Would You Buy Your Old Car Again?

There are plenty of things we remember fondly enough to say to ourselves “I would like to re-live that experience”. But when it comes to big-ticket items in life the chance does not come along very often. And when it does, it can cause some deep thought. I have now had that option appear for a second time when I saw my first house for sale recently. And the decision was not as hard as the first time because Marianne is not moving back to a place with a total of two closets. But last time it was all up to me.

That was the time I had the chance to re-purchase a car (one of my very favorites) I had sold to a friend. Around 1995 I had cash in my pocket and was looking for a second car. In my world, especially at that time, the “second car” was not the same thing as “the good car”. The second car had four requirements – it had to be inexpensive, it had to be reliable, it had to look decent and it had to be fun and/or interesting. Not necessarily in that order. I have always loved tinkering with old cars and I started looking for one that would make a decent daily driver.

The search yielded a 1968 Chrysler Newport sedan. It was a really nice old car that needed a few things done to bring it up to DD (daily driver status). Those things were done (within budget, even) and I had one of the most satisfying rides of my life. It was powerful, it was comfortable, it was air conditioned, and it was almost perfect. The “almost” being a great big dent in the right rear door, caused when the elderly prior owner lost control in a gas station and somehow ran the door into one of those concrete poles that protects the gas pumps.

Fixing that door was never going to get past the one-woman finance committee at my house, but it opened, closed and sealed perfectly so caused no functional issues. And it was on the passenger side, so I didn’t have to see it often. But when I sat behind that wiiiide, chrome-covered dashboard and listened to the gentle burble of a big pre-emissions Chrysler V8, I felt just like No. Two Son pictured above – totally happy to be right there and I wouldn’t change a thing. OK, I would change the weird combination of beige paint and green interior, but with cool old cars, we get what we get.

After about a year and a half, a friend contacted me and offered to sell me me his late mother’s car. It was lots newer, had fewer miles, and did not have a big dent in the passenger side. I didn’t really want to let go of my Chrysler. We all like what we like, and I liked 1960’s Chryslers a lot better than I liked 1980’s Oldsmobiles, even when the Oldsmobile was a Ninety-Eight Regency, the top of the line. But sometimes we have to act like adults, and that was a suck it up moment for me. I bought the Oldsmobile and prepared to sell the Chrysler.

Right about that time a fellow I worked with had a son in high school who was hot to own a “classic car”. I didn’t really think of my Chrysler as a classic – after all, I had been alive when it was built. But, uh, yeah. I told him all I could about it, they came and looked, and then drove off with my Chrysler, after leaving a stack of hundred dollar bills in my hand. I don’t remember how how big of a stack, but it was a number that I considered fair.

Life went on, but I missed my Chrysler. I especially missed it when I had to replace the transmission in the Oldsmobile. The transmission man explained that even though the car had only a little over 50,000 miles on it, it was a bad design that suffered from lubrication problems caused by a little old lady who drove it so seldom. I paid for a rebuild, which was not a lot less than I had paid for the whole car. The finance committee was not pleased.

Time came and went as my Oldsmobile was upgraded to a twelve year old Cadillac I bought from an elderly neighbor. Then one day my former co-worker called me. His first and then second son had gone off to college and the family no longer had any use for the Chrysler. “I thought I would offer it back to you first in case you were interested” he said to me. He said it was still in about the same condition as when they got it, but for two things. First, his son had cut holes in the door panels for speakers, and the transmission was shot.

This was not my car, but was a random online photo that showed the exact interior trim that went so un-harmoniously with the beige paint. Mine looked every bit this good, and perhaps a little nicer.

I had not expected to think so hard about this, but I did. The door panels were pretty easy – replacements should have been find-able. The interior was green, which was a popular color then, so there had to be a few out there. And the transmission rebuild for a 60’s Chrysler would surely cost a lot less than one for an 80″s Oldsmobile. I even called the shop and I was right – about half what I had paid.

I really, really wanted my Chrysler back. But that adult gene kicked back in. I realized that I had “been there, done that”. I had bought it, owned it, enjoyed it, but I had moved on. As much as I had enjoyed my time with it, I was not willing to make room in my life for it to come back, especially as I was sure it would require work to get it back to the kind of condition I would require for something I would drive everyday. And instead of being almost thirty years old it was now on the way towards forty.

So I had to call my friend back and tell him that while I appreciated his offer, I would not be re-adopting the Chrysler. He understood and said he had a couple of other people who had expressed interest, so it all worked out. I have no idea whatever became of it.

