You Only Live Once!

Toyota Tercel, a global classic.

Toyota Tercel, a global classic.

My plan was to volunteer in Costa Rica this year and I found a need to have a car. Buying a car here is a challenge. My Spanish isn’t great, I don’t know the city of San Jose and there are plenty of terms I am unfamiliar with. Also, most everybody here says you need to have a lawyer in the process and then there may be insurance.

What I needed was cheap reliable transportation. My budget was $3,500 and most people told me that was too cheap to get a car. I did a little research and found that there are plenty of old Toyotas here and some have been well cared for and some haven’t.

I looked online and found a place called “WheelsCR” I spent the better part of 6 weeks asking Russell questions. He answered every question and all the info he gave matched with what other people told me. Still, almost all car deals are cash and what I was faced with was flying to Costa Rica with $4,000 cash in my pocket, hopping into the car of a stranger, traveling around a city I was unfamiliar with and meeting complete strangers.

I decided, “what the heck you only live once” and so I fly to Costa Rica with 40 one hundred dollar bills in my pocket. The flight was 1 hour late getting into the airport but there to meet me was Kattia , Russell’s wife. There was a 1992 Toyota Tercel at the airport. I drove it and then we went to look at other cars. We went all around the city and saw several other cars all in my price range. At last we came upon a 1992 Toyota Tercel in immaculate condition. There was an alarm and a stereo , the air conditioning worked and and the car looked like a jewel. All for $3,300!

The question became “how do you buy the car?” Kattia called a lawyer and we drove the car to his office at 6:00 p.m. That night. The transaction was completed and then Kattia had me follow her to the place I was staying. (I had no idea how to get there) She told me the insurance agent would be there the next day at 11:00 a.m. He was there at 10:45.

My friends in Costa Rica find all of this unbelievable because things simply don’t happen that fast down here.

I ended up with a car under budget and was navigated through a complex process with ease.

I have bought many cars in my life and this was the best experience I have ever had. If you are new to Costa Rica or have been here a while I can not recommend WheelsCR enough. The service was outstanding.

Pura Vida,


2 x 1 Happy Hour !

There's a first time for everything, one client, two cars!

There’s a first time for everything, one client, two cars!

Hi Russ!

This service was just amazing! Just having moved to Costa Rica a week ago, we would never have been able to find and purchase the two cars we needed on our own. We found them both in one day, The only driving we had to do was test driving, and driving them home. Russ even had us follow him back to our hotel, to make sure we made it safely.

His patience, knowledge, guidance and understanding of the process, made it, virtually, stress free!

Now we can drive our own cars back to our new home in Uvita.

Thank You,

Marcy and John

A Classic Land Cruiser by the Lake

Hi Russ,

On site for the new restaurant

On site for the new restaurant

We wanted to let you know we have arrived safely back to El Castillo. It was such a plus to have you on board. We truly could not have done it without you. Let alone completing our purchase within just a few hours. We will be recommending your services to anyone needing to purchase a vehicle in CR.

Here’s a pic of the awesome tank in front of Nepenthe B&B here in El Castillo. The restaurant build site is just beside. Hope you two can come for a dinner on us when we open later this year.

Thanks again,

Ryan and Rebecca


A new experience for Russ -- buying a new car!

A new experience for Russ — buying a new car!

I had a positive experience that I wanted to share with anyone who might be seeking a similar type of service.Many months ago, I ran across an ad in the ARCR (Association of Residents in Costa Rica) magazine “El Residente” which advertised the services of Mr. Russell Martin. Mr. Martin, hailing from Texas/Nebraska, aids expatriates and others in the search for reliable used cars in Costa Rica. Since I recently purchased a small home near La Fortuna, in the Lake Arenal area, I knew that, for me, the next step was to buy a car, so I clipped the ad out and placed it within a folder in one of my desk drawers.

I had taken the leap to relocate to Costa Rica with the hope of easing the financial burden of my retirement. Buying a home in a foreign country is scary enough so I was careful to utilize a well recommended lawyer and to work through a competent real estate professional, which, in Costa Rica, can be an oxymoron. I feel strongly that those decisions were a vital factor in my acquiring a very nice property at a fair price without any hassles or irregularities.

