Over the course of the past week I attempted to treat myself to my first new vehicle in six years. I wanted to update my motorcycle fleet with an Indian FTR 1200. But after working with two local dealerships all I got was a credit hit to the tune of 70 points and five days of time wasted.
As you all know by now I’m always looking for my next dream vehicle. Since joining Jalopnik I’ve obtained a number of vehicles that I’ve once thought were unobtainable. I now have a Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI, a GM (Nova) RTS bus, a first-generation Audi TT, a Honda Beat, Suzuki Every and the amazing diesel Smart Fortwo. But I’ve sort of ignored my motorcycle dreams.
At the top of my motorcycle dream pile are the Buell Lightning, Suzuki RE-5, Honda CBX and the Indian FTR. I kicked it off by getting a Lightning, then last week I decided that an FTR needed to join it.
I’ve been in love with the FTR ever since it came out. It’s a machine that our Bradley Brownell describes as riding better than it looks, and it sure looks stunning. And it would easily be the most modern vehicle in my fleet.
I could have gotten any used FTR off of Facebook, but I decided that I should get a new one. A 2022 FTR 1200 Championship Edition fresh off of the factory floor sounded like a really nice idea. Its red trellis frame and wheels drew me in like a mosquito to a porch light.
The adventure started on Tuesday when my fiancée, Sheryl, drove me to the local Indian dealership. On its floor was a single FTR 1200 in base trim. I was able to put some miles on the fresh odometer and I couldn’t stop smiling. Even that base model was everything that I thought it would be. It reminded me of my Buell, but with decade-newer tech, more power and just as much agility. On my return to the dealership we got right to ordering a Championship Edition.
Now, I’ll admit that my credit isn’t the best. In the past close relatives used my credit for stuff that they didn’t pay for (including a house) and I’ve been recovering since. On Tuesday it was pretty much average. At the time, I was only disappointed by the fact that I was going to have to wait until July for my new bike.
The first sign that it was going to be a long week was when the dealership’s finance manager came out and told us that their systems were down. We had to go home and wait.
I heard back just before closing time and the dealership had finally pulled my credit. The manager felt that before he submitted it to their lender I should have a co-signer, just in case. Sheryl was happy to lend a hand.
We heard back again on Wednesday morning, and the finance manager on the other end of the call was frustrated with himself. So he explained, Sheryl’s self-employment and lack of active accounts actually made things worse for me. I was way better off by myself, but he already burned that bridge with their lender.
Armed with that in mind, we tried a different dealership. This one was a Chicago area Harley-Davidson dealership and it proudly advertised guaranteed credit approvals. That didn’t matter to me as much as the fact that the dealership was sitting on a 2019 Indian FTR 1200 S with that phenomenal red frame and fewer than 800 miles.
Bradley recommended this one over a 2022, and I was in love. And this time I wasn’t going to use Sheryl as a co-signer.
Things went well enough at first. It took the dealership all day, but its finance manager eventually called and informed me that he got me an approval. But he wasn’t a fan of the interest rate. He also suggested a cosigner, but said that this would be different than the last dealership. If Sheryl didn’t make anything better we could use the previous approval without problem. And my credit supposedly wouldn’t get pulled again, so I had nothing to lose.
Coincidentally, right after Sheryl submitted her application the dealership told us that it lost its internet connection, so her application couldn’t be submitted. Well, wind gusts on Wednesday were as high as 60 mph, so that made sense to us. But this was only the start of a long and confusing process.
On Thursday morning the dealership reported that its firewall was down and it still didn’t have internet. We called back late that day and by then the internet was back, but there was another curveball. The dealership was now saying that they had no record of my previous approved application, Sheryl’s submitted application or really any contact. They questioned if I was even calling the right place.
Eventually, the person on the other end of the line found someone who remembered us calling in earlier and they decided to figure out what happened, promising to call back in minutes. The dealership promised to call back in minutes a lot, but it never actually returned a single call.
When Friday rolled around the dealership was still claiming to have nothing on me.
Flabbergasted, we decided to just appear at the dealership in person on Saturday. This time, there were no internet issues but they still couldn’t find our records. The finance manager asked us to fill out applications so they could run our credit again. He promised that he could run our credit as many times as he needs within a small timeframe and my credit would not drop. I was skeptical, but what the heck, the dealership had a “100 percent credit approval,” right?
Three hours later the finance manager walked up to us holding a denial letter. Now, we did read the terms and conditions of the dealership’s so-called “credit guarantee” and we each exceeded them by wide margins. And about that approval that I got on Wednesday? The dealership said that it doesn’t know what happened there.
We went home after wasting most of Saturday. And not only did I not leave with a motorcycle, but I got home with a credit rating that was 70 points lower. Sheryl lost 80 points. Based on the times of each hard credit pull, the first dealership responded to their denial by pulling our credit again. And the second dealership pulled our credit about eight times in the same day. So much for that promise. I’m facepalming myself for even considering this idea.
The FTR dream isn’t dead yet. I’m just going to do what I’ve done for the past six years and continue paying cash for my vehicles. And at least between the five days of waiting I managed to find an open slot at a rider training course for Sheryl. She’s going to learn how to ride!