In June, I mentioned that I bought a rather large vehicle as my first car, and there might be ‘concerns’ surrounding why. Allow me to explain.

Let’s look at each of these concerns:


 Gas guzzler!

The thought of excessive fuel consumption is one many would consider when purchasing a car today.  Even when I started driving, gasoline wasn’t free.  But, it was hovering around a dollar a gallon, so it could also seem relatively inexpensive, depending on where you are on earth then.

And while it did have a 5.7 liter V8 and a 21-gallon gas tank, it did average about 25-27 miles to the gallon (highway mileage.  It was about 17-18 city driving).  Which if you do the math, is around a 500+ mile range in this car.  My present car is more fuel efficient, but I can’t go that far on a single tank of gas.  And I can assure you I was testing my driving range often since I wasn’t spending much on that ‘cheap’ gas.


Imports were better, especially then!

I would agree that several cars could likely be less maintenance than this one.  However, given this car was 20+ years old by the time I got it, not only was ‘maintenance-free’ not applicable to this car, it probably wasn’t applicable to many others of the same age.  A 1976 Honda Civic may have started as a more reliable car, but after 300k miles and 20+ years, it might not be.  Rubber goes bad, no matter how good it was to start with, and time is merciless to metal and protective coatings (like paint).

I would also consider the demographic that was likely to drive the vehicle when it was new, and as it aged.  A large older car is more likely to have an elderly driver.  In the late 20th century, the average Buick owner was likely nearing retirement, if not already.  My grandfather bought his new.  In the 1970s! These were going to start out well cared for, even if they didn’t end up that way later.

Smaller cars were not owned in significant numbers by the elderly (Where I live.  A ‘small’ car to them would likely be larger than anything Honda was trying to import in the 1970s), so you run the risk of a car not being cared for.  Not because a person was hard on the car, but likely for the same reason I wasn’t a great steward of my first car: I wasn’t rich.  It’s tough to buy a new radio for your car when you need to save up for an oil change (The priority here is obvious. So obvious that I feel like pointing it out would just be silly.  Even if I hadn’t bought the 6x9s yet…).  And I really didn’t like the fact most of those cars didn’t have power anything.  Including power steering.

I will add this aside:  Of all the problems I had with my car, none were with the things most would assume to be problematic:  All the power accessories (mine had power windows/locks/seats, etc.) worked in the car.  I replaced the transmission twice, but I could go out to my undrivable car and roll down the windows and listen to the stereo any time I wanted.

And while having a car prone to ‘expensive’ breakdowns may seem an issue, it’s worth noting that I don’t think I spent more than 2k keeping that car on the road, including oil changes (and transmissions).  The breakdowns were expensive because of poor money management, not because they actually cost too much.  If I hadn’t bought that awesome stereo for it, I probably could’ve afforded a remanufactured transmission (complete with every wear component replaced with something better, I’m sure), instead of a more basic repair that got the car going again.  But where’s that fun in that?  Not only would I not have a radio, but I also wouldn’t even be able to hear the transmission once it was done!

Wasn’t it expensive to put gas into it? (Probably burns 3 gallons to the mile!)

Um, I think I addressed this earlier, but let me reiterate: I saw gas prices as low as 79 cents a gallon to about 1.13 per gallon when I owned this car. And while I wasn’t keeping it full (that was like twenty bucks to fill it up! that’s food for two weeks!  Do you know how many 50 cent cheeseburgers I could buy with twenty bucks?), I’ll just say my struggles to keep gas in this car were not related strictly to finances.  I found a lot of uses for money beyond keeping gas in the tank.

Enough about cars.  And enough about me.  I was young once, that’s what we can take away from this.  Let’s see what else this kid had in mind to write, even as he was completing this book.  Next week: The other projects.  I touched on one, so let’s go there again.

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