The Car That's Driven 2.8 Million Miles

from the feeling-like-a-slacker-yet? dept

These days, any time you hear of a car that's been driven over 200,000 miles, it's pretty impressive. But, apparently for a guy named Irv Gordon, that was just what it took to break in his 1966 Volvo P1800. Shocklee points us to the astounding story of Gordon and the 2.8 million miles he's put on the beloved car, which he bought new all the way back in 1966. He's hoping to get it up to 3 million in about 3 years. For anyone who believe "they don't make 'em, like they used to," apparently here's a datapoint. The guy drives 125-mile commute daily, but also apparently just loves driving and takes the car all over the place.

As for repairs and maintenance, obviously he takes pretty good care of the car, but doesn't seem to do anything special, beyond following the factory (not dealer) manual. He began to realize the car was pretty damn reliable when he surpassed 250,000 miles without needing a single repair beyond basic maintenance. And, yes, the engine has been rebuilt twice, but he admits that the first time it shouldn't have been. Volvo, of course, is well aware of Gordon and even gave him a free car years back when he hit 1 million miles. But he saw no reason to stop driving the original one. And, if you're wondering, yes, Gordon is in the Guinness Book of World Records. But he got there way back in 1998 when he only had 1.69 million miles on the car. Suddenly, "just" having 200,000 miles on a car doesn't seem so special.


Reader Comments (rss)

(Flattened / Threaded)

  1.  
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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:20am

    My new hero

    And here I though driving enough to circumnavigate the planet every year was a lot.

    I always wanted to know what happens when my six digit odometer passes 999,999 miles. Now that I see it's possible, I may just attempt it.

     

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    cc (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:28am

    Ok, but how fuel-efficient is a 1966 car? :P

     

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  3.  
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    CommonSense (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:02am

    Re:

    Probably better than a 2006 SUV...

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:07am

    He drove, on average, over 63k miles per year every year since 1966. Not too shabby!

    I wonder how the newer Volvos would hold up?

     

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  5.  
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    Adam Wasserman (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:15am

    Re: Feul effeciency

    It probably does not matter. The delta between his efficiency and that of a new car would be erased by the carbon debt of manufacturing a new car.

    You know, it is just as bad for the environment to make them as it is to drive them...

     

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  6.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:16am

    I'm a slacker

    Makes me feel like a major slacker for wanting to get rid of my cars when they hit 150K
    I don't take good care of it enough, that is for sure. Also, living in one of the northern states where our roads are partially salted for a few months a year certainly doesn't help. =(

     

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    out_of_the_blue, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:17am

    If he *averaged* 55 miles an hour,

    then he's wasted nearly SIX YEARS of his waking life in a car.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:19am

    The auto industry have a thing called "planed obsolescence" they don't want people hanging on to their cars, the U.S. manufacturers were big fans of the concept until Japan trashed them with better "obsolescence" plans.

     

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  9.  
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    Chris ODonnell (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:21am

    And here I was all excited when my 97 Mazda hit 150K a few weeks ago.

     

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  10.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:23am

    Re: I'm a slacker

    I was thinking the same thing; there HAS to be an environmental factor to this. Here in the midwest, they tend to treat a snowy road the way oprah treats a bad cut of steak: they salt the shit out of it.

    You could take care of it like a Jeff Gordon pit crew boss and the salt would still shred your wheel wells within 20 years max....

     

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  11.  
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    Liam (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:24am

    125 mile commute! I won't work 5 miles away from my home... lol

     

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    Non Sequitur, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:28am

    >"If he *averaged* 55 miles an hour, then he's wasted nearly SIX YEARS of his waking life in a car."

    Did you read the article? I don't think he has "wasted" anything:

    "Within the first 30 seconds of our conversation, we realised that Gordon was one of those folks who truly loves his time spent behind the wheel. Driving is more than a way of getting from A to B. It's a hobby, it's how he relaxes. If we'd asked him to join us for dinner, we bet he would've taken us up on the offer simply because it would give him an excuse to drive a couple of hundred miles."

     

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    Joseph Durnal, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:31am

    I better get 250k

    I better get 250,000 miles out of my 2010 Toyota Corolla, if I get more, thats great! It is one year old now with 20,000 miles. I got 10 solid years and 213,000 miles out of my 1999 Dodge Avenger. In 2005, I bought my wife a van, that one needs to last 10 years too. So far, it has been perfectly reliable, with about 70,000 miles on it. I figure that anything you spend more than $10,000 on, should last at least 10 years.

