Long-time readers know that we decided to sell Vanessa’s white Toyota Camry when we got married to pay off debts. We decided at that time to share a car – The Green Machine (as seen below) – which has resulted in minimal auto expenses.
Nearly four years have passed and we are still sharing. Our current situation is convenient, and both of our employers are located within a mile of each other.
Sharing a car won’t work for everyone, but it is a great way to reduce gasoline consumption, insurance costs, repairs, and the other costs of car ownership.
My path to owning our little green machine was plagued with poor vehicle decisions which will serve as an interesting story to help other readers.
The Path Well Traveled
It was 2006ish when I first caught car fever. I was spoiled enough to have parents who would purchase my first car. They weren’t rich, so I had to decide on something roughly $3,500 or less.
After a few months of obsessive searching, I found a 1984 Porsche 944 that looked in good condition. Adult owned and driven. As seen below.
First of all, this was a neat little car. I still have a soft spot in my heart for clean 944s.
Second, I had short-term-itis at the age of 16 and couldn’t stop to think about the future. I didn’t consider the fact that these cars have high maintenance costs, poor gas mileage, and tiny back seats that are good for nothing.
Also, I hated the gold color but thought I could get it painted for cheap. Except paint jobs are not cheap, and the cost of aftermarket upgrades (like paint jobs) are rarely recaptured when selling the car to the next owner.
But, I wanted it, so I had it painted. I chose Maaco to paint the car. Long story short, they messed up the color, did a botch job, and wouldn’t fix it (typical, Maaco). I was out almost a grand that I would never again see.
Despite the loss, I didn’t learn my lesson with the Porsche 944. I sold the 944 and bought a faster and newer sports car with my hard earned money earned from working my minimum wage job as a grocery bagger.
Roughly a dozen cars/motorcycles later (Don’t worry, I became a little more savvy half-way through college and started buying/selling vehicles for profit), I finally settled on the beautiful Green Delight that we currently drive.
A 1996 Saturn SL1 with absolutely no options added. It’s bare bones with manual locks, manual windows, black steel rims, a ghetto CD player that doesn’t play CDs, and a number of other incredible features. I’ve never looked back.
I thought readers might like an entertaining post that details just a few of the many reasons we choose to keep this particular car, and why we won’t be getting rid of it any time soon.
- It Runs
- It’s Fully Depreciated – I bought it 5.5 years ago for $1,700 and have put more than 40,000 miles on the car. Without a doubt, I could get $1,500 today. Probably $1,700 with my Craigslist mojo.
- It Gets Good Gas Mileage – 30 MPG city, 40 MPG highway. Somehow, brand new compact cars can’t seem to top that after nearly 20 years of engineering improvements. And like clockwork, they continue to advertise 36 MPG highway.
- It’s Worry Free – I don’t have to worry about the people of Walmart dinging my door in the parking lot, or rocks causing the occasional paint chip. If that happens, who really cares.
- It’s Simple – With less bells and whistles, less power everything, and less engine complexity, there are fewer opportunities for problems and maintenance.
- It’s Unbelievably Slow – The 98 Horsepower (in 1996) 4 cylinder engine prevents my adrenaline junkie wife from racing those pesky Honda Civics equipped with mufflers the size of your head.
- It’s Practical – My primary desire is that my vehicle get me from A to B. This car performs that task well.
- It’s Reliable – I’ve had one maintenance repair for $1,000 that shouldn’t have happened. That sucks, but I don’t anticipate any problems going forward.
- It’s Uncomfortable – This is especially true when it’s cold outside. The Saturn rattles and vibrates, which makes you want to drive as little as possible.
- Insurance is Cheap – Liability only + tiny engine = low price.
- Taxes are Cheap – Personal Property taxes are next to nothing.
- Tires are Cheap – 14 inches of frugality, yeah!
- Keys are Cheap – What is going on with those new computer chipped keys that cost $250? Ours can be replicated for a dollar at Walmart.
- Free Theft Insurance – No one would ever choose to steal a 1996 hunter green Saturn with body and paint flaws.
- I Love to Eat – After a certain number of years pass, you just stop caring about keeping the carpets spotless. I’ll eat anything and everything while driving. If it falls on the seat or floor, I’ll still eat it. And never for one moment do I worry about stains.
- Cars Aren’t an Investment – Buying a new car is like flushing money down the toilet. Vehicles do nothing except depreciate, and I prefer allowing someone else to eat that depreciation before buying.
- Temperature Control Issues – It takes forever for the heater to work in the winter, and the A/C works well enough but the lack of window tint makes for a hot ride in summer. Both of these encourage less driving.
- It Keeps Us Humble – A 20 year old car draws no attention and helps us remember that cars are meant to get from A to B, not to impress the person in the next lane who is financed up to their eyeballs.
- It Makes Me Kind – Life is inevitably stressful, and sometimes difficult. The last thing I want to worry about is my car. That lady with screaming children who bumps me from behind at the stop sign. No Big Deal! Accidentally backed into that pesky telephone pole again? Just another Monday my friend.
- It’s Sexy – Saturn is now an extinct and exotic species. Plus, they just don’t make them like they did in the 90’s.
I know someday I’ll have to move on and find something a little more civilized, but til then, I’ll be rockin’ that Green Machine and stackin’ that money.
I’d like to know what year, make, and model you drive. Please share with a comment below.