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Tuesday, August 6, 2013

My economy car



When I got married back in 79 I owned a Honda Civic CVCC. It was a tiny two door hatchback. By the time my third child arrived, I needed a bigger car. Besides, we'd driven the wheels off that little car. It was worn out. Of course, we were a young family with not much money, so our options were limited.

I bought an old Dodge station wagon with a small block 318 engine for $50. The car had a blown torque converter. I knew nothing about replacing one of those, but the library had books and I could read. A work buddy found a used torque converter in an abandon car in a field. He charged me $35.

With the help of library books, I repaired the car. When I started it up, the engine made a loud knocking noise. Someone told me to put a can of this special oil cleaner stuff in the engine and it would quiet the lifters. Worked like a charm. Apparently there was some gunk plugging the orifices.

So for less than $100 I had a fully functional car, so I called it my economy car. I could afford a lot of gas because I had no car payments. If I was driving it alone and unloaded, the car got 18-20 mpg. Fully loaded with the whole family for a camping trip it got 18-20 mpg.

I drove it for two years. The only other major repair was a water pump. A rebuilt water pump for that car was $35. A friend helped me change it. No problem.

It had a broken gas gauge so I used a wooden dip stick that I would stick in the gas tank to see how much gas was left.

The old car was ugly as sin. American cars of that time period rusted out badly. The previous owner worked in a safety clothing shop. All the rust holes were patched with Kevlar scraps. The old Dodge was literately bullet proof. There was no way it would ever be pretty, but we loved that car.

After two years we were in a good enough position financially to be able to buy a new car. It was a cheap economy car that didn't even come with a radio, but it was new. The old Dodge had served us well, but how much can one expect from a $50 car?

-Sixbears

20 comments:

  1. They paid more than that for it, but the best car my folks ever had was a used '64 Chevy Impala wagon with a 298. That engine was still running after 20 years, though rust had caused the old fliver to be retired to farm duty.

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    1. Rust killed most of the cars up here in NH. The rust proofing is much better now.

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  2. I think we all have had a car like that.They will always be rememberd fondly.Mine was a 77chevett paid 200 for it drove it for 6 years it had no started(i pushed)exaust was held by coat hanger.Were the cars tuffer or was we so broke we made do and didnt care?

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    1. You got all those years out of a 200 Chevett? Wow.

      I think we made do because we had to. . . pretty much like now, actually.

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  3. My first one was a '49 chevy, my Dad's old work car! Bought it from him for '50 dollars and drove it many years!

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    1. That's going back a ways. I loved those old Chevys.

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  4. My own first car was a old battered 2CV van. Engine of less than 500cc. Speed down hill with the wind astern 40 miles an hours! The bodywork was repaired with somne 2x4 and a few nails...Fencing wire and gaffer tape were also part of the tool kit. I wish I could have that car again, but they are very expensive now even if you can get one. And it came with a graduated dip stick for the fuel tank!

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    1. What a joy that must have been to drive!

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    2. A little slow, but I didn't care! Took me all over the place in France. I finally gave it to a friend wo drove around wit it for a couple of years longer, until one of te doors fell off wen e was going down hill!

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    3. A car that takes a person all over France can't be all bad.

      The door falling off is one of those signs that maybe it's time to move on. Must have been funny to watch.

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  5. I had a fifty dollar car too. It kept going for years and driving it was a wonderful experience.
    I don't want to say those were the days but I think I might have to...

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  6. 1951 Ford F-1 pickup with a flathead V-8.Paid $165 and drove it 3 yrs in high school. Sold for $300 with new paint job we did in a field with a spray rig.
    Shoulda kept it.
    Bigfoot in TX

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    1. I've got few regrets about the cars I've left behind. When I was done with them, there wasn't much left.

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  7. I've never had a $50 car, but I've always driven 'economy class', never owning a brand new one. My 1st pickup was a '75 Dodge Adventurer that had a bullet proof 318 engine that was EASY to work on, tons of room under the hood to work with that one. The fuse box was easy to get to also - open the glove box and there it was, in your face. Bench seat, power nothing except for steering, you didn't drive it, you pointed it and it just went there smooooooth . . . :^)

    I get misty eyed thinking about that truck. I bought it for $3500 with camper with a little over 79,000 miles and sold it for $900 with 329,000 plus. Over those miles, I probably put in as much as I paid for it for repairs, but it was worth it, it NEVER left me stranded where it was a major pain to get out.

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    1. I miss having an engine I could work on. My mechanic is doing a 4 hour job right now to replace a $3 part. Of course, Ford vans are a royal pain to work on.

      That pickup treated you right. Lot of miles there.

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  8. Early in my military career I paid twenty-five dollars for a VW van....never altered the title. On a trip thru Mississippi something went bang. I pulled the van over to the side of road, left the keys, and hitchhiked to Jackson. Far as I know it's still sitting there. I figured, what the heck, it was only twenty-five bucks....sure wish I had kept it.

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    1. Driving in Mississippi in a car that wasn't titled to you? Probably a good thing you abandoned it.

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  9. My first car was a '76 MGB. I was 18 and didn't know any better. Besides, it was cute! But God works in mysterious ways. Because I bought that pos, I learned (VERY quickly) how to repair, replace or jury rig almost every component on that car.

    Which is why, when I found the best car I've ever had, an '85 Buick station wagon with a bad exhaust manifold priced at $100, I had no qualms taking her home. Two cans of PB Blaster (for the frozen bolts) and a few bucks for parts got her running well. I drove her for five years, then handed her off to the father of a friend whose car had given up the ghost. Still wish I had that car...

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    1. Buddy of mine had a MGB of that era. He loved it because he loved to tinker with cars. That car needed a lot of tinkering.

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