When we landed we were given a rental car for 1 month and its hard to believe this friday we will be heading back to Localiza to return the little bugger. Over the last few weeks it's taught my husband how to drive a manual, driven a few friends and I safely to the beach for the first time and helped us discover our amazing new neighborhood and city. Feeling the pressure to figure out how we would replace the wheels, I reached out to several gringo websites and friends.
On many levels buying a car in this country is difficult. The first being the price. Unless you are a diplomat, it is financially ludicrous to import a car. By the time it makes it through customs, and that is a big, "if," you have paid off so many people and taxes to wrangle the legal system you've doubled the cost of the car and it could take years! If you buy a new car, it costs double what that same car would be in the US!! So I figured I would ask everyone we knew here if they were selling a car since buying a new car didn't make sense to us. Alex does not have a lot of job security with a one year contract so cheap, functional and used became our priorities. I would have loved to use the word "safety" in that sentence but air bags are not mandatory in Brazil till 2014. Power steering is a luxury amenity as is air conditioning surprisingly.
Its clear word of mouth is an incredibly useful tool here. Within a week of asking around, I was given the name "Marcus" attached to an email address and told that he is 'the expat car man.' So I inquired and immediately had an appointment to be picked up at our hotel. Marcus owns a used dealership outside the city and really makes his business on transfers from major companies around the world. He has a variety of cars from BMW's priced around $100,000 to basic cars with wheels and doors. We needed wheels and doors.
Since cars are so expensive they are obviously stolen all the time. You are warned if you try and buy a car from a regular guy because you have no guarantee if the engine inside the car is even the engine that originally came with the it. The car could have been entirely stolen, have stolen parts or have been marked as a drug vehicle and someone is trying to dump it fast. Not only did Marcus offer us an 8month warranty on our chosen 2005 VW Gol but he said he would happily buy it back from us if things change in a year! Even in an 05' there was no power steering but we got air conditioning!!! His wife is also the insurance dealer so in one swoop you get the whole package! It was almost too good to be true but he certainly seems to maintain his reputation.
I have named our new car "gringo" in honor of its hue, personality and all those helpful in our purchase! I look forward to the many memories we will make over the next year and hopefully with good luck all the years to come...Merry Christmas to us!
Future Gringo with my creative brother's touch... (thats alex and i as kids)