Sometimes I wonder if I made the wrong decision. I have not had a car since that I have found as deeply satisfying as that one. There was something about it that massaged my psyche in all the right places and gave me enjoyment every time I drove it. But then again, I have to acknowledge that past performance is no guarantee of future results, so taking on a car that was older and with more use under its belt might not give me the same experience I had enjoyed.

It is said that “you can’t go home again”. But every once in awhile and the opportunity presents itself to say “maybe you can”, we are forced to remember a second saying – Just because you can doesn’t mean you should. And I am not sure this is an actual saying, but in my case I add one more – not buying my Chrysler back was the best decision that I still regret.

31 thoughts on “Would You Buy Your Old Car Again?

  1. In nearly every case, no. However, not quite two years ago I did purchase a reasonable facsimile of a vehicle I had previously owned. It was in much better shape and, despite being four model years newer, was older upon purchase than its predecessor had been at any point during my ownership.

    The jury is still out on the wisdom of my having done so however I grin and feel rather carefree when I drive it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Buying a different one like one you had before would be different, I think, and easier to justify. You can talk yourself into believing that the little niggling problems with the old one will never affect the one you are considering, for example. Doesn’t every old car induce magical thinking into people like you and me? Maybe that is what is necessary to make the purchase happen. With one you previously owned and know well, that magical thinking is impossible.

      Like

  2. I got on the Japanese car train pretty early, back in 1975. I had a few really poor quality American cars, and since I was working as an advertising photographer, and using Japanese photo equipment that many times put the Germans to shame, I decided I was done with American car problems and bought into Toyota. Never regretted my decision. In a lifetime of driving Japanese, I’ve never replaced and engine or transmission, or even had them worked on, in a series of cars I drove to between 180,000 and 200,000 miles. There are things I would not have been able to do in my life, like start my own business, if I had been dumping money into poor quality American cars as much as my friends did. I was amazed when I moved to Indianapolis in 2013-14, how many people were still such vocal American car drivers, I had to tell them, that in the upper mid-west, your grandparents were already driving Hondas by the late 1980’s!

    Anyway, the most utile and wonderful car I ever owned was the Toyota Scion xB, early series 2005. The little box. Plenty of stories on the internet about how Toyota killed the xB by redesigning it post 2006, in a stouter body vehicle with a much bigger, and needless, engine, and harder egress, thereby killing the marque. It never reached the sales that the earlier models had, and faded out a few years ago. This car was the easiest driving, easiest sitting, and most useful car I ever owned. Even the back seats were like sitting in an English cab. When I went places with a group of friends, I was always “made” to drive, as everyone liked sitting in it! I did everything I could to keep that car in tip-top shape, but it was not as easy as past Toyota models I had, it was beginning to be the “twilight” of Toyota’s dependability ratings. Sure, the engine and trans, no problems in 186,000 miles, but the wheel bearings and exhaust were beaten pretty badly by the substandard Indiana roadways (I never replaced wheel bearings on any Toyota until I lived in Indy). In addition, it had a chronic EVAP problem (the exhaust monitor), which was no problem in Indy, but it wouldn’t pass the exhaust test in a state that had one. I fixed it once, and it went out again two years later. By the time I got back to the upper mid-west, and needed a test again, I would have had to put another 800 bucks into it, as well as the wheel bearings, and replacing the sub-standard wheels that had rusted and refused to hold air (also another “new” Toyota problem I never had before). I struggled for weeks with the idea that if I just got all the stuff repaired, I’d still have the car, but that was a substantial down payment on a new Kia Soul. As you say, I had to do the adult thing and buy the new vehicle (got literally nothing for the trade in, 500 bucks).

    Two weeks later, I’m over at the cigar lounge, and there’s a little car lot next to them, which I know favors those xB’s, old series “box” and new; and there sits my 2005 xB, in the back. Apparently, all the dealers know this guys love of the xB, so mine ended up there. I watched for a few weeks, and it ended up on the front of the lot, selling for 2300 bucks, which was far less than the repairs would have cost at Toyota, and still with the problematic rusty wheels that wouldn’t hold air. I can’t tell you how many times I drove by there and fingered my wallet, wondering if I should buy it back, thank God it was gone in a week. I still see same year models driving around, and my brother is always telling me I could buy a ‘granny driven’ model with far less mileage than I had, for not very much money. On my “lotto list”, one of the things to do is to start buying up and restoring those old series xB’s!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Your experience with your xB shows that you totally get my dilemma.

      I have reluctantly come around to your view on modern US cars. My experience with both Japanese and now Korean brands has been uniformly excellent. I still love some of the US stuff, but as a buy-and-hold kind of guy, I would be reluctant to place a long term bet there.

