By on January 14, 2016

enthusiast

Forgive me father, for not only have I sinned (at least for right now), but I’m going to make a sordid confession about my daily work life that will tick off 99 percent of the people here.

I find that auto enthusiasts — that’s you — are completely irrational. In fact, sometimes you’re just plain nuts.

It has nothing to do with conspiracy theories, the federal government, or the fact that every manufacturer wants us enthusiasts to become mindless traders and renters instead of long-term keepers. What it really comes down to is that most auto enthusiasts I know simply act like emotional fools.

sc

The enthusiasts of today don’t exactly have to contend with low quality cars that prematurely self-destruct. The modern day car is designed to last well over a decade and hundreds of thousands of miles. You want a car? There are now over 230 million of them in the United States alone and most of those are perfectly capable of performing the basic job of transporting our species to and fro. Tens of millions of them are a good fit for the enthusiasts among us.

The problem we have with all these cars depends a lot on our emotions. Unlike our fictional Vulcan brethren who sees all of life’s problems as a logical exercise, we humans of the auto enthusiast bent have this unusual desire to enjoy what we view as “the good life.” We buy a lot of cars. We drive a lot of cars. We even spend an enormous part of our time enjoying all manner of things automotive, from enthusiast forums that provide the seeds of wisdom and debates, to expensive tool sets and complicated repair guides that give us the scars we wear as “car guy” Boy Scout badges. We’re car people — with a few truck, SUV and other motorized enthusiasts of the two, three, and four wheel variety thrown here and there into that eclectic mix.

We get a healthy advantage in the knowledge side of car ownership and yet we have a bit of a marketing problem within our culture that makes us constant traders and gawkers. As an auto auctioneer, car dealer, and former part-owner of an auto auction, I see this crushing reality whenever it comes to the majority of enthusiasts. They get creamed when it comes to the almighty dollar.

ford

A real estate maven can move up from a hovel to a nice house if they learn to fix and sell their property the right way. The auto enthusiast? They have a 15-year-old Maxima that was worth about a quarter of the new car price when it was first bought, and it’s now worth around a dime and a few pennies. New car enthusiasts? They take it in the shorts and pay far more in all those nasty ways that make new cars a rolling spreadsheet exercise for the automotive apathetic.

Speaking of the apathetic, let’s go ahead and look at the massive grouping we collectively call “the rest.” They are the majority of folks who look at cars as an unfortunate intermission between doing the things that they really want to do.

Go to the park? It’s a 20 minute drive. A visit downtown? 35 minutes.

camry

Believe it or not, these seemingly oblivious drivers do have a valid point, cursed as their mode of transportation may be. Every time a car is used, there is a price to be paid in terms of time and money. And here’s the surprise: Enthusiasts almost always pay more regardless of what they know or think they know. That tangled web we weave between our driveway and the destination ahead could be as backed up as a Chinese traffic jam, and we would still pay a stiff premium to sit in a nicer seat with a nicer dashboard and a dazzling instrument cluster that shows us in thirteen different ways that we’re going nowhere fast.

 

When you own a Volkswagen these lights come standard

When you own a Volkswagen, these lights come standard.

Why is this a reality? To me, at least, the answer is obvious — and it’s not just depreciation. The math isn’t what kills the joie de vivre of car ownership. It’s that most enthusiasts have a genuine fear factor when it comes to maintaining and improving today’s cars. It’s as simple as that. We think but we don’t do because there are greater physical and cultural barriers than there were only a generation ago.

Kinesthetic learning, the act of learning by doing things, is not seen as a way of getting ahead in the world of higher education. This deficiency for the enthusiast, and non-enthusiast, makes us suckers for a marketing pitch that promotes the financing of new cars over a seven year period as the safe bet; while the older car that can be bought for a small fraction of the price, which is often times more fun to own and drive, is portrayed as somewhere between a beater and a ticking money bomb. Today’s devices, big and small, are becoming increasingly sealed and disposable. It’s actually killing the economics of becoming an auto enthusiast, which used to be one of the main attractions of enjoying our automobiles.

You think I’m exaggerating? Consider the enthusiast community we live in at this point in our own unique culture. Most of the car lovers I know aren’t like the gearheads of 20 years ago because the curriculum has changed. The car has become far more sophisticated and yet most cars of today have the infirmities of planned obsolescence built straight into their designs. Engines are covered with multiple pieces of plastic and enshrouded with sensors. Transmission fluids are sealed in metal and almost impossible to inspect. Lifetime fluids aren’t only mythical, they’re legally non-binding and used as a psychological crutch to keep owners away from their cars. The old screws, bolts and wrenches have been replaced with a small army of sensors, hidden compartments and special tools designed to make an enthusiasts curiosity an expensive undertaking.

I have learned not to blame. It just is. I think it’s just a terrible shame that we can’t marry the ease of use of yesterday with the technologies of today. But enough of the practicalities of car ownership. Let me ask you: What’s the most irrational and emotional thing you’ve done involving a car? I’m not talking about cutting a cop off or chasing furry woodland creatures at the neighborhood park, which is what I used to do with an old Renault LeCar. I’m talking about what you wish you hadn’t bought, kept or sold. Whether it be a car that you kept for 20,000 miles too long, or a time when you decided to invest in a rolling turd, let’s hear it.

Get the latest TTAC e-Newsletter!

Recommended

152 Comments on “Hammer Time: The Real Cost of Being a Car Guy...”


  • avatar

    In my experience, it is perfectly possible to be an enthusiast who just loves to drive, and perhaps enjoys the different satisfactions of owning and driving a classic compared with a well chosen modern car as well. Currently I have a 2015 Fiesta ST which gives me smiles on every trip, whether it is to the grocery store or down the twisty rural road. It is probably the best buy today in fun per dollar spent, AND easy on fuel costs. My previous daily driver was a more practical, but still great, 2006 Mazda 3 hatch which I sold with 167,000 miles on it. With proper service, it still got the same mileage at 167,000 as it did at 10 miles when delivered. Along the way I put 14,000 miles on a 1970 Ferrari 365 GT 2+2 over a period of 8 years, lived through an unplanned and expensive V-12 engine overhaul due to an incompetent pre-purchase inspector, and still got out about even when I sold it.
    For some “car guys”, the experience of driving good cars well is the pleasure. Buy the right modern cars and they don’t NEED tinkering. The Fiesta ST is faster than the regular Corvettes of my youth in the 1960s and a LOT more reliable and livable as a daily driver.

    • 0 avatar
      devonair

      Slightly off topic, but: you have great taste in fun daily drivers. I looked at a Fiesta a few years back but got a better deal on an equally tossable Mazda2 (great go-kart dynamics), and am now on my own Mazda3 (needed a little more space).

      • 0 avatar
        mik101

        I went through the same thing but went with the Fiesta because it was much cheaper and Mazda Canada’s interest rate was ridiculous.

        Fun fact, your Mazda2 said FoMoCo in a lot of places because it platform shared with the Fiesta.

    • 0 avatar
      trflucker3388

      I wish I had kept my old 1994 Grand Marquis ls that I bought for the paltry sum of $1k from a private individual when I worked for a Ford dealer back in 2010. It was white with a blue velour interior, and had only 75,000 km on it. Not only was it near mint, it had new set of michelins, and a full service history from the dealer I worked at. It wasn’t beautiful it wasn’t fast and it wasn’t cool but it was reliable and safe and it was cheap. It didn’t need anything for safety. And I drove it for a year before selling it for $2500 because I thought profiting from cars was the right thing to do at that tIme. In hindsight that car was a once in a lifetime opportunity because of the history mileage and condition. You just don’t find those vehicles very often and had I been in my right mind at the time, or been able to keep it somewhere safe instead of parked on the street in front of my house I probably would have kept it.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    As a guy in his 40s, I think it’s actually easier to be an enthusiast. But there are different kinds of enthusiasts like Corvette guy who likes to get together with like peers and compare how clean their cars are, to the turbo 4 cyl obsessed with Stages 1-4, to guys like me who want something a manufacturer won’t produce. Like a 4dr e46 M3, that required a 330i zhp and an aftermarket supercharger.
    Whats neat is the availability of all tangible data (dynos, personal review of cleaning products , wheel polishes or air ride suspension) on “enthusiast forums”

  • avatar
    vvk

    My neighborhood is full of excellent winding roads with virtually zero traffic. Once a week I have to make a 30 minute drive in rally style on smooth, narrow roads through hilly countryside surrounded by houses that look like castles. My V-8 manual RWD sedan with active anti-roll bars shrinks around me when I push it to 9/10th, enjoying the active side bolsters, the telepathic steering and the roar of a naturally aspirated V-8.

    Yeah, I would say the expense is worth it for me…

  • avatar
    gsp

    I agree with this article. And the fact is, the electric car will come along (sooner than later) and the existing business model of the current manufacturers will be disrupted. Not that it will be cheaper as you will be paying for the right to use software instead of endless fluid and expensive proprietary sensor changes. And most of the cars will be toasters.

    The “heat engine” will become an antique that we (“enthusiasts?”) all baby well into the future. It will be like mechanical watches, if the industry is lucky. What will our grandkids think? The ICE will be gone. It is like cramming a mechanical watch into a smartphone. And the smartphone analogy to a car is not far off.

    After a slew of BMWs and a Porsche I think I will be reverting back to buying Honda. They are all becoming toasters anyway and the manufacturers really don’t give two ____s about the customer.

    • 0 avatar
      Syke

      Most cars out there today are toasters. We enthusiasts always forget that 99% of the drivers out there don’t give a damn about cars, except in the “start, stops, gets me where I need to go, doesn’t break down” categories.

      I don’t see the electric car as something threatening to enthusiasm, unless driverless autos become mandatory at the same time.

      • 0 avatar
        DEUSVULTbuddy

        Even if electric cars become mandatory for driving in the future, us car enthusiasts will still be into cars no matter what. But, if driverless cars become more prominent, then yeah it would be a struggle.

        • 0 avatar

          I’ve owned four cars since I made my first car purchase 31 years ago. Paid cash for all of them–43,500 total in inflation-adjusted dollars, and have driven 427,000 miles in that time.

