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If you could only buy one more car for the rest of your life, what would it be? Since car repairs cost less than new vehicles, I'm considering buying one more car and just maintaining it forever. Foreign or domestic, new or used . . . doesn't matter. Engine fall out after 150,000 miles? Replace it. Sick of the color? Repaint it. Seat covers evaporated away? Reupholster it.

I don't know that much about vehicles such as:
1) Which cars are easier for my mechanic to work on.
2) Which cars have easily available parts.

Forget resale value. This will never be resold. My general perceptions of the car industry make me think Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac -- the ones that automakers tout as strong and reliable and safe, etc. Not hip and sporty and cheap.

One downside I can think of is not being able to keep up with the latest safety features (airbags, ABS, and whatever new features will be available in the future.) But the fact of NEVER paying a dollar in finance charges for basic transportation is very exciting.

Any Foolish thoughts?
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If you could only buy one more car for the rest of your life, what would it be?

A Rolls-Royce

Jacki
(you said 1 and you didn't say I had to be able to afford it :)
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Any Toyota car or truck. I've had two of their little trucks over the last 12 years. I would still have the first one if my wife hadn't wrecked it (ggrrrrr). Cars are the same I hear. All I've ever had to do is the usual maintenance stuff. Good luck...
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Well, I'm 25, and there is only ONE engine that can possibally go as many miles as I'me likely to end up going in my lifetime: the Cummins Diesel.
Unfortunatly you can only get that in a dodge, which otherwise doesn't have the best reputation. (Although the new 6 speed transmission should help there) Cracks in the frame, but assuming I can get the dealer to fix it...
However all this is marred by one thing: I live in the rust belt. On a recient trip down south I saw many cars from the 60's, daily drivers yet for the owners, and no rust. My '88 truck won't last much longer due to rust. Body panels are often enough to trip the balance away from maintaining the car. (Come to think of it, everyone I met was rather amazed at the rust on my truck, which is accully not that bad compared to most cars it's age)
Thus, even though I like the idea of the Dodge that you can expect to see a million miles, it doesn't make sense for me unless I we see those miles in 15 years. (Accualy if I needed a truck anyway the diesel break even is about 100,000 miles)
I intend to keep my truck a couple more years, but I fully esxpect that I will need to get a different vechical every 10-15 years (15 only if I buy new), and I'll littlerally drive it into the ground.
YMMV, if you don't live in the rust belt you probably can drive that car forever. Good luck, and choose well.
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JAMESBROWN,I just purchased a Volvo s80 2.9 for all the reasons you articulated.I own a oil analysis and auto racing business and have seen all the quirks of each auto company.I hope that this is a car I can drive for many trouble free years.AAPILOT
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JAMESBROWN,I just purchased a Volvo s80 2.9 for all the reasons you articulated.I own a oil analysis and auto racing business and have seen all the quirks of each auto company.I hope that this is a car I can drive for many trouble free years.AAPILOT

In the mid 1970's I had a Volvo 164E. It was a great car until it needed parts. It was in the shop two weeks, waiting for a new ignition switch. Parts availability has probably improved, but I think it is a major concern if you are keeping a car for a long time.

Bob Mc
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Me and my family have always had good luck with Mercedes-Benz. We drive 'em forever.

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You have asked a question that doesn't have an easy answer. What I need/want in a vehicle has changed, and will continue to change. Here is a few cars and why they are a finalist.

VW Beetle The original! NOT necessarily that new thing that VW is calling a Beetle. They are dependable, they are easy to work on especially compared to new cars, most parts can still be found, they are economical at the pump. When you are having problems finding parts there is also a company in Woodland Park, CO, that can get you most any part you need.

Toyota Landcruiser. A people mover that can tow a travel trailer. I still have kids at home so we are still the kids taxi service. We take frequent family outing with the trailer. I can find reliability data on this vehicle, but am guessing it is good I would confirm before buying.

A diesel pickup, not sure on make/model, or something like the Freightliner Fifth Wheel puller. My retirement home is going to have wheels, and no home address in the trurest sense of the word.

~~paul
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Me and my family have always had good luck with Mercedes-Benz. We drive 'em forever.

I would second this. I never "got" the M-B thing until I drove my dad's. You just feel like you are in a quality car. It has 160K miles on it, is as smooth and quiet as any car i've ever been in, and will out accelerate almost any other car on the road. You don't mind paying big $$ to maintain a car like that.

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Look into "IntelliChoice"---they evaluate and report on what it really costs to own a car long-term, taking into consideration depreciation, maintenance, repair, insurance, state fees, fuel and financing costs by vehicle class for virtually every car sold in the U.S.

FYI: Honda usually ranks the best.

Disclaimer: I sell Hondas!
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Thats a tough question. I have been tossing it around in my head and I came up with only two possibilities. A volvo 700 series, or a Mercedes of any series. I have had several volvos pass thru my lot and have owned a few for my personal use. They are incredible! You just cannot kill them. But the mercedes is just as reliable, with a life span of 18 years on average. And thats with the original engine. But for affordability...I'd take the Volvo. Its a more practical choice. And I will always go with those.
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There are an unlimited number of answers to your question. Most foriegn and domestic manufacturers fit the bill. Most experts would say to buy a car that keeps its value and make sure you do everything necessary to protect your investment. (Performing all the maintainence and repairing items that break or stop working. Keeping up the appearence of the vehicle.) Once the value of the vehicle declines to a point where repair vs replacement becomes an issue, most consultants would favor replacing the vehicle to take advantage of the constant improvements in safety and value that all of the modern manufacturers bring to the market every year. Do you really want to sink 10k or 15k into an engine for a 10 year old Mercedes when you can put your 10k in a new Benz that will surely give you 10 more years of well spent money? Of course not. The same can be said of most vehicles. Ever notice car collectors only buy cars that have "real" value but the variety of choices is almost as diverse as the population. Almost any manufacturer is represented by collectors. It is a matter of preference and taste. Whatever the market will bear. Treat your next purchase like a classic and sell it when its value is not a good investment anymore just like you buy, review, and sell stocks.
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When I needed to buy a car in '92, I wanted to buy a car that I would be able to keep for as long as possible. I've no desire whatsoever to be driving fancy new cars every year, I much prefer to have a dependable car that will start up every morning without fail, one that would not make me spend my life in the repair shop.

That's why I bought the Camry. I liked how it looked, but more importantly, I liked the record and the reports I read in every review.

Almost 8 years later, I'm still driving the car, and it's never let me down. I only have 52K miles on it now, but I've done nothing more than change the oil regularly, replaced the front brakes, and bought a new set of tires.

I'm hoping to keep this car for many more years, and when the time comes to replace it, I think I'll be getting another Camry.

Tony
...but I still am...

Off2Aruba
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My personal choice would be an Audi A4 wagon. I currently have a 84 VW Jetta, bought new 15 years ago, as well as a 91 Jetta recently purchased. The Audi has the looks, quality and reliability I prefer. If you live where there is severe winter climate, get the four-wheel drive option. If you want to save a few $$$ and don't need FWD, the VW Passat has the same mechanicals and should be less expensive to repair over time (parts are the same, but cheaper at VW).
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Mercedes, deisel.
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Being a past owner of Mercedes Benz... all from a 1959 up to the last a 1993 300ce.... I would have to say get as new a benz as you can.... my last is a low mileage 26,000.... and it is the last car I plan to buy... the next will be cars the comany will buy for me.... and they will be MB. they are know to last 250,000 miles or more, if you take car of them, the one older one I still have (my rainny day car) is a 1985 300td diesel. with 165,000 miles. and will run for ever.....
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I've owned Saab, Chevy, Ford, BMC (British Motor Corp.), and Toyota. The Toyota wins hands down. We put 250,000 hard Northeastern winter miles on our 1990 Camry wagon and it's still going strong with no problems. Worst reliability issue was a bum A/C compressor, which was really a fluke. These cars are very easy to work on (my experience), parts are readily available anywhere and any shop can work on them. If the bodywork will take 9 heavily-salted winters, anything less should be a breeze. If you live in a warm climate, the paint will wear off before the bodywork fails.

