By on May 4, 2012

Everybody believes they know what a beater is.

“My old 10 year old Chevy Cavalier is a real beater!”, they may remark in some self-affirming way. “Why it’s old and it has 120k miles, and the paint is faded… and…”, they will continue to go through the list on the mistaken belief that any car made in the late Clinton to Bush era is a beater. They’re not. At least not quite yet. Any car that can be scanned or diagnosed with a conventional OBDII scanner is not a beater.

Then there is the modern day Yuppie beater. “I have a late 90’s Mercedes E-Class that’s a true beater!” Never mind that the car would fit in at any country club if the owner bothered to give it a good detail.

In my humble opinion, these types of cars are not beaters at all. What qualifies? Well let’s go through the list shall we?

The ‘E’ Factor: As in embarassment. A true beater will always have a degree of social stigma attached to it. As in, “Did you see that crappy car that Flo the crackhead waitress drives? What a beater!” If your car blends in with the scenery of drivers, it’s not a beater. Only when a car sticks out in ‘that way’ does it qualify. Ten points.

Daily Driver: If you don’t use it as a daily driver no dice. Some may call it an antique. Others may call it junque. Either way it has to stay on the road to be a true beater. Five points.

Dents Don’t Matter: If hitting another object that is made out of steel does not require even a glance at the damage, five points.

Orphan Brand: Oldsmobile, Saturns, Pontiacs, Plymouth, Saabs and Hummers all get one point. Actually, they have to be at least 17 years old which eliminates all Hummers and most any Saab that is still in good running condition. Five points are given if your beater brand was last sold prior to 1995, and ten points if it was before 1985. Five if it’s French or Italian. Ten for British. Fifteen for Eastern Europe. Twenty for a Russian brand.

Old Enough To Drive Itself: Five points if it passes this test and is a daily driver. Prestige brands should be of legal drinking age except for Jaguars which automatically qualify once they hit their teenage years.

Beer Bellies And Soggy Bottom Boys: Is your car’s suspension so bad that it has its “pants on the ground”? Do the shocks or struts make moaning or groaning sounds akin to a mechanical orgy? Does your car truly bottom out when hitting large potholes or small furry woodland creatures? 10 points for you!

Primer: Forget about faded paint. Are portions of your paint job down to primer? That’s another five points.

Four Speed Stick / 3 Speed Auto: Five points for either one. Five additional points are also given if you can no longer use one of the gears.

The Technicolor Dream Coat Paint Job: Does your car come in at least three different shades of the same color? Or two very bad off colors? Five points for you!

Doors: Do they work? Five points for each door that doesn’t open.

Windows: Five points for each crank window that does not open. Five additional point if you use a garbage or plastic in place of a window. Ten points if it’s the rear glass.

Big Old Detroit Iron: No we’re not talking about the custom ghetto blaster with big wheels, and stripes, and looks like a big rolling Tylenol. Thugmobiles don’t count. Grandma’s little traffic helper does. Five points if your car was owned and driven by the wiser among us. Ten points if it was the last car driven by both beloved grandparents.

Ol’ Redneck Truck: You know it when you see it. Extra five points given if the seats are vinyl. An additional five points if it has no muffler. five points more if the horn no longer works due to overuse. On second thought this criteria also applies to cars. Ten points if the bed has holes, and ten points more if the floorboard has holes.

The ‘Memories’ Car: Has a random stranger come to you and waxed eloquently about all the joy your model gave them back in the day? Ten points if this has happened to you and your car hits at least three of the above categories.

The Followed Car: Is your car so nasty looking that the police start following you around the neighborhood? If this has happened at least five times, then five points for you.

The ‘What is That?’ Car: If folks out there have asked you that question at least three times, that’s five points. Five times or more? 10 points.

The Scrapper Saver: If your car was meant for the crusher at least once in it’s life, that’s 10 points.

The Duct Tape, Thumbtacked, Staple Gunned Car: 5 points for each one of these substances. 10 points if the duct tape is used to hold together or replace a vinyl roof.  Wire hanger holding the muffler up? An extra 5 points.

Thirteen Inch Wheels: If your replacement tires are the proverbial advertised specials you see in the circulars, 5 points. A smaller size is 10 points. Ones that have to be special ordered because of their age and rarity are 15 points.

Bathroom Floormats: Five points for each one used in the interior. Ten points if they are used for the trunk. Fifteen points if they are permanently attached to the vinyl roof.

Broken Antenna: Five points. No more. No less.

Old School Features: Five points for those that ceased to exist by the 1990’s. Ten points for the 1980’s. Fifteen points if your car did not come equipped with a working radio, passenger side window or air conditioning.

The Steenkin’ Lincoln Factor: Is your car so menacingly ugly that people automatically give you the right of way?  Ten points!

The Mismatched Syndrome: Five points for each part on your car that came from another vehicle…  that was not the same model. Buick wheels on a Pontiac. Jetta steering column in a Golf.

Tally up your score. 50 points or more is a true beater. 25 points or more is a beater-in-training. 15 or less is plain Jane commuter in drag.

Also, if you have any other criteria you would like to add feel free to make it known. All the best!

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108 Comments on “Hammer Time: The Beater Index...”


  • avatar
    CobaltFire

    95 points for the 1979 Toyota pickup (longbed, 2WD, 5-Speed) that was my first car (1998-2001). Three different paint colors, two different primer colors, seat had two holes in it that you could fall through, dashpad was completely removed, bed had plywood fiberglassed in with rusty screws sticking out of it just to have a solid surface to put stuff on, muffler had fallen off before I bought it, and it had some chrome american racing wheels that were the wrong PCD but were redrilled by hand (none balanced)…

    I didn’t change the oil in the 3 years I owned it because I added a quart with every tank of gas, but it never once stranded me. I put over 50,000 miles on it in those 3 years, too.

    • 0 avatar
      twotone

      10 points if you lost your virginity in the back seat.

      20 points if you were conceived in the same back seat.

    • 0 avatar
      Gedrven

      Hah, I knew it’d be another Yota!

      87 points for the 1986 Toyota pickup (shortbed, 2WD, 4-speed, carb) that I owned 07-10. Also three different colors, mostly bright pink brushed-on housepaint, seat bolted in only on one side, grill and lights held in with bungee cords and duct-tape. Started with a screwdriver, and one day the steering column locked up while I was moving. Then it started with small coins. Mechanically, though, it was sound and I took reasonable care of it, got it new tires, replaced things that broke.

  • avatar
    sansui

    peeling vinyl roof must equal some bonus points

  • avatar
    philadlj

    Our family’s first second car was a primered ’78 Delta 88 Royale my dad bought off a family friend for $250. It was his DD for many years, but when he had to start commuting from Baltimore to Harrisburg, he traded it in for a new base Saturn SL in 1996, getting $600 for it.

    The “Gray Ghost” got 66 points.

  • avatar
    jimbobjoe

    “Actually, they have to be at least 17 years old which eliminates all Hummers and most any Saab that is still in good running condition.”