          I regret somewhat the Saturn SL2, the only one of these that I bought new, in June ’93. It was fun to drive–great handling, good steering–and it was the best looking of the cars I’ve owned, by a long shot. The plastic panels eliminated the need for detailing, and the car looked great until the end. But I spent a lot of time arguing with the dealer and higher ups after the I noticed the oil use problem at 17k, until they finally replaced the engine at 65k. That engine, and the one that replaced it, complained so bitterly when I pushed them, that I almost never exceeded 4,000 RPM (I love high-revving my Civic, and I loved high revving the ’77 Toyota Corolla I had before the Saturn).

          And around 135k, the Saturn started nickel and diming me to death. I took it in about once every two months over the last year I had it.

          I should have bought a used Integra I looked at that had 50k on the clock and was in mint condition. The owner wanted $15.2k, as opposed to the 23.7k I paid for the Saturn (both figures inflation adjusted). But I’d fallen in love with the look of the Saturn–unconsciously, I think–and I sprung for it despite the 40 ft turning circle and the fact that at some level, I probably realized that the engine wasn’t great.

    • 0 avatar
      benders

      I’m not convinced of the inevitable decline of the internal combustion engine yet. I think there’s some great strides being made toward renewable, synthetic fuels that could keep us on liquid fuel.

      The oil industry is never going to go away either, commercial aviation, marine, and rail aren’t well suited for electrification. For that matter, neither is heavy trucking.

      That said, the most cars in the future are very likely hybrids with a gas engine for highway driving and heat.

      • 0 avatar
        Luke42

        Good points.

        Except that some trains have been powered by electricity for decades:
        https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electric_locomotive

        It works.

        • 0 avatar
          joeaverage

          Saw that the Europeans are testing electric hybrid heavy long distance trucks. They run on fossil fuels to the highway and then run on overhead wires just like a train or street car.

    • 0 avatar
      Marsden

      Electric cars and the like are market-driven by scarce and expensive fuel. Self-driving cars, on the other hand, are becoming necessary due to driver inattention. Or, more accurately, attention to hand-held devices instead of to driving tasks.

      Now which of these two is turning out to be the more pressing issue? I’d say the latter. FWIW.

  • avatar
    Ubermensch

    The picture of that VW gauge cluster just brought back terrible flashbacks to my 5 years of 2001 Passat ownership.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    I’ll stay enthusiastic with my 67 Mustang and F150 Heritage. The Mustang will keep putting smiles on my face and the F150 will keep hauling things until all the gas stations have been replaced by charging stations.

  • avatar
    Syke

    At one point in my life I owned, all in running condition, six vintage British motorcycles. Five Triumphs and one BSA. The newest one was a 1974 model. One of those Triumphs was a T150 Trident (50% more parts than the twins, 300% more complexity and unreliability).

    My one dose of sanity in this stew is that they all had aftermarket electronic ignitions.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Are you sure you’re not Jamie Kitman’s twin brother?

    • 0 avatar
      Slow_Joe_Crow

      That is an amazing achievement, and an exercise in masochism. While British bikes can look and sound wonderful, the workload is awful compared to more oil tight competition running Bosch or Denso electrics. Oddly enough the Brits do make some very good aftermarket electronic ignitions, including Lucas.

    • 0 avatar
      rocketrodeo

      Ooooh, Trident. I had an irrational lust for one of those–but for anyone who knows about the upkeep requirements for pretty much any pre-Hinckley britbike, any desire for British metal is irrational. I can make a persuasive historical argument that the T150 and the BSA A65 was the first superbike design.

      My motorycle irrationality was owning five of the exact same kind of bike–the Honda V65 Sabre–at the same time. They were identical down to the color of the accent stripes. Still have a couple of them.

  • avatar
    kurtamaxxguy

    What seems to matter to auto enthusiasts, auto journalists and designers are the same things: emotionally oriented cars that are low, long, High HP’ed, RWD with manual trans, gun slit windows, huge wheels and rubber band “summer” tires. For S. California add chrome w/ all black exterior and interior. These cars are great toys, not so great as utilitarian transportation.

  • avatar
    jeoff

    Shortly after I got married, I sold my 91 MR2. White with a blue cloth interior, 5-speed, and T-tops. The most extravagant thing I ever purchased. Just loved driving the car, but my wife hated it–so I sold it. Now, when my 12-year-old sees pictures of the car, he says “Mom! Why’d you make dad sell the car!” I love my wife way more than I loved the car–but, yeah–I should have kept the MR2.

  • avatar
    olddavid

    You’re wrong. With the proper software and connects, I can stop an individual cylinder by either shutting off the injector or the coil. I also own seat of the pants cars, but the OBDI or II are open books waiting to be diagnosed. I could never afford the nine cars I regularly use were I not able to repair then all myself. And, I usually make some money when a fellow gearhead decides he sees what I see and offers to buy.

  • avatar
    DweezilSFV

    Though I’ve never regretted any of them, I have done stupid things financially to acquire them.

    Most of my choices have been as straightforward and practical, as anti-enthusiast as they come. They seem to have all come from the Isle Of Misfit Automobiles,but I have enjoyed driving, learning about and owning every one.

    Buying a 95 Saturn SL 5M with a credit card from a dealer in N. Hollywood just because my older brother had one, was totally out of character. Transferred it to a 0% card, paid it off and drove it several years, then gave it to my little brother who still drives it and loves it.

    That I already had two cars was immaterial, I wanted that car. A Modern Model T, full of weirdness. My older brother had even apologized for it’s “pretty basic” existence, but it hit all my frugal nerve endings.

    The highlight of my visit was taking his car to the car wash and cleaning it up. Three days later I bought my own.

    None of it makes sense. The cars I like best are the ones the “enthusiast” crowd loathes. To me they’re the most interesting.

    Yes, Mr Lang, it’s an emotional thing. Even on meds I’d like to check out the Mitsubishi Mirage. It’s a sickness and just goes to show how broad the “enthusiast” spectrum is outside the bulls-eye.

  • avatar
    PeterKK

    My last car. My wife TOLD me not to buy it. But I was so sure I could make it work. cheap reliable transportation. It was a (2000?) eclipse that had more broken than functional. Took WAY too much just to get and keep it rolling. I was vastly misled as to it’s condition. I got tired of it eating tires (and the puckering fear of driving with bald tires in the rain), so I decided to flush that turd and buy something else. Best decision ever. New car is starting to come apart at the seams a bit, but it’s head a shoulders better than that hideous eclipse.

    Maybe the next car I buy can get out of the 2k range and into something that will actually hold together for a few years with no issues. Until then I’ll keep learning more and being a wanna-be enthusiast. And staying away from eclipses. :p

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    The worst purchase I did was a sight unseen 1991 3000gt with over 120k miles from a local dealer on eBay a couple years ago. It was ridiculously cheap, but it was also a 3000gt so it was actually smoking when I showed up to pick it up. Or, more correctly as I later learned, steaming. It had a busted water pump. I figured it needed a timing belt change too if the water pump had gone out. I looked into it and realized it was going to cost several times the purchase price to change. Out of desperation I asked the dealer if they would help with the cost somehow and they wound up offering to take the car back and refund me 100%. It of course didn’t work out quite so simply, but eventually I did get my money back.

    Less than 2 years later I bought another car on eBay without seeing it and also had to fly 1000 miles to pick it up and drive home. Fortunately that one worked out better and I still have and love it.
    So, basically, I didn’t learn my lesson and got super lucky both times. Therefore, I am an enthusiast.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    Steve,
    I gotta disagree to some of what you say, yes most of us do not wrench and we pay a price for that but with a good indie that is a price I am willing to pay as my time is spent doing things i enjoy more than turning a wrench, but modern cars are much easier to own and need less fussing with, parts are easier to find and forums keep you will informed what to do and not to do for your chosen ride, i have had a Fiat 12 4 vert pre internet days and it was a chore to keep up and gets parts for, I have a saab 9-3 vert now and it is much easier to find parts and flush advice out in order to keep it as a summer car. I drive a ton a year say about 25,000 a year and I am willing to pay something for enjoying that time the most i can, i will pay extra for a large sunroof and good seats a color that stands out from the sea of white, and a car that stands out a little to. my main ride is a blue TDI wagon with a huge roof and it the right tool for me , would a used mini van work for me yep but I am willing to pay more for what i want.

  • avatar
    bball40dtw

    I regret buying my MkV R32. Even though I sold it, after a year, for close to the original purchase price. It was such a PITA.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      MkV will always do you wrong.

      • 0 avatar
        bball40dtw

        MkV with 2.5L five banger and 5-speed manual won’t hurt you. Just be prepared to replace all sorts of light bulbs.

        • 0 avatar
          CoreyDL

          But if you’re getting something that basic, you may as well get a Honda!

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Maybe, but not all basic tastes the same.

            In 2010 when I was comparing the MkV Jetta to Civics, etc, there was a huge difference in feel and flavor between them. Jetta was a bank vault: heavy, solid, steady, quiet and more expensive-feeling compared to the louder, lighter, nimbler, less expensive-feeling Civic. Very different feeling cars, even at that low price range.

          • 0 avatar
            gtemnykh

            “But if you’re getting something that basic, you may as well get a Honda”

            A VW-phile I am not, but as a Honda guy, I really appreciated how nice my friend’s old stick shift 2007 Jetta 2.5 drove, and how solid it felt driving over bad roads, and how nice it was to have 5 position heated seats and other niceties in an otherwise basic non-premium car. It felt totally alien to me. At the same time, it wasn’t lithe and zippy either, something I liked about Hondas. It’s just a different approach with different priorities.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Fair enough! They still smell like crayons when you park them outside. :D

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Didn’t the factory-installed crayon aroma end with the MKIV? Mine never smelled that way, but over a decade after riding in someones mid-90s Jetta I can remember just how hard that weird smell hits you. In Arizona heat it was just about nauseating.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            Can confirm; MKVs do not smell like crayons.

            The 2.5L 5-speed Jetta MKV feels premium and German in a value sort of way. looking back, I should have just kept that VW and not purchased high performance ones.

          • 0 avatar
            glwillia

            My ex’s MkIV Jetta smelled like crayons, and my 2002 BMW E46 also smells like crayons. I think it’s true of any German car with a black or grey leather interior. I have a friend who had an ’85 300SD (blue leather interior) that smelled like barbecue sauce though, which was interesting.

          • 0 avatar
            burgersandbeer

            The crayon smell was (is?) definitely a German thing, or at least BMW and apparently VW. My E39 had a strong crayon smell in the trunk. My E46 has the same smell, though not as strong, maybe due to more time in garages.