Since you can probably afford something more upscale if you hold it forever, I'd recommend a Lexus (Toyota) 300 series with leather interior for durability.

We're just passing 35,000 miles on our third Camry. If you'd like to understand just why Toyota's quality is so high, a good read is, "The Machine That Changed The World".

Rick
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A few additions to the comments

DIESEL engines are reputed to be the longest lasting, cleanest environmentally, and easiest to repair. I have known MANY people to drive 15-20 year old Mercedes and Volvos, and not many other vehicles, so I will agree with the majority on that. We had a Volvo diesel, and it drove like a truck, but it was very comfortable, safe-feeling and dependable, not to mention the seats warm your butt on a cold morning! (We crossed oceans and had to leave the car behind)There's an expression I've heard many times:
"A Volvo will keep you safe in an accident, a Mercedes will help you prevent one."

On a different note, a driver in Atlanta was recently featured for driving his Toyota Corolla 1 million miles (it died very soon after) so there is something to be said for that old Toyota ad about all the people with 200K, 300K miles on their Toyotas.
On the note about Toyota Camry's, mine is a 1992, I bought three years ago with 80K miles on it. I found out after the fact that it had been wrecked pretty bad, thus door keys don't match trunk key. BUT, I just rolled 120K, put about $1000 into a major service and a few repairs (bringing the total spent on this car to about $2500 in three years), and the mechanic told me to expect many more years of trouble-free driving
FINALLY, even if this is a purchase "for life" I am a firm beleiver in buying a slightly used car, i.e. ~2 years old -- if you can find a seller or dealer with warrantee that you trust. Then you can be sure that you are buying a car that isn't a lemon -- even the best car makers put out a few, and the problems take a while to show up.
Good luck!!

Jody
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James:

I would suggest looking at the "intellichoice.com" website.

They have a significant amount of Cost of Ownership information on many different types of cars.

I am a serious car collector and enthusiast. Consequently, some of my best friends are auto designers. No matter which automaker they work for, all of them have agreed, again and again, that Mercedes is the best engineered car in the world.

I can tell you from personal experience that this is accurate. I have an '89 420SEL that I use for my everyday driving. I have followed the maintenance schedule since '89. I have put over 174,000 miles on it and it still runs and looks like new - original engine, original transmission, original interior, original paint - you get the idea!
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I have to agree with the Toyotas. We have two. One is
an 1989 Pickup with 140K + miles and it still looks (and runs)as good as the day we bought it. The other is a '95 4Runner with a measly 50K miles. I hope to run them for a long time coming.
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My husband's '89 Nissan Sentra has seen regular oil changes, a tire change, spark plug changes, struts changes and has 160,000 miles on it. Its easy to work upon, parts are cheap and has never ever failed us. He had removed the back seat to haul building material in it. The only drawback is that since it has no safety features, it costs us a lot more in insurance than my 3 year old Diamante.
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I have owned 7 Toyota and if the American car maker ever makes a car as reliable, I will buy American
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I used to work for Mercedes-Benz, and I am a car nut, so I'll tell you what I think, and be as objective as possible.

If you are in the market for an affordable car that will last forever ($20-30,000), the best bet is Honda or Toyota. Specifically, Honda Accord or Toyota Camry. Some say the styling is a little boring, and I do have to agree, but these are solid cars, very well built, safe, last forever (if you treat it nice) and will not be as expensive to repair.

If you are looking for a car that is a little more expensive, you have a lot of choices--Mercedes, BMW, Volvo, Cadillac, Audi, to name a few. Mercedes, from speaking with engineers there, are some of the best cars ever built. But so are BMWs. These are high quality cars that give you a beautiful ride and have the most updated safety features (for 2000 anyway). And these manufacturers spend millions making sure they make great cars. But repairs will definitely be more expensive on these German cars.

Cadillac, and all of GM for that matter, is unproven, having only recently turned a corner and made some better cars.

Also, check out Consumer Reports...every Spring (April, I believe) they release their annual report on cars. It's unbiased information, short term and long term, for every make and model.

Don't buy into the latest fad, buy a car that is functional, nice to drive, roomy, and will last forever.

That is truly Foolish.
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That's a very interesting question. I assume you do not live in the "rust belt". If not, an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) might be a good choice. Plenty of room for people and "stuff". Generally more rugged suspension and engine components. Will not go "out of style".

Actually, sounds a lot like my 1989 GMC Jimmy. I call it the "Refrigerator". It looks like one, is the same color, and has been just as reliable. Over 100K miles and still going strong. Mileage has been very good, maintenence very reasonable, and parts will be available forever.

Yup, a SUV would be my choice, and is!

Rick
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I've been looking at the last car I hope to ever buy and the hands-down concensus goes to the Germans with the Swedes running a close second. Many people say that their Mercedes is their pride and joy and that if it is kept well-maintained, it will last forever and be a pleasure til you drop dead. I have only heard of one person whose maintanence costs were eating him out of house and home, but he bought his Mercedes used and had no record of what kind of care and treatment its original owner subjected it to. People all over the world have said that the occassional repairs are rare but that you should be prepared to shell out some serious pesos when the dreaded day does finally arrive. Mercedes.com can access Benz owners all over the world and I have been emailing up a storm asking people's impressions and advice. Volvo and Saab also have brought in good reports but nowhere near the same lack of maintanence problems as the Benz. I'm like you, I want my next car to be my last car- EVER.
Consumers Reports at www.consumersreports has some excellent data on cars and how they stack up in terms of repair and maintanence costs- they are well worth looking at if you have narrowed down a few models you may eventually be interested in buying. For me, I'm going to shell out the extra pesos up front and buy a car that should theoretically last me a lifetime- namely a Mercedes. My Dad owns 5 of them and swears by them. He doesn't buy them unless they are at least 30 years old and they are all GORGEOUS, and run like the wind. The only problem they have is with the damage that salt from the winter roadways does when the roads get slippery. When driving in slush and salt, you might be better off taking the Toyota. I'm going to keep my Honda for just such occassions (although I had originally planned to trade it in towards the cost of the Benz.) The Accord and the Civic are both great little cars too, but I wouldn't expect either of them to last me a lifetime.
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We have a 23 year old Volvo. As time goes on you will find less and less people willing to repair your old car. Very reliable car, 260,000 miles on her and the engine never touched, but be prepared to handle all maintenance yourself once it hits the 20 yr mark.
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Here's my answer to Mr. James Brown re. (really) what's the best way to reduce his car ownership cost. I've owned automobiles for over 40 years for family use (with small children), business (real estate), and personal use (sportscars). I have bought new, used, and "Hertz" reconditioned cars. Once back in my real estate career, after about five years of owning/operating 5 new cars, I sat down at my desk one day and added up ALL the costs over those five years of owning those five cars... and I was APPALLED!

That was back in the early 1970s. ever since then I have bought ONLY "previously owned" cars (as the luxury car resellers like to term them) for the following reasons:
1. Depreciation is significantly higher in the first few years (to the tune of 10-20%).
2. Any "bugs" and/or defects will have been eliminated and there usually exists a maintenance record on the car.
3. Insurance and registration fees are lower for a 2- to 3-year old car.
4. If you buy (DON'T lease) a high-quality or so-called "luxury" car, such as Lexus, Lincoln, Mercedes, etc., it will have the latest in engineering and convenience features which typically are in those cars first and take a number of years to be passed down the "auto ladder" thru the lesser quality/expensive ones.

