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Thought there might be some interest on the results of my recent email-athon project to special order a new truck. I knew that to get all of the options I wanted that I would need to special order a truck from Ford. Through I found 21 Ford dealers in a reasonable distance from where I live (I was willing to drive a couple of hours to get a good deal). I then went on to their individual websites to try to dig up a contact name for either an Internet or Fleet manager so that I could address the emails personally.

I then drafted an email that listed all of the options I wanted (I was very very detailed so there would be no confusion or follow up questions), specified my timeline (offers taken over three days, order placed the day after), indicated what I wanted in an offer (an "out-the-door" cost including taxes, title, license, processing, etc.) and indicated that I would put down a deposit when I ordered it. I then sent the 21 emails, using the names that I had uncovered.

Results: I received eleven offers within my time limit (over a 50% response rate which was pleasantly surprising). Only one dealer tried to sell me a truck that was sort of like the one I wanted but didn't have all of the options I specified (I ignored that). The offers were fairly close with the difference between the lowest and highest being $1,200 (the top nine were all within $500 of each other). The lowest offer, though, was $650 UNDER invoice. At the end of the time limit I emailed the second lowest offeror (was $150 above the lowest offer) and notified him that he missed the lowest offer by $150. He responded very quickly and dropped his offering by $300 (so now I was $800 UNDER invoice). Being very happy with that, I took his offer and arranged to go to the dealership for the paperwork the next day.

The process at the dealership was easy. The salesman (who was their "Internet manager" responsible for all Internet generated leads which I took to mean anyone who emailed them) printed out a list of the options to be sure that we were talking about the same thing, explained the process of special ordering, and asked how much I would like to put down as a deposit ($200 on a credit card). He even let me push the button to actually place the order with Ford (it was the F4 key in case anyone is interested). Now I'm just waiting for it to be built and delivered (up to 8 weeks). The only thing the salesman asked for was to give their finance guy a chance to beat the financing I had already arranged through PeopleFirst. Of course I'm happy to let them try to beat the rate.

Overall, this was an extremely low stress way of buying a vehicle. Maybe it worked so well because it was a special order but if you have a very specific vehicle in mind I would highly recommend this route. Total time I spent on this, including visiting the "winning" dealership was less than four hours. And to get exactly what I want at a cost under invoice makes it a no brainer for me.

I hope this helps anyone who's considering a "*-athon" method of buying a car.

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