            E39 had grey interior, E46 is natural brown/black. Does it really depend on color?

  • avatar

    Buying a 2004 Accord V6 because I wanted to drive an automatic and then being bored out of my mind driving it… and seeing it on every corner.

    Meanwhile, it was paid in full in 2 years and then I traded it for a 2006 TSX with the 6-speed. The Accord was a waste of money. I should have bought the TSX right off the bat.

    I plan to keep this TSX a long time.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      The 2006 had a better telematics/entertainment system (USB and XM, IIRC) than the 2004s did. For me, that would have spurred an irrational re-purchase of the same car I already owned. That (and the lack of decent tires available in 2004) was the only thing wrong with 1st gen TSXes.

  • avatar
    zamoti

    Yes to all of this. Point in case: wife needs a new(ish) car, we have three sons. Logical answer–get a minivan or CUV. What did I do? Got her a 10 year old S55 AMG. She likes it quite a lot but it makes NO sense. It also sh!t it’s ABC pump which I spent nearly two weeks swearing at and ordering parts for. Cost about a grand in tools, parts and Pentosin to fix. Needed lower control arms the other day, I knew I was in over my head so sent it to the shop–a grand to fix. Seat heater is dead, will have to rip seat apart to fix (won’t be a grand). It leaked gas from an errant HNBR o-ring which was a cheap fix but what modern car leaks gas?! Is this logical–absolutely not. I justify it by saying “well a nice minivan can hit $40k new, this $15k gas guzzler (14 MPG yo) is CHEAPER! To quote Mick “I’ve got an awesome sound, it’s really goin’ down”, that is every time you transform gasoline into noise.
    Also relevant, previous car: a 14 year old Maxima sold for nearly nothing come it’s end.
    Spot MFing on, nailed it.

  • avatar
    heavy handle

    I completely disagree with the article. OBD2 readers and online resources have made fixing cars much easier.

    Back in the “good old days,” most enthusiast cars ran like crap. They made a small fraction of the claimed horsepower, they didn’t handle, and they would overheat and/or flood every other day. Even when they were running well, you had to know a secret procedure just to get them started, and it was different for every car (“if it’s over 50 degrees, pull the choke out 3/8 inch, give it 2/7th gas, let it crank for 4 seconds and increase gas to 4/7th”). Even then your car would go out of adjustment again in a few months, or if you went up a big enough hill.

    By comparison, modern cars are a dream to work on, and they really perform.

    • 0 avatar
      ajla

      “By comparison, modern cars are a dream to work on”

      Have you ever done timing chain work on a DOHC engine? Or anything on a Northstar? Or a Skyhook suspension?

      Old cars do need a lot more work but they are at least somewhat enjoyable to wrench on. When modern cars break it is just complete hell.

      Just jacking up most modern cars is way harder than it should be.

      The internet is a great resource though.

      • 0 avatar
        heavy handle

        Every era of cars has turkeys that are known to be problematic. Generally speaking, they trade at a discount, so that should be a clue.

        I’m not sure what DOHC has to do with this. It’s only a “new” technology if you only know American V8s. Alfa was selling DOHC cars with timing chains in the 1950s, and those cars are still common among many auto enthusiasts.

        • 0 avatar
          ajla

          I’m not familiar with Alfa’s DOHC engines of the past, but more recent ones from Audi and Ford are far from a dream to repair. I brought it up because those are the biggest nightmares I’ve ever dealt with.

          I obviously disagree with you and the other older memebers on TTAC about the ease of repairability on modern cars compared to those of decades past. The feeling seems to be split by age. Maybe it is because we didn’t have to daily drive the older stuff.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Absolutely agree – OBDII and online information sources are #1 and they are a revolution.

      Online resources extend to parts, too, and tools. I can get an excellent quality set of triple square sockets for $20 on Amazon, and I’ll have them in two days. Huge selection of brake parts, cheap, from Rock Auto…in a couple of days, and spend $145 and an hour and a half to do front pads and rotors that even an indy shop would charge $350 for.

      Cars are way better, and if they are more complicated, most times they just need oil changes, tire rotations, filter and fluid changes, brake pad and rotor swaps and new tires…and those tasks are as easy on new cars as they were on old ones…if not easier.

      I don’t see how auto enthusiasts enjoy “a healthy advantage in the knowledge side of car ownership” yet they “…take it in the shorts and pay far more in all those nasty ways that make new cars a rolling spreadsheet exercise for the automotive apathetic.”

      Summer of 2014, I was car shopping with my wife…saw a new Fiesta Titanium, loaded – but with a 5MT – sitting on the lot. I knew that they had been forced to take the car, and that it would never sell – got the VIN, learned that the build date was 8 months ago – a little frank negotiation, absolute willingness to walk away – and the car, with 146 miles on it and an invoice of $19,100, was ours for $16,500.

      The average Joe doesn’t know how to do that. There are car-buying services that will negotiate for you, but without the knowledge that a car like that would be a lot queen…that cars like that are forced upon dealers, and without the willingness to drive a manual-tranny car, that Joe is not going to get a deal like that.

      The average Joe doesn’t know that there are dealers out there who specialize in selling manufacturers’ extended warranties for $.50 on the dollar, because they can still make money at that rate, and because warranties are not part of a floor plan, or inventory that is a sunk cost. Joe has heard that extended warranties are rarely a good deal, but he thinks you have to buy the extended warranty from the dealer who sold you your car, at the price he gives you. At $.50 on the dollar, official manufacturer extended warranties are a whole new ball game.

      I could go on (and have…)

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      I agree with heavy handle’s post entirely, and I would add that the Internet has made it SO MUCH EASIER to find parts. Sometimes it’s still a challenge — there are no new OEM axles in existence for my Acura Legend and the remans are a disaster — but at least you don’t have your local O’Reilly and dealership parts monkeys as your only source of hope.

  • avatar
    nsk

    I think you’re conflating car enthusiasts who like to drive cars with car enthusiasts who like to tinker. The tinkerers are certainly out of luck with modern cars.

    But for those of us who prefer driving to tinkering, I think the present is the best ever in terms of sports cars that reliably start, have comfort amenities (i.e. bluetooth) and essentials (radio, A/C) while still being fuel-economical, going fast, turning fast, and stopping fast.

  • avatar
    Jeff Weimer

    1998.5 Audi A4 V6 Quattro in 2007. 55K miles indicated.

    It was a car lust purchase – I desired one ever since they first came out.

    Should never have bought it, and should never have thrown good money after bad by keeping it. Immediately after purchase it needed the infamous timing belt and water pump replacement due to pump bearing failure – nearly bricked the car *three weeks* after buying it.

    I kept it for over 3 more years.

    It couldn’t handle a large amount of driving per week (650 miles) before failing rear wheel bearings, clutch, front suspension, and ignition switch.

    I dumped it for a Chevy Cruze (after a year of spending $140 per *week* in gas) and I couldn’t be happier.

  • avatar
    callmeishmael

    Three 1950’s “frogeye” FIAT 500s,1957 FIAT 1100TV, 1960 FIAT 600, Volvo PV544 wagon, MG TD, Mini Minor, Mini 970 Cooper, Morris Minor wagon,six-door 1957 VW Transporter, 1959 KOmbi, 1967 Kombi, 1960 Sprite, 1962 Sprite, 1961 Austin-Healey, Chevelle SS 396, 1969 Impala, 1965 Impala, 1948 Dodge Power Wagon, 1951 Ford panel truck, number of Bugs, 1967 Ford Pickup, and numerous others that came and went. Fixed them, got bored, sold them.

    It’s a form of madness that I currently focus on an NB Miata “With only 270.000 miles! All you have to do is…” When it’s done I’ll keep it. No, really.

  • avatar
    absolutematt84

    Spot on article.

    TL;DR – A 10 year old Hyundai is more comfortable and fun to drive than a brand new Chevy.

    Most irrational, emotional car decision? Getting rid of my 2005 Hyundai Elantra hatchback for a 2015 Chevy Cruze LS.

    I was tired of the decade old Hyundai nickel-and-diming me for the two years that I owned it
    (new timing belt after only 30,000 mi because the water pump impellers disintegrated, head gasket repair, the list goes on and on…), so when I finally graduated college and got my first “big boy job” I took it as my opportunity to dump what I thought was a terrible car.

    Turns out I jumped straight out of the frying pan and into the fire.

    I was so desperate for a car that wasn’t going to give me the same issues as the last one, that I refused to buy a used car, and when two previous car negotiations broke down (Mitsubishi Lancer GT and Honda Civic) I just gave up and bought a Cruze because I knew I could get a brand new car for the price I wanted.

    It was absolutely a mistake. The Cruze has THE WORST seats that I’ve ever had the misfortune of sitting in, and an absolutely wretched driving position.

    On the upside, the car has been very reliable and well screwed together. Not exactly exciting to drive.

    Once I break even in the next couple of months I think it’s going to be traded in on a Subaru Impreza hatch. Maybe a Golf if they’ve got some phenomenal deals… I yearn for a fun to drive car – no more video game cars for me.

    • 0 avatar
      tonycd

      Fascinating that the Cruze was one man’s heaven and another man’s hell.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      Finding out you just bought a car that annoys you to sit in has got to be the WORST feeling… The Cruze is a pretty decent car otherwise, though.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      Ummm…kinda confused here – you mentioned reliability and seat comfort/driving position.

      There is no way to determine in advance of purchase how reliable a specific car will be. That model car, yes; that exact car, no.

      There IS a way to determine how comfortable the seats/driving position are in a specific car…you sit in it and drive it around.

      The mistake you made was not in getting rid of a car that had suffered those ills in only 30,000 miles…your mistake was in buying a car that had an easily-discernible characteristic that you could not live with.

      • 0 avatar
        absolutematt84

        Yes, you are right that I should have known better about buying a car with something that I could test before purchasing (the seats).

        In the interest of keeping an already long comment from becoming longer I left out some of the back story that led up to me buying the Cruze.

        My parents had purchased the Hyundai used (60,000 mi) 1.5 years before it became my car. It suffered a cracked radiator and overheated, but my father was too cheap to get the car properly fixed. In return it kept having overheating problems consistently every 1-3 months that it was in my ownership (ended at 101,000).