    Hmm, all the Saab hate! Actually, a lot of those old Saabs are still on the road. It’s their mid 90s brethren that are a bit less likely to be found.

  • avatar
    pdieten

    Holy cow Steve you must see some real hoopties around there. Hard for me to believe something like http://milwaukee.craigslist.org/ctd/2972333600.html is only considered a beater-in-training…..

    Unfortunately around here, not that many cars really reach the ne plus ultra of true beaterdom, because the frames rust out first. Though in certain neighborhoods they’re easy to find with garbage bags covering busted-out windows….

    • 0 avatar
      Mazda323

      Now that is a truly amazing Craigslist ad. I would suggest that the right type of Craigslist ad can push a car from B-in-T to true beater.

      In this case:

      – Impossible to search for (Cutlass misspelled; “0ldsmobile” with a zero).
      – Minimum of five exclamation points per end of sentence.
      – “176kkkkkkk miles.”
      – “serious replies only.”

      All that has to be worth some additional bonus points.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      Even if the car is in excellent shape cosmetically and mechanically, I would not even harken to check it out for the very poorly written and spelled ad.

      As for the Cutlass, I’ve seen cars in MUCH worse shape than that thing is, though how well it runs is another matter.

  • avatar

    It is a project car/fun bomb around 2nd car so my ’64 Falcon wagon probably doesn’t count. However it scored an 80. I gave myself an extra 5 points for the *two speed* automatic.

    http://www.blert.net/blog/?p=168

    Nothing else I’ve owned has scored higher than a 40, mostly because I was lucky enough not to have accident/vandalism damage that made them look as terrible as they truly were underneath.

  • avatar
    RayH

    I’ll do my 1989 Town Car

    The ‘E’ Factor: If I offer to drive friends or family in it, automatic no, even if it’s ironic hipster theme night somewhere. I’ll give myself 6 points.

    Daily Driver: I’d drive it every day if I didn’t have other cars to drive. 3 points.

    Dents Don’t Matter: No dents, but a lot of dings and a ton of rust hiding under the stainless skirting. I would care less if it got a dent, as long as the doors trunk and hood still open. 2 points.

    Orphan Brand: Lincoln… no points, yet.

    Old Enough To Drive Itself: My town car can do shots all night and still make it home. 5 points.

    Beer Bellies And Soggy Bottom Boys: Sagging not bad, although I scrape the long overhang past the rear tires a lot. It creaks sometimes. 5 points.

    Primer: My car is burgundy, but clearcoat is flaking off badly on the hood and trunklid, creating pink camo… I’ll give myself 6 points for having no issue driving a car that turns more pink everyday.

    Four Speed Stick / 3 Speed Auto: 4 speed automatic, no points.

    The Technicolor Dream Coat Paint Job: I should have possibly counted my pink camo under this, but i didn’t. No points.

    Doors: The driver’s side rear door only opens from the inside. 2.5 points.

    Windows: All work, even the lowering front quarter windows, no points.

    Big Old Detroit Iron: The man I bought this car from bought the Town Car new for his wife, started driving it himself from the mid-90’s until a few years ago when I bought it from him, when he looked to be in his mid 80’s. Um…. 10 points.

    Ol’ Redneck Truck: The side “wells” of the trunk are so rusty if you throw anything down them, they fall out eventually. That’s where my lug wrench went. 7 points.

    The ‘Memories’ Car: Has happened to me a lot, oddball cranks telling stories of people they knew who owned a car like mine. 5 points.

    Yay I already got to over 50 points! I better win a $5 gift certificate to Pep Boys for auto accessories!

  • avatar
    geozinger

    I have two cars in my ‘fleet’ that I consider to be beaters. A 1995 Pontiac Sunfire GT that scored 31 points on this scale. My 1997 Chevy Cavalier that scored 15 points on this scale also. I think there should be points given for high mileage, the Cavy has over 253K miles on it. And she’s still runs great, no lie.

    I guess my cars arent as beat as other beaters, but I think everyone has a different definition of beater; both of my cars have suffered mightily from midwestern winters, and my daughter’s learning to drive escapades. Both cars run well, with mostly the rust issues and some other minor issues due to the age of the components. No massive oil burning or leaking or any of that stuff. If the bodies didn’t look so awful, I’d be prouder to drive them.

    But as it is, the Cavy is my kid’s DD now, and it’s fine for her purposes. It doesn’t bother her to drive the car, it was free. The Sunfire (Rustfire) is my DD, but I work in a dodgy part of downtown, the car blends in with the background, which is just as well. No one bothers it.

    Do I get extra points for patching a hole in my quarter panel with expanding foam?

  • avatar
    Mike

    As the owner of the recently featured 1986 Town Car/pickup truck “Piston Slap” article, I’m just going to sit back and smile.

    No points for exhaust though. Mine’s perfect. a pet peeve, if you will.

  • avatar
    dejal1

    What does holding 5 gear in by wrapping a bungy cord around the stick and attaching the hooks to the dash?

  • avatar
    elmwood

    Old-school beaters like the one pictured at the top of the page seem much rarer than in the not-too-distant past, when cars built in an era where rust truly never slept were still a semi-frequent sight on the roads of urban ‘hoods and blue-collar suburbs of struggling cities around the Great Lakes.

    A ’93 Accord with a primered door and two missing hubcaps just doesn’t have the visual impact of 1970s-era Nimitz-class Detroit iron with a railroad tie bumper, peeling vinyl top, replacement door from a faux woodie wagon, a folding headlight permanently trapped open or closed, and rust that ate a third of the rear driver side quarter panel. Cars built in the past 20 years, with galvanized steel and a lack of Broughamy and Colonially gee-gaws and doo-dads, can’t hope to achieve beaterdom on the same level as what we once enjoyed. Ask yourself about the last time you saw a UICK.

    • 0 avatar
      ciddyguy

      “Ask yourself about the last time you saw a UICK”.

      LOL Elmwood,

      My best friend and I once used to have hot Wheels Matchbox and the occasional Tomica/Tomy Pocket car collections of our own and we both had our own cities, drawn on various sheets of plywood with crayons, pens etc and there was one plywood city down at their beach cabin that his older brothers had done years before.

      One summer, we did some mods to it and one street got widened and the Safeway got chopped and it then became the Afeway so that’s what we referred to the Safeway for many years afterwards, LOL.

  • avatar
    mcarr

    My 2000 Malibu only scored 45. Need to add more duct tape.

  • avatar
    Botswana

    Good “points” all around.

    Most people who know anything about cars wouldn’t own a true beater because they’d quickly realize the maintenance money could be put towards either a monthly payment on a more reliable car or actual restoration.

    I’ve know my fair share of beater owners and it boggles my mind that they routinely spend as much in repairs as the car is probably worth.

    • 0 avatar
      elmwood

      Seen a lot around where I live, with hippies and Volvo 240s that have a “patina”. One argument I heard is that they’d rather spend a couple of thousand dollars a year to keep their old Bricks rolling rather than have Mother Earth deal with the environmental impact resulting from the car’s disposal, and the manufacture of the car that would replace it.

