Sunday, August 05, 2007

Cheapskate car statistics

I bought my first car in 1982--A 1962 Valiant that I paid $125 for. Slant 6, 96,000 on the odometer when it finally died, and I assumed it was actually 196,000. Drove it for about 10,000 miles over about a year, then I couldn't afford insurance. Total repairs--About $6 in brake springs. A friend borrowed it for a while, gave it back with a bad rear wheel bearing. Another friend bought it, and tried to transplant it's engine into his Rambler. The Rambler is a story in itself... I've still got the hood, trunk and 2 doors from the Valiant in the loft of my parents barn. 
 Including the Valiant, I've spent a total of $15,195 on cars. 2 were given to me free, but during the tenure of each of those I had another car as well. I've collected insurance on 2 cars that I kept driving. I've junked several, and sold most of them. The total "earnings" from my various cars is $6985, which doesn't count mileage reimbursement. This leaves me with $8200 in total payout (not counting repairs and maintenance) on cars over 25 years, for an average payment of $328.40 per year, or $27.37 per month. 
The most I spent on one car was $2800 on a Nissan Sentra wagon. Drove it for 8 years. Sold it for $400.  
Worst car was a 1989 Toyota Corolla. Was buying it as a spare car. I test-drove it in the evening, I didn't see how badly it smoked for the first 5 minutes it ran. Stranded me once due to a bad battery. Had a badly-leaking radiator that cost $135 (and a couple hours of my time) to replace, then it burst a brake line. Decided that wasn't worth replacing, because the lines were covered with a plastic thing held in by about a hundred rusty screws. I don't think I drove it 400 miles over 6 months. Junked it for $130. 
The most lucrative car was my recently-deceased Pontiac Sunbird, that I found for sale while walking back from my parents' garage where I was trying to fix the Corolla. Paid $450. Collected $675 in mileage for three trips to Detroit, spent about $120 of that in gas. I was run off the road by a commercial truck, was paid $1975 to "repair" my car. Didn't repair it other than putting a junkyard wheel and tire on for $20. Wound up with what I presume was a head gasket leak and some sort of vacuum problem. When the vacuum problem started affecting the brakes, I quit driving it except to take it to the range twice to use for an IDPA range prop--We did several scenarios where we drew and fired from the car, or left the car and fired from behind it. 
 I'm currently driving my wife's Nissan Sentra with a bad transmission--When it is hot, it often doesn't want to shift into high gear. She doesn't have to go far, so she's driving the $400 S-10 with 260,000 miles I bought to haul crap for the house. The S-10 has one seatbelt, no headliner, dash lights or radio, drivers' door window doesn't roll back up--You have to lift the window with one hand, roll the handle with the other. No grill, black body, blue driver's door, red bed. These are below even my standards, so I'm actually shopping for a replacement. I hate car shopping.


  1. My best two cars were Honda Accords; the 1980 hatchback with 93,000 miles that I bought for 800 bucks in 1993 and drove for a gazillion more miles until it died, and the *gasp* new one I bought a couple of years ago after getting tired of crappy cars. God, I loved the old one.

    Car shopping sucks.

  2. I love not having a car payment, don't imagine that I would ever want to, really.

    Shopping might suck, but thankfully it only comes around once in a blue moon.