My car lease expires the end of this month so I was doing one of the things I dislike the most — shopping for a new car. As with many of life’s anticipated drudgeries, this car shopping experience turned-out to be fun.
It was a cold, gray and blustery Chicago December day and I decided to head to Naperville where I knew two dealers had cars that I would consider leasing. I also invited (actually, she insisted on going), Chantalle my assistant, because the only thing she likes more than shopping for anything, is shopping for a Coach bag. This trip to Naperville’s new car showrooms was right up her alley especially since she was beginning to slip into clinical depression that always sets-in after Black Friday (yes, Chantalle was one of those who was standing in line outside a big-box store at 3:00 A.M. on the Friday after the U.S. Thanksgiving!). Anyway, Chantalle was only too eager to participate in my car shopping trip. It always scares me a little when Chantalle is “too eager” about anything, but that’s for another post or analyst’s couch.We arrived at the first dealer about 10:00 A.M. and had a difficult time finding a sales person. That kind of freaked me out: a new car dealer without sales people wanting to become your new best friend the moment you pull into the parking lot.
To be fair, the dealership was under-going major renovations and the sales people and service people were housed in 5 white trailers that all looked the same. We took a guess and went to the first door of the first trailer and asked if there was anyone here who could talk with us about car leases. I know, that’s like asking one of my dogs if they’d like a treat, but I wanted to move this experience along and I knew a salesperson would be a prerequisite.
After polite chit-chat (Chantalle’s area of expertise), we walk out to the lot with a fist full of keys and just like in the romance novels, it was love at first site. Black exterior with a panoramic sunroof and cinnamon interior. We looked at three other models and hopped into the first car for a test drive.
This is when the fun started. We drove a few blocks to the Naperville Auto Test Track. Its a secure-gated area that is supported by the City of Naperville and eleven car dealers. The track was built to reduce the number of new car test drives that were clogging local residential streets. If you’ve ever been to Naperville, you know they don’t need additional traffic.
The track simulates various types of road surfaces including railroad tracks, cobblestone, tight turns, a residential driveway and (my favorite) a skid pad. The opportunity to test drive a new car under a variety of conditions and without the typical Naperville traffic sold me. Plus, it was a load of fun!
The rest of this story is a little fuzzy, but I remember driving that car that the Naperville Auto Test Track showcased home that afternoon. Chantalle took care of all the details. I just signed a pile of papers and drove away. Even if you don’t buy or lease a new car, the Naperville Auto Test Track is a fun way to spend a day.