        That’s why my story about emotional buying fits – I was so irritated by my previous car that my emotionally charged thinking kept me from making a smarter decision.

        I also failed to mention that the deals that had fallen through (Lancer and Civic) all occurred on the same day, and after dealing with two different dealers and leaving without a car I was fed up and knew I was going to get exactly the price I wanted (16.6k) and I was going home in a new car that day, regardless of what car it was.

        So, yes I screwed up and bought a car that wasn’t right for me. Yes I made an emotional purchase, and yes I absolutely regret it.

        (Apologies if I come across as a jerk, that was not my intention with this reply, just trying to give more of the backstory.)

  • avatar
    daro31

    Great article, and I am one of those car guys who looks on the expense of maintaning my toy as the cost of entertainment. The cost and challenge of maintaining my 2004 Jagaur XK8 convertible are the price of entertainment. The guy next to me at work, plays poker, and another guy flies model aircraft. We each have our own pleasures and the associated costs. I also get a great deal of satisfaction being to use my toy for something practical like a drive through the Smokey Mountains top down and enjoyin the scenery.

  • avatar
    Quentin

    I have a pretty extensive list of cars that I’ve owned since getting out on my own in 2007. The GTI was an expensive 3.5 year experiment. The others were sold at little loss or nothing different than what I expected. Our 2005 MINI, owned from new, is probably the dumbest, emotional purchase that we made. It was $23k new (not bad) and it literally gave us zero reliability issues until spring of 2015. As it approaches 80k miles and 11 years old, I’m starting to see oil leaks, coolant leaks, and suspension components wearing out. A failed steering pump and subsequent damage was covered by the complimentary, extended warranty that MINI offered on that part due to high failure rates. Anyway, the reason that this is probably the biggest emotional pitfall is the fact that my wife loves it so much. My car choice has always had to compliment the MINI. Anything fun for me almost always required a 3rd vehicle to handle utility. When we had our daughter, I had a 4Runner and my wife had the MINI and a Prius v. The MINI really hasn’t fit our needs for over 3 years and we still kept it putting a meager 3k to 5k miles a year on it. Worse yet, we held on too long. I feel like we could have sold it for an honest $10k 3 years ago. Now that we’ve held on to it for another 3 years, I bet we can only get $5k despite it being in absolute mint condition. And the worst is yet to come. My wife test drove a Clubman S last weekend. She loved it. It will come in AWD later this spring. Optioned the way she wants, it will likely be pushing $40k. SMH.

    • 0 avatar
      fvfvsix

      @Quentin – I feel your pain. My wife LOVES MINIs. She’s on her second, a 2013 Cooper S that I ordered for one of her birthdays. It really is a great car if you don’t drive it much, and it has very little utility. Her daily driver is our 2010 TSX, which costs me like $100 in maintenance most years. But yeah, we have four cars because of the MINIs total uselessness. But he – she’s happy, I’m happy.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Yeah, I can’t complain too much. I’ve put roughly $2800 into it, including consumables, in 11 years and the car has been paid for since late 2006. It isn’t a terrible runabout for her and my daughter most of the time. And as you said, if she’s happy, I’m happy.

        My wife is also very sentimental about her MINI. It was her first car that she bought for herself after finishing nursing school. She saved up, put down a big down payment, and ordered it exactly as she wanted it. She’s taken very good care of it. To be honest, I’m pretty shocked that she’s willing to let it go. The dealer trade in quote ($3500) was laughably low enough that I’d be tempted to get one of those car storage lifts and just let it sleep in the garage until we could put classic tags on it. It is a super charming car, but between insurance, property taxes, upkeep, and a spot in the garage, it is definitely an emotional decision to keep it.

    • 0 avatar
      dividebytube

      My wife feels the same about her Mini, but it’s an ’03 with – currently 77k miles on it. It gets daily use, even during the winter. Previous owner had it as a summer only car, hence the low miles when we bought it used.

      My wife went from a person who was completely disinterested in cars to a Mini fanatic. I’ve never seen her take of a vehicle so well.

      • 0 avatar
        Quentin

        Isn’t that crazy? My wife is exactly the same way. Before her MINI, she didn’t really care what she was driving as long as it got from A to B. Her MINI has a 6MT, supercharger, and the optional factory LSD. She doesn’t drive it in a way that necessitates any of that, but she is enthusiastic about it. It has a name. She buys MINI shirts or bags every now and then. She got the luggage that was custom fit to her R53.

  • avatar
    eggsalad

    I used to think I was a car guy. I could keep a couple beaters running well enough so that one of them would get me to work every day. It turns out I wasn’t at all a car guy – just a broke guy who knew how to fix stuff.

    Then my career took a positive turn and I “splurged” on a $12,000 used Scion. I didn’t have to work on it, it just ran and ran. I drove it for 6 years. It turned out I liked driving cars more than working on them.

    I got bored of the Scion and bought a 25-year-old Integra that needed nothing. Amazing! I just drive it!

    Now I’m buying a used Sonic, same $12k, and hopefully I can drive it for 5-6 years without having to work on it.

    I’m not a car guy any more, maybe I never was.

    • 0 avatar
      nickoo

      Same. See my comment below.

    • 0 avatar
      MeJ

      @eggsalad
      “…It turns out I wasn’t at all a car guy – just a broke guy who knew how to fix stuff…”
      I don’t know why, but that made me laugh.
      By the way my wife just bought a 2014 Sonic last year and she loves it. She is not a car person by any means, but whenever she takes me for a ride her enthusiasm is awesome. She just has a blast in the thing.

    • 0 avatar
      burnbomber

      Maybe so, maybe not. You are in fact reading this Steve Lang column, and posting a reply. I think that puts us in the category of–“yes we are car guys, and we know how to fix them”.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    That SC is TASTY. It needs the stock wheels back, and the gold emblems package.

    • 0 avatar
      dal20402

      No gold emblems! Please! In addition to being horrendously tacky they really wouldn’t make sense on that one. It’s one of the very rare late cars (’98-’00), and by then the gold package fad was thankfully on the wane.

      I swear when I was in high school (graduated ’94) every single new Lexus, most of the Acuras, and even many of the Accords and Camrys had those horrible things.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        YOR SO OLD U DNT GET IT.

        Haha, no I agree. Considering how late the one pictured is, I’m okay with no gold emblems. I forgot the later one had a revised front (and rear) than the earlier version.

        I shall peg the end of gold package around 1998 for sedans, and 2003 for SUVs.

      • 0 avatar
        CJinSD

        I drove a 1994 SC400 in ’96-’97. It was black and it didn’t have the gold trim, but it did have factory silver lace-spoke wheels with polished lips. It attracted the WRONG kind of attention in Florida. I don’t think gold badges would have deterred the street walkers and gang members.

  • avatar
    Chan

    In defense of modern cars, even the enthusiast ones and the ones we deride as unreliable:

    Compared to the “simpler times,” cars just don’t. break. down. anymore.

    • 0 avatar
      burnbomber

      I concur. My very 1st new car (a Golf MkI) was a complete piece of crap. My last new car (a Chevy Equinox–interestingly very much a Golf on growth hormones, and now owned for 5 years) has been to the dealer once for an electrical breakdown and twice for reprogramming recalls. Those are enough to push Mike Karesh’s TrueDelta reliability stats into the sad red face category. My 1st expense (other than fuel, filters, oils and cleaning products) will most likely be a new battery.

  • avatar
    nickoo

    I am having just as much fun zipping around in my base versa note rental as i had in a previous camaro ss rental. I mean really, how often you gonna open it up or take it through the corners like you stole it? This experience has me rethinking my next car purchase. I think i will be testing used leafs or the new chevy bolt as i now want a small hatchback.

  • avatar
    CoreyDL

    Most irrational/emotional:

    In 2009 at age 23 I bought a 9-year-old A8L on Ebay sight unseen and had my dad pick it up in Columbus, so it would be there a few days before I got home from spending a year in South Korea driving a Daewoo Lanos. I might also mention I didn’t have a job lined up when I got back.

    • 0 avatar
      30-mile fetch

      That’s bold. Did the A8 end up biting you or was all the fear & risk at the front end?

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        It needed one actual repair during my 2 year ownership*, which of course happened around the time I was selling it. Got a CEL for a vacuum leak, which turned out to be a plastic disk on top of the fuel sending unit that had warped with age.

        *I do NOT drive a lot, so keep that in mind. I put maybe 9k miles on it.

        The part was no longer made, so my indie mechanic had to buy a rebuild kit for the entire fuel sending area, and use that part off of it. $545 or something like that. Had to remove the trunk linking and take off a bunch of crap back there to get to it.

        Other than that, I was selling it because at ~130k miles it was doing a very scary thunk sometimes when changing from 2-1. And I wasn’t about to get into Audi transmission rebuilds on a Quattro. The guy after me put 75k miles on it in three years, and it was apparently fine.

        A giant car with a 4.2 V8 provided excellent ride quality and comfort with an excellent interior, AWD, and got 23mpg highway, 19 city. I bought it off the original owner who had maintained it fastidiously at the dealer, and it was reflected through an excellent Carfax, and the fact that it had zero dents on it.

        Here she is. http://www.audiworld.com/g/album/1188998

        • 0 avatar
          30-mile fetch

          Pretty car. Elegant car. Scary as hell car. I’m too much of a wimp, I’d be looking for a nice Lexus LS.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Can’t get a 9 year old LS with 120k for $5900 :)

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Eh, that’s a maybe.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Seriously, you can’t. Even on ebay. And especially not after a financial crisis when people were holding onto their cars and not buying new.

            Or right now, go find me an 07 for that. Let’s include inflation, and you can go up to $6500.

            Cheapest 07 on Ebay with 155k is $13,2. And it’s hit a pole at the back before.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            Corey’s right… that age/mileage LS is going to be five figures, probably closer to $15k than $10k.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            I think 28 sometimes applies “used to do wholesale auctions in 2004” moneys to current retail used car pricing.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            I couldn’t buy a car sight unseen. So, no $6K eBay luxury car for me.

            Looking on Autotrader for 2007-2008 Audi A8s, 21 results came up with the average price of $20K, ranging from $35-13K. The same search found 96 Lexus LS examples averaging $22K and ranging from $41K-17K.

