5.99%. Now that’s more like it.

A little while later, the Internet manager from Reno Toyota called. They didn’t have any Priuses in the package I wanted, so I’d have to order one if I wanted one, which would take a few months. Speaking of which, you know those Toyota commercials you’ve probably been seeing? The ones that say “Hey, we’ve actually got Prius stock now! You can actually buy one for the first time in years!”? Well it turns out that’s a lie. Or more specifically, they did have a surplus of cars, but that ad campaign helped get rid of them again.

Carson City Toyota called a little later. They had a few of the package I didn’t want (#2, which is one of the lowest-end models), but had one black #5, which is the model with all features except leather. Exactly what I wanted, except it was black. I would take anything but black (heat), white (cleaning), or red (cop magnet). However, she mentioned there were a few places where she could do a dealer transfer on a Blue #5. I mentioned I had an 02 Prius that I wanted to trade in, and she got real interested. (Whenever new Priuses get popular (read: constantly since 2001), used Priuses are equally popular because when people get disappointed about not finding a new car, they start looking at the used cars appearantly.) She asked if I could bring it down, and I said I’d be by around 6PM.

Now, a couple years ago I read Confessions of a Car Salesman, which is a very interesting article about how care salesmen work. While dealing with the “Internet Sales” person (as I did) is a lot less stressful than working with a regular salesman, all of the elements were still there: the demo kidnapping (“get in, we’re going for a ride”), the 4 square, stealing the trade-in, etc.

When I got there, I was bordering between getting a blue car, which would mean waiting a week, or getting a black car, which would be immediate, but would be… well, a black car. Because of this uncertainty, I made sure to bring all my information (checkbook, title, etc). When I met with the Internet sales manager, she tried to find the black #5, but turns out it was sold that morning, before I talked to her. That just left a black #2 (no), or getting a transfer of a blue #5. We took a ride in the black #2, then started talking.

She said the most she could do was $100 off MSRP, but I got her down to $600 under. Not a lot, but every bit helps. For the trade-in, the used car manager took my car for a test-drive, then talked with my salesperson. She came back with “well, he said $7,000, but I insisted you needed at $8,000” (this was after I told her I was hoping for $9,000 to $10,000). I explained that KBB “Fair” was $9,300 (this was actually a small lie), and my car was better than “Fair”. We eventually came to $8,800, which is exactly what I was hoping for, and was actually exactly what KBB “fair” actually was for my car.

Here’s the thing: my old car’s been beaten up a decent amount. A few accidents (all repaired professionally, but still), paint is scratched pretty well, the front AC vents are missing from a failed mod attempt, the upholstery is torn in a few places from hauling equipment in the back seats, and there are a few small dents around the body. KBB “excellent” is $11k, “new” is $10k, “fair” is $8,800 (this is all dealer trade-in, not private party). To be honest, I think my old car’s worth is just BELOW “fair”, so I think I got a good deal with $8,800.

So I filled out some paperwork and put down a $1,000 deposit (which I’ll apply to the car as well, so almost $10,000 down). $26,500 car, plus various “bend over” fees, minus $9,800 down equals $19,159.74 financed. She even said there’s a good chance Toyota Financial could beat Capital One’s rate of 5.99%, so I applied there as well. If they can’t beat 5.99%, I’ll just go with Capital One anyway.

The car should be ready by the end of the week.