I really didn't set out to buy a car this weekend, but I had decided to at least look around at the landscape before the "clunker" program evaporated.

Because I've got friends and family in the auto business, I have been able to buy cars at the employee discount for the last 20 years or so. That's made buying a really tolerable experience, since the employee price is set and there is no squabbling about the price at the dealership.

This time however, things were different. To start out, the GM dealerships I went to didn't really have a car that qualified, since I wanted to be able to tow a light trailer. Then some of the dealerships for Ford just refused to honor the X-plan in conjunction with the cash for clunkers program, especially not on the hot selling Escape. The dealer who sold me my Mustang last year did come through, and offered to honor both deals, but with very limited inventory.

Enter the fine print...

You see, both my son and I have 1996 Ford Explorers (which just happento be the 3rd most traded in clunker), mine with 155 thousand miles, his with132 thousand. But then his we affectionately refer to as the "crash test dummy" car, since it's been in a bunch of minor fender benders. I figured that I could trade in one of the two cars and give the better one to my son.

Then there was this matter of the registration. I didn't renew his on time last year and let it go for a month or two since he was out of state and there were issues with getting an emissions test. Therefore, according to the government, the car was not continually registered for the last 12 months, and was ineligible for the clunker program. No matter that it's been on the road for the last year, and insured. Leaave it to the government to find a stupid excuse for a car not to qualify.

I wonder how that will work in the health care field... but I digress.

Anyway, the yahoo headline on August 21 screamed out - CASH FOR CLUNKERS ENDING ON MONDAY EVENING!

So there is a long, and a short, and the short is that we finally found a car that worked for us, price and all. I ended up looking at the Hundai Santa Fe, but really couldn't get excited about buying it, I just thought that the total price was too high, clunker cash and all.

But then my salesperson had a "flash of insight" when he decided that I might just walk off the lot with no sale. "Mr NSR, do you happen to belong to Costco?

Costco, why yes, I have my card right here.

So, the deal ended up to be a couple of thousand off from Hundai, four thousand or so for the "clunker" and then another four thousand off to get to the Costco price and bingo - we had about 1/3 off the price of that car. And that my friends is a deal.

So, although I was unhappy to have had to clunk my really nice 1996 Ford Explorer, when someone gives you $4,500 for something that is worth maybe $2,000, you have to look hard at the deal.

Every last one of those cars along the fence was destined for the automotive graveyard, with mine at the very very end of the line.

There it sits, the white one on the end, a truly great deal of a car that ended up being a greater deal on a new car. I don't remember what I paid for it, but I drove it without fault for two years and ended up getting cashed out of the deal in fine fashon by the taxpayers of the United States.

Thanks all.