      But if you go back before 1970, there was a lot to love about the big, traditional American car, and there were enough benefits in comfort and power and basic durability that it offset more frequent (but mostly inexpensive) repairs, along with the terrible rust Japanese cars of that time suffered.

      Like

  3. I’ve only had four cars, the first three of which have been lemons with a capital “L” and my current car, which will be eleven years old next month, with only 8,700 miles has been very good until this year, when it, like its owner, has become quirky. I’m ready to blame its disobedience on climate change – is this doable JP?

    Earlier this week, I had it at a shop which I’ve entrusted my cars to for nearly twenty years. I trust them implicitly. My A/C quit working though I had it charged last August. They have recharged it and put dye in – if it leaks, I have to come back and they’ll no what to fix. Well, great … just great. My driver’s side window suddenly developed a mind of its own – roll it down 1/3 because of no A/C, that was all good – roll it a smidge further and it went all the way down and back again. Cool – maybe if it was a stung car. No, I was told it will only get worse, then likely stick down permanently. A new regenerator for $185.00 cured that problem. But worst of all was the locks which have developed a mind of their own. The two passenger-side doors cannot be opened without leaning across the seat and if you open them, while you’re driving they will open up on their own. In this day of crazies who might use the opportunity to step inside your car at the stoplight/stop sign, no thanks – I try not to use the doors. The driver’s side door near me unlocks itself while driving. This is disconcerting, so for $300.00 a lock/button, if the new parts for this 2009 LaCrosse CXL can be located, they will be replaced – yikes! I researched and found some tidbits in a car chat forum, like it only happened in Buick LaCrosse and Lucerne models, circa 2005-2009, and after their 77,000 to 79,000th unlocking/locking and Buick is aware of the issue. Believe me, I’ve not come close to that many unlocking/locking efforts. They never had a recall as I follow a recall site for my VIN # and the people in the forum said as much, but when I get my bill, I’m going to write and asked why this could happen and try to recoup some $$. I did that when I had to replace brakes at the dealership three times, three sets of brakes and was given a voucher, then we had the GM brake litigation.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The exceptionally light use your cars get can bring its own problems, but it does seem that you have had more difficulties than one should have to put up with. I am sure some will disagree with me, but I think that GM has spent most of the last 50 years coasting on the goodwill it built up during the previous 50.

      Liked by 2 people

      • I agree with that statement JP. If you turn on the news, it seems to be one recall after another, mostly GM products … silly things, like a part left out or not fastened properly.
        It will get worse with electric vehicles and their grandiose plan to be all EVs in the next fifteen years. They had their glory days and you’d think with downsizing their brand as a result of bankruptcy, etc. it might have helped them get a handle on these car issues, consumer complaints, but it has not.

        Liked by 1 person

  4. If I were ever going to buy back a vehicle it would be my 1976 Chevy pickup I had some years ago but blew the engine in. I miss a couple of vehicles but I would not go out of the way to buy them back.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be fun to find an actual car you owned years ago and buy it back. The difference would be that most of the time you would buy it knowing that you would have to pretty much refurbish everything to get it back to where it was. There are a handful I would buy back if they came available, including a 1929 Ford Model A coupe with a rumbleseat that I owned in the early 90s. But most of them are surely long in the junkyards by now.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I love those green seats – very cool and so vintage! I would never re-buy any of my earlier GM cars, not even the racy Pontiac Fiero from the early 80’s, which I tried to keep for a few years after I bought a new car, but finally sold off because of storage issues. One of my great-uncles worked/possibly even sat on the board in the earlier days of GM in Detroit, (he died in 1914 at the age of 32 and GM sent a wreath of a wheel with one of the spokes missing and I’ve often wondered if he was a casualty of one of the early assembly lines accidents, you know how family stories can often make a relative’s job more important than what it actually was), so I grew up in a family that only bought GM. (I should blog about him sometime, as I have his gold watch engraved with his initials which also happen to be mine). But after I bought my Honda Civic I would never go back to GM. I had a few minor issues early days when the warranty was still on, but it has been a dependable car with no problems, just requiring regular maintenance etc. It’s 14 years old now (160,000 km) and I need to think about replacing it, but you know the color issue…and the mechanic keeps telling me what great shape it’s in, so I procrastinate. I might also consider Toyota.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Joni, as a life long Toyota driver, I recommend you stick with Honda. Toyota seemed to go off the rails sometime in the mid-to-late 2000’s, when their philosophy seemed to start to emulate GM, and in fact, they kept wanting to “beat” GM in world wide car sales, instead of building quality vehicles on all levels. This was the beginning of their slide into being “not so hot” unless you were buying the priciest models. I can go on for pages with examples, but let’s just say that there’s been a real fall-off in metallurgy, coatings and parts like starters and water-pumps in some of the more value models that make them not worth the bother. After driving Toyotas since 1975, I decided to buy a Honda Fit in 2020, but my local Honda dealer was so well known as a problem dealership, I opted for a Kia Soul and negotiated on the full stem-to-stern warranty for 100,000 miles instead of just the drive-train. Happy with the car and the deal. I will say I live in sort of a “bridge neighborhood” between a pretty poor area and a pretty rich one, and my walking paths take me into both; and what I’ve seen in the wealthy area is that driveways that would have been filled with Toyota products 10 years ago, are all Subaru now! I don’t anything about them!

