DECATUR — Everybody likes that new car smell.
But Bill Davies not only likes it, he’s addicted to it. And he doesn’t want it to drive away. Ever.
At the last count, and it’s difficult to keep up, he’s driving his fifth new car for 2013. In 2012, he changed his ride twice (that he remembers), and he did it multiple times in 2011.
“How many vehicles have I had in the last four or five years?” the 65-year-old asks of himself. “Oh, probably, conservatively, about 15. How many in my lifetime? I’ve got no idea.”
He’s got a particularly soft spot for sports cars and Ford Mustangs, and Chevrolet Corvettes have figured prominently in his older motoring history. And he’s just agreed to pay $44,000 to acquire his latest ride — a 2013 burgundy Corvette projectile that was priced at more than $51,000 until Davies asked the salesman nicely — and now he’s feeling pretty good about keeping this one around awhile.
“This was the car I was working towards, and I’ve got no inkling to change it,” says Davies, a retired restaurant manager who lived in Decatur for years before moving to Springfield. “This is what I want, but I am going to have to find something else that will go through the snow in the wintertime. You don’t want to use a Corvette in the winter.”
Decatur’s Earthmover Credit Union has been happy to go along for the ride and enable Davies’ new car addictions. Tony Longcor, a financial service representative, rattles off a list of deals they’ve financed for Davis going back in time to October 2011: Sept. 10, 2013, burgundy Corvette; June 17, 2013, black Ford Fusion Titanium model (top of the line); April 25, 2013, burgundy Ford Escape; April 2, 2013, blue Ford F-150 pickup; Feb. 4, 2013, silver Hyundai Genesis coupe; Feb. 14, 2012, a white Ford Fusion; Jan. 20, 2012, red Ford Mustang; Dec. 13, 2011, dark blue Ford F-150; Oct. 31, 2011, red Ford Escape.
That is not the complete list for 2011. Financed elsewhere, we must also throw in a dark blue Camaro SS, a brown Dodge Ram pickup and a silver Chevrolet Malibu Davies bought for his wife, Theresa.
Wherever they’re being financed, however, Longcor points out this long list of mostly new and some slightly used vehicles represents a serious detour from the normal course of car ownership.
He explains that most clients keep their vehicles 2½ years or more before dreaming about an investment in new set of wheels. But Longcor also says business is business, and he takes a pretty open-minded view of serial vehicular consumption and managed to say all the right things when Davies came in bemoaning the slow lane attitude toward vigorous car swapping he’d encountered at other financial institutions.
“I just told him ‘It’s your money, you pay for the cars, why shouldn’t you trade them in every other month or whatever you want?’ ” recalls Longcor. “And then Mr. Davies’ eyes just lit up and he said, ‘That’s exactly what I’m saying; you just hit the button with that answer.’ ”
So, why does a man want to change his car as frequently as others switch out their wardrobe?
“I’ve worked hard all my life, and my cars have been a passion I like to reward and enjoy myself with, but sometimes I get bored,” says Davies. “I bought that Ford Fusion Titanium model, for example, because it was the top-of-the-line car, and I thought I’d like it because it had heated seats, all the bells and whistles. But I drove it for a little while and said to my wife, ‘I’m bored.’ She said ‘Yeah, I knew you would be.’ ”
He’s still breaking in the ’Vette (about 700 miles on the odometer by now), but boredom doesn’t look like it’s going to be much of an issue there.
“A truck was about to cut me off the other day, and I had to move real fast and I suddenly found myself doing 70 mph in third gear,” he says. “And it’s a manual with six gears.”
But like a man with an eye for a pretty girl, Davis never knows when a new set of metallic curves will wiggle at him seductively from some dealer lot and gaze into his eyes with come-hither headlights. And, in a moment of weakness, he did admit that his absolute ultimate Corvette fantasy would in fact be a convertible model in bright yellow.
Karen Woods, marketing director for Earthmover, is willing to gamble their favorite customer might be double-parked outside the loan department again in the not-too-distant future. “We’ve got some side bets going,” she says.