      TLDR: Beaters are greener.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      The issue with investing in a car is not worth. It’s replacement cost.

      If a vehicle requires immediate repairs that will cost more than buying that same car without those repair issues, then get rid of it.

      Or keep it? Some cars are simply worth keeping for the long haul.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      A true beater does not get money spent on it, it gets duct tape, bungie cords, wire hangers and free parts found on the internet.

  • avatar
    mitchw

    Mid 80’s Celebrity wagon with peeled paint on hood and roof, cargo area trashed by artist sister’s paint, shot muffler, used as limousine to deliver said sister to White House Correspondents’ dinner at DC Hilton. Approaching the entrance, my brother in law guns the engine, signaling to doormen that now was the time to break out in laughter.

  • avatar
    wstarvingteacher

    Was stationed in Guantanamo Base Cuba in 1977. Had you been there, and I doubt it changed, I think you might have to strengthen the requirements. Like, chain on hooks for drivers door. I believe that only a sailor or marine would have used some of them.

    I actually think I have run across some much newer nondescript cars that I might classify as beaters. Some of the mopar midget category. Some of the early japanese invasion like the 64 (I think) Corolla that my Nephew couldn’t keep running. Since they are so nondescript I can’t remember them well, I suppose you are right by default.

    Good job systematizing something I hadn’t even considered.

  • avatar
    John

    Four obviously different wheels/tires and all tires bald – 15 points
    Pickup with no bed – 10 points
    Yosemite Sam mudflaps – 5 points
    Trunk held closed with bungee – 5 points
    Roof removed with Sawzall to make a non-convertible – 20 points

  • avatar
    PaulVincent

    My last ’68 Caprice: neither heater nor air nor windows worked, so in warm weather I had to drive it with the front doors open. To do this I could hold the driver side door with my left hand, but I had to use a strap connected to the passenger door to keep it from swinging too far open.
    Other beater qualifiers: bad master cylinder, disc brakes with grooves cut into them from excessively worn out pads, power steering hose leak, fan belt squeaks, trunk has had lock removed (one way or the other) but not replaced, so it must secured with tape, wire, or cord, exhaust leaks into trunk and /or interior of car, engine had caught on fire at least once from backfire that spit fuel out the overturned air cleaner lid, bondo weight exceeds at least fifteen pounds, touch up paint from a Krylon spray can having been applied by an elementary school age child, urine soaked carpet or towels kept in back seat for pitbull’s bedding, tool kit and spare parts stored in trunk, either spare tire flat, missing, or jack parts not all there, at least several wheels missing a lug nut or two, lug studs sheer off while going sixty mph tossing wheel across traffic into forest preserve never to be seen again, hole in trunk large enough for twelve gauge Sears Ted Williams autoloader to fall through or be stolen by thief, not only are wheels not a matched set, they aren’t even all the same diameter, headliner sags despite use of pushpins, glue, or duct tape to keep it in place, a missing sun visor (torn off in a fit of rage), knobs for radio don’t work or are missing, vent fan motor works on one speed if any, glove box door won’t stay closed and rattled when it did, engine dies repeatedly upon cold start taking forever to back out of garage and driveway, must use charcoal burner electric heating element secured to bottom of oil pan to warm engine on freezing cold winter days, rebuilt master cylinder works so well that brake line blows out upon first attempted emergency stop, passenger’s front seat is soaked in urine by vandal, but until someone actually sits in it, driver doesn’t have a clue that prank even took place, after 190,000 miles, starter motor bolts break free dropping starter motor out of position, starter, water pump, and alternator have all been replaced so often that they can be replaced in the dark even in subzero weather, Sunoco 260 (or 280 if you could get it) destroyed exhaust systems in the double digits, floor pan rusted through on both driver and passenger sides, pitbull escapes car during night crawling through rusted floor hole, driver’s rusted floor pan hole repaired with appropriate sized cookie sheet.

    • 0 avatar
      GoesLikeStink

      You sir, live an interesting life

    • 0 avatar
      Dynasty

      This has to be one of the funniest things I’ve ever read.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      Is this car for sale? I’m interested…

    • 0 avatar
      claytori

      You had more than one of these?

      I was planning to describe my worst beater for this thread, but I doesn’t even to come close to yours. I did have to measure the steel I replaced in the floor in square feet (=6). Pop rivets at 3/4″ spacing and all coated in black roofing tar on the bottom.

      When electric windows quit on these things it is almost always either the switch or broken wires at the driver’s door hinge line.

      I do have fond memories of merging and changing lanes without bothering to look first. It was like Moses spreading the water.

      • 0 avatar
        PaulVincent

        Yes, over the years a lot more than one, but only three were actually named: A) Beater – a ’68 Caprice B) Son of Beater – a ’74 Caprice, and C) Grandson of Beater – a ’77 Caprice.

  • avatar
    John

    Paul- are you the Governor of West Virginia? Go Mountaineers!

  • avatar
    alan996

    Had a couple but the best was my wife’s. Early 1990’s. Paying off the last kid’s college costs. We both worked at jobs with changing shifts; days, nights, and midnights. We lived in Chicago. My wife wanted a beater so she did not have to worry about things like potholes, driving to work at 11:30 PM in the snow, parking lot damage etc. She is a small woman and wanted a large car.

    As a joke I picked up a running 1969 Pontiac Bonneville, Lima bean green with maps of the world in rust on the rear quarters. She loved it, everyone got out of her way when thy saw this beast coming and little old mamma sighting through the steering wheel. I kept it running for three years, used naval jelly and a close match house paint on the rust every spring. The transmission finally gave out in deep snow in the parking lot where she worked. I wish I had a photo of it.

    http://storm.oldcarmanualproject.com/pontiac/1969/P-69%2006&07-v.jpg

  • avatar

    If the beater ever sleeps in a garage it’s not a beater!

    Deduct 50 points.