If at all possible, NEVER buy from a "used-car" dealer. The only such organization I would recommend is one of the rental firms selling their "retired" cars. They will typically sell ONLY their best available cars and you will ALWAYS have access to their maintenance records on the vehicle, whereas most private parties do not keep very good maintenance records. That leaves you with the prospect of dealing with private parties and that can be dangerous to your wallet. However, if you are armed with enough knowledge, insist on having a trusted mechanic evaluate the vehicle for you BEFORE you buy it, and know what the current realistic resale value is of the car in question, you can keep yourself out of trouble.

If you will approach the purchase with the above parameters in place, and ensure that you buy the HIGHEST QUALITY vehicle you can afford, with a used life of 2-4 years, you will be maximizing your vehicle ownership dollar and minimizing the chances of spending a bundle on maintenance, operating costs, and depreciation. Just this year, thru using these factors I've learned thru the years, I moved from a 1990 Ford T-Bird with 192,000 miles on it (bought in '91 from Hertz) into a 1994 Lincoln Continental Mark VIII with 75,000 miles but in absolutely "CHERRY" condition. It helped that the car had been built by the Lincoln factory for it's West Coast Factory Rep. which meant that it was an exceptional item off the production line in the beginning, had every available option plus some extras not normally found on this car, and had been MAINTAINED in exceptional condition for it's entire life.

But these kinds of situations are out there if you will just look diligently enough. With the internet at our disposal nowadays, it is MUCH easier than it has EVER been to find exactly what you want. Incidentally, I bought that car, originally priced at $42,000 for a mere $14,000. Because of the way I care for my cars with regular oil/filter changes, etc., I expect this car to last me for another 8-10 years and because it is a "last-of-the-breed" design and a classic at that, it shall always be attractive and a pleasure to own and operate.

That's enough of my own "horn-blowing," but my hope is that in some way what I have shared with you, Mr. Brown, will help guide you down the road to the most economical and pleasureable car ownership and operation. And if what I have said somehow benefits some of the rest of you readers, then my "job" shall have been done on this board. You have my best wishes for years of low(er)-cost and pleasureable car ownership.

Richard Lindsay
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Car repairs are becoming so expensive for certain models that if you amortize the repairs over the life of the car it's like having a monthly payment! My 1992 Pontiac Bonneville has cost me a fortune in repairs. One oil leak cost $1,700 to fix.

I'd rather not own a depreciating asset, so I lease my car with a term matched to the warranty. I turn it in before the car has enough miles on it to cause maintenance headaches.

If you're looking for a reasonably priced family car which is *very reliable*, consider the Toyota Avalon. Not a squeak or any problems with it, and I have 18,000 miles on it.
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VW is an excellent choice - long warranty for drivetrain. Whatever you decide, get online and look into "known" lemons. I had a 1995 Mazda 4 speed auto 626 that lost a transmission right after the warranty expired. Turns out, a lot of other people across the country had the same problem. Mazda (not the dealer) covered half for the new tranny. It is amazing the little things you think are just happening to you, but actually are happening across the country.

Good Luck!
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Buy a Subaru. I drive an 88 Subaru wagon with 235,000 miles on it. I plan to drive until it has at least 300,000 miles. It is a great car and my yearly upkeep averages about $500.00.
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A toyota avalon should last a quarter of a million miles. So all I have to say is that if it DID HAVE a rattle or squeek at 18000 then I would be mad as hell!

============ ============== ==============

consider the Toyota Avalon. Not a squeak or any problems with it, and I have
18,000 miles on it.
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I have counseled a number of friends to keep their present cars rather than purchase a new one as: 1. the cost to mechanically restore their car was fractional of the cost of a new one. 2. newer models of their cars were not improvements over their older ones.
If I were to purchase my last car, to have and to hold from this day forward, I would choose a car with a durable chassis, has a good, reliable engine (rebuildable) and a minimum of on-board electronics (very expensive to repair) and good fuel mileage (we in for ever rising fuel prices). I would probably take a manual transmission, and minimum power accessories (no power windows, keyless entry, etc.) Volvo, several of the American built Japanese cars, low end Mercedes,
Volkswagen (not the new Bettle), and such. No SUVs, (unless you live in Alaska, Montana, or other more rugged country areas) The SUVs are the Edsels of the future once insurance, safety, economy, repair costs, etc, catch up to the 'fleet'.
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>I'd rather not own a depreciating asset, so I lease my car with a term matched to the warranty.

Hmm... an asset is anything of material value or usefulness.

Regardless if you own or lease, you will not see that car appreciate - it will only depreciate in value (a daily-usage automobile is not an investment.)

Jennifer
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> If you could only buy one more car for the rest of your life, what would it be? Since car repairs cost less than new vehicles, I'm considering buying one more car and just maintaining it forever. Foreign or domestic, new or used . . . doesn't matter. Engine fall out after 150,000 miles? Replace it. Sick of the color? Repaint it. Seat covers evaporated away? Reupholster it. <


I'd buy another '66 Chevy pickup. I had one for 10 years and would still be driving it if that idiot hadn't run a stop sign and pulled out in front of me almost two years ago.
It cost me $1000 and had only 49K original miles. I rebuilt the motor after 3 years at 150K miles and did not have another single repair costing more than $125 in the remaing 7 years I owned the truck. Not bad for a vehicle with over 1/3 million miles on it when it was wrecked...

> I don't know that much about vehicles such as:
1) Which cars are easier for my mechanic to work on.
2) Which cars have easily available parts. <

Parts for that '66 Chevy were alot easier and cheaper to get than the '88 Buick Park Avenue I drive now. There was so much room in the front engine compartment of the truck that I could fix most anything myself if I knew what was wrong, and I'm *NOT* all that mechanically inclined...

> Forget resale value. This will never be resold. My general perceptions of the car industry make me think Volvo, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac -- the ones that automakers tout as strong and reliable and safe, etc. Not hip and sporty and cheap. <

The insurance paid me more than twice what I paid for truck in the first place. Not too bad of a resale value... :)

> One downside I can think of is not being able to keep up with the latest safety features (airbags, ABS, and whatever new features will be available in the future.) But the fact of NEVER paying a dollar in finance charges for basic transportation is very exciting. <

There would not be the need for all the safety equipment used today if the cars themselves were built better as in the past. When you can kick a side panel and leave a major dent, what would happen if a CAR hit you at 50 MPH? My wife and I were told by both the police and the doctors at the hospital that we would both be dead if we had been driving a later model pickup. That extra steel might have cost me extra gas to drive around, but my life is worth more than a few extra MPG...

> Any Foolish thoughts? <


Those were my two cents... :)


Thomas
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> Do you really want to sink 10k or 15k into an engine for a 10 year old Mercedes when you can put your 10k in a new Benz that will surely give you 10 more years of well spent money? <

10K or 15K WHAT???? In over 20 years of driving (over a million miles at that) and all the vehicles I have owned in that time (alot!), I have spent less than $10K to BUY all those vehicles. When I had the motor professionally rebuilt on my '66 Chevy truck, it cost about $1,200 about 10 years ago. I could still do the same rebuild today for just over $1,500 (if I still had the truck). My friend, you have been shafted if you put that much money into your engine...

Thomas
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A Land Rover The Best 4x4xfar!
A Defender 90 or 110;
Since I already own a Discovery.

