By on April 29, 2013

Last week there was a 2003 Toyota Tacoma with 430,000 miles on it.

I thought to myself, “Well this isn’t news. The quartet of GM/Ford trucks, Honda Cars, and Toyota everything is still cleaning up the charts. I won’t write about it this time”. So I waited…

This week the mileage champion out of 6,945 vehicles was a 1999 Toyota 4Runner with 344,400 miles. The enthusiasts among us are probably a bit Toyonda Chevorded out at this point. So this time, let’s focus on longevity.

This 1975 Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham was once owned by Kermit the Frog. It was later purchased by the guy who invented Nickelodeon’s world famous slime and has most recently been on the set of the Incredible Hulk movie. Sad to say, the scene where it was scheduled to be destroyed was cut due to a protest engineered by our own TTAC alum Paul Niedermeyer.

So now it sits with 32,973 miles.

Old Caddies are rarely a surprise at the auctions. What did surprise me this time?

Try two 1977 MGB Roadsters available at the same auction. The miles are 47,959 and 49,048 respectively. Two more garage queens. These happened to reside in Nashville, Tennessee, Elvis country, where the rust is minimal, and the classiness of car decor is often somewhere between decals that portray the act of urinating and world famous truck testicles.

These sheepskin covers aren’t so bad. In fact, I think they would be the perfect fit for the marque that finished fourth and fifth on the longevity list.


These were followed by two Mercedes diesels. The second of which was a daily driver that displayed an impressive 308,052 miles. This is doubly impressive since old Mercedes odometer clusters have a tendency to give out at a certain point. I wouldn’t be surprised if this daily driver had more mileage than the Toyota 4Runner.

Finally, we have another surprise. A 1982 Fiat spider. Just showing the picture of this model with 137,939 miles would not do it justice. So I have arranged for a Youtube video to accompany your Monday morning.

The seats for this model were protected in a more conventional way than the MG twins.

There you have it. The six elder statesmen out of 6,985 vehicles. All of them still run… or at least limp along the road with loose bladders.



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33 Comments on “Monday Longevity Champion: Long Live The Leylands!...”

  • avatar

    Fairly sure the MGBs in 77 only had 5 digit odometers so who knows?

  • avatar

    Oh I recognize the sounds of that engine!

    BTW, what’s the squeaking noise? Sounds irritating.

    • 0 avatar
      Athos Nobile

      Must be a 1.8 or 2.0 TwinCam. Tough as nails engines.

      You never forget the sound of those.

      The 500 Abarth has a very similar soundtrack. I heard one in the street and instantly knew it was a Fiat.

  • avatar

    I have a Triumph Spitfire with 97K on the odometer. Of course, who knows if the odometer is original to the car! Not much else is. ’74 interior and trim, ’77 tub and chassis, ’77 O/D transmission, ’69 dual carb engine, ’80 cooling system. It’s a little bit Frankenstein, but it all works great. Previous owner built it of the best vintage Spitfire bits to autocross. Pretty too, red on black, alloy Faux Minilites.

    Now is a great time to buy a Little British Car. Most have been restored once, which means they are FAR better put together than the were at the strife and strike torn factories in the ’70s. The Internet makes finding the solutions to the various issues utterly painless, along with getting parts. The same applies to Mercedes of course, but they have a LOT more parts, and those parts are a LOT more expensive.

    • 0 avatar

      I had a 1975 Midget bought from a co-worker that always drove “interesting” cars. $800 and he was nice enough to have it smogged for me! Fun little car. All the electronics worked. Only “issue” was that the starter solenoid gear would randomly jam on the flywheel, requiring the car to be rocked in gear to release it. Then it would usually start OK.

      I knew it was missing the smog pump, and decided i wanted to make the car “legal”. Also turns out the catalyst was gutted and the EGR valve had a ripped diaphragm.