  • avatar
    FuzzyPlushroom

    ’92 Volvo 745 Turbo. Doesn’t sound too bad at first, but…

    Embarrassment: Not for me, no.
    Daily: For just over a year, and as support for its replacement for the last few months of its life.
    Dents: It came to me with the front bumper askew. When I hit a pickup truck that turned in front of me, I fixed the hood when a three-pound hammer and replaced the hood/grille/trim five months later with a different year/colour.
    Orphan: It’s a Volvo, so… nearly.
    Age: Turned 20 last September. It actually drags down the average age of my fleet… barely.
    Suspension: Every bushing I’ve encountered has looked like one of those National Geographic photos of dried-up lakebeds, but the ride was okay (if a bit squeaky). One strut was on its way out toward the end. Can’t really take credit for it, though, as it still handled wonderfully.
    Primer: Well, the hood and front trim are maroon, the rest of the car is green, and the replacement hatch I never got to install (which isn’t so bend that it won’t latch!) has primer showing. There’s surface rust on every steel panel, too.
    Gearbox: Three-speed plus semi-functional overdrive. I’ll take one set of points. Either’s fine.
    Paint: Hood and trim are maroon, rest of the car is green, mostly the same shade of teal. Front bumper’s aluminium-painted aluminium with red handprints.
    Doors: Tailgate doesn’t stay closed after I backed into a tree; one rear door won’t always latch. Seven points?
    Windows: Fine, actually. Even the sunroof. My /other/ car has a tarp for a rear window.
    Old people: It has parts from my grandmother’s former car in it, but I never met the presumably-older folks who owned it once, so no points there.
    Truck: No holes, but several exhaust leaks and a horn that does what it wants. Five, I guess.
    Memories: Everyone comes up to my 244. Nobody has ever come up to the 745.
    Followed: Not five times, no. A few, though – it’s usually for the disco-show taillights.
    ‘What is That?’: Only once, from an older British gentlemen whose driveway I coasted into after snapping an alternator belt and not getting any warning lights.
    Scrap: I bought it, running and mostly complete, for $200. I’ll get $200 when it goes away in neither state.
    Duct tape: Gallon-jug turn signal lenses, rear side window weatherstripping, radar detector mount. No staples or thumbtacks.
    Wired muffler: Not anymore.
    Thirteens: Nope, fifteens up front and fourteens out back. Gotta clear the brakes.
    Bathroom fl… what?: Nope.
    Broken antenna: Rusty broken stump that someone also broke a coathanger off beside. I’ll take five for that.
    Features: Do I get anything for having the window, but no radio (originally) or air conditioning (ever)? I’ll say seven and a half, I guess.
    Ugliness: Yeah. People fear the handprints, I think.
    Mismatched: Rear wheels are from a 240… those are the only thing that comes to mind as being from another model but not an identical part.

    http://i.imgur.com/K8T8q.jpg

    All in… I’m claiming eighty-five points, which is also the last two digits of the year the model was introduced here. I’m actually going to miss this car, but a fist-sized hole in the block means it’s going away soon unless someone wants a LeMons car at just under scrap value and has a spare redblock in their garage.

  • avatar
    texan01

    Wow, my DD 95 Explorer scores 5 points, and my beater-esque 77 Chevelle scores a light 20 points.

    The Explorer still looks fairly new, and the Chevelle has some paint/primer issues and gets lots of people asking me what is it, and how so and so had one and had good memories.

  • avatar
    jtk

    My Buick only gets 10 points (“Big Old Detroit Iron”). Instead of being a beater, it’s just a P.O.S.

  • avatar
    CJinSD

    When did beater come to mean rolling junk? The first time I saw the term was in an article in Car and Driver at least a dozen years ago. At the time, the offered definition was basically a car that you no longer sweated the small stuff over. If you don’t bother fixing a visible scratch, it’s a beater. If you don’t bother to scrutinize potential street parking spots for hazards, you’re driving a beater. Beaters don’t stay in the garage because of some dirty snow. Beaters don’t have to be embarrassing and shouldn’t even be on your neighbors’ radar.

    • 0 avatar
      PaulVincent

      We were using the term, beater, forty years ago. And it meant what it sounds like, beater. As in beaten up. Beaten up car to be exact.

    • 0 avatar
      Dave W

      Growing up in the rust belt “beater” was practically a model name. Specifically winter beaters are cars so far gone you don’t care how slick or salty the roads are because, like a block of zinc on a steel hulled boat, it is a sacrificial object mostly driven to spare the “new” car.

  • avatar
    Scott_314

    Damn, my car that was featured on TTAC couldn’t quite make it at 42 generous points.

    https://www.thetruthaboutcars.com/2011/01/piston-slap-the-case-for-saving-a-4th-gen-jetta/

    But, a 1999 VW Jetta is probably the latest model that comes anywhere close!

  • avatar
    Dave W

    I guess my standards are skewed by my first car having been a Citroen only 3 years younger then me. My new (to me) work car scores a solid 20 points, and so pristine my wife even drives it all winter.

    How many points for driving it mostly because you would be afraid to sell it to anybody within a hundred miles because although you know it can make it no one else would dare try to return it over such a distance.

    Unfortunately for the beater aficionado here in VT the annual inspection will pull cars off the road before they reach beater status. Heck, I had to fix a rust hole in the trunk of my mr2. I wasn’t able to convince the state that exhaust gas that got in the trunk wasn’t going to make it to the passenger compartment through the engine bay. On the other hand they do count expanding foam and/or duct tape as permanent repair.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    We probably need a new term that’s one step above “beater”.

    I’ve had cars that have really high mileage cars that were nearly worthless that I just get into the mode of “drive into the ground”; but they didn’t look like Uncle Buck’s car.

    Beaters like the one pictured in the above article were what you drove in my era in the late 80’s and early 90’s if you couldn’t rub two nickels together, but they aren’t really economical to drive anymore because of the high price of gas. You’d spend far more in fuel than you would on a new car payment with those old beaters.

  • avatar
    Sinistermisterman

    50 points exactly for my old 1986 Ford Escort (UK). Rust all round, dents galore, mould sprouting from the back seat, very faded paint, a MANUAL choke, shocks which did absolutely nothing but clunk…
    I think you’ve missed a couple of things which are worthy of inclusion.
    Did you buy your tires from a junkyard? Are they all completely mismatched? Five points!
    Have you ever pillaged parts to keep your beater on the road from an abandoned car? Five points! An additional five points if the abandoned car was in better shape than your beater.

  • avatar
    RhinoceRoss

    45 points for my 93 Buick Roadmaster woody wagon. The bath mats as floor mats idea is so good (I usually drive barefoot) that I’m going out on my lunch break to get myself an even 50.

  • avatar
    espressoBMW

    Military families stationed in Naples, Italy, typically buy “beaters” to get them around during their tour because it will most definitely get bashed and burglarized. One of the few beaters I had was a Volvo 240 (probably mid-70’s vintage). A friend gave it to me for free but then I couldn’t even give it away to a stranger when my tour was up. It drove okay and even had working A/C but nobody wanted it. I had to take it to the scrap yard but I don’t think it would’ve scored even 50 pts here.

    • 0 avatar
      Zackman

      When I was on Okinawa in the early 70’s for a short time TDY – our outfit was based in California and we all rotated constantly – there were a few beaters that got passed around to the next guy who had $50 bucks and was willing to “nurture” it for three or four months until he rotated back stateside. Then it was someone else’s turn.

      I never had the money, as it was all tied up in buying stereo gear.

      Small Japanese rusted-out junkers, but curiously – they ran…and ran…and ran…

  • avatar
    harshciygar

    More posts like this please. I lol’d.

    My ’95 Wrangler was a beater-in-training. Hard to believe that car is old enough to drive itself.

    Best beater I’ve ever personally seen was a buddy’s old Tercel hatchback. He bought it for $20, put 18,000 miles on it without changing the oil, crashed it, raced it, ran from the cops on it.

