I get a new set of wheels.
It’s a 1979 Marketeer. And it goes.
I bought a golf cart today. No, I don’t play golf. But I needed a vehicle to leave in the hangar to tow the helicopter around the airport. I was using my Jeep, but I don’t always have the Jeep with me at the airport.
We found this golf course classic in the Arizona Republic classified ads. It was the cheapest golf cart listed, at a whopping $800 OBO. Mike called the seller and got a very talkative woman on the phone. A woman who talked so much she made me seem like a mute. After a lot of listening, Mike got to ask the right questions. When he hung up, he had directions to her trailer park off Union Hills in Phoenix. We hooked up the flat bed trailer and went to take a look.
We made two wrong turns on our way to the owner’s trailer. Trailer parks in Arizona are maze-like in design, with short blocks and few straight streets. But we finally found it and parked out front. Her son Brian was waiting for us. Beside him was a hopped-up golf cart with ATV tires and a dark green paint job. Beyond them was what would soon become my very own Marketeer.
The first thing I noticed was that one of the front wheels was not positioned vertically to the ground. It was as if the steering wheel was turned all the way to the right. That wouldn’t have been so bad if the other front wheel was parallel to it. But it wasn’t.
It was a plain off-white golf cart. The kind you think about if you live in an area with few golf carts and think about golf carts. (Although why you’d think about golf carts if you didn’t have, need, or regularly see one is beyond me.) It was almost identical, in fact, to the one that my mechanic Ed, at Wickenburg Airport, has. No frills.
There were some signs of rust — I think that’s to be expected in any vehicle that’s nearly thirty years old. But the six batteries and their cables were in decent condition and, when we hopped in and went for a ride on those maze-like streets, it ran pretty smoothly. Despite the gimpy wheel.
We drove it back to Brian. Mike voiced his approval without sounding like he was in love with it. He wasn’t, of course. It was a pretty basic and somewhat awful golf cart, with just enough right about it to make it meet our needs.
“Your mom said she’d consider other offers,” Mike said. “Would you consider $500?”
Brian smiled. “No,” he said simply.
“How about $600?” Mike asked. (This is what we’d hoped to pay.)
“I’d feel better about $650,” Brian replied.
“We’ll, we’d feel more comfortable with $600,” Mike told him. “We have cash and can take it right now.”
“Cash is king,” I chimed in.
“Cash is king,” Brian repeated thoughtfully. “Okay.”
I pulled the six $100 bills I’d put in my left rear pocket out and counted them as if I wasn’t sure how much was there. I counted again to act surprised that it was just the right amount. Then I handed them over. Brian handed me the title, which had already been “signed over.” (There’s more to that, but it isn’t worth talking about here.)
Mike drove it up the ramp onto the trailer and Brian helped us tie it down with some straps we’d brought along. The whole time, he talked to us about hunting and doing other weird things with his hopped up golf cart. About the only thing he didn’t use it for was golf course transportation. It was street legal, which isn’t so unusual in Arizona, and had a stereo. On the way to our meeting, I’d asked Mike how a golf cart could be worth $4K or more used. Brian’s golf cart showed me the answer.
We drove home, making a few stops along the way. We went right to the airport where we unfastened the cart and drove it down the ramp. Rob, from Ed’s place, was there working on a plane. He pulled Ed’s cart out and parked it next to ours. They were virtually identical, although Ed’s had fringe along the roof and a bunch of welded-on pieces to hold various airplane tow bars.
Mike hopped into our Marketeer and he and Rob took off, racing down the ramp between the hangars. Mike was quicker off the line, but Rob quickly caught up and passed him. They disappeared around a corner. A minute or so later, Rob was back. Mike followed a bit later. Okay, so it wasn’t fast. Maybe it just needed a charge. Or maybe the gimpy wheel was holding it back.
But it is a classic. And it goes.