      Moss motors wasnt much of a help. All the stuff i needed was either super expensive, or “no longer available”

      EGR was sourced locally from a rebuilder in Southgate for $45. Welded on a small cheap cat from Autozone. Asked for the smallest cheapest one, I think I ended up with a Geo Metro 3 cyl for like $60. Lucked out on the smog pump, bracket, and tubing from Ecology for $50 or so.

      It actually ran smoother with all the stuff on it, and passed smog with numbers the tech couldnt believe. So then I sold it to an enthusiast for $1200 because I was paranoid something expensive and hard to find was eventually going to break.

      It was neat being able to open the door and touch the ground, though!

  • avatar

    The MGBs to have are 1967 and earlier with wire wheels and overdrive. After that, they were ruined by emission and “safety” regulations.

  • avatar


    How do Toyota Avalons do versus the Ford Five Hundred/Taurus/Montego/Sable generation? I like both cars, large roomy sedans. I know the Avalon will last longer, but will the Ford/Mercury hold up?

    BTW, I love these articles, I hang on my cars for a long time, mostly to see how long they last.

    • 0 avatar

      I used to be with IT but then they changed what IT was. Now what I’m with isn’t IT, and what’s IT seems scary and weird. It’ll happen to YOU! – Grandpa Simpson (Had to get a quote to go with that avatar.)

      • 0 avatar
        Steven Lang

        Avalons are exceptional when it comes to longevity.

        The Ford offspring are more dependent on the transmission choice. I would stay away from the CVT if you plan on keeping it past 200k.

    • 0 avatar

      Proud owner of a 1998 Avalon with 170k miles. Still runs new! starts every morning, the thing keeps running and running. Will be able to sell it for more than what I paid for it, there’s always a market for a good old cheap Toyota!

  • avatar

    I’ve always wanted to see one of those rubber-bumper-era MGBs with the bumpers painted over. I bet it’d really help the look.

  • avatar

    “Old Caddies are rarely a surprise at the auctions.”

    You’re not joking. The local BMW dealer is selling a 75…..darker shade of green, I’m guessing that green was popular in the 70s. The car looks new, obviously been garaged for years. I already know the story. Grandma kicked the bucket, the kids/grand kids got their paws on the inheritance, and immediately hit the BMW dealer for the most blinged out Bimmer their share of the inheritance could swing. Caddy ended up at the BMW dealer because they were too lazy to dump it on Craig’s list.

    • 0 avatar

      An old lady on the next street up died recently, and her kids swooped in quite quickly to deal with the estate (never saw them before that!). Hidden in her garage was a W114 Mercedes I had never seen before, and these stupid kids got it towed to a junk yard, instead of selling it. Considering the condition, even if it hadn’t run in years, someone would have bought it for much more than scrap. I would have bought it myself, but the tow truck had already started rolling away as I drove past it.

    • 0 avatar

      People who think in such a vein need to meet my fists. Its one thing to say “woohoo Mom kicked now its time to trade the mint Deville for $750 credit toward the faggy car du jour” and another “well couldn’t find a serious buyer on CL or Ebay, what should we do with it?”

      • 0 avatar

        @28-Cars-Later, yup. How many Cadillac Fleetwoods await that fate? Town Car Cartiers? Even the odd RWD M-body Fifth Avenue? Sitting here in my office now, I swear I hear taps being played very quietly…

        • 0 avatar

          Just down the street I saw what could pass as a brand new 1989 K car put up for sale. On the front seat was the paperwork, brochures, etc. The plate read K KAR MA. Mileage was about 30K and the car was factory correct right down to the marginal fit of the bodywork. I was going to buy it for posterity since I owned a quarter million mile example. He wanted $5,000 for it…too pricy for posterity. He actually got it!! Too bad I can’t post a photo here.

    • 0 avatar

      My mistake, the car is not at the BMW dealer it’s next door at the Lotus Dealer……60K miles, asking price is $10K

      • 0 avatar

        My neighbor had a black 1976 Sedan De Ville with the 500 ci engine. I know that aficionados of the brand had been complaining about reduced interior quality for years at that point, but it seemed like a formidable automobile to me. He had it in the mid-80s, and it was a much more convincing luxury car than anything Cadillac was making then. Too bad the one for sale is green.