            Looks like you got a screaming deal.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Suckers pay retail, but I stand corrected:

            MY06 Lexus LS430

            12/23/15 PITTSBGH Regular $13,300 65,779 Above BLACK 8G A Yes
            12/23/15 TX HOBBY Regular $13,000 75,322 Avg GRAY 8G A Yes
            01/06/16 PITTSBGH Lease $11,000 80,800 Avg BROWN 8G A Yes
            12/22/15 PHOENIX Regular $12,200 94,541 Avg BLACK 8G A Yes
            01/07/16 TAMPA Regular $13,200 99,379 Above WHITE 8G A Yes
            12/23/15 DENVER Regular $13,000 99,508 Avg GOLD 8G A Yes
            01/12/16 ATLANTA Regular $11,400 101,941 Avg BLACK 8G A Yes
            12/16/15 KC Regular $12,600 104,189 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            01/05/16 ATLANTA Regular $11,500 107,653 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            01/07/16 FRDKBURG Regular $11,500 112,576 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            01/06/16 CALIFORN Regular $13,500 143,405 Above WHITE 8G A No
            12/16/15 STATESVL Regular $13,100 161,545 Above WHITE 8G A No

            Thanks, oligarchs.

            If I go back to MY01 I can do it for 6ish around 100K, but that’s fricking 2001 and reconditioning costs will be high.

            12/22/15 RIVRSIDE Regular $7,000 80,803 Above BURGUNDY 8G A Yes
            12/15/15 PHOENIX Lease $4,400 86,252 Avg TAN 8G A Yes
            01/05/16 ATLANTA Regular $5,400 94,330 Above WHITE 8G A Yes
            12/31/15 SO CAL Lease $6,000 94,641 Above BLACK 8G A Yes
            01/05/16 BALTWASH Regular $5,700 110,687 Above WHITE 8G A Yes
            12/16/15 SF BAY Regular $6,300 124,153 Above WHITE 8G A Yes

            Then you can see even the floor is high on these:

            1/05/16 PENSCOLA Regular $4,400 174,169 Avg GOLD 8G A Yes
            12/15/15 CEN FLA Regular $4,300 176,585 Avg WHITE 8G Yes
            12/17/15 PALM BCH Regular $3,300 184,962 Avg GRAY 8G A Yes
            12/23/15 CALIFORN Regular $3,800 191,557 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            12/16/15 PITTSBGH Regular $3,300 193,600 Avg BLACK 8G A Yes
            12/22/15 DALLAS Lease $1,400 194,768 Below BLACK 8G A Yes
            01/13/16 SF BAY Regular $4,200 205,609 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            01/13/16 DALLAS Regular $3,500 209,631 Avg WHITE 8G A Yes
            12/28/15 NC Regular $3,800 210,109 Avg BLACK 8G A Yes
            12/22/15 ATLANTA Regular $4,200 222,339 Avg SILVER 8G A Yes
            01/07/16 TX HOBBY Regular $3,000 230,505 Avg MAROON 8G A Yes
            12/29/15 CEN FLA Regular $2,400 232,183 Below BLACK 8G Yes
            12/16/15 MILWAUKE Regular $2,450 264,873 Below BLACK 8G A Yes
            01/12/16 NY Regular $3,000 265,080 Avg GRAY 8G A Yes

            In the Japanese luxury barge segment, Acura Legend/RL might be the way to go depending on your needs and budget. I’m kinda curious to learn more about the gen 3 Legend, its transmission system, and what (if any) hacks are available to it (i.e. mileage sucks, can it be improved). Someday there may be a new Sunday car, so is it buy one real car (i.e. Mustang) and then drop 5K on the Sunday car (i.e. RL sedan), or go full out for the MY12 LS460 and just keep the Volvo as a Sunday car? I’m also kind of intrigued on this Jeep pickup coming out… or should I just get a hybrid while they are cheap?

            Decisions, decisions.

            MY07 Acura RL “sedan” (no tech pkg)

            9/30/15 NJ Regular $10,900 56,012 Above BLK 6G A Yes
            10/02/15 PA Regular $9,000 91,145 Avg GREY 6G P Yes
            08/25/15 GEORGIA Regular $8,300 111,962 Avg GRAY 6G A Yes
            10/21/15 DALLAS Regular $7,000 136,179 Avg SILVER 6G A Yes
            01/05/16 NYMETSKY Regular $5,450 156,645 Avg SLV 6G A Yes

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            See, can’t even get a 10 year old one at wholesale for twice $5900!

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            ’07 is a “gen 4 Legend” (i.e. gen 2 RL) — really just a J35 Accord with a major interior-materials upgrade and SH-AWD. If looking for an indestructible tank with some presence I think I’d prefer a first-gen RL (1996-2004, preferably 2002-2004 for the improved suspension). No AWD and ye olde 4-speed transmission, but more likely than anything Honda’s made since to go 300,000 miles on a diet of timing belts, rotors, and transmission fluid.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            The earlier gen 2RL’s had some problems with interior wear as well. Hard to find them with button finish still on.

            The 04, while dated, is the desirable simple machine to have. It’s rather timeless, and I love the bigger grille and headlamps they added at the end. And I’m pretty sure it avoided auto trans issues.

            Just for God’s sake don’t get one with green wood.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Corey

            You bought right around the time the Bernank went Monopoly Man, you were still in a real economy. Now look at it.

            @dal

            I’m thinking the same thing, but I’m not a Honda guy despite a two decade hangover Prelude crush. I’d have to research its weak points and learn more about its transmission. I think I’d have an easier time sourcing an “RL” vs a “Legend” and the improved head gasket fix in RL is a nice plus. Seems mileage has been in issue in the third and fourth generation RL, what does your ’95 get?

            Additional: Wiki says it was offered in a six speed manual. Know anything about this?

            “really just a J35 Accord with a major interior-materials upgrade and SH-AWD”

            I didn’t realize it was standard AWD. Yuck. Although if one is a fan of the J35 Accord and wants a Sayama assembled Accord with AWD, this is your used buy.

          • 0 avatar
            Fordson

            A 10-year-old luxury car with 100,000 miles on it, that cost $65,000 when it was new, is going to have issues, and when it does those will be hard to fix yourself and expensive to fix when you have others do it.

            That “L” badge isn’t going to change that fact.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            Who said the L badge did anything? And it was over $70,000 IIRC in 2000.

          • 0 avatar
            dal20402

            28:

            The KA9 RL’s transmission is from before The Troubles. Occasional 3x drain and fills and you shouldn’t expect any problems from it.

            The KA9’s 3.5L engine is a long-stroke version of the 3.2L in my Legend with a new OBDII computer and revised intake manifold that together address the head gasket issue. It also has a balance shaft that quells the low-rpm vibrations that can affect the 3.2L. Swapping RL 3.5 engines into Legends is quite common.

            I get decent city mileage for a ’95 V6 sedan (17-18) but the highway mileage (23ish) is no good because the gearing is rather short. On the other hand, that short gearing puts the V6 in its happy place on the freeway and it’s ridiculously responsive and eager. I actually catch myself speeding in the Legend more often than in the LS; 70 and 90 don’t feel terribly different.

            Fordson:

            A Lexus is just a big Toyota. Parts are expensive, but service is surprisingly easy. Almost everything is held together with clips or 10mm and 12mm bolts.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            @Dal

            Thanks for the detailed reply. Based on what we discussed when you purchased your Legend the KA9 platform is intriguing due to its high quality components and relatively low cost of entry with the following caveats:

            1. V6 of average power
            2. Longitudinal transaxle/differential?
            3. Poor V6 fuel economy (16/23)

            I saw a Youtube vid where someone did a six speed conversion. Now I won’t buy that guy’s car but I find it intriguing such a thing is apparently possible. The KA9 also is apparently very quiet and offers excellent styling and comfort in a reliable package which laughs at high miles with regular care. I am intrigued, but then I say to myself who is buying this from me? I can sell an LS400/430 even if the cost of entry is higher. A KA9 might not be a bad thing to have laying around though, I just wish the mileage was a little better for the power.

            My 2010 plan was to buy and run the 3800 Pontiac for ten years. Since then I have acquired an exceptionally clean Saturn SL and the Volvo 240. We’re a little over halfway through the Pontiac plan and its mileage is much less than I planned for (I planned 12K/year, its been more like 6K) so I might only be at the 115-20K mark in 2020 at the current rate although this might change in the coming year or two. I’m happy with my fleet and yet, find myself wanting more :)

            I also think this is a good time to buy a hybrid, which is advice I have been giving people. I should probably think about taking it. Economic data looks grim for oil but regardless of it I see most states implementing Canadian or European style fuel taxation instead of fixing their own spending problems – we’re already seeing it here in PA (58c/gal + fed 18, set to be 75c in 2017). Much easier to just steal than face down the tough problems such as untenable pensions, medicaid expansions, and crumbling infrastructure.

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            Fordson,

            “…is going to have issues, and when it does those will be hard to fix yourself and expensive to fix when you have others do it.

            That “L” badge isn’t going to change that fact.”

            This is true. But what the L badge will change is the frequency of those issues.

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            The “L” indicates long wheel base as far as I can recall. Why would a LWB car be more susceptible to problems?

          • 0 avatar
            30-mile fetch

            28,
            Fairly sure the “L” badge Fordson was referring to is Lexus. I think he’s arguing that a used LS won’t be more affordable or trouble free than a similar used A8

          • 0 avatar
            28-Cars-Later

            Ah. Its a bit confusing because Corey’s Audi model was an A8L (as opposed to A8).

        • 0 avatar
          never_follow

          Purdy. I love the Vavona or whatever they call that wood… Replaced the dull grey trim in my S8 from a car that was exactly like yours. When the sun catches it, it’s like honey mixed with fire or something.

          • 0 avatar
            CoreyDL

            “he’s arguing that a used LS won’t be more affordable or trouble free than a similar used A8”

            HAHAHAH

            This man has not owned a VAG product. An old Jetta can be less affordable than an LS.

  • avatar
    tedward

    My regret was our honda fit (2nd gen). It was reliable, fun, cargo capable and just the right blend of cheap and cheerful. It was bought as a keeper, with an expectation that we would add nicer vehicles afterwards, not trade it. An added bonus was that at the time the fit wasn’t yet widely recognized for its enthusiast charm, so it annoyed the hell out of my friends. Then kids happened.

