Hammer Time: The Family Beaters

Steven Lang
by Steven Lang

The 1992 Volvo 740 had more broken plastic pieces than Joan Rivers (if she hit a brick wall in an Aveo). Grandma had let three generations of family use and abuse it. Bless their hearts. They all made an indelible imprint on it. Split rear seats of leather and cloth. Driver’s side window tucked away in the glovebox. Did I mention the jungle gym activities of the young’uns making the rear seats almost useless? Well Grandma was still awesome with the maintenance. Regular oil changes, a light foot, services in all the right places and, wow . . . original Volvo tape deck. This wagon may have looked like old Eurotrash, but it was still young at heart thanks to Grandma—and the rust-free climate of Atlanta. After the jump, the 2000 Dodge Caravan.

The 2000 Dodge Caravan was an even weirder bird. First off, it was clean. I mean really clean. Very few door dings. No rips in the seats. Everything working. This is not what you would expect out of a typical family hauler with over 204,000 miles. Yep, this last generation model Caravan had been driven only 25,000 fewer miles than the Volvo in half the time. The engine? The very last year of the 3.0L V6. An engine used in everything from subcompacts, to sports cars, to . . . well, this. It has dual sliding doors, a stereo that was state of the art in 1988, power package, rear air, and enough open space inside for a mobile solarium. Thank God the windows are tinted. The Volvo I got was a trade-in. I always offer to beat Carmax’s trade-in price by $250 if the vehicle’s been well maintained. The Caravan was an auction buy two days ago from a Hyundai dealership in North Georgia. Stepford wives and gentlemen, place your bets.

Steven Lang
Steven Lang

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  • FloorIt FloorIt on Apr 26, 2009

    My milage definitely has varied than this piece and others warm feeling about beaters. I can't stand them. I'd rather walk, bicycle, hitch hike, mass transit. Anything but a money pit. Other peoples problems. @NulloModo: $500 & $1500? Too generous for a dealer. I'd think $500 for both of them in trade value.

  • KiwiKar KiwiKar on Apr 26, 2009

    to Floor It - the only money pit I've had was a recent BMW. Beaters are cheaper than walking and less worry. They don't need servicing, cleaning. They have earned our family's respect and love though. Case 1: 89 Volvo 745GLE with 265000 MILES. Bought for $NZ900 four years ago. Still drives great. Needed 1 2nd-hand dizzy, 1 tune-up, 4 tyres. Case 2: 89 Volvo 740 Turbo with 220,000 km. Bought for $NZ265 two years ago. Immaculate paint and int (except the roof lining! and yes the pastics get crumbly). Needed sunroof switch ($5), lining (free). That's it. Still great fun to drive. We live on the beach and everything else rusts away. These Volvo bricks are among the toughest cars ever. Built with a conscience and intelligence - when u read interviews with Volvo people from this era there was a very Scandinavian concern for rational and ethical design. --Everything that Ford and GM didn't understand when they ravaged Volvo and Saab respectively.

  • Steven Lang Steven Lang on Apr 26, 2009

    The answers are... Volvo 740: $750. Plus I put in a couple things in it before selling it. Carmax's quote was $500. Dodge Caravan: $1250 plus auction fee of $120. It was pristine on the inside and had been very well taken care of. The dual sliding doors and rear A/C helped quite a bit.

  • Davekatz Davekatz on Apr 26, 2009

    Drive A Beater And Have Something Else Wickedly Fun With The Savings. (Beater ownership is socially responsible recycling, after all.) When your investment banker neighbor needs to sell his plane/boat/Calloway twin turbo Corvette at a fire-sale price just ahead of the SEC investigation, why, you'll have all that cash saved up from not making car payments! Oh. Right. There isn't any more cash. The home equity ATM been padlocked. Better hope you can still talk a lender into financing a car for you, or else find a craigslister who'll take an out-of-town check....