    He eventually sold it for $50.

    • 0 avatar
      ithiel

      Nice! I had an ’83 tercel hatchback that I bought from an old lady for $300 in 2000. Four-speed manual with no passenger side mirror (didn’t come with one). The heater didn’t work, so on winter days I had to “Ace Ventura” it so I could see where I was going. The starter liked to die intermittently; rather than replace it (and because I was in high school) I would try and park on a hill and roll down to get her started. She served me well until the floor rusted out so badly that driving through any puddle would splash water up into my lap.

  • avatar
    talkstoanimals

    W/r/t the Ol’ Redneck Truck – an additional 5 points should be given if the bed is missing or has been replaced by a homemade wooden or sheet steel bed.

    W/r/t to all beaters:

    – The Sherwin-Williams: 3 points if any or all of the paint is house paint and/or was applied with a paint brush.

    – The Key Partier: 2 points if different keys operate the door locks and the ignition, and 3 additional points if the door locks are, in fact, padlocks.

    – Smells Like Teen Spirit: 2 points if the bouquet of tree air fresheners used to cover the interior stench can be smelled from outside the car with the windows rolled up.

    – The Hangman: 5 points if any mechanical part or body panel is held on by rope, a clothes hangar, or duct tape.

    – My Friend Sal: 5 points if the car can only “pass” a state safety inspection at a particular garage owned by a friend or coconspirator.

    – The Tax Man Doesn’t Cometh: 5 points if the goverment deems the car is worth too little to qualify for a state use/personal property tax levy.

    • 0 avatar
      RedStapler

      I’ll add a few to the list:

      -The Adam Sandler: Too Wide for the Drive Thru and it smells like a shoe, with a spring that pokes you in the balls with only an 8-track

      -The Johnny Cash: Cobbling together different eras body style of the same model car. Extra credit having tow headlights on the left and one on the right.

  • avatar
    Nick

    Just wondering…not many years back a friend purchased a totally rabid 1970 Galaxie in black. It had numerous shortcomings, but what sold him on the car was that the engine had been rebuilt…competently I might add. Tt had a rather miraculous number of tears in the vinyl, and after driving the car for some time, it became apparent that there were a lump in the intact vinyl in the middle of the bench seat about 4 inches from the nearest tear. A little bit of fishing around, and the lump was determined to be a small vial of either crack or crystal meth (which was thrown out, FYI). Are there extra points for that? Or only if you get arrested for it?

  • avatar
    chris8017

    I’ve got a ’99 Jetta 2.0L that is just beginning to stretch it’s legs in the beater-in-training arena.

  • avatar
    JMII

    Other possible points scoring “features” on beaters I’ve seen:
    – Missing or shattered side or rear view mirrors
    – Cracked windshield
    – Trunk and/or door locks removed due to lack of keys or broken locks. Bonus points if key is actually a screwdriver, or vehicle requires no key to open/start!
    – bubbled window tint
    – mismatched hub caps/wheel covers
    – white wall tires. Bonus points for white walls mounted “outside in” in an effort to hide the fact that you have white walls.
    – license plate in rear window because factory mounting location too damaged (common on pickups were the rear bumper is gone)
    – trailer wiring harness coming out of trunk
    – red tape over broken tail lights
    – ’80s stick-on/thru-glass “car phone” antenna
    – bumper stickers that reference 9/11 or political candidates that never got elected. Bonus points for bumper sticker about sports teams that have moved IE: LA Rams.
    – randomly placed and severely outdated inspection / registration stickers. Bonus points if said stickers are from multiple states

  • avatar
    Zackman

    My first car in 1968 would qualify for a beater, but as I only drove it and owned it for three months, I don’t know.

    1952 Chevy DeLuxe 2 door coupe. Awful light green, what was left of it.

    Babbitt-beater 216 6 cyl. It ran superb!

    Three-on-the-tree, pops out of third gear when on the highway.

    Front bench seat with a hole that too closely resembled a toilet seat.

    No radio – I jury-rigged my 6 volt (4 C cells) AM/FM carry-along radio to fit in the glove box, attached to some hot wire I found, mounted an antenna I bought from Radio Shack, mounted a 6 x 9 speaker in the dash grille. I did all this to listen to the new FM “underground” station in St. Louis, KSHE-95. It worked, kind of…

    The body? Rusted like the dickens! Holes in floor, under side trim, bottom of doors gone.

    Windows all worked.

    It was fun while I drove it. Sold it to a friend who actually drove it over a 10′ cliff just to see what it was like – no joke – I pushed him! We had a good laugh. It’s still in the hole with the other 4 cars he pushed in there, most likely.

  • avatar
    Trend-Shifter

    I had a 79 Mercury Cougar like in the picture.
    It was a GREAT car! So no wonder why the junker in the picture is still running.

    Here is a picture of it when I sold it at 160,000 miles:
    Copy and paste: http://www.flickr.com/photos/[email protected]/5193690019/in/photostream

    My definition of a beater is when you no longer invest in non-critical items to keep the car running but it still looks good at 50 feet away.
    The seat is worn, the dash is cracked, has some rust, the winshield has a crack… you get the idea.

    When the 50 foot rule is violated it’s a junker.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    The vehicle in the photo looks in worse shape than the Honda junkyard find in the article just above it

  • avatar
    Hobie-wan

    I’ve never owned a beater myself, but I wonder how “The Tempo of Doom” and “Puff the Tragic Wagon” would score if I could remember enough about them. They were owned by a college friend and someone I knew in high school respectively.

  • avatar
    thirty-three

    My 93 Civic got 35 points, which is about right. 15 were for the lack of a stereo from the factory. It also doesn’t have AC but I don’t think I can take the 15 points twice. I also collected 5 points for the 13″ wheels. This August my Civic will be old enough to drink (19 in Canada).

    Do I get any points for having wheels from another car (Mazda)?

  • avatar
    GoesLikeStink

    Did not do the math but my recently sold Dart wagon hit almost all criteria (no bathmats) How about home carpeting though?

  • avatar
    Darkhorse

    I’ve owned several beaters. The worst (or best?) was a 1965 Plymouth Fury 1 I bought for $100 from the State of Ohio where it had done duty in the car pool. It was as bare bones as you could get. 225 slant six, 3 on the tree and no AC or power steering. It was thoroughly trashed with faded black paint, no hubcaps, rusted mufler and the lower third of the body looked like the pictures of the Titanic with all of its rustsicles. The chrome strips around the stacked headlights were gone so the headlights looked like bugs eyes. It was my DD for two years until it needed so many repairs I abandoned it on I70.

  • avatar
    schmitt trigger

    Cat had found nice warm spot to sleep on a very cold night.
    Dad -unknowingly- cranks vehicle in the morning.
    Cat thoroughly diced and minced by belts and fan.
    Even a couple of years later, one could would still find cat’s hair lodged in obscure corners.

    This in a 1969 Rambler wagon.