        That dealer has a number of low mileage malaise mobiles. Maybe he shops for them, or maybe the scenario you described is incredibly common there.

        • 0 avatar

          Lots of elderly people with money around these parts. My neighbor is 85 years old and did occupation duty in Japan. He’s got a picture of himself standing in the middle of Nagasaki in 1946. The old boy is loaded. As these people buy the farm, the kids/grand kids almost never take an interest in their worldly possessions, they only want the money ASAP. They hire estate liquidators to empty the house, the car/s go up on CL, the For Sale sign goes up in front of the house. When they get the hands on the cash it’s almost always the same thing. First stop is the BMW/Mercedes/Lexus dealer. Next they book a cruise to Aruba, after that it’s a new house or condo, lots of other toys. It’s so predictable you can set your watch to it.

          • 0 avatar

            People don’t respect their elders it seems, or the lives they lead or how they worked and sacrificed for the things they leave behind when they pass. I know my grandparents were some of the finest people I ever knew and I cherished all their life lessons-and I miss them terribly every single day.

            The scenario you’ve described is soooo true. I remember in the spring of 2004, hanging out in a coin shop owned by a friend of mine, and a guy coming in to sell silver that had been hoarded by his dad, who had just died. This guy was in his late 40’s, plasticky fake-titted blond about 10 years younger on his arm. Arrived in a V10 Dodge pickup with a lift kit. Must had had 4000 to 5000 ounces of silver, mostly in 10 ounce bars. Silver had just poked it’s head above $7 for the first time in years and he wanted cash. I remember thinking that his dad had worked for that pile, and saved it up for a reason, and probably tried to instill that into his son…who just wanted cash. You could see it in both their eyes as my friend started tallying it all up. I chuckle sometimes thinking how they probably blew through that wad in a couple of months, and also missed the huge run up that was to come.

          • 0 avatar

            Good estate planning can help with that. But what is so sad is the kids/grandkids that don’t pay any attention to the parents/grandparents until they are dead and licking their chops at what their take will be. Or the grandkids who feel they are entitled to a cut all their own…

          • 0 avatar

            That seems a bit of a stretch, SaulTigh. For all we know, his dad was a nutjob silver bug, and the son didn’t believe in it and thought it was a fool’s errand. For all you know, the dad bought it at the top of the market in the early 80s or that spike in 1987, and had locked in a huge loss.

            Every kid probably has a few things that they think their parents are stupid for doing. I don’t think that’s a big moral failing. Some people’s dads collect all kinds of ridiculous crap that has no value except to themselves.

            I was talking about being wasteful — not getting the true value of something because you’re lazy. And other people are talking about blowing the money foolishly, as are you. But criticizing a guy for selling silver bars seems silly.

  • avatar
    MRF 95 T-Bird

    1975-76 DeVille’s and Fleetwood’s suffered from subpar fit and finish. They would rust around the colonnade rear windows and side trim. For some reason earlier years as well as the 77 and up right-sized redesign were far better.

  • avatar

    Elvis country, nice — a Sopranos reference?

  • avatar

    I love old cars, but having gone to loads of car shows, I’m more impressed by mileage than age. You can keep any car around indefinitely.

    I’m glad to hear Paul N. kept that Caddy from going to the crusher.

    • 0 avatar

      That always concerns me, yea it’s something cool to have minty fresh 19XX car with 100 miles that is perfect in everyway.
      But then you don’t get to enjoy the perfection, but on the other end, how many 300k mile Chevelle w/e Matching 454 and 4 speed, do you see?

      Especially low production number vehicles, you want to keep the miles low, but at the same time you want to enjoy what you worked hard to earn instead of looking at it. But is just keeping it maintained everytime an imperfection shows up worthwhile/enough?

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