      Liked by 2 people

      • Thanks for the advice Andy! My grasscutter is always bragging about how happy he is with his Toyota, but his second car is a 2004 Honda Civic, which should speak for itself. It’s in such great shape, but he had to get the odometer fixed when it hit 300,000 Km as it didn’t go above that. I don’t like the Honda dealership here either, the mechanic shop is okay (but pricey and an ever revolving door of high staff turnover), but the sales people would rather spit on you than actually wait on you. I might buy out of town. I have a friend who loves her Kia. I don’t know anything about Subarus either.

        Like

      • Joni, as an FYI, and life long Toyota buyer, let me just say that where ever I’ve lived, I’ve always gotten great dealer service from the oldest Toyota dealer, and especially ones that have never been associated with American car dealerships, but stand alone Toyota backers from day one back in the 70’s! They are the true believers! My local Honda dealer is NOT one of those, and simply an old “hack” GM dealer that really doesn’t get the Japanese car mentality, which is why most of us won’t use him! It’s a good rule of thumb! The old American car dealers that bought in, late to the party, are still trying to pull stuff that I’m sure the Japanese and Korean car manufacturers would not be happy with if they knew.

        Liked by 1 person

    • I grew up in an extended family that bought more Oldsmobiles than you could shake a stick at, and every one of them gave good service. But I think things took a nasty turn with them in the late 70s. I fell in love with older Chrysler products in the 70s, which was kind of a lottery – if you got a good one, it was really good – and most of the older ones that people had kept a long time tended to be the good ones.

      When I met Marianne she had just bought a new Honda Accord, which she still had when we got married. That car was a revelation to me about what a trouble-free car looked like. I am still driving the new Honda we bought in late 2006 and have also been treated extremely well by the new Kia we bought several years later. I have reached an age where as much as I may love some of the new US models, I now value the total lack of service drama that the Japanese (and now Korean) cars are providing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • J.P, you can’t believe how many times I’ve heard of someone with one of these muy expensive GM trucks that cost 45K, that need a $7K to $8K engine rebuild 5 thousand miles out of warranty (60K warranty) and they still owe about 40% of the loan. These kind of things have been going on for a number of years, especially with GM and Chrysler, and yet the same people go back and rebuy the same brand and vehicle! Seems like people would learn their lesson…. This even happened to the person that owned my last apartment building in Indy, and she was mad enough about it that the next time I saw her, she was in a Lexus.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Our Honda’s are the same age – I got mine in May 2006. My grasscutter’s is from 2004, so there’s no doubt it’s a long haul car. But I’m wondering if it’s like fridges etc – where the newer models are just not made to last like the old ones did? I see so many people driving these brand new vehicles (often leased) upgrading every few years as they have to have the latest model and the lease is only a few dollars more so why not, and I wonder why…..it seems such a waste of money. Nothing wrong with driving an older car. Mine still looks pretty good on the outside too, despite a few scratches, and I don’t have to worry about it the way you do with a brand new car where you’re parking at the far end of the parking lot to avoid that first mark on the finish.

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Sure would be nice to get an old COAL member back, but I’d have to say no. More maintenance, more parts replacement, only for a car that would inevitably be lightly driven. Oh I almost forgot the long winters where it would stay dormant, taking up valuable garage space.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I grew up with and drove Mom’s 1962 Mercury Comet S-22 (story on Curbside Classic). It was rusty, got hit, was sold; doubt it exists now. I still have a nostalgic feeling for Comets, and would buy a ’60 or ’61 if one became available (I like the fins & taillights on those early ones better). In 2014, I bought a ’58 Ford Custom 300 six, which is Comet-like in certain details (inside door handles, foot pedals, fins, steering wheel, etc.)