  • avatar
    kilgoretrout

    60 points for the ’74 Super Beetle I had in Missoula in the early ’90’s. $100 from a friend. If I went out of town I always took only a rucksack in case I had to abandon it and hitchhike away. If I went more than 50 mph on I-90 the engine would throw oil out of many seals. It crossed the continental divide many many times and even went over Going-to-the-Sun road in Glacier National Park. Gave it away when I found a ’66 Beetle for $350.

  • avatar
    spatula6554

    1997 Chevrolet Monte Carlo
    Daily Driver = 10
    Dents Don’t Matter = 5
    Old Enough to Drive Itself = 5
    Beer Bellies & Soggy Bottoms = 10
    The Followed Car = 5
    The Scrapper Saver = 10
    Duct Tape, Thumbtacked, Staple Gunned = 10
    55 points!

    Used to drive a 1988 Buick Park Avenue purchase from the original owner that had to at least be 80 points with this scale.

  • avatar

    Body rot, bullet holes, turn upholstery, and a torn dashboard, and sagging headliner should all be eligible for beater points.

    My old ’77 Corolla, which I owned from ’85-93, and which was owned by one of the (then future) Iraq weapons inspectors before me, had an adjusted 90 points.

    1. (adjusted points: I’m giving it 10 points for torn upholstery and and additional 10 points for foam separation on the dashboard. all present when I bought the car for $800 (inflation adjusted). total: 20

    2. adjusted points: 10 points for a bullet hole, whcih the car acquired while I owned it

    (everything below here are Steve Lang sanctioned points)

    3. Embarrassment: 10 points. (I wasn’t embarrassed at the time, though, but I sure would be now)

    4. Primer. The paint wasn’t down to the primer: the previous owner had never bothered to put new paint over the primer after dents had been fixed. 5 points

    5. 13 inch wheels: 5 points

    6. broken antenna 5
    7. no AC , no radio (15 each, for 30 points).
    8. mismatch: distributor from ’71 Corolla. 5 pts

    Total: 90 points

    Total when I bought the car when it was 8 years old: 70 points

  • avatar

    Oh, and extra points for a manual choke. That should bring my toyota up to 100 points

  • avatar
    Illan

    1996 chevy cavalier

    Daily Driver = 10
    Dents Don’t Matter = 5
    Old Enough to Drive Itself = 5
    Beer Bellies & Soggy Bottoms = 10
    The Followed Car = 5
    Duct Tape, Thumbtacked, Staple Gunned = 10
    3 Speed Auto= 5
    Primer=5

    50 Points for my cavalier.

    its a beater, but a loyal reliable one!
    55 points!

  • avatar
    tbhride

    45 points for the 93 Tempo that I used to have. So close!

    • 0 avatar
      tbhride

      Daily Driver – 5
      Dents Don’t Matter – 5
      Old Enough To Drive Itself – 5
      3 Speed Auto – 5
      Windows that won’t open – 5
      Last car my grandmother drove – 5
      Duct Taped Headlight – 5
      broken antenna – 5
      old school features: power seat belts – 5

  • avatar
    Volt 230

    My 98 corolla with its 335k miles has an interior with some issues, a damaged rear left quarter panel and worn out trunk lid paint due to a bad repair paint job, otherwise I don’t consider it a beater, mechanically it is sound and I keep it running pretty well w/o throwing lot of money into it.

  • avatar
    crm114

    I was really worried that my 20 year old Ford half-ton would have to settle for beater-in-training, but the 10 points given for holes in the bed pushed her up to an even 50.

    As my beat-up pizza delivery Accord couldn’t even manage to get a beater-in-training award, I propose that vehicles with over 200,000 on the odo should get some points too. Maybe 5 points for being over 200k and an extra 5 for every 50k past that.

  • avatar
    George B

    My dad has an entire fleet of beaters. He once found a warning ticket against abandoning vehicles left on the windshield of a rusty Chevelle when he came back from lunch. A ticket warning it will cost money if you leave your ugly car in their town has to be some kind of beater official certification. One day my dad’s brown bag lunch fell through a hole in the floor boards of a rusted out Ford station wagon and landed on the street. He stopped small town traffic to retrieve his sandwiches. He lost a beater Impala that had been parked for years at a transmission shop. City made the shop clean up the lot and the Impala got sent to the salvage yard by mistake.

  • avatar
    chicagoland

    30-40 years ago, a ‘beater’ was any car a HS/College age kid could afford, for $1000 or less. Usually 8+ years old with over 80K miles, since back then, over 100K mi or 10 years meant ‘junk’.

    Anyway, agree with most of “Hammer Time’s” definitions. But a good characteristic is “it runs and runs”. A car that runs, but no worries if it gets dented, dirty, or hailed on. And well over 10 years old, more like 15+ with over 150K miles, and still worth $2500!

  • avatar
    daveainchina

    I had one that was a 75 point qualifier. Not too bad on the beater list.

    My criteria for a beater is this.

    Can you hit it with a sledgehammer put a big ol’ dent in it and just not give a [email protected] and still drive it.

    If yes? Then it’s a beater to you.

    My other crtieria is can you hit a telephone pole with it, total the car and just not care because the scrap value is higher than the value of the car as a car. Then it qualifies as a beater.

  • avatar
    ciddyguy

    Here are two former cars I had.

    1988 Honda Accord LX-I sedan: 24 points total, 2 cars back from my current ride, which is no where near beater status at 9 years old.

    E class, 0 for it while it did accumulate some dents and was rear ended, I was not quote to the point of embarrasment because by that point, it was over 15 years old. 0 points

    Daily Driver, was very much so, so 5 points there

    Dents, they DID matter as I’d have preferred they hadn’t happened in the first place despite the cars age. 0 points

    Orphan brand? Honda? Nope, 0 points

    Old enough to drive itself, I’d say so by the year 2003 onwards. 5 points

    Beer bellies and soggy bottom boys, nope, the struts were still holding up and no sagging that I could detect. 0 points

    Primer: 0 points (no rust as I live where it really doesn’t exist, other than from the top down if the paint has weathered away to nothing)

    four speed stick/3spd auto? Neither, it had a 5spd manual 0 points. Yes, all 5 gears DID work, though I had a friend who briefly had an ’80 Civic who lost both 4th and 5th gears after a failed attempt to replace the clutch (bolts were too rusty, the car WAS rusty) as he drove it home on the freeway with me following him in my ’83 Civic. He had to then finish getting home via the surface streets, he junked it soon after that.

    Technical dream color paint job, nope, other than the driver’s door handle, which I’ll explain further down, it was all the same factory Seattle Silver color it came with, though it HAD faded so the top of the car was at least 2 shade lighter than the sides, but the clear coat remained intact though. 3 points

    Doors 0 as all worked just fine

    Windows, ditto there as they all worked (electric), though the sunroof at the end, opened one warm day in January, but would not close so I had to manually crank it close with the included crank (electrical issues due to water leakage inside, also affected the power door locks too, but not the windows though)

    Big Old Detroit Iron, nope, it’s Japanese all the way, though made stateside I think.