Cheers,
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Please don't really think of keeping a car for the rest of your life. There will be too many changes and
breakthroughs in automobiles in the next ten years.
For exp. Air conditioning, all the new ones are using "puron" now. There is a new toyota coming out
with a diesal/electric engine/motor.
It might be more 'foolish' to get a good reliable
reasonably modern car and keep it for ten years.(sub-hect to recalls)
hThis is unless of course you find a mint condition
1965 Ford mustang convertible with a 289 or 302.
then buy that and keep that....for the rest of your life.....Greg
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> Buy a Subaru. I drive an 88 Subaru wagon with 235,000 miles on it. I plan to drive until it has at least 300,000 miles. It is a great car and my yearly upkeep averages about $500.00. <

I have a friend that had a mid '70's Subaru and it had over 300K on it, and he very rarely had problems with it.

Thomas
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> Regardless if you own or lease, you will not see that car appreciate - it will only depreciate in value (a daily-usage automobile is not an investment.) <

Tell that to my best friend's dad, and he will laugh at you. His '66 Mustang convertible is valued at more than three times what he paid new for in '65. And it has been his daily driver since he bought it. BTW, he wouldn't take 3 times what he paid for it to sell it. Don't blame him- it is a sharp lookin' car...


Thomas

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Well, if all you care about is longevity, I'd go for the Chevrolet Prizm, aka the Toyota Corolla, but sells for cheaper because it isn't badged "Toyota." These cars, both the Chevy-badged and the Toyota-badged, are built at the NUMMI plant in Fremont, CA, and are tough, reliable and get about 40 miles to the gallon (with manual transmission). The parts are readily available for years and years. (That said, I can't find a particular rear windscreen fluid hose for my 1990, but it doesn't matter -- we bypassed it.)

Mine is the LSi model, top of the line. It has superior suspension and tuning and better insulation, as well as power steering. So don't cheap out and buy the base model; you'll be happier with the upgrade. BUT, don't buy power windows and locks. They are just one more thing to fix.

Mine has almost 150,000 miles on it. I've changed the timing belt every 60K miles, as recommended, along with all other recommended maintenance. I change the oil every 5,000 miles. The car has gone through one exhaust system, and one radiator. Oh, yes, I have also replaced a couple of plastic door handles and some windshield wipers. Tires, too; this is the third full set. That's it.

I love this car and will try to get another 100K miles out of it. I think it won't be a problem.
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I like to "churn" my cars. With cash in hand and the continued ownership of my current car, I take my time and shop for a steal on a 4 to 5 year old car in great condition w/low miles from a private party (I also make sure the tires will last three years).

Once I've bought the "new" car, time is on my side and I sell my old car for too much money (I can do this by always buying higly desirable -- sought after -- cars with all the options) to fools (small "f") that buy on emotion and whim. With rare exception, I get the same $$$ on resale as I originally purchased the car. I've made a few bucks on some and lost a few on others.

Then on the new car, I do necessary maintenance and keep it looking great for the two to three years I keep it. (The key to getting my purchase money back is keeping it looking great).

Therefore, my cars usually cost me maintenance, fuel, elbow grease (lots-o-waxing) and licensing fees. I rarely have had to spend on tires or shocks or other major components. I get to drive a fairly new car that is new to me every couple years. If I find I bought a lemon, I can get rid of it quickly. I get to enjoy all the options (options are important for selling it at a higher price later), and I get to change my type of vehicle as my lifestyle of the time dictates.

Just my way and it works for me. Any thoughts?
Stephen



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For the rest of your life?? You should buy a Ferrari with VERY good insurance. When the Ferrari gets stolen and it will, you can buy a new car like a Porshe to last you the rest of your life. When that one gets taken, your insurance company can buy you a Mercedes S Class, than a Lexus, than a BMW and eventually when your insurance company cancels you, you can buy a Honda to last you the rest of your life. :-)
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We've owned Subarus forever - after 5, (finally) decided to get "foolish" and keep the two we have now. They both have 60K miles on 'em and are going strong. I've known several (5) people who've had Subarus in excess of 10 years, 100K miles with little or no trouble.

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<<A toyota avalon should last a quarter of a million miles. So all I have to say is that if it DID HAVE a rattle or squeek at 18000 then I would be mad as hell!>>

At 18k miles, no care should have any rattles or squeaks.

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<<unless of course you find a mint condition
1965 Ford mustang convertible with a 289 or 302.
then buy that and keep that....for the rest of your life>>

Ahh, the venerable Ford 302 V-8. It reminds me of my first car, a 1972 Ford Maverick. You could damage that engine, but you really had to work at it. My mother bought it new in 1971 and drove it for about five years. Then my sister drove it through college. I drove it for a few more years, until it met an untimely end on a wet evening in Baltimore in 1984--13 years and >100,000 miles later (hey, I said the ENGINE was great, not the brakes ;-)).
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volvo has great reputation for longevity. i do not own one-- but have been around people who would not buy anything else---
so, what's new ?

need to consider availability of parts/ service.
ex: a mercedes taillight replacement unit might take 6 wks to obtain.....
< actual experience>

you might submit your question to the guys on "car talk"----
www.cartalk.com ( i think).
these guys are great--- cf. nation public radio and sydicated column in papers.

personally, i have 6 kids, a wife and two ex-wives---
two fish and a dog---
so........
it has been a long time since looked at new cars except in magazines at the grocery store.
however, do maintain "fleet" of vehicles running for all of the above---
<the fish don't drive yet, thank goodness>
and have a great time at the used-car lots----
currently 5 vehicles < all '92 or later>---
in better than average shape---
total cost basis about $40 k.

in the meantime---
would change the oil and filter at least every 5-7,000 miles.
please recycle your oil at loacl AZO (autozone) or neighborhood equivalent.

disclosure: i am not in the car business... and have no vested interest in any of the above.

pedal to the metal---
and
enjoy
the
ride.......

godd luck,

-t.



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I am responding to this post against my better judgement but I could not help myself.

1. A little research (call ANY Mercedes-Benz Dealer and ask what a new engine costs for almost any late model M-B model) will tell you $10,000 to $15,000 is a conservative price on a replacement engine for most M_B models.

2. I don't know how many cars you have owned in the last 20 years but if you owned five (wow that's a lot) you averaged paying only $2000.00 per car to keep from spending only $10,000 total in 20 years. You must be one of the world's greatest bargain hunters on car purchases! Maybe you could post some of your secrets.

3. You can't get most of the parts needed to rebuild the engine in a 1966 Chevy truck no matter what engine it came with (six or eight cylinders) as most of the parts are discontinued. If you try to purchase original parts from collectors, you won't get much for your $1500.00 unless you find someone that doesn't know the real value of what they have.
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I have had the best luck with VW. My 1986 Cabriolet has required brake jobs because we live in a hilly city. Recently the cooling fan and motor were replaced as well as hoses. However, there have been no major (big dollar) repairs. I too plan to drive this car until it falls apart. Not only is it better to maintain than to pay for a new car, but the licence fees go down every year and the insurance premiums as well. If you don't want a convertible, you might take a look at the Passat. It has a techtronic transmission and the car compares favorably to an Audi at a much lower cost.
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How's this for a straight answer? It depends...
If you forget about the notion of "owning" a car, and think of it only in terms of what you are willing to spend a month in depreciation, then you can decide on the car you want. For example, a new Honda Accord EX will cost about $20,000. With finance charge over five years that's about $24,000. Over ten years that amonts to about $200/months plus maintenance. Interestingly, if you look at the resale value at five years, in this case, according to Money magazine, this Honda will maintain between 55-60% of the new price, or about $12,000 in five years. Thus the first five years of ownership costs: $24,000-$12,000=$12,000/60months=$200/month. Then, the first five years of depreciation is equal to the second five years, but the second five years will have significantly increased maintenance costs. What do I drive? A 1990 Prism LSI that I paid $5000 cash for in 1993. I've had no major repairs, one brake job, and I'm on my 3rd free Midas muffler. It now has 150,000 miles and runs like a top. I know I haven't directly anwered your question, but hopefully I've offered you Fool for thought. Once you decide how much you are willing to spend, I believe you'll be able to narrow it down. Buying a high-end car does not mean that it will require less maintenance.
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For many years I went thru the process of buying a "new" car every three years or so. Usually bargain basement American models whose styles and performance characteristics would be upgraded often. In 1988 I bought a BMW. I picked it up at the factory in Munich, drove it around Europe and shipped it home from Britain. I still have the car and have no intention of replacing it any time soon.

