Nearly every state offers some type of tax exemption for an older car.
My home state of Georgia is probably the greatest benefactor of the old car owner.
In Georgia you can skip emissions if a vehicle is 25 years or older. A 1987 Acura Legend or Toyota Celica GT-S can have a nice and toasty oxygen sensor and the government couldn’t care less.
What’s that? You lost your title? Well, if that vehicle is 1985 or older, you don’t need one of those either.
Don’t want to pay ad valorem tax? Starting with vehicles purchased after March 1, 2013, our state will be implementing a one time title tax of 6.5%. After that the ad valorem remains zero until the politicians say otherwise.
So do you pay for anything for a truly old beater? There is a $20 fee for your annual tag decal. Or a $35 fee if you want an antique plate. Plus you are going to have to pay a bit more for replacement parts in certain cases.
Did I mention the issues regarding the crash safety of 30 year old vehicles? A big old Mercedes may solve that one, or even the little Mercedes 190d pictured above. But you would have to pay for all that gas, which also has plenty of taxes added to the cost of ownership.
So you can’t avoid death. You can’t avoid taxes. And unless your name is Chuck Goolsbee, you likely can’t refine a few hundred gallons of biodiesel a year for your personal use.
So where’s the advantage? Well if you don’t drive very much or have engine oil in your veins, an old car may be your best value. I still see plenty of trucks and more than a few old beaters with owners who have enjoyed the perks of true long-term ownership, and a rust free climate.
Is it worth it? Think about the reality of everyday use instead of the fantasy of a ride that never ages. Would it be worth it to keep an older commuter that is completely exempt? If so, what would be your choice du jour?