    The completely inadequate front legroom did that car in for us (it was simply never designed to accommodate tall people despite the tall roof). Instead of having it kick around as a family car we needed to replace it with an actual wagon, and since the fit shared a mission statement with the wagon and was nowhere near as nice a place to be or as useful it had to go. We paid the full depreciation for that car and never got anywhere near 100k miles, which was the exact wrong way to own what was the most tech primitive vehicle on the market at the time.

  • avatar
    tedward

    I’d like to add that I find modern cars to be far more amenable to tinkering than the older stuff I’ve owned. Perhaps that’s bc I’m mostly messing around with vw’s lately and they have a staggeringly massive aftermarket and easy access to dealer grade diagnostics. I don’t think so though. I think the Internet is the difference.

    • 0 avatar
      Fordson

      As far as I can tell, Steven Lang is about 16 years younger than I (58)…I don’t think he remembers that much of working on cars before the internet came along…which is certainly not his fault.

    • 0 avatar
      CJinSD

      I remember twenty plus years ago you were on your own if you had an orphan car after the area service facilities had moved on. Even if your car wasn’t made by some European fly-by-night brand that got their stuff handed to them by the Japanese, you still didn’t have real time guidance. I was in a car club of a company that’s still in business here. There was a club magazine. You could write your technical questions on paper, put them in an envelope, mail them via the post office, and maybe the club mechanical expert would pick your question to answer in a magazine you’d see in three months. Result!

  • avatar
    Bimmer

    I’ve always wanted to have a BMW. However, as I get older, I’m trying to learn on someone else mistakes. Two of my friends owned “pretty reliable” E34 and E36. And those cars were easy to work on, compare to new BMWs.

    So, as a first car I decided to go with Mazda 6 wagon, but friend of mine convinced me to get a Gen 4 (2000-2006) Ford Taurus for the reason of widely available parts from junk yards and low purchase cost.

    I kept that car for just over 5 years. I wouldn’t call it trouble free, but I could do some wrenching on my own, w/o need tho buy any special tools (unlike those pesky Germans). At the same time as I become a Bull owner, I discovered TTAC and started reading Steven Lang’s stories. That was one of the reasons why I kept my Ford for 5 years. In choosing my next ride, Steve’s stories also played a role. I wanted to get a Hybrid not because I was a tree hugger, but because I’m frugal. You see, in Canada gas even now, with oil price hovering just above $30, we pay $0.96/l for regular. So, power be damned, I don’t want to spend more than I have to for gas.

    Last summer, after searching for a perfect ’11 and up Ford Fusion Hybrid, I picked up ’11 Lincoln MkZephy Hybridr. It was better condition than similar Ford and only $1,500 more for a lot more content. So far, I’m satisfied with my purchase.

  • avatar
    jacob_coulter

    I definitely would prefer if a different hobby interested me, cars are about the worst addiction you can have. Why can’t I be into something like golf?

    Before I was married, I had 1 daily driver, 2 project cars, and a motorcycle. And I always had my eye on more. It was honestly not much money tied into them, but cars need room and time, and I just don’t have that anymore. NowI just have the one daily driver and the motorcycle.

    Of course now, I have the means to more comfortably buy some cool project cars, but simply can’t because I don’t have the time to work on them anymore with a family.

    Other hobbies are just easier to pursue than being an auto enthusiast.

    • 0 avatar
      Quentin

      3 cars is my absolute max. We’re going OK with a 2005 MINI Cooper S (wife’s daily), 2015 Scion FR-S (my daily), and 2016 4Runner (family, utility, 4WD). I’d love more, but my small fleet is already somewhat under utilized.

      • 0 avatar
        gtemnykh

        I’m realizing the very same. Back in high school and college, I had the time but not the funds, and I owned a car and as many as three motorcycles at any one point in time. None of these cost very much mind you but even then keeping up on all the paperwork and maintenance on a fleet like that was a bit taxing. Now I have a trouble free, efficient daily (’12 Civic sedan), a utility/camping rig (’96 4Runner) that I get to tinker with sometimes, and a motorcycle (’98 Bandit 1200S) that I rode all of two times last year. I frankly don’t have space or time for an additional vehicle in the fleet, hell I can’t even find time to ride the motorcycle. I’ve got the fun/quirky car itch in a bad way right now, and the poor little Civic is the one that’s being eyed for the chopping block (and the Bandit too). However I’m simply too practical of a person to get rid of a vehicle that is right in the prime of it’s years: lowish miles and years away from any mechanical issues, but depreciated enough that I’d be losing more than I’d like if I sold it right now, especially on trade. I think my surroundings are rubbing off on me, as I’m infatuated with G-body Cutlasses (stock with Rallye wheels and 1/2 vinyl top please!) and 04-05 W body Impala SS. The latter would actually make a totally reasonable daily driver assuming the 4T65E kept it together and I could keep it from getting stolen. Actually the Cutlass would probably be even more of a target! A newish Civic with hubcaps gets no attention on the Eastside (thank God).

  • avatar
    tonycd

    I’ve made two moves in my automotive life that I truly regret, and both were attempts to be “practical.”

    The first was when I had a choice of which old car to keep as a second car. My sweet-driving GTI had just spring defects #59 and #60 on consecutive days, so I traded it in as an act of vengeful exile while keeping a godawful old Escort that was a POS even when it worked as designed. I regretted that move every time I drove it thereafter and it punished me by doing so.

    The second was when I needed a go-to-work beater second car for my own use. I “economized,” this time with a hard-used second-gen Escort wagon. My left brain told me it was, in Consumer Reports’ words at the time, “adequate and inexpensive.” My ass told me it was miserable to drive, and my wallet told me over the subsequent 2 years that it fell apart the moment I got it. I paid $6k to buy it and another $6k in repairs and futile upgrades. Finally I gave up and got a car I actually liked, which proved to be the better use of money.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Access to a track really changes you. I bought my Z because I wanted a fun toy, but then realized driving on the street every day is not where its at. Thus the real enjoyment comes on track days when I can beat the thing silly.

    With all knowledge on the forums these days I think its way easier. I know which parts are the best, where to buy them (cheap) and how to install them. Before the internet such information was only available by digging thru countless articles in print magazines or knowing the local gear-head who might help you wrenching on your project. I’m less scared about buying or working on just about any car now because you can learn everything about it with just a few clicks on my phone.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    Most irrational car thing I’ve ever done is buy my G8 GXP new in 2009… at the time in my career when every $1 in the retirement account would have the maximum possible effect. As it turned out, the decision was not *quite* as bad as I would have thought because the GXP ended up keeping its value to an unexpected degree, but it was still a new-car depreciation hit.

    Now I’ve sworn off buying new cars. It’s just not worth the depreciation for someone who can evaluate a used car well. For my last purchase, I spent about 3/4 of the price of the GXP (after post-purchase repairs) to get a loaded, low-mile LS460 that sold new for well over twice as much as the GXP and is in essentially perfect condition. That’s the route I’ll be taking in the future, except in special cases like buying Subarus in the Northwest where buying new can actually be cheaper.

  • avatar
    sportyaccordy

    I burnt through untold sums of money owning various Maximas and Accords in NYC. I didn’t even drive to work. So I had insurance at ~$300-400 a month for straight liability, as well as a Metrocard bill, and then fuel, maintenance and mod money. I remember spending $1000 to replace the clutch on one of my Accords. I barely drove it! Sold it not long after for about $2000. I was just reckless with money for cars then. It’s depressing to think about because the cars were not that good. Final straw was my last Accord developing a death knock on the way to pick up my then gf now wife from the airport. I had to pull over, park it and make that call. Mind you this was the 3rd engine I had in the car since I bought it- and I barely drove it. But my cheap suspension, NYC streets and its low hanging oilpans were just a bad combo. I had enough… parted it out and junked the rest. Moved to Manhattan and my life trajectory immediately took a positive turn, as having an extra $5K a year would do for you. I didn’t buy any more cars until I left NYC, though I did buy a motorcycle… that was cheap though, and even though I crashed it I got my money’s worth and still have and enjoy it today.

    That experience has made me a lot more hesitant and shrewd about modding cars, and just dealing with money in general. I analyze the hell out of every mod I do. That’s a big part of why I didn’t touch my 350Z, beyond the stereo and headlights. That was my first post-NYC car. Doing the suspension to my new standards would have cost $2K and the stock suspension worked great. Decent exhaust would have been $1K and again not done much. Most of the aftermarket intakes for it lose power. Now I have a Civic and even with this I have been very slow to move. I have been researching everything for about a year and have finally made some decisions on mods. I also plan to drive it into the ground, and then some. I like cars but as I have aged I’m finding out I like financial security and disposable income a lot more. I have the means to drive much nicer cars, but after having the Z I sadly have realized that while I enjoy them they are not worth the added costs. I’d rather put that money in the bank or spend it on motorcycles and photography.

  • avatar
    JuniperBug

    I thought that this was going to be an article pointing out the insanity of spending thousands on replacing perfectly good factory wheels with heavier, lower quality ones that look nicer. Or spending hundreds – sometimes thousands – on replacing well-engineered factory exhaust systems with ones that produce nothing but added noise. Then there are guys who spend similar money on poorly-thought-out aftermarket suspension that handles worse, rides like a cement truck, and scrapes up the undercarriage over bumps.

    Don’t get me started on “big brake kits” that lengthen stopping distances because the front-rear balance is skewed or deleting catalytic converters for no performance gain, but an increase in air pollution by orders of magnitude.

    I’m all for people doing what they want with their cars (as long as it doesn’t negatively affect the well-being of others), but as long as people have the funds to throw away on this stuff, they’d better not be complaining about not being able to make their student loan or mortgage payments.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      I believe that outside of better pad materials and lighter wheels, no other modification is needed unless it is going to be tracked. And on a regular basis. Too easy to get wrong and narrows the resale market.

  • avatar
    dividebytube

    I’ve taken on any number of stupid car projects, starting with my first car, a 1968 Firebird that was a rust bucket and had many, many issues. I was a broke high school student making $3.25/hr at a part-time job so any repairs were spent on keeping the car running and the high consumption of gasoline. Bought for $680, sold for $350 since it was beginning to leak various fluids everywhere and my dad wanted it off the driveway.