At the time this purchase seemed like a real extravagance. Now it seems like a smart move. I guess the secret is to get something of the highest quality -- that you really like. The odds are you will enjoy it more and keep it longer.
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A mechanical device that doesn't break down is a myth. No matter what statistics tell you about a particular car, on an individual basis, it's strictly a crap shoot. Yeah, you make a good judgement when you heed warnings about certain models and whether or not it was made on Monday or wednesday, but you just never can tell. Besides which there are emotional dimensions to keeping a car until it becomes a rambling wreck. The older I get the more advantages there are to having a young car.
At this time, my philosophy is somewhat different. I pay cash up front for a good used car from Enterprise Car Sales (under book and cherry), then the car actually has equity which can be turned into a new, used car each year with, for me, acceptable depreciation. This way I avoid the milage pile up (and concomitant maintenance), while keeping up with the latest style, safety, and engineering features.
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As regards your "final" automotive purchase:

I chose this option myself some years back, but have now abandoned it for reasons having nothing at all to do with it's basic value as a concept.

First I would chose a car which already has collector interest which will help to insure the comprehensive availability of future repair parts. And I mean this not so much in terms of spark plugs and such, but more along the lines of rocker panels, fenders, doors, rubber wind seals for the windows & doors, bumpers, etc. Accidents and rust do happen. <g> And it's the very little things that will eventually fail and annoy you endlessly. One mustn't forget that 'forever' is an exceedingly Long Time. <g> Try to picture the situation if your grandfather had chosen this path as a young man. He's still be driving a Black Model T Ford at 25 - 30 mph and shifting with his feet. <g>

Next, I would chose a 'professionally' restored middle 1960's car as they are new enough to have be somewhat confortable, have factory A/C, and etc., but old enough to have no obsolete pollution control devices, or electronics. And with a main stream American car there is already collector interest from which to benefit. Cruise the 'antique' auto shows and auctions for good ideas that you think you can live with.

I originally chose two: a 1976 Cadillac and a 1964 Studebaker Avanti. Both were abandoned as unsuitable to this concept due to the things mentioned above. I later decided on a 1965 Rolls Royce which was almost perfectly suited, except for the 'profile' problem which made it uncomfortable for me as a daily driver.

I have since decided to accumulate funds at the rate of $300. to $400. per month (a typical car payment) and then simply purchase outright a new mainstream Chrysler, Buick, etc. every three to five years. This is due to a basic sort of laziness on my part, rather than any real problem with the 'keep it forever' idea.

Good Luck!

stephen
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Sir's
This Fool also believes that keeping a car for the long term is sound financial advise !. Maintenance is the key and schedualed tune-ups a must!, but the costs of general maintenance , verses new car payments , financing , +3-5 years of paynents , is a financial no-no . Keep the car buy stocks in place of car payments and you will be a happier Fool ! .
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Saqara,
Just to clarify, are you saying that Toyotas have better resistance to rust than Mercedes?
(I live in Canada where we salt our roads in the winter, so this is important to me!)
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I too have a "buy and hold" strategy for car purchases and have found a good middle ground between avoiding new car costs and getting new safety features and design advances using a 10 year horizon.

Pick a car you're comfortable living with for 10 years or longer. Assuming you finance it for four years, you have 6 years of finance charge free, no monthly payment, driving. After 10 years you reward yourself with the new car smell, and new features and advancements like ABS and airbags. It sure beats a trade every 3-4 years and it gives you something to look forward to.

I've had good luck with Volvos, keeping one 13 years and another 11 and counting. I go for quality, comfort, durability, and driving enjoyment. After all, A good financial strategy is no fun if you dread having to drive the old beater every day.

Good Luck!
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Thomas writes, in part:
"Parts for that '66 Chevy were alot easier and cheaper to get than the '88 Buick Park Avenue I drive now. There was so much room in the front engine compartment of the truck that I could fix most anything myself if I knew what was wrong, and I'm *NOT* all that mechanically inclined..."

That was then, this is now, Thomas. And then might not have been all that long ago. I own a '71 Chevy pickup and you may trust me on this, parts are getting a lot harder and more expensive to find. Take a look at the latest J.C. Whitney truck catalogue and you'll see that pre-73 truck parts are getting more scarce, particularly body parts. They are still out there, primarily on the internet, and there are some "new old stock (NOS)" items being manufactured, but at a substantial cost.

One of the things that makes car/truck ownership a pain in this modern age is the short-term profit driven one-up mentality of auto manufacturers that really began when the Japanese car makers (among other Japanese companies) started "dumping" their products on our market while at the same time practiced xenophobic protectionism of their own. Greed, bubba, is what drives American business and greed will be the downfall. As it will be, and has already begun in Japan (or was I the only one who saw that Nissan just laid off 2000 workers? Since when do Japanese companies lay off workers, and in those kind of numbers?). The war for dollars that never ends means, in part, that your model of vehicle is obsolete in a few years and the Federal regulations only require manufacturers to stock parts back 10 years. On-the-spot management and as-needed inventory means dealers (speaking as a former Ford technician) only order the most commonly requested parts and send not-so-commonly-requested items back to the manufacturer. My favorite question to the parts people: "Wait, let's see. This is a Ford dealership and I'm working on a Ford vehicle, so should I go to an aftermarket supplier (NAPA, CarQuest, et al) for my Ford parts?"

For many years, or at least most of the 15 years I was an automotive tech, both dealer and independent, price was the ONLY (I can't emphasize that word ONLY enough) consideration. For some vehicle owners, it still is. Many others, fortunately, though too late to influence my commission-driven paychecks (yes, Virginia, your auto tech really is on some kind of commission, no matter what they call it), are coming around to the radical notion that quality and convenience are also important concepts in auto repair. Was that "price is the only concern" mentality an outgrowth of Japanese product dumping and American shareholders' lust for profit? Probably in large part. I have my own theories, including the "I can get it for you wholesale," "What I've got is worth millions, what you have (the same thing I have) is worth squat" devaluative mentality. Regardless, it is a problem that needs fixing if we wish to continue another 200 or more years to be the great nation we have been and allegedly are today.

--Steve
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No. of Recommendations: 4
I'm an engineer, and have owned four automotive garages allowing me to drive, repair, and work with more vehicles than most. I long ago had similar feelings that I wanted to have a car that lasted forever. My 1964 Volvo sports car won national honors from Volvo for being one of the longest lived and highest mileage vehicles in their history. I put over 250,000 miles in just three years on my Mercedes 300SD turbo diesel. Reality and time has changed my thinking, so when my daughter who is about to start driving asked my advice, here is what I shared:

1. Skills – No matter how expensive, well built or safe, the life of a vehicle is first determined by how well it is driven and maintained. It is your responsibility to make sure you are not in an accident and to keep your vehicle in good repair. This means you need to think and plan ahead, have a vehicle that will not let you down, and keep yourself in the condition to drive with the skills to do the right thing needed to avoid mishap and disaster. I went through a professional driving school to enhance my skills and offer the same opportunity to my children. We all need to know how to avoid problems and drive ourselves out of bad situations. We also have to be willing to choose our parking spaces and do a lot more walking as today's lighter cars really can not tolerate that much parking lot abuse.