So when I learned that acquiring a reliable car can turn out to be more difficult than purchasing a home, I wanted all the help I could get. Eventually, I contacted Mr. Martin via e-mail and we began a long and frequent communication as to what might be best for me, given my budget and where I chose to live. It wasn’t long before we were on a first name basis and I developed the assurance that Russell knew what he was doing. During these communications, I was impressed by Russell’s knowledge of autos, the clarity of his explanations, and the general thoroughness of his procedures.

I have no doubt that he can help anyone get the best value for their money in the Costa Rican market. He works only with proven and trustworthy dealers.

I finally decided that I would prefer to buy a new car and asked for his help in shopping the market and completing a deal. We began a new dialogue until we arrived at a game plan. Russell’s patience, his knowledge and his fluency in Spanish guided me through an unimaginable labyrinth and ended in total success. Although I suppose
there is no guarantee, I believe that his fee easily saved me money in the end. But even if it did not, given the frequent trips he made to the dealership, the time and the energy he put into the process, he saved me a ton of time and aggravation.

If you want your best chance to find a reliable used car or to help negotiate the process of purchasing a new car, I think that Russell Martin is a great asset to have on your side.

Alan R. Altman

Getting Our Client Into a Jam …

Geo Tracker 1998

4 doors for beach living


Thank you for providing me with incredible service in helping me find a car. My requirements on car size was strict due to my small garage, yet you managed to provide me with many choices to inspect.

I appreciate that you scheduled my day very efficiently, and I was able to choose one on the first afternoon. I had no knowledge that the paperwork would be so involved, yet you managed to get the legal lawyer and have me on my way in less than one hour.

In addition, you truly went above and beyond in helping me locate a roof rack afterwards. I would certainly  recommend your services, especially after discovering how involved it would have been for me, to attempt it myself.

Sincerely, Gerry Wilson

Thanks Before Thanksgiving

Hello Russ and Kattia

Thanks for all your help with the purchase of the vehicle. The service provided was excellent, fast and efficient. We appreciate all your efforts in sourcing suitable cars, arranging the appointments, driving us around, and arranging the insurance, etc.

We would most certainly be recommending your company to any of our friends that one day might be interested in coming to live in Costa Rica.

We really are enjoying the car, with the only issue being a slow leak in one of the back tires that we will need to have fixed in San Joaquin.

Thanks again and look forward to seeing you once the license plates arrive.


Garry McMullen
David Phipps

A Pleasant Resolution

As you know, Kattia was very helpful in the purchase of a car. She indicated that you would like to be kept informed as to the service that Autos Delgado would provide after the sale. I am writing this to alert you to the fact that the brakes are going out.

I mentioned my  concern to Julio Cesar Delgado G. at the the time we were trying the car out and he assurred me the problem with the softness of the brakes had to do to with that they were new and had not settled in. Now, if I do not pump them up or if I only apply them, the pedal will go to the floor. This has been a slowly developing problem, becoming this serious last night.

I will contact Mr. Delgado today and I hope he will respond in a positive, rapid manner and correct to problem immediately. I will keep you informed as to his reaction and response to the 30 day guarantee.

Thank you John Martin

********** Afternoon Message

Julio, the owner was always very reachable, courteous and helpful. At first, he indicated his mechanic would not be available until Monday as today was the end of the work week. I politely told him that I would have no transportation this weekend and for much of Monday.

He told me that he would contact his mechanic to see if he could get to it this morning. Ten minutes later he called me and told me to bring the car in immediately as he had made arrangements to have the repair done. We did so.

He repaired the window control on the passenger side before having me follow him to the repair shop. He took me back to his agency and the my waiting family. We took a tour of the surrounding area. He called about an hour later with news that the car was repaired and at his agency.

We returned and it was ready with a new master cylinder, ready to go. He had one of his workers washing and polishing it, as good as an exterior detail job. I have driven the car and given lessons to Carolina this evening.

Needless to say, I am pleased with his response.


Driver’s Education?

Nissan Pathfinder 2000Hi Russ and Kattia!  Sorry for the delay in getting back to you, but we have spent the last two days trying to recover from the ordeal of driving in San Jose!