    After college I decided it was time to get another project car. I hunted around and found a Tennessee rust-free 1986 Monte Carlo SS for $4400. I took out the 305 and dropped in a 355 with a ZZ4 roller-cam, Vortec heads, Edelbrock intake and carb. Later I replaced the 200-4R grenade with a rebuilt/upgraded unit. Also replaced most of the interior including seats. But – being that I live in Michigan – the car only saw use for a few months out of the year. It was also a case of the engine overpowering the rest of the car – it was a real handful to drive, especially if the roads were even slightly wet. That, and knowing that the rear end was a ticking bomb, I sold it at a major loss when my wife and I decided to move to a new house in a better neighborhood. If I could have gone back in time I would have just stuck with the 305, redone the interior, and kept it as a cruiser. Instead I went into thousands of dollars worth of debt buying tools and parts for this car.

    At the same time I was working on the Monte Carlos, I was also trying to fix up a ’81 Malibu wagon. Did some amateur bodywork and replaced the engine since it had a bad knock. It really was a rust bucket but was my wife’s daily driver for a year; prompting a teacher at my son’s school to tell my wife that we could probably get welfare benefits if we applied.

    I still love cars and will wrench on them if the job isn’t too difficult. But the big projects? I’ve given up.

    • 0 avatar
      28-Cars-Later

      I enjoyed your post and wanted to share some insight I gained. Sometimes we see ourselves in the project. So you buy the Monte SS, you max it out, you spend all kind of money because in the back of your mind its gonna be your ’68 Firebird. You do this not because you want a ’68 Firebird per se, you do it because you want to be YOU in that ’68 Firebird in 1970 or 1986 or whatever year it was. Just my .02.

      Peace.

  • avatar
    krhodes1

    Easy – my current ’16 BMW M235i. A car I have absolutely no rational reason for owning. I have a perfectly lovely paid for 3low mileage 328i wagon, a paid for ’01 Range Rover for when the going gets silly, and an old Triumph Spitfire for summer fun. I needed a 326hp German Mustang like a needed a .38 caliber hole in the head. An actual Mustang would be almost as good for 2/3rds the price, but they don’t do European Delivery on Mustangs.

    I got to take my Mom to Europe for a month and drive it around, so there is that. But I could have rented something nice for a month for what it cost to register it in Maine the first year. No rational basis for buying this car but I would do it again tomorrow. If we were all rational the roads would be full of nothing but Prius’ in various sizes.

    As for working on modern cars – soooo much easier than anything comparable from 20-30 years ago it isn’t even funny (in most cases, sure there are exceptions). Sure, my Spitfire is easier to fix than one of my BMWs, but it has the complexity, creature comforts and performance of a rickshaw, so hardly a fair comparison. And it needs a heck of a lot more maintenance and fixing.

  • avatar
    bluegoose

    What is the worst emotional car decision I ever made? I bought a 1986 Dodge Shelby Charger off of ebay for about 1500. It was a “Direct Connection” tuned edition that had the Stage 2 computer and the intercooler mounted over the engine with a giant hood scoop to accommodate the intercooler. The old owner said it had a few scratches and very little rust. I had the car shipped back to Queens, NY from the mountains of West VA for about $700. Shortly after acquiring the car, I realized it had a small rust spot on the drivers side floor pan that turned into a rust sinkhole after further inspection. I rented a garage to attempt to fix the rust holes for $150 per month. It rusted faster than I could fix it…into the frame supporting the engine. It spread like wildfire. I sent it off to the scrap heap…two years later. While I was doing this I was making payments on a PT Cruiser GT. I ended up spending over $5000 total on a car I drove about three times. It was at this moment that I realized I may have A Problem.

  • avatar
    mikey

    I’ve been a car guy since I was 13. In my younger years, I bought and sold them on a whim. As I got older economic necessity, turned me into a keeper. After i retired, I bought a “practical” long term keeper {W Impala}. After life threw me some curves, I said “srew it” and went back to buying whatever caught my fancy. I shudder to think what it cost me in depreciation. However it was a lot of fun.

    Today I have one vehicle. A very nicely equipped 2015 Mustang 2.3 Turbo, paid for. Not the most practical vehicle, but it sure is a blast to drive.

    Ah, the circle of life. Due to that old “economic necessity” thing. Me thinks I may just need to go back to that “keeper” stage. I’m 62 years old, and still a car guy. The Mustang checks all the boxes for me. I just hope that with a yearly application of Krown, and some TLC, she gives me a lot of years ?? I’m just getting a little too old to play the vehicle flipping game.

  • avatar
    old5.0

    The car I most regret selling? I spent my 20s buying and selling special interest cars, so that list could be turned into an article of several thousand words.

    In the present, I sold off my last toy, and 85 Mustang GT sometime back,and I’ve been on the lookout for something else. An 85 Mustang notchback, but it must be a factory 5.0 stick car with minimal options in either black or bright red. And it must be absolutely rust free. I’ve been looking for more than a year with no luck, so I’ve recently expanded my search to include 93 Cobras. Again, it must a black car in excellent condition without the sunroof.

    On the other hand, I sold my last Mopar around a decade ago, and I’ve recently started to get the itch. A 68 Plymouth B-body would do the trick, I think. Must be a 4-speed hardtop, preferably a Road Runner but a GTX would work fine, too. The only question is, “Wedge or Hemi?”

    But wait, I’ve always had a soft spot for GTOs,and I happen to know where there’s a 67, a factory Ram Air I 4 speed car in a good color. It’s a total basket case and I have insisted adamantly that I’ll never undertake another restoration, but… I mean, c’mon man, it’s a factory Ram Air GTO!

    Oh, no, hold on. I’ve luster after a mid-80s Porsche 930 since before I could drive. Yeah, good ones are pricey, but I’m sure I could find one in decent driver-quality condition without having to mortgage the house to swing it.

    But you know, a buddy has a 70 Trans Am, Lucerne Blue R/A III car I bet I could talk him out of… or maybe an M3… new Shelby looks pretty cool…. WAIT!!!!! AN FD RX7!!!! Yeah, that’s it! On the other hand….

  • avatar
    tubacity

    Quite entertaining.
    There are many kinds of car guys.
    Some but not all car guys are serial car traders. It can be an addiction. Some who resemble serial traders are our beloved writers, editors, racers, men about town Bark M and Jack Baruth.

    If wealthy, enjoy. If not, this is a road to long term debt and inability to do other things that need money.

    Bark M at one time he had a Boss, a Fiesta Fist and a Flex at home.
    He had a financed the Boss Mustang, recently sold, and a leased Fiesta which is so small, he might need to replace it soon as kids get bigger.
    Bark M wrote,”when I go car shopping at the end of my FiST lease ”
    Only the author knows if he needed 3 cars. Frequent trading of cars that are not very old as in the Boss and soon the Fiesta costs dollars as the depreciation is greatest in early years.
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2015/12/barks-bites-end-miles-matter/#more-1246074

    Jack Baruth wrote,
    “I’m so fond of my Honda that I’m considering replacing it. I know. Hear me out. I figure there’s no way that Honda will offer the V-6 in the 2018 car; it’ll be another one of these repugnant low-pressure turbo-fours in the engine bay by then. So if I want to extend my ownership of a V-6 coupe as far into the future as possible, it would be a sound idea to replace my current car with a 2016”
    http://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2016/01/accord-thirty-thousand-miles/

    If the serial car trader is well off, congratulations, you earned it. Have fun.
    If not the well known comments about paying interest on a depreciating asset and risk of being upside down apply.
    Why a V6? Why not a V8 or a V10?

    Almost daily, someone on this forum writes to the effect that only a V8 car is a real car.
    Recent history shows that although cylinder counts are declining, 0-60 times and lap times are improving with time and development.

    • 0 avatar
      olddavid

      The biggest reason for driving a V8 is the sound. I have grown up and old to that sonorous melody and I guess I do not want to change. But I will not condemn anyone for an alternate choice.

      • 0 avatar
        burgersandbeer

        +1. I would take a V8 over a newer six cylinder with higher horsepower just for the sound, and I didn’t even grow up with them!

      • 0 avatar
        TheyBeRollin

        It’s probably why I hang on to this old car I’m driving right now even after buying my FoST. There’s just something about a RWD V8 car that draws me in. Maybe it’s nostalgia due to my first car, but every time I look at cars, I always lust after these traditional barges.

        This whole living in a condo thing sucks. I need parking space…

  • avatar
    never_follow

    1990 Audi V8. Was in rough shape, and finally got it perfect(ish as a 25 year old german Oberklasse car can get) this spring. Right before moving across country with my new wife. Who hated it. It really is a buyers market when it comes to old German cars that aren’t quite classic.

    Took a bath on it, but it was a fun journey, and has made me and those around me learn that I do truly have the sickness. I learned a lot with that car, including the fact that you need a second one as a parts car just to keep the first one going!

    I also know that I want another one when the time is right… which makes no sense, but the thought of that roar makes me smile.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      Just for the fact that you kept a vehicle like that in actual running condition, I have to applaud you.

      • 0 avatar
        never_follow

        I’m sure there’s a couple more of me running around on this site that get a perverse pleasure out of finding something extremely rare to complete another piece of the puzzle. I searched allcraigslist for months until I found a set of footmats, got european headlights from German eBay’s “small ad” section, got some French domestic market yellow foglights… as I said, I’m weird.

        And as fate would have it, a neighbour down the street had a V8 that he finally had to part with due to bylaw officers, so I had another car that I could cannibalize. Thank God for that, or I think I would have been done in by unobtainable mechanical parts.

        Audi doesn’t support their old cars like Benz does, which is my one real complaint.

  • avatar
    burgersandbeer

    I wish I kept my ’98 540i 6-speed. I sold it because it was approaching 200k miles and could benefit from non-trivial work, as well as fear of even more expensive work. For what I was able to sell it for, I should have kept it as a second car until one of these big repairs became mandatory – it could hardly drop the value any more. On top of that, removing it from my insurance policy barely made a difference in my rates.

    At least the guy that bought it seemed like an enthusiast who likely enjoyed it.

  • avatar
    HotPotato

    The most irrational thing I’ve ever done is believe my dad’s nonsense that it’s sensible to buy a depreciated but desirable (to an enthusiast) car and maintain it in like-new condition. Might be true if you’re a mechanic, but not if you’re paying one. I spent years keeping VW/Porsche/Audi products on the road (and a fiendish Lincoln Mark VII LSC), spending more every month than I would have on a car payment. Which brings me to a point.

