06 October 2005

The $800 car . . . the reasons

I got customers in this cycle. It pains me to see them agonize over whether to fix a car they promised me they'd only run for the summer, the winter, until I find another one, you've grown to love it, whatever. I have a guy with an '85 Olds Custom Cruiser or some shit. You know the one, the big fat station wagon with the redwood trees on the side. V-8 of course, carbureted, a million miles on it. 5 years ago, he bought it 'just to get him through the winter'. 5 years ago. He's put more money into the fucking thing in the last 5 years, he could have bought 2 new ones . . . cash.

Every year it gets harder to get it though emissions inspection and every year it costs him more money. We beg him to get rid of it. I offered him $500 bucks for it just to get it away from him. Nope. He's got thousands into it and he can't bear to walk away from the investment. Rule: A car is not, never was, never will be, an investment. I don't give a shit if it's a classic, antique, whatever, you'll always sink more money into it than you ever get out of it.

Like the guy with the 20 year old Coupe DeVille with the 4100 HT motor (junk when it was new; we say the 'HT' stands for 'hand-tight') and a million miles on it and would rather stick close to a grand into it for a water pump and radiator instead of taking the plates off it and calling the scrap yard. Sometimes it doesn't pay to be a good mechanic. If he'd go to some of the other clowns in the area, the thing would be in the junkyard by now.

Anyway, try to stay out of the cycle of dumping money into a piece of shit. If you can buy new, do it and get rid of it before the warranty runs out. If you have to buy used, get the newest car you can and try to stick to the solid nameplates. And always, always have your mechanic look at a used car before any money changes hands.

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