Tens of thousands of vehicles are up for auction every week in nearly every state in this country.
With that much variety, you’re sure to find something interesting. A 30 year old Lebaron Convertible from the bad old days of Chrysler (now mine). A 38 year old Chevy stuck in the noxious funk of the malaise era (mine too).
And of course… an endless array of decade plus old Panthers. Sometimes they are taxis. Other times you find one that came straight from a livery service.
This one was among the later. 441,800 miles. No announcements on the block. So far as I know, all the major powertrain components are still in good working order.
The old Panthers used for taxis are always a bit more interesting because of the unique paint jobs that those entail. From borderline spastic lime greens. To bright oranges and reds that make the vehicles resemble rolling pinatas. Of course, all important junior executives picked up from the airport require a Henry Ford black with heavily amortized sheetmetal encompassing the occupants.
These old Panthers have pretty much become the most popular taxis in North America for well over a decade. This particular one had the unique distinction of being put through 100k annual runs and then being put to transport stud status at the 200k mark and the 300k mark. Only to once again be put back to the duties of “Go fetch!” taxi service two more times.
You would think that it would be a courier car with that history. But the recent airport sticker dictates otherwise.
Will we see Panthers crisscrossing the airport baggage claim areas and nearby bus terminals five years from now? Ten years from now? Fifteen years from now? There is that nostalgic bone within nearly every auto enthusiast that yearns for the beauties of yesteryear to be available, new, today, and forever.
I am fairly sure that even the Ford family and the unrelated, but heavily propagated, Smiths of GM wouldn’t mind remarketing their old gas guzzling vehicles under a heritage brand. CAFE and DOT exempt of course. Not to mention a heavy army of lawyers.
Back to that Panther with the 441k… any cheap heavy duty vehicle that is easy to maintain will always get the taxi and livery businesses. Checkers, Carpices, and Crown Vics hae served as pure Americana incarnate with a slight wink to the age of our simpler machines. Heck, a few of these rides along with a Eurospec W123 may even get our own wallets given a comfortable nest egg and low miles on the odometer. Fuel economy be damned!
Now the other side of the coin features another type of gas guzzler.
A 2011 Mitsubishi Lance Evolution GSR with only 4473 miles.
Why would a perfectly nice vehicle like this wind up at a crappy, dealer infested auction?
Repo. For some reason, the buyer of the vehicle had either second thoughts, or unusual life issues, that made this vehicle a temporary fixture in their life.
Sometimes good folks have to deal with money issues. We all do at one time or another. Sometimes it’s a health issue. Other times there is that unfortunate byproduct of buyer remorse.
In this case, the prior owner of the vehicle took enough care to remove the catalytic converter before donating it back to the finance company. Such a nice fellow! But at least he left the wheels behind which usually end up removed along with most of the interior and major sheetmetal components in a true screw job. I’m sure he/she/it was paying well north of $500 a month to finance this vehicle until that fateful day he took a reciprocating saw to one of the inner jewels.
Thank goodness he didn’t take that pretty little engine. That may represent Mitsubishi’s proudest moment since the days of the Diamond Stars.