    I have made two smart car buying decisions ever. One was to buy a low-mileage 5-speed 1998 Saturn SL2, and the other was to buy a brand-new 5-speed Mazda3 2.3. Both were were fun to drive, held their value well, and didn’t break down or have costly maintenance schedules.

    So yes. Consider me a convert to the church of low- or no-mileage cars with long warranties, even if it means 72 months of payments. God knows I wouldn’t buy a Ford/Lincoln or VW/Audi out of warranty again; I’ve learned my lesson.

  • avatar

    I disagree. You forget the non enthusiasts who go to a shop because “the brakes make noise” then argue with the shop over the price of the $1000 brake job the B&B would do in the driveway for $150.00 in parts…

    You forget the person who buys a car. Four years later, they drive the new version, and notice it feels much better. They go to the new car side of the store and buy one. Had they done new shocks, maybe an end link, a set of sway bar bushings, and/or tire roadforce, the old car would be indistinguishable from the new, for $1000, way, way less than the beating you get for new.

    Sit in any non enthusiast oriented garage and listen to the complaints. It makes a noise…and can you do it cheap is the only things you hear, over and over.

    I once worked in the automotive complaints division of the NY Attorney General. Folks are crazy about car issues, and have NO knowledge of the machine.

    My 330i has 327k miles. Most repairs are @$250 out of pocket, but with labor at professional rates would be a $1000 day. If I couldn’t do a lot myself, that car would be gone….and at this point, the cost per mile for a very paid for and amortized car is very low….

  • avatar
    05lgt

    I have kept my salvage titled 1970 / 1972 hybrid Dodge Challenger from when I purchased it in 1986 to this day. I haven’t driven it in 15 years, and it’s only drives in the last 17 years have been moving it from one garage to another. When it was driven, I used to expensively rebuild the engine from time to time, and upgrade fever could strike anywhere, from suspension to driveline to interior or exterior modifications. If I thought of the hours and dollars spent on it over it’s first 7 years in my possession as an investment it would be the biggest money and time pit in my history. Thankfully it was all fun. Nothing about my experience with this car has been rational, but keeping it all these years past last use is the most irrational part of the story.

  • avatar
    Monster.Hair

    As a lightweight car guy, I never could afford to really dive deep into some kind of occasional drive muscle car of previous generations. The only enthusiast detail I’ve insisted on is that all of my cars, the ones I put my own money into, are stick shift. This takes any driving appliance and makes it not so appliance like, even at 100hp.

    Though, at the moment, I drive what has been the craziest thing I’ve ever done, car wise. I found a car on Ebay, talked to the owner, got lots of pictures, bid and won the car. Then I flew down to San Francisco and drove it home.

    It’s a Volvo T5, 5-speed. Apparently more rare than a V70R 5-speed. It’s cost me a bit in repairs, but nothing out of the ordinary for a 120k European car. What new job that allowed me to buy the thing has also allowed me to pay the shop prices to keep it on the road (I don’t have the time to repair it myself). It’s an amazing ride. Best I’ve ever driven. Not perfect, but after owning driving appliances, I will be keeping it for a long, long time.

  • avatar
    SteveRenwick

    I regret that I failed to buy that 2008 Quattroporte last year.

  • avatar
    VolandoBajo

    In the mid 90’s, I was recently re-married and a new father for the first time. I was working as an independent consultant and putting on some serious miles up and down the BosWashNYia corridor. And I had finally parted with my 88 Thunderbird, after pounding it into the ground and keeping it through three accidents (none of them my fault).

    I had had good results with the fundamental solidarity of a pair of VW Rabbits in the seventies and early eighties, after having driven a variety of early vintage VW’s.

    The second Rabbit had been a workhorse diesel that was virtually non-stoppable, once a misdesigned fuel filtering issue was found and fixed.

    So when I saw a relatively low mile diesel Rabbit for sale at an old well-established VW dealer in Delaware, it seemed like a good idea. And for once in my life, I violated two of my rules…the car had a rebuilt engine, and it received only a cursory mechanical inspection. It did sound tight, and it ran solid…for about three months.

    Then one winter night, on my way home from working late, the beast suddenly began over-revving, and wouldn’t shut off to save my life until it finally blew its engine up, after about five minutes of failed attempts to get it to stop running.

    It had been reduced to a worthless piece of crap.

    I should have bit the bullet and taken it to one of the diesel mechanics I knew and trusted in VA before I bought it, but didn’t think it merited the hassle.

    The long-established dealer? They went out of business after being a dealer for decades, the same year I bought the car, and that it blew up.

    I have owned a lot of nice reasonably priced cars over the years, including an older Jaq with Lucas Electrics, but which I could keep running, plus the Bird, a nice XJ Jeep, a Subaru TurboXT, a pair of fairly solid Troopers from the middle years, when the early problems had been shaken out but the quality had not yet taken a nosedive.

    But that diesel Rabbit was the automotive proof of the idea that “you can’t go home again.”

    The fact that it was a weak lemon yellow color should have been a clue. But all I could see was 40mpg and a sunroof.

    Considering what I got out of it, even though I had only paid a few grand for it, it was the by far the worst and least rational automotive move I ever made.

    Though I did become much more wary about buying cars that reminded me of ones I had previously owned after that.

    Unless I ever find a close replica of my 88 TB Sportcoupe…which I guess kind of proves your point.

    Maybe I should be grateful that I have rarely seen another one in metallic silver with dark blue leather and a moonroof, and none at all in years.

    My Panther gets the job done for me these days, and in a way that keeps me happy.

    The only thing that takes a bit of the sting out of the memory of that lemon/p-yellow Rabbit is the fact that another consultant I worked with went gaga over a late model Maserati Biturbo, against the advice of many other car guys, and he had the same type of experience, only with at least another zero on the wrong end of its cost.

    At least my mistake was a relatively minor impact in the grand scheme of my life…my wife wasn’t that upset, whereas the other guy’s wife had been against the Maserati from the jump, so he probably ended up paying for that acquisition twice.

    My wife has been an easy sell on paying a trusted mechanic to do a used car checkout on anything we were looking at ever since,. So in a way that was a bit of an offset, as she normally doesn’t like to spend a penny she can’t see a payoff for, whether it be financial or just in terms of having fun. After that Rabbit though, pre-purchase checkouts became a consensus item.

  • avatar
    stereorobb

    Ok im a car guy. ive never been into “practicle” and “sensible” transportation. ive owned 59 cars in my 31 years or the 16 years ive had my license, mostly in my early 20s. I went through a BMW phase, audi phase, and a Mercedes phase. Mercedes phase lasted the longest. one of the most irrational, expensive, and unpracticle cars I got was a 1973 Mercedes 450SLC that had more rust on it than a sunken WW2 battleship, had an interior that was falling apart, but I HAD to have it well, because racecar and that it was very mechanical which made it fun to drive, and pretty much everything else goes out the window when its fun to drive.

    I also have a sickness, and im talking SICKNESS for early and mid 90s Japanese luxobarges. old legends, q45s, Ls400s, etc. the Ls400 is the one that just wont go away, ive had 9 of them. my current DD and main car is a 1995 Ls400 with about half a million miles on it, and although lexus builds one hell of a solid car, its over 20 years old and time has really caught up to it. some say the Ls400 is like driving an appliance, well go drive one that’s 20 years old that’s been thrashed and hooned around in for a few years and then give me an awnser. everything on it makes a sound of some sort, gravity has made the suspension sink over time so it has a rougher ride and it is lower, the exaust leaks but it actually sounds good strangley and a Japanese V8 has a certain sound to it that’s hard to match.

    my friends pick fun at it, my family tells me to get something newer, same as the wife cause she is scared of it cause its so old now, and things are breaking on it now so im throwing money at it constantly, but im dragging my heels cause I love my car, and id have to be dragged kicking and screaming from it… lol

  • avatar
    mor2bz

    I am tired of owning $1000 cars, so I bought a $400 one. (OK, $600 with fluids, O2 sensor).

    My sickness is mid 90s Camrys and Previas. Usually
    I can fix them and I like the way they look. Nobody wants them and I cannot imagine that new cars are built better. I am on my fifth Previa (the son loses, has wrecked or stolen, or overheats because he cannot screw a radiator cap on right) and the last one has
    292K on it. These cars are getting long in the tooth and becoming hard to find in good shape.

    I get a perverse satisfaction out of making a beater run and seeing how far it will go. The latest Prev is a total rust bucket but I would take it down to the tip of Baja tomorrow. God I felt like a smart feller when I figured out it needed an O2 sensor to pass emissions (my mechanic said catalytic convertor). Double bonus for getting the rusty nuts off the thing and getting another bolted in.
    Drove perfectly straight after I aligned it myself with a piece of string.

    Gas is dirtcheap but still I try to hypermile, coasting in N in the 5 spd. Camry. yes, car enthusiasts are crazy. I get pissed when my partner does not record the mileage on the tripmeter when she fills up so I can figure the mpg. Funny, the gas mileage does not get any better after I make the
    calculation.
    .
    http://www.theonion.com/article/toyota-recalls-1993-camry-due-fact-owners-really-s-50480

    • 0 avatar
      Marsden

      Actually mor2bz, I salute your parsimony and masochism. I couldn’t do it. But you have many, many thousands more in the bank than you would have had otherwise.

      Not sure how you pass state inspections though, or how you deal with the nuisance factor of breakdowns, but it’s possible that being Toyotas your cars have no issues with either.

      I wouldn’t coast in neutral too much. You can save nearly as much fuel coasting in gear–just keep your foot off the pedal–and still maintain full control over your car. JMHO.

  • avatar
    Dan R

    My 2000 XJ8 is no appliance and requires careful tinkering.
    It makes me smile when I approach it and when I drive it.
    Bizarrely, in a household with a Volvo and a Ford Ranger it has sometimes been the only vehicle that is working. I am currently changing the heater core in the 960; not fun.


Back to TopLeave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.

Recent Comments

New Car Research

Get a Free Dealer Quote

Staff

  • Contributors

  • Matthew Guy, Canada
  • Seth Parks, United States
  • Ronnie Schreiber, United States
  • Bozi Tatarevic, United States
  • Chris Tonn, United States
  • Corey Lewis, United States
  • Moderators

  • Adam Tonge, United States
  • Kyree Williams, United States