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By Jan Wagner - syndicated weekly columnist/photojournalist
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AutoMatters Meets AUTO SPIES

 


2005 Scion tC (photo from Scion)

Forgive me for stating the obvious but since you’re reading AutoMatters you probably have an interest in things automotive. I never have a problem finding something interesting to share with you, from the latest insider scoops to places to go, hot button issues like the rising price of gasoline to exciting racing action, car person movie reviews to all sorts of other neat stuff. I try to bring you a little bit of everything in AutoMatters, but I can only do so much in one column per week. The enthusiast car magazines help to satisfy people’s thirst for more. So do television shows and talking to your friends and business associates. I am happy to tell you that there is another source for interesting and useful automotive news and services – and it’s headquartered right in our Southern California backyard.

I first learned about AUTO SPIES while covering the LA Auto Show. I was in the Press Room resting when I found myself in a conversation with someone else from San Diego County. It turns out that the person I ran across was no other than Spy # 001 himself, the big guy. I will keep his real name to myself, to help him stay under the radar.


2005 Hummer H2 SUT (photo from Hummer)

They say that with “the addition of our DealerRater.com website, we’re now the third most visited car site next to Kelley Blue Book.com and Edmunds.com (source: alexa.com) on the internet.” That’s pretty impressive.

One of 001’s missions in life is to help make you an informed automobile buyer. Through a regular online newsletter, he brings his readers the latest spy information in the automotive world. He has a network of ‘agents’ that help him in this task. You could probably be one too. It’s actually kind of fun, the whole secret agent and spy theme.


2005 Chevrolet Corvette (photo from Chevrolet)

For instance, recently AUTO SPIES was the first to let me know about a new, upcoming car that is “More powerful than the 300C HEMI?” As a big fan of rear wheel drive MOPAR muscle cars from the late 60s and early 70s, I have a soft spot in my heart (and my head?) for such beasts.

I came by this honestly enough. You see, at one time my dad, as a traveling salesman, made a living carrying his samples in his car from town to town. He drove a lot and enjoyed doing so quickly. Back then, in Alberta, there wasn’t any urban sprawl between towns. You could drive for miles without seeing another car or a building. Speed limits were high and their enforcement was minimal. Highway driving, without the drag of stop and go congestion, was actually fun back then.

I remember Dad’s last muscle car well. It was a big, silver, 1968 Chrysler 300 sedan with a 440 V-8, complete with hideaway headlights and multi-spoke wheels. That car was awesome.

Mom didn’t drive but she still needed to get around, so when I got old enough to drive dad got us a second car. It had to have a big trunk for groceries, but in those days that wasn’t a problem. And of course it had to be fun for dad to drive once in a while. So, guess what dad bought for a 16 year old to use for his first car? Here are some clues. See if you can guess it before I tell you. 

It was red, with racy looking wheels. It had the required huge trunk (large enough to swallow a fully assembled, large ski rack, sand bags and more, with ease). It was rear wheel drive. It had a three-speed automatic. It was one of the first cars without side vent windows. It was a product of the Chrysler Corporation. It was a blast to drive – but only in a straight line. It could easily smoke the rear tires. It was a two-door coupe (getting warm yet?). The taillights were set into two horizontal slots on each side of the car. At the front there were fake fog lights set into a blacked-out grille. The car was a Plymouth. Its engine was a 340 V-8. The side bodywork sort of tapered to a point, which was a magnet for body damage. Finally, here’s the giveaway clue: the car had a decorative sticker on it that looked like an enraged dust bunny. Give up? The car was a 1970 Plymouth Duster 340, and now you know why I’m a fan of Chrysler muscle cars.

Today’s Chrysler, backed by the solid engineering of Mercedes Benz, has found that others share my affliction. They figured that as powerful as it is, the 300C HEMI just wasn’t quite enough so, as reported in AUTO SPIES, they’ve upped the performance ante with the new, 2005 Chrysler 300C SRT-8.


2005 Chrysler 300C SRT-8 (photo from Chrysler)

As if the regular 300C wasn’t powerful enough, this new version reportedly packs in an additional 85 horsepower, bringing the total to an incredible 425.

AUTO SPIES got this information to me before I heard about it through any official channels. AUTO SPIES sifts through the clutter to get the goods and delivers them with the speed of the Internet. If for no other reason you really should sign up at their Website to get this information for yourself. Their address is www.autospies.com. You may have a different dealership experience but that is not usually where I hear about these things first.


Mercedes-Benz CLS-Class (photo from Mercedes-Benz)

Getting the latest information out right away is just the beginning of what AUTO SPIES does for its subscribers. AUTO SPIES also provides incredible purchasing assistance. Listen to what one satisfied customer had to say about AUTO SPIES: “Dear 001, your purchasing service was great! I got all the advice I needed to make a good decision and I saved nearly $10,000 off MSRP on a slightly used (only 500 miles) E500… I will definitely use your services again.”

Another happy customer added: “Believe it or not, your tips saved me over $4,940 off the MSRP, not to mention the savings on the interest rate for the lease. Everything was negotiated over the phone in one day. When the paperwork arrived, it was exactly as what we discussed. NO HASSLES, NO AGGRAVATION… If I would have purchased the car locally, the dealers were asking for sticker on this car… I am an Insurance Agent who comes into contact with a lot of people looking for new cars & I will always tell them to click www.autospies.com before they buy.”


2005 Saab 9-7X (Photo from Saab)

There are certainly excellent dealers out there but AUTO SPIES can help you separate the good ones from the not-so-good ones and, in the process, help you get a great deal on the right car. That is an important point to keep in mind. Last weekend I decided to follow up on an interesting advertising promotion that I heard about in the mail from a local new car dealer who had sold me one of my current cars. Naturally I did not win any of the great prizes hyped in their flyer. Instead, what I did find there was a salesman who tried to sell me a car in a color that I absolutely hate, with extra add-ons that I didn’t want or need and at a price difference with my trade-in that made me all but run to the door in anger for wasting my time. It was the old dealership one-two punch of ‘sell what you see, not see what you can sell,’ and ‘scrape the customer off of the ceiling.’ I thought such dealerships had disappeared long ago but, regretfully, I can tell you from personal experience that they’re still out there, waiting to pounce on unsuspecting, trusting “ups." They didn’t want to address my needs and wants, they wanted to move inventory off of their lot – and at a big profit. That does not seem to be what AUTO SPIES is about, as this glowing testimonial reveals:

“001 gave me the shirt off his back (or more literally, the car headed to his driveway) to make sure I was satisfied. I was looking for a lease transfer on a BMW 745, and when it turned out that the car I was looking for was roughly the same specs 001 was looking for himself, he let me take the car he had found, and even drove it from Chicago to San Francisco to me.”

In addition to spy photos of the latest cars, you can also check out their “DealerRater” at www.dealerrater.com for automobile dealer reviews. They don’t pull any punches.


2005 Ford Five Hundred (photo from Ford)

In case you’re wondering, I did not get paid for making this recommendation for AUTO SPIES (unless you count getting treated to a drink at Jamba Juice while we spoke). What I would like you to remember is that there are alternatives out there that serve to inform you and save you money on your vehicle purchases, and help you avoid minefields in the process.

As always, please share your stories and send your comments to AutoMatters@gmail.com. Enjoy the archives and more at www.AutoMatters.net. Drive safely and do join me again next time.

 

Copyright © 2004, 2006 Jan R. Wagner – #115r1 AutoMatters

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