We had a reasonable journey back to Tilaran and all was going well until we got to our house and Peter discovered that he had left the key for the padlock on the gate on the keyring of the rental car!  Thankfully there is also a side gate where we can bring in the car in off the road, but there were a few moments of panic!  I have called the car rental company and they have found the key – they say they are going to put it on a delivery service which runs on the bus from San Jose to Tilaran.  Hopefully it will arrive on Monday and we can go and collect it from the the bus station.

Anyway, the most important part of this email is to tell you how happy we were to have found you – you have both offered us service with a smile (in Kattia’s case anyway – Russ, we imagined you smiling through your emails!) and have gone above and beyond the call of duty from beginning to end.  You helped us through what could have been a very stressful time and there is no way we could have done it without you.  We were lucky to find a suitable car straight away and you managed to speed us through the buying, registration and insurance processes so that we could get on our way.  Kattia – your cheerfulness and can-do attitude made everything seem easy, even if your driving did leave us holding our breath on occasions!  One day we will learn to drive like you!  Many, many thanks for all you did for us – and please feel free to use our comments as a testimonial on your website – we would have no hesitation in recommending you to anybody.

Frances and Peter

Surf’s Up ! Kalon Surf Costa Rica Buys Galloper

Galloper 2000 for Surf School Transportation

Hyundai Galloper 4 x 4 SUV for Kalon Surf

When I was planning my move to Costa Rica to open my luxury surf school, Kalon Surf, one of the key things that I needed to manage was getting a car, a proper one, preferably not overpriced. But how do you go about it? Where to go? Private sale or to a dealer? Which ones are good, which one not? What is the right price? Which type of car should you get? With seriously high taxes on import, you really do need to consider your options. But again where to start…

Then funny enough, at the same time I found Fijatevos on the internet, they were also recommended to me by someone I trust on anything he would say – I checked their website, read their extensive reviews (I now even more understand why Kattia has so many) and decided that this is definitely the best option. In fairness, at that moment I also thought – even just on getting from dealer to dealer by taxi and the amount of time to locate the taxi’s their service would pay off.

It turned out to be such much more, Russ replied quickly on any questions I had, but more importantly they have knowledge about the market tell you sincerely what to do, what not to do and even help you with some additional issues (e.g. Read the article on opening a Costa Rica bank account on Fijatevos of Russell). I felt I was already well prepared before I arrived.

On arrival, Kattia picked me up at the hotel and had a list of cars ready to be checked out. And boy, she knows a lot – she checks the car with you, part for part, asks whether certain things get replaced or not and also tells you when it is better to move on to the next car – and although she is on good terms with most of the dealer you will visit (which definitely helps) she is 100% on your side and tries to get done as much as possible.

It goes without saying I would recommend them in a heartbeat, and chances are that when I buy my next car here in Costa Rica (as I might need another one for my business) I would like to use Kattia and Russel again. Thanks guys.

Kjeld Schigt, Founder
Kalon Surf School – Playa Dominicalito, Costa Rica

Ps. Their “after-sales” is perfect as well!

Remember December?

Hola Kattia and Russ, sorry I didn’t get back to you yesterday but it was a very long one for me.  I had to drop Sheila off at Liberia airport at 6 AM then pick up my friend at 6 PM.  In between I went to the Riteve office and got my sticker then a young lady who spoke Spanish and English called Jorge for me and we figured out where i had to go to get the marchamo, the INS office.  I had both stickers on the windshield by 9 AM and had the rest of the day to explore Liberia while I waited for my friend.  If Jorge had explained that because I had the original receipts I had to go to Liberia or Nicoya to get the stickers, I would have done that as soon as I got the plates and documents and there would have been “no problemo”.  Perhaps he will learn form this and the next gringo that buys a car needing licensing will be better informed.

I want to thank you very much for your able assistance in helping me find the right vehicle.  From meeting me at the airport, taking me to reputable auto dealers who had the vehicles I wanted to see then helping me conclude the purchase, I could not have done it without your support.  Your service was invaluable and very much appreciated.  I also appreciated your help after the purchase when a problem came up relating to the license plate and stickers which must be displayed on the windshield.  Problem solved with your help!  I would recommend your services to anyone looking to buy a car in CR.

I  hope our paths cross again, warm regards… Bob