2. Safety – No matter how careful, if you drive enough, eventually you will be in a wreck. There are just too many who do not understand physics and need a reality lesson that may come at your expense. In a wreck there are no winners. The physics are simple. If you are in the lighter vehicle, your vehicle is worse off. If your vehicle is not setup with the proper safety design then you personally are worse off. As proof I cite my own experience where a kid in a Toyota Celica lost control and ran into my stopped Volvo. My Volvo was built when “stronger is better” and only had minor damage while the Toyota was totaled. The Toyota collapsed allowing its driver to walk away only slightly shaken. My Volvo had no give at all and landed me in the hospital with a broken collarbone from my shoulder belt and neck injuries that still cause me problems years later. I learned the right safety features is important enough that I traded the Volvo for the Mercedes.

3. Reliability – Although I can tell you about a wide variety of both foreign and domestic vehicles, the bottom line remains the same. Few flash or muscle cars will hold up mechanically and almost every inexpensive car will be plagued with bad paint, chrome, upholstery, carpets, interior controls, etc. If you do not pay for quality, you just are not going to get it. Even if you do pay for quality, you still may not get it, so take the time to study Consumer Reports.

4. Economy – There is a lot more to the cost of a vehicle besides the cost of fuel. Although I loved my Mercedes diesel with its wonderful reliability, safety, hot performance, and great fuel mileage, I soon hated the cost of keeping that vehicle going. My insurance rate was double my wife's Toyota. The reason was people hated that car as a symbol and would regularly break off the hood ornament and intentionally scratch and ding it. Unwilling to drive a car that is not clean and neat, these little upsets quickly were expensive even with help from my insurance company and rapidly began to make me not want to take that vehicle out where it could be exposed. Worse, its billowing clouds of ugly black smoke when it accelerated resulted in everything from ugly gestures to a couple of instances where people tried to run us off the road. Finally, although the mechanics only cost a fraction as much as other vehicles, all of these other costs resulted in that vehicle costing five times as much overall for us to operate as did our Toyota.
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> Do you really want to sink 10k or 15k into an engine for a 10 year old Mercedes when you can put your 10k in a new Benz that will surely give you 10 more years of well spent money? <

10K or 15K WHAT???? In over 20 years of driving (over a million miles at that) and all the vehicles I have owned in that time (alot!), I have spent less than $10K to BUY all those vehicles. When I had the motor professionally rebuilt on my '66 Chevy truck, it cost about $1,200 about 10 years ago. I could still do the same rebuild today for just over $1,500 (if I still had the truck). My friend, you have been shafted if you put that much money into your engine...

Thomas

Thomas:
Wake up and smell the coffee, bud. There are transmissions for JAPANESE vehicles that cost in excess of 4000 (that's right four thousand) dollars. And we're not talking exotic here. We're talking Mitsubishi truck. A Mercedes is not a Chevy and you would be hard-pressed to rebuild a Chevy for 1,500 dollars these days. Not and do a top-flight job. I did it myself about 5 years ago (maybe a little less) as an in the business technician and I still spent close to what you say you spent 10 years ago. That's with my connections and dealer cost, Thomas. It's those kinds of false comparisons that make life a living hell for the honest automotive repair person. By the way, have you priced a diesel Mercedes tuneup lately? All the filters alone will run you over 200 dollars, and that price is several years old, which is the last time I priced that service. This is NOT 10 years ago, Thomas. Some radical changes have taken place in the last 10 years. Older American vehicles that are getting real hard to get parts for (trust me on this) and what parts are available are getting more expensive (because they're not hencho en Mexico o Brasil like many VW parts and because demand is increasing) do not, cannot be compared to the foriegn vehicles whose parts are primarily manufactured in other industrial/technological countries. Your experience of 10 years ago and with an even at that time older American vehicle is simply not applicable to today, as sorry as I am to tell you. I would that it were, bud. I really do.

--Steve
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When keeping a car for the long run, be advised about maintence costs. The models you mentioned are high dollar jobs. I have driven the same Mazda since 1988. Has 194,268 miles, have spent about 4 grand on maintence since then and this includes a new motor, turbo, radiator, front axles, high performance computer along with the usual maintence. Couldn't be happier. Car payments were still deducted and have paid for several Caribbean vactions as well as opening an account @ tdwaterhouse. I think it was the best thing I've done lately. Good luck and think smaller.
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Rick writes, in part:
"That's a very interesting question. I assume you do not live in the "rust belt". If not, an SUV (Sport Utility Vehicle) might be a good choice. Plenty of room for people and "stuff". Generally more rugged suspension and engine components. Will not go "out of style"."

Sorry, Rick, but I have to disagree on general principles, mainly because it is my opinion, from having dealt with many SUV owners (including some employers) that SUVs are at least phallic substitutes, if I might put it so delicately. The absolute worst, most aggro drivers on the road, as a group, according to the California Highway Patrol, are pickup and SUV drivers. SUVs in particular are more expensive to maintain, especially to repair, are super expensive to insure. In the shop, the owners of pickups, SUVs, and custom vans are the very worst, as far as arrogance and penny-pinching go. Many mechanics and technicians hate dealing with them since the majority of them feel like they bought a dealership along with their Exotic...er, SUV. The absolute worst and most hated: Toyota pickup and SUV owners. Most of those prissy so-and-sos would never consider taking their precious vehicles any further off the pavement than their front yards for their weekly stroking...er, washing, yet drive and interact with others as though they were Baja drivers or something equally macho. Too special for the rest of us, that is.

Having barfed all over SUVs, however, my choice for my next vehicle: the Isuzu Rodeo, but only with the GM drive train. 2-wheel only, though. I've gone and will go places with 2-wheel drive that some macho commachos will not dream about going with their b.a. 4x4s. Tough beans, huh? Why go the expense and possible future problems (not to mention a high theft potential) when a 2-by will do?

--Steve
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Don't stop, Steve. Keep giving us more stereotypes. Here's a few more. Majority of SUV owner are constantly on their cell phone, being a hazard to other drivers. Liberals like VW Beetles. Men in midlife crisis drive Corvettes. Snobs drive Saabs.

My experience as a Ford Explorer owner. SUV's are more expensive to maintain because parts and labor are more expensive. But the frequency of repairs and maintenance (other than brakes) is no more frequent than other vehicles I have owned.

Very rarely do I go offroad. Why own a SUV? I spend alot of time in the mountains during the winter. I prefer the security of 4WD. (I've been through alot of snowstorms.) I need luggage capacity. Very few minivans come in 4WD.

..IF
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<<Very rarely do I go offroad. Why own a SUV? I spend alot of time in the mountains during the winter. I prefer the security of 4WD. (I've been through alot of snowstorms.) I need luggage capacity. Very few minivans come in 4WD.>>

Well put IF, my reasoning for owning the Mercury version of the Explorer was so that I had a minivan that was capable of pulling a popup travel trailer. When you talk to a transmission shop you shop you shouldn'tpull any trailerwith a minivan. Mountains in Winter was a consideration, but mostly the towing capacity. As far as driving habits if anything I'm even more considerate of other drivers. With every car I let into traffic I hope I change the sterotype.

~~paul
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Snobs drive Saabs.
////////////////////////////////////////////
Don't you mean snaabs? but seriously, we saab owners have a counter-stereotype that the real snobs are bimmer drivers. lexus owners try to be but are just clueless to what a real car is (nice camry . . er . . lexus.)
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> 1. A little research (call ANY Mercedes-Benz Dealer and ask what a new engine costs for almost any late model M-B model) will tell you $10,000 to $15,000 is a conservative price on a replacement engine for most M_B models. <


You may be correct in this statement. However, if this is the case, *I* wouldn't want a Mercedes-Benz. The maintenance cost of ownership would make this a very unattractive car for me. I certainly would expect that a late model car (especially an expensive one) should not need a new motor for at least 10 years. How fast do the other parts wear out on this thing?