    Ol’ redneck truck, other than the muffler being very holy but still handing normally until the car got rear ended, 0 points.

    the memories car: No one approached me about it, ever in that regard, it was just another Japanese brand upon the landscape. 0 points

    the followed car: no one did that either, so 0 points

    the what is that?: not bad enough for people to not recognize what it was. 0

    Never close enough for scrappage as it ran fine, even though the body had seen better days. 0

    Duct tape,thumbtacks etc, only bailing wire to hold up the muffler after I got rear ended and the exhaust pipe got kinked badly. I would later knock it loose one morning when I bumped into a very low concrete curb, muffler fell down in a rush to get to work as I was running late, it dragged upon the ground and fell off on the way. I give myself 5 points for the bailing wire.

    thirteen inch wheels, nope, that car had 14’s, I think, they may have been 15’s since it had alloys but they were all intact and accounted for, just the tires all needed to be replaced at the end. 0 points

    Bathroom floor mats? Nope 0 points.

    Broken antenna: I gave myself 5 points as it was not totally broken. Since it was mounted to the driver’s A pillar, it got caught in a low branch of a tree at Mom’s place and I had nearly broken it in half, so I lowered it enough so the partially severed unit was inside to keep it intact. Still worked fine though.

    Old School features, pop up headlights, so 5 points there.

    Steenkin Lincoln factor: 0 points

    Mismatched syndrome, the only thing that didn’t match was the driver’s door handle, it was red as the original one broke and I found the red one from a junked red Acura Integra (also an ’88). The irony there was the passenger door’s handle had been replaced as it was blue. :-)

    My 92 Ford Ranger only scored 20 points.

    Big differences were it’s outmoded feature was the the manual was billed as a 4spd with overdrive (5th) and it had 2 wheel ABS brakes in the rear. the body dents were all just minor indents and not terribly noticeable so I was OK by it, paint was still in great shape and no visible fading either that I could discern and it’s now 20 years old, though it began to fall apart this past year with 2 Qts required every 2 weeks, leaking cooling system, a loose wheel bearing, a loose U-Joint, an Idle Air Controller valve going out so it got traded in for a 2003 Mazda Protege5 that I drive now.

    So while the Honda got to the early stages of Hooptieville, the truck was just showing the general scars of being an elderly daily driver but looked fine otherwise, actually very good with the paint in good shape, no peeling clearcoat or anything major like that.

    The Honda suffered more as I fell on hard time so maintenance etc went lacking from 2002-2006 and I’d had it 8 years total, selling it on Craig’s List for $900 to a guy who had an identical car, same color even with a blown motor in less than 24 Hrs, so not bad.

    I got a grand for the truck in trade in late January can’t complain about that, and that’s with the shifter bushings having just gone out – again after 3 years since I replaced them the first time.

  • avatar
    smallenginesmakemesad

    70 points for me. I had a 1982 Ford Falcon (Australian) in the mid 90’s. I was working in a wrecking yard and the car had been sold to us for scrap. A few hundred bucks and a day to replace the busted 4 speed with a second hand 5 speed transmission and I had a daily driver for the next 2 years.
    Some of it’s special features were:
    Rust eating through the roof over the front seat. I used to say it was trying to grow a sunroof.
    Once I was rear ended. The guy gave me $400 cash – so now my car was effectively free! It only bent my towbar.
    I could never get it to idle right. You had to rev it at the lights or it would stall.
    My dog chewed through both the back seatbelts and took a bite out of the dashboard.
    I used to carry a 14mm spanner and a phillips head screwdriver so if it stopped I could take the radio out and leave the rest where it died.
    It had 330,000km on it when I got it and about 348,000 when I returned it to the scrapyard where I got it.
    I still have fond memories of that car. I even had it valet parked at my sister’s wedding reception.

  • avatar
    korvetkeith

    The old aurora came in at 56 points. It’s got huge dents, peeling paint, broken antenna, weird suspension noises, an embarrassing catalytic converter that sounds like it had marbles in it and rolls on cadillac wheels.

  • avatar
    87CE 95PV Type Я

    My 1995 Voyager hit 71 on the official Beater Meter, but I had to take some liberties with the scoring since there are a few borderline areas. Most vehicles rust to death and/or break down withe 10-15 years here in New York so my vehicle gets rougher and sticks out sooner.

    I say a minivan with 1 sliding door is an extra 5 points.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    My ’63 Newport is over 100 points, but I need a clarification on the “memories” category. Both guys who brought up owning one “back in the day” mentioned hitting something because the brakes were so bad. One claimed he had a dent in the front bumper too, from knocking over a hydrant, but it wasn’t as big or deep as the dent in mine. He asked if I’d hit a freight train. Does that count?

  • avatar
    Brunsworks

    Addendum 2: (sorry; as I looked over my last addendum, I realized I hadn’t made my point clearly) Every Hummer, AMGeneral or General Motors, is a potential beater, because they all could be daily drivers, but all models do require more maintenance than other vehicles in their segment, as evidenced by their cellar-level JD Power survey scores, particularly in reliability. My point is that if you’re going to call a Hummer a potential beater, it would definitely include the 1992-95 AMGeneral model as well as the GMT platform, since factoring in age, the relative conditions of each example year by year should be proportional. For one thing, all the H1s, including those built for GM, were built by AMGeneral anyway, and while “civilianized,” lack the fit and finish of other vehicles intended for civilian use. The H2 and H3 were cheesy, yes, because they were cynical cash-ins built off the Tahoe/Yukon and Colorado/Canyon platforms. If anything, they should have scored better with consumers because GM is far more experienced with the consumer market than AMGeneral, which typically builds service vehicles and assemblages, but since GM is also far more experienced with cost-cutting, they didn’t.

    To (finally) conclude: I disagree with your contention after the fact that the 1992-1995 Hummers should be removed from consideration as beaters just because they were not built by GM. It’s fair to remove individual examples from consideration because of maintenance and refurbishment performed by and on behalf of their customers.

    For what it’s worth, I was no fan of Hummer.

    Also, I drove a 1976 Toyota Celica GT Liftback that definitely qualified as a beater:

    The ‘E’ Factor: Nobody wanted to be seen near this thing, much less in it. 10 points. (“Embarrassment” is spelled with two “Rs” or one car with no remaining interior carpet.)

    Daily Driver: I drove this car through most of 1990 until went into the Navy and sold it. 5 points.

    Beer Bellies And Soggy Bottom Boys: When it hit anything larger than a pebble, my Celica GT bounced like five people were trying to conceive a baby on a deadline inside. 10 points. I’m also taking an extra 5 because it had a vibration somewhere in the drivetrain that started the whole vibrating at roughly 42.5 mph, and got truly unbearable by the 80 mph I’ll admit to having driven it.

    Primer: 5 points.

