Ugly Green

It wasn't easy to look for a replacement for Stargazer. Rav4s were either pricey (even at that age) at the dealers or very rarely listed by private sellers in Gumtree. It began to feel like fishing on a lazy afternoon, waiting for hours but greeted with nothing. So I widen my options by looking out for other similar models. The market offered Daihatsu Terios at a decent price. However I could remotely recall how unimpressive the passenger experience it was when I took a ride in one of those many years back. A Forester seemed a bit too longish for my preference. I even told Jen in jest that it might be a good idea to get a 4runner and bash around with.

Then I came across the Honda CR-V (first generation). It caught my eye because of the shape of the car - just the sort that would suit our needs perfectly. High seats for a step down alighting, a huge cubic boot, good visibility. Upon reading up more about the model, it seemed like it would tick the rest of my preferences. A roomy passenger area as well as a smooth stable ride (for the road trips) and high reliability. As it seemed, reviews by owners were unusually good. Many claimed their first generation CRVs were 'indestructible'. So I reckoned a CRV was worth a look.

I wasted no time in meeting sellers for test drives. The first drive was a Korean owner. His was a 2001 model with extra 20hp to its 1997-1999 counterparts. I had to say I was impressed by how well the CRV drove. I would go as far as saying the driving experience was even better than the Rav4. Many would probably lament how underpowered compact SUVs like that were. But I bought this for the wife's daily runs, not joining night street racing. After a couple of test drives, I was convinced that Stargazer's replacement would be one of these.

The problem with that was everyone knew these were really great cars so nobody would list them cheaply. So dealers would be asking between the range of $4,000-$5,000 for a 15-16 year old CR-V, depending on condition and mileage of the engine. Private sellers would list decent ones at around $3,500. Anything significantly lower than that price would be either one with extremely high mileage or bad condition. After buying the temporary silver pyzar for $1,300 with the insurance payout of $4,500, my remaining budget was $3,300 for the CR-V.  I was determined not to spend a cent more. 

Weeks passed by without any breakthrough. It turned out that CR-Vs were never going to be as commonly listed as Corollas. Even the Korean chap was still listing his unsold CR-V for $3,600 without any intention to reduce the price. I would give that a miss.

Then I saw the ugly green CR-V on the list. I read the advertisement and found that the owner was willing to negotiate on the price. I had to drive to City Beach to view the car. The owner lived in a house that overlook the Indian Ocean. I couldn't help but admire those houses there. Such life. A little Japanese guy greeted me. He looked no more than 30 years old despite his untidy beard of the chin. We did a little bit of small talk while I inspected the bonnet. No oil leaks. Great. The owner name was Yutaka. Near-new tyres. Brilliant. Yutaka was a school teacher in Japan and decided to go travelling around the world with his Japanese wife. Flexible CV-joint boots with no cracks. Yutaka was on work-holiday visa, working in Taka's Kitchen on casual for $22 an hour, 60 hours a week because 'they are so busy'. New drive belts. Nice. Yutaka had actually driven the CR-V around Australia in a few months, visiting all major cities except for Tasmania. He was ready to leave Perth and his next touring destination was India. Coolant clear, engine oil clean and bright. Brakes tidy. 

"Can I go for a drive?"


"Wanna come with me?"

"No, I trust you."

Great. Air con and heater in working condition. Automatic windows good all around. Wipers smooth and inject enough water. The drive was quiet. I could hardly hear the hum of the engine even when I purposely stepped on the gas more than necessary. The gear shift was smooth and all gears transited seamlessly. I tried to be as critical as I could but other than the poor paintwork on the body, I couldn't fault it. Well, it wasn't the first time I had owned an ugly green car. My first car was actually a ugly green Renault Kangoo van. I hated the green at first but it served us so well that we ended up using that as our wedding car. Sometimes, it wasn't really about looking good and having 'face' but the significance value of it in our story. I glanced at the ugly green paint after I hopped out to Yutaka's driveway with disdain but quickly straighten up and told him, "Seems like a sound car, despite how you abused it," I joked.

I passed the keys back to the Japanese and told him about Jen's accident and how our car was written off. So my budget for the replacement car was tight. Yutaka listed the car at $3,500 negotiable. Let's see how negotiable that was going to be then.

"Can I have this for $2,600?" I asked.

"Wow, that's low," he shook his head without hesitation. "There were a few potential buyers who quoted $2,500 - $2,600 but my wife rejected them immediately. She wanted at least $3,000 because we bought the car at $5,000 from the dealer only a year ago."

Yutaka gave out too much information and it gave me an idea what would be my next move.

"$3,000 is a bit high for me. Can you reduce it a bit more to $2,800? I think my wife will be happy with the price because we too, have a limited budget."

"Hmm," returned Yutaka. "Let me check with my wife and I'll call you back."

"Yes, please call or text me once you have an answer," I concluded and thanked him for his time.

Three hours later, I received a call from Yutaka. He sounded quite enthusiastic and told me his wife had agreed to the price. "Thank you, I need to call my wife now to ask her for the money. I'll call you back once I know when I can come over." That evening, two henpecked men exchanged cash for car. Both were mighty pleased.

The drive back home in Ugly Green was fantastic. The car was perfect for a road trip. The leg room at the passenger seat was even more generous than the Rav4 but the boot was not badly compensated because of that. The interior was kept clean so no intensive cleaning was needed. Yutaka also handed me two sets of useful freebies. A phone charger for any phone model and a power converter. The power converter would allow us to charge our laptops via the cigarette lighter if we needed to. It served them well for their road trip.

I got Jen to insure the car as soon as she could. The insurance company told us the market value for a 1998 CR-V was $4,900. Alright. It was all good to go. Jen had a new old car. How do I sell the silver Pyzar now?


  1. Wow.. good deal, as usual ;)

    Just don't go too crazy with the off road. It's not an Outlander or Forester :p

    My only real beef with this things is the AWD on them. Next to useless. But maintenance shouldn't be an issue at all. Just take extra care when changing the oil filter...


  2. Hi, may I know how do I search for private sellers and avoid dealers