> 2. I don't know how many cars you have owned in the last 20 years but if you owned five (wow that's a lot) you averaged paying only $2000.00 per car to keep from spending only $10,000 total in 20 years. You must be one of the world's greatest bargain hunters on car purchases! Maybe you could post some of your secrets. <


Here is a complete list of all the vehicles I have owned and their cost (these are listed in approximate order purchased beginning in 1979...)

'72 Pontiac Ventura $600
'76 Buick Park Avenue $995
'73 Ford Pinto $350
'69 Chevy BelAir $200
'76 Ford cargo van $995
'69 Chevy BelAir (car #2) $400 (ask me about this one. This was a true deal)
'66 Chevy pickup $995
'69 Chevy Belair (car #3) $350
'75 Chevy Crew Cab pickup $900
'80 Chevy Crew Cab pickup $1000
'78 Chevy pickup $2000 (my current work truck)
'88 Buick Park Avenue (inherited)


Secrets? I really none other than looking in the classifieds of a big city every day. I have bought all but maybe two of my cars from individuals... The deals are out there, you just have to look. Dealerships are NOT the best place to look.


> 3. You can't get most of the parts needed to rebuild the engine in a 1966 Chevy truck no matter what engine it came with (six or eight cylinders) as most of the parts are discontinued. If you try to purchase original parts from collectors, you won't get much for your $1500.00 unless you find someone that doesn't know the real value of what they have. <

Discontinued from Chevrolet, yes. However their are aftermarket suppliers of new parts for just about single part on a '66 including everything you need for a complete engine rebuild. If the engine is totally unrebuildable for some reason, you can put in a used 350 (about $1200 installed) or rebuilt 350 (readily available at many parts stores) for less than $2500, installed plus includes the core cost because you didn't have a rebuildable exchange.
As for parts availability on other parts, you can still even get body parts including front quarter panels. I still get many part catalogs for older Chevys even though I haven't had one in almost 2 years (still looking for another '66 pickup though...)



Thomas







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Dear James,

I have never owned a Mercedes but I have owned a Volvo and am presently driving a beautiful 1991 DeVille with 117,000 miles on it.
Forget the Volvo. When my wife and I were yuppies we purchased one. The maintenance on our Volvo stationwagon was a killer. It ate brakes and those cyclical inspections that Volvo recommends are not cheap. These are the inspections that you record in the data book that is in the glove box of every new Volvo. In my opinion, it is a totally overated "ride".
With respect to the Caddy. It is hands down the best car I have ever driven and owned. I will take my Caddy any day over a Benz.
Regarding purchasing a Caddy. There is a very large gray market in used Caddys. They are usually in sensational shape with less than 24,000 miles. I have been told by more than one Caddy owner that I should be able to bury my Caddy with somewhere around 200,000 miles showing. Thus far at 117,000 miles it has been just brakes,tires, and an oil change every 3000 miles.
Life is good! Mike Treacy
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Toyota probably is the most Foolish way to go... over 130,000 on a 89 4wd pickup 4cyl.. no problems. Replaced the tires once and a tuneup so far. Regular Camarys or Corrolas should last a long time too. Drive them gently and do regular maintance seems to be the solution.

Just purchased a 96 Volvo for most of the reasons you have stated as your requirements... and my wife likes the car. 76,000mi.

Still drive a 62 Corvette, 80,000+. It's not a daily driver... too likely to be stolen, etc. but still fun and appreciating!

Our 69 VW van is still going strong at 160,000+.. Almost traded it in several years ago for a Dodge minivan..Thank goodness we didn't! What a HUGE mistake that would have been!! We had to own 3 of the minivans before we finally wised up...(the internet is really a great tool for anyone having problems with a car, etc.. you are not alone! wish I could have had the information available on it before we purchased the second one!) talk about a foolish nightmare!! All the problems were under the extended warranty available but the warranty cost was GREAT, to say nothing of the lost time with them in the shop, broken down, etc. Keep any old reliable, easy to work on vehicle you happen to own. The VW is now appreciating around here each year.. offered more for it than I originally paid in 73! I still regret selling my 57 Chevy!

You can keep a car too long tho... we have a 25 T roadster pickup that isn't too comfortable or useful.. looks good tho! Very few safety or comfort items on it.

my 2 cents worth!
lb
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Another reason why I have an SUV is that mom-in-law comes on some trips. Most minivans hold only two in the middle row and the seats would be occupied by my two daughters. Minivans have limited storage with the third seat installed. It'a mom-in-law or luggage. With my Explorer, I can take the luggage and mom-in-law. Why didn't I get a minivan? Hmm......

As far as driving habits if anything I'm even more considerate of other drivers. With every car I let into traffic I hope I change the sterotype.

Paul, this is one thing I hate about driving SUVs. I leave plenty of room between me and the car in front. In heavy traffic, they is always some driver in the left lane who decides at the last minute that they need to exit the highway or make a right turn. They zip in front of you and slam on their brakes to slow for their turn. Alot of close calls this way.

..IF
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Volkswagen, aircooled. After going thru many different kinds of cars (most junk), and forcing myself to learn how to fix them, the hard way, i have owned a vw campervan for several years now.
First thing is getting the idiot guide, and from there everything else is a matter of persistence and patience. Air cooled vw's have to be the easiest cars to keep running through many years. Fancy? not. Practical? yes. And parts are fairly easy to get and not expensive. You will have to hone your mechanic skills though. Good luck and happy wrenching.
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I have read all of these posts. James Brown doesn't say how old he is but this is a major factor in buying your last car. Clearly the approach makes little sense for someone in their twenties. I would assert that most of you fools will drive a large Anerican built car as your last car. I base this on what I see elderly people driving. Those in their 70s and 80s are driving their last car in many cases and they seem to favor Cadillacs, Lincolns, Crown Vics and such. Sure you may favor an SUV now or a "aircooled-vw" but I predict that you will mostly conform and eventually drive the cars you now despise.
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>Those in their 70s and 80s are driving their last car in many cases and they seem to favor Cadillacs, Lincolns, Crown Vics and such. Sure you may favor an SUV now or a "aircooled-vw" but I predict that you will mostly conform and eventually drive the cars you now despise.

Or alternatively, they will start a new trend for the "old folks" and in 50 years, all now 20-somethings will be "old folks" driving SUVs!

Jennifer

*singing* this is not your father's SUV !
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I'm with you. I am now 60, and went thru the station wagon thing when my kids were small. Then I went the sedan route. When I was 52, I bought my first 4 wheel drive Jeep. took me 6 months to get used to it. Loved it, and four years later, bought another. next May it is time again, and guess what? Another Jeep. Can turn on a dime, speed all over town, and haul all my plants and mulch with ease. I used to look rather odd hauling all that stuff around in my Lincoln Mark 111, with a bungee cord keeping the trunk tied down. next Jeep will have a step to get in tho, for when I wear a skirt, which isn't often, and a lighted ashtray so I won't keep burning the carpet at night. Other than that, let me grow old in my Jeep. Couldn't even curb park with those monsters I used to own. Yippee!!!!!
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Jennifer, you may be right. The young folks may have to rebel by driving big sedans.
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The car with the longest production run.
When the manufacturer changes the model parts get harder to find, costs rise when you have to manufacture replacement parts. My Ford van, 1976, bought new, runs great. I think the Jaguar convertible looks so good it will be worth driving forever!
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Mike,

I second your opinion on the Cadillacs. I bought a 94 Sedan de Ville as a program car from a dealer in early 1995 with 16000 miles on it. Now with over 90,000 miles, the service has been minimal. I have driven BMWs, Prosches and Mercedes. I wouldn't give you a nickel for any of them. The seats are as hard and unyielding as church pews. Everything about them was stiff and unfriendly. In contrast, the very large and highly adjustable seats of my Caddy are a dream. Driving this car is as comfortable as sitting in my LazyBoy recliner. I change the oil every 3000 miles and wash it regularly. I'm on my second set of tires. The battery finally gave up after 5 years. I have had no engine or transmission work done, other than fluid and belt replacements. I did have to replace worn brakes and shocks. All this comfort and 28 miles to the gallon with V-8 power--can't beat it with a stick.
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I don't think it is possible to buy just one car for life, but here in Vermont we have a solution for rust -- hot oil undercoating.