    3 Speed Auto: 5 points.

    Doors: while the standard criterion here is for each door that doesn’t open, neither of the locks worked, necessitating entry through the tailgate if I managed to forget that, so I’m taking 5 points regardless.

    Windows: 10 points, since neither door window would crank up without opening the inner panel if someone opened one.

    The Followed Car: 5 points.

    Duct tape and staple gun staples: Used to hold together the cracked remains of the upholstery and part of the dash. 10 points.

    Thirteen Inch Wheels: 5 points; this car had the stock 4-spoke variety.

    Bathroom Floormats: one large bath mat decorated the trunk over the custom-cut piece of raw lumber replacing the original particleboard spare tire/wheel cover. 15 points.

    Broken Antenna: 5 points. As you say, no more, no less.

    Old School Features: No air conditioning, so 15 more points here.

    Total (as of September 24, 1990): 105 points.

    • 0 avatar
      Steven Lang

      “To (finally) conclude: I disagree with your contention after the fact that the 1992-1995 Hummers should be removed from consideration as beaters just because they were not built by GM.”

      I never said this.

      Hummers are not beaters because the older ones made by AM General cost too much money to own and maintain as daily drivers.

      The younger models made by GM are too new to qualify for the honor.

      I am sure you may find a few dodo birds in the 100+ million vehicle jungle that is North America. But… no. An old Hummer that looks like crap and has tons of miles is not a common sight anywhere on our roads.

      Congrats on the Celica though. The 1st gen models usually age well in places where rust is not an issue.

      • 0 avatar
        Brunsworks

        I must respectfully disagree with you on the basis of fact: people down here in Florida do maintain AM General Hummers (as in H1 Hummers with the AM General nameplate, albeit in custom colors) as daily drivers. There is one individual in particular that runs around the University of South Florida area with a vinyl applique with the “Stay Back 200 Feet Or You Will Be Shot” tagline in English and Arabic, and a bunch of pro-military stickers. (It’s gloss brown/bronze metallic, so definitely a civilian color, if not one from the AM General catalog.) Do people make a habit of this sort of thing? Thankfully, no: most H1s down here that still run are either kitted out to look like their HMMWV counterparts and exhibited at car shows, or kitted out with massive vinyl wraps to sell real estate or air conditioning. Should people use any kind of H1 as a daily driver? Not without owning a lot of fuel company stock, consulting a chiropractor, and keeping a mechanic on retainer.

        And yes, I realize that it would be hard to come by a Hummer that qualifies for beater status (as I mentioned) because most people that actually feel the need to drive one also feel the need to maintain, or have it maintained. But you originally disqualified it out of hand, and with that I disagree. Does daily driver status automatically make a car a beater? Of course not! I definitely think we agree on that. But a Hummer can (if ill-advisedly) be a daily driver, which is the first step on a log and pothole-filled road.

        Frankly, given the fact that OBDII has been out since 1996, I disagree with your assertion that OBDII automatically knocks a vehicle out of contention. I’ve seen 2001-2002 VW New Beetles that are already looking to start racking up beater points on this very scale. I also had a 2003 VUE AWD for the longest year of my life last year that could at least have qualified as a beater-in-training. But I’m not calling you out; I’m merely stating my own criteria as requested.

        As for the Celica: Thanks. If I had been smarter and marshaled my resources, I could have sent money home to have it fixed and had it waiting for me when I got home from Diego Garcia. Then, ironically, I would have had to leave it behind going to Japan; at the time, importing a personally owned vehicle came with some sort of ridiculous tariff (different article). Plus, it had the steering wheel on the left, which would have made it a real pain to drive there.

  • avatar
    Steven Lang

    I think I better understand where you’re going with this…

    What you call a beater, I would call a classic. When your ride is exceptionally and can last through the ages, it’s not a beater.

    A beater has exterior neglect… and often times mechanical neglect as well.

    Nice story about the issues with bringing vehicles into this country. Sajeev lived through that quite recently. All the best!

    • 0 avatar
      Brunsworks

      Well, no, I obviously didn’t explain myself. I do think that a car has to be in bad shape inside and out to be a beater; I just don’t think that OBDII is a disqualifier.

      Also, the tariff (as of 1990, at least) was charged for bringing a vehicle into Japan. There was also one for bringing a car from the lower 48 into Hawaii, as I recall, but I didn’t look into that too closely, since I had sold the Celica at the time.

      All the best to you too!

  • avatar
    Pleiades

    1977 GMC Jimmy 4×4

    E factor – 15
    Daily Driver – 5
    Dents don’t matter – 5 (shifted the whole front clip of an 80’s Volvo with my back bumper when the Volvo driver tried to sneak by me as I was backing out of a parking space…not even a scratch on my bumper)
    Old Enough to Drive – 5
    Primer – 5 (even my primer was fading…solution?-> don’t wash it as much)
    3spd Auto – 5
    Technicolor – 5 (rear gate was yellow and said Chevrolet, parts of the engine compartment were green)
    1 door not functional – 5 (held shut with a rubber ‘bungee’ cord meticulously wrapped so that it stays shut…all passengers come in through the driver’s side)
    Steenkin’ Lincoln – 10 (I could barrel down the freeway at 75-80mph in the fast lane and people would move to the right every time.)

    60 points

    Note: The Jimmy had a beater body, but everything behind the flywheel was rebuilt and upgraded. I loved my “sleeper beater”.

    Additions to the criteria: Vise grips, 5 points for interior handles that require vise grips to function.

  • avatar
    Slow_Joe_Crow

    Re: bathroom floor mats, do you get points for creative fixes of existing floor mats? My Saturn was driving around with a piece of plastic bicycle tire packaging taped over the hole in the driver’s floor mat for a while (the rest of that tire package was made into a mudflap for my wife’s bike).
    Currently I am using a floor mat from our recently scrapped Ford Escort.

  • avatar
    DisTurbo

    What? Only 55 points for my 1978 Corolla? It was SO MUCH worse than this index allows for. The engine had so much ring bypass, that the pressure in the crankcase caused oil to spray out via any means it could find, including the sender switch.
    The rust grew almost quickly enough to be captured by time lapse video.
    The exhaust flange was loose at the manifold and the car backfired constantly, making people think there was a drive-by shooting going on wherever I went.
    The creaking, groaning and banging was so constant, I forgot it was there.
    That was really an absolutely horrible beater and I did 90km a day in it, averaging 100km/h for a year.

  • avatar
    DisTurbo

    On a side note, did you Americans ever get the 1978 Mazda 929L? Every single one of those that is still on Australian roads, is a true beater in all the ways you describe.

  • avatar
    NewsLynne

    63 for my ’95 Buick Regal with 177,000 miles on it. I’m headed out today to tear out the double sided tape that was holding up the back of the headliner.

    It seeps oil and throws itself out of overdrive and makes a “bonk” noise when you turn the wheel a certain way but it passed inspection with just a set of brake pads.

    I have enough saved to buy a new (to me) car but the old Regal’s fine for trips around town and an occasional interstate run.

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