2010 USA Roadtrip Buying a Car in Montana

Dimitri, as usual, had done exhaustive research on buying a car. First he decided the car we wanted and talked to our friends Mel Richmond and Mitch Hayne about their experience with their cars. In the end, Dimitri decided on a 2010 Subaru Outback. He had investigated buying a car in Vancouver, BC (about US$8000 more than in Montana) and in Washington and in Oregon. We saw a new all black Subaru Outback in the hotel's parking lot at Chico Hot Springs and we were sold--it was so elegant-looking.

Placer Motors in Helena had a black 2010 Outback with almost everything Dimitri wanted (except a remote starter and a bike rack). In order to buy a car and have it registered in Montana we needed to be residents. So we did that and were happy to do that because there is no sales tax in Montana.

We went to Placer Motors to see Curt Little on Monday morning and signed the paper work to buy the car but we made the deal contingent on having the car registered and the permanent plates mounted. Becky, the person in charge of financial matters, said that she would take our US check and Bobby, the woman in charge of getting the car registered, said she would try to get the car registered and the plates issued on the same day. And she did! And we bought the car for $27,972.00 plus $378.33 for registration.

On Tuesday morning we went back to Placer Motors to order the remote starter and the bike rack for the top of the car. They were to arrive on Friday and would be installed that day. All of our dealings with Placer Motors were delightful.

When we picked up the car, Erick Anderson, General Manager of Placer and (owner for 3 generations), walked us through all of the paperwork and Curt Little "gave us a tour" of the car's functions. This is the first new car either of us has bought since the Opel Corsa we bought in 1997 (in Italy--click here to see it) and it was a real kick for us!
TADAAA: our new rig fully outfitted


The car handled beautifully on curvy, mountain roads and we enjoyed driving it. We were delighted that it had won the 2010 Motor Trend Magazine Sport/Utility of the Year. Click here to read that glowing article.

So, buying a car in Montana turned out to be as easy as we had thought it should be, once we established residency. After we bought the car we went to get insurance and learned that we needed a Montana driver's license to get insurance. So we both took and passed the eye test, the written test and the driving test at Helena Exam Station for Montana Driver's License (2708 Billings Ave., Helena, MT, 406-444-3933). For $76 Audre has a license that will expire in 8 years and Dimitri has a license that will expire in 7 years.

We went to John Cochrane Insurance (1075 N. Rodney, #106, Helena, MT 59601, tel. 406-442-6700 or 406-442-6791, web: BestRateInHelena.com) and dealt with Rick Cochrane, the founder's son. Through him we got insurance with Progressive for $256 for 6 months. (Dimitri's online research had indicated that Progressive's rates were among the best. Dimitri's Internet sleuthing paid off again!)

On Wednesday we ordered Giant bikes at Big Sky Cycling (present address: 1419 11th Ave., future address:401 North Last Chance Gulch, Helena, MT 59601, tel 406-442-4644 web: www.bigskybikes.com) for $1116.71 (with everything we wanted added) from Melinda Barnes. We were to pick them up on Friday afternoon, after we had our bike rack installed on the car.

On Friday, we went back to Placer Motors and had the remote starter and the bike rack installed. Placer Motors gave us a loaner car to use for the day. Then we went to Big Sky Cycling to get our bikes. So on Saturday we were ready to roll. Very, very cool!


A couple of weeks after we bought the Suburu at Placer Motors, Curt Little called us and left a message. He just wanted to make sure that we were happy with the car. In our mail pack that was forwarded to us in Vancouver, there was a handwritten thank you note from Curt! That is the first thank you note either of us has ever received from any salesperson, anywhere in the world.