You do it twice a year in Spring and Fall, but you can get away with just once per year, with Spring preferred. Costs around $40 for a car. They guarantee no rust if you do it twice a year.

It makes a gooky mess and the car drips oil for a few days, and then off and on, such as on a very hot day, but it beats losing a car to rust.

I had a Subaru with only 80K miles. It was hit and could have been fixed for $1200, but the rust made fixing uneconomical.

When I was young I bought a new Jeep, thinking it would last for 20 years (pause here for laughter), but it had rust holes after two years (and that was NOT in Vermont).

When I married, my wife had a new car. Unfortunately, a Chevelle V-8 that got 12mpg. When this car hit 95K, it wasn't worth fixing. We bought an 84 Olds Cutlass Supreme V-6 that got 20mpg. In 1991, we inherited a 1990 Camry, so we sold the Olds, which had a bit of rust.

At the same time we had the 84 Subaru for winter use, and after my wife wrecked that, we wound up with a used 1990 Corolla 4WD.

Since we only drive each car 6K miles per year, and oil undercoat, I expect that we will have them a while barring accident or a new technology such as hybrid that makes keeping these cars uneconomical.
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IF writes:
"Don't stop, Steve. Keep giving us more stereotypes. Here's a few more. Majority of SUV owner are constantly on their cell phone, being a hazard to other drivers. Liberals like VW Beetles. Men in midlife crisis drive Corvettes. Snobs drive Saabs.

My experience as a Ford Explorer owner. SUV's are more expensive to maintain because parts and labor are more expensive. But the frequency of repairs and maintenance (other than brakes) is no more frequent than other vehicles I have owned.

Very rarely do I go offroad. Why own a SUV? I spend alot of time in the mountains during the winter. I prefer the security of 4WD. (I've been through alot of snowstorms.) I need luggage capacity. Very few minivans come in 4WD.

..IF"

Well, I would say touche, IF, except it doesn't sound like you've ever had to coax, cajole, browbeat, wheedle or put up with customers' crapola for the sake of a paycheck that will just cover the month's rent at the old trailer park, put gas in the old guzzler, food in the belly and pay 13 dollars a credit for community college on a continual basis, all for the worse part of 15 years. Too honest for my own good, it occurs to me, but I don't regret it. I do regret not having made enough to pay for my final two years of my undergraduate education, but that's student loans under the bridge.

My point, IF: when a working person is forced by circumstances and situation into being a sales person (no sale, no decent paycheck) instead of a customer service specialist, then that person learns to size people up in a hurry, in the same way those commissioned sales vultures out on the front lot of the dealership learn to screen victims...er, prequalify potential buyers to see if they are a "good up," or a, if you all will pardon the car sales lingo, "jerk off." In other words, do they have money, or are they looking for a cheap way to kill a few hours (by beating up salesmen, to put it into the vernacular)? An example: Volkswagen beetle, kind of banged up, mismatched tires, holes in the exhaust (you'd be surprised what we can spot about a car as soon as it rolls onto a lot), gross polluter, pain to try and lower emissions, 40 percent of 19.95 (cost of the smog test), plus 40 percent of roughly 40.00 (diagnostics and adjustments as necessary and pretty well impossible on an old Bug), plus the guy's gonna bust yer chops since it's an old beater and he's never spent much on it and why should he now? Net result: "Sorry, sir, you'll have to take it to a Volkswagen specialist. We're not set up to test those things." Get rid of him, because something clean will come in, and if it fails, more than likely the owner won't give you a hard way to go, and the adjustments/repairs are most likely minor. You see? Prejudging to save an emotional battering (whatdya mean you won't use my parts!? Whatdya mean ya wanna charge me for adjustments!?) for the sake of less than 20 dollars on the old paycheck, pretax.

There are exceptions to every rule, I'll happily grant you, IF. But you get beat up emotionally for long enough and it gets progressively more difficult to look for those exceptions. And an average of 20k a year gross over a 15 year period can cause a guy deep pathologies, you know? Especially in So. CA.

Enough of my whine. I do enjoy your posts, IF.

Steve
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Well, I would say touche, IF, except it doesn't sound like you've ever had to coax, cajole, browbeat, wheedle or put up with customers' crapola for the sake of a paycheck that will just cover the month's rent at the old trailer park, put gas in the old guzzler, food in the belly and pay 13 dollars a credit for community college on a continual basis, all for the worse part of 15 years. Too honest for my own good, it occurs to me, but I don't regret it. I do regret not having made enough to pay for my final two years of my undergraduate education, but that's student loans under the bridge.

Wow, so if I say I'm driving a great car, I couldn't have possibly worked my way through school by working all the time and spending my summers in a cannery ?

Jacki
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<<There are exceptions to every rule, I'll happily grant you, IF. But you get beat up emotionally for long enough and it gets progressively more difficult to look for those exceptions.>>

Steve
I would like to think I'm one of the exceptions to the sized up sterotype when I come on the lot. In the case of VW Beetles the family fleet has always passed Colorado emissions first try without the mechanic making adjustments. My parents '71 still gets zero's on the the tailpipe test checking for Carbon Monoxide and Hydrocarbons. My brother's '73 passes first try. My '59 doesn't get zero's, but still passes without adjustmnets. The '59 looks like a rolling scrap heap, but is mechanicly sound. The one I liked was when a mechanic tried to sell me ball joints for it. Since the '59 has king pins I wonder what bad part he would have showed me he replaced. When it comes to the SUV's ours is the functionality of a minivan that is capable of towing a trailer unlike minivans.

~~paul
Generalizations are ALWAYS bad. 8-)
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First of all I believe that the stradegy of only buying one more car will not be successful. Given the nature of the beast the increased down time as the various systems of the car wear out and the frustration caused by being without wheels regularly sometimes for extended periods will drive you mad.

If I could only buy one more vehicle it would be a Toyota something. During the past twelve years I have owned 2 Toyota pickup trucks. The first was a 2WD the current is 4WD. In that time I have not broken down even once. I have paid out less than $500 (total!) in repairs. The first truck I bought with 14,000 miles on it. I bought it for $5000 drove it for 168,000 miles and then sold it for $4200. I was in perfect running condition when I sold it. I bought the second truck new in July 1994. It now has 140,000 miles on it. Other than normal maintenance items (tires, belts hoses etc) I have not had any repairs. I realize that a pick up truck is not everyones cup of tea, but I understand that Toyota cars are very reliable also.

I had a freind who was a Volvo/Mercedes mechanic for 20 years. His opinion of these two cars was very low from a mechanical stand point (his personal car was a Toyota). Cadillacs are merely dressed up Chevrolets. Need I say more. If you are going for super-long-term reliability avoid cars loaded with items such as electric this and that, heated seats and etc. These are just more things that can go wrong (and eventually will). That's my two cents worth.

Onlegged

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