    The problem with the old car hobby is lack of storage space. If I see another old car I like, it forces a heartbreaking decision of which among the present fleet will have to be sold to make room. A wealthy doctor I knew solved that problem by building two barns to house his collection of 30+ ‘forties & ‘fifties models.

    As for your situation, finding another excellent Mopar sedan from the 50s-60s might be a satisfying choice. I had a ’62 Imperial from 2008-2015, and I definitely understand the appeal of those cars!

    My former Imperial is shown here:
    https://car-from-uk.com/sale.php?id=133938&country=ca

    Liked by 1 person

    • Space is definitely a problem. I used to know a lawyer who was hugely into old cars. He built big pole barn that housed many of them. And then an unusually heavy snowfall caused a roof collapse and many of them suffered heavy damage.

      The other problem is time. My most recent foray into the “toy car” was my 97 Miata. If there was ever a car that fit the collector bill that was it – a small footprint, not expensive, unbelievable parts support, modern safety and convenience features. But I sold it after 4 or 5 years because I watched as my used went down by about half every year. I enjoyed driving it, but found myself lacking time to make the improvements I wanted to make. We all have the same amount of time every week, but there are other priorities that get in the way. I would still be open to another old car in my life but the list of what I would look at has gotten a lot smaller. I must say that you have had some beauties.

      Like

    • Stephen,
      For one reason or another, which escapes me from the years gone by, when I was a young lad I had a ride in one of these Imperials, with my parents. It was driven by a friend of my Dad, and it was nighttime, so most of the details escape me. However, when we were dropped off, I stood as that car rode by me and I saw those rocket shaped taillights go by, so smoothly, and I was captivated. Perhaps i was seven or eight. The dark coloured car with that bright red taillight on top of the fender was just something my kid’s eye had never seen before. It was then I knew I had been in a special kind of car, one to be remembered. Great photos on the car from UK website. Thanks for sharing.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Another cool thing was, if you were a passenger (especially in the back seat) you could look behind you and see the glowing red taillights activating at night! The twin lights resembled a jet fighter’s afterburner flame. Between that and the out-of-this-world dashboard, it was quite a surreal machine!

        Like

  8. I saw my old Triumph TR4 for sale online a couple of years ago, in similar condition but 10 times the price as I sold it for.
    I sent the guy ( same guy I sold it to) that I might be interested at the price I sold it to him for, but thankfully he did not respond.
    I’d like another Triumph someday, but certainly not that one.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have had a few cars triumph over me through the years, but fortunately none of them was actually named Triumph so as to remind me that I was the one vanquished. For example, there is a certain 1961 Thunderbird that might be running around out there somewhere that would make me break into a full run in the other direction if I ever actually saw it again. But more likely it is sitting in someone’s garage as he contemplates how to handle the structural rust hidden under the nice paint job.

      Like

      • HA HA, had a Triumph GT 6 Mk III, 1973, that certainly Triumphed over me! I used to go to the “Brit Car” show in Zionsviille Indiana and you’d be lucky to see one. So poorly build they all just blew up! That, and a series of bad American cars, made me buy into Toyota in 1975! An early adopter. All hail the Mazda Miata, the “Brit Car Roadster” experience, with Japanese dependability! I used to rent them from Budget rental in Chicago and Milwaukee around my birthday, just to get my “buzz”.

        Liked by 1 person

  9. I am not brave enough to buy a “fun” car. I need to feel that a car can get me reliably from point a to point be every time. For me, that usually means buying a fairly new car from a dealer, keeping it for as long as possible and maintaining it well. I sure like the idea of a fun car, though!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those of us who do not follow your tendencies will, in unguarded moments, dream about how much better our finances and mental health would be if we did. 🙂

      Like

  10. My first car was a 1980’s Nissan Sentra that could only be described as practical. The most basic hatch-backed sedan you ever saw, white w/ a light blue cloth interior. I’ll never forget that car, and being my first it had extreme sentimental value. When I saw your blog title I thought you meant “buy today’s version of your former car”. With the Nissan Sentra, today’s version might as well be a different make and model. Put the today’s and yesterday’s side-by-side and you’d never know they were the “same”. No thanks. Wouldn’t take either one today but the old one was a keeper while I had it.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to be able to buy a car with a light blue interior today. We didn’t appreciate those colors selections inside when we had them. And it just now occurs to me that out of my first 7 cars (all built between 1959 and 1985 and owned between 1977 and 1985), all but one of them was black, gray or tan inside. Boy did I fail!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s