     

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    Berenerd (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:33am

    125 miles one way?

    I had a 90 mile commute from Sunapee NH to Montpelier VT over the green mountains in sleet and snow. That was one way and I thought that was bad...man...125miles? he must live in the southern part of the country.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:40am

    Re: I'm a slacker

    Article say he goes from Manhattan to Long Island for that 125 mi commute. They get snow and salt don't they?

     

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  16.  
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    Haywood (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:45am

    Re:

    I had a 1970 Volvo 145, same engine, heavier and less streamlined, and it would give around 25 mpg driven aggressively, I never tried driving for maximum economy, so can't report, but imagine it could deliver 30ish mpg driven properly.

     

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  17.  
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    jsf (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 6:48am

    Re:

    Well I guess that makes me a major slacker by only putting about 11K miles on our car each year. ;-)

     

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  18.  
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    Overcast (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:07am

    Re:

    Ok, but how fuel-efficient is a 1966 car? :P

    Consider all of the extra 'energy' that wasn't needed because he's driving the same car. Over that period of time, the average person might have went through 5 cars - let's say.

    That would have a cost in the energy to get the materials for 5 cars, transport 5 cars, etc, etc.

    So in the end, I bet he's consumed less resources by keeping a single car than most.

     

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  19.  
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    Greg G, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:09am

    Re:

    Who cares other than some whiny, smug little Prius driving environmental extremist wacko?

    It probably lasted this long, in part, because it doesn't have all the crap that's required on new cars today.

     

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  20.  
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    Zane, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:13am

    Re:

    It has a 1.8 liter 4 cylinder engine capable of around 30mpg.

     

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  21.  
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    Evostick, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:16am

    How much is original?

    I think this is relevant...
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bk24RdfXWcg
    3:10 into the clip

     

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    EXrider, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:18am

    Re: Re: Feul effeciency

    It probably does not matter. The delta between his efficiency and that of a new car would be erased by the carbon debt of manufacturing a new car. You know, it is just as bad for the environment to make them as it is to drive them...
    Exactly! I wish more crazed "going green" people (and the EPA) would realize this; and it also extends to other outdoor power equipment and appliances as well.

     

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  23.  
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    geekwrench, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:32am

    Re: gas mileage

    The B20 2.0 engine in that car is a pushrod cast iron 4 cyl. gets 20-25 mpg

     

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  24.  
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    geekwrench, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:35am

    Re: Re: I'm a slacker

    This car is much heavier in the metal than most. rust does get to them, but not nearly as quickly.

     

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  25.  
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    geekwrench, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:40am

    Re: How much is original?

    I met Irv at a show once, and talked with him (I worked for a volvo restoration company at the time) The only parts of the car that are not original at the time (other than maintenance parts) were the drivers seat and the radio.

     

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  26.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:56am

    Re:

    My 1998 Volvo has 145000 miles on it. Everything that contains electronics is falling apart. It runs great but seems to loose a different electronic function every month.

     

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  27.  
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    Michael, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 7:58am

    Re: Re: I'm a slacker

    I thought she slathered them with A1.

     

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  28.  
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    Michael, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:00am

    Re: If he *averaged* 55 miles an hour,

    You assume he does not sleep while driving.

    He's a New Yorker - I would not put it past him.

     

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  29.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:03am

    I have not seen one for several years, but this gentleman has been used in the past for Volvo ads.

    Of course, it helps immensely that his car is not chock full of all the electronic doo-dads contained in present day cars. Could you even begin to imagine trying to find a circuit board if they had been in use back in 1966?

    His experience seems to give meaning to the phrase that more often than not "less is more".

     

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  30.  
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    Dark Helmet (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:08am

    Re: Re: Re: I'm a slacker

    Oprah, I assure you, does not limit herself to single spices or condiments....

     

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  31.  
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    Hephaestus (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:13am

    Re: Re:

    " I bet he's consumed less resources by keeping a single car than most."

    The energy cost of any manufactured good is actually a alittle less than half the cost of the product. Your 50,000 dollar car costs about 20,00 dollars in energy to produce. With 4-7 levels of production for each part, the energy used in shipping between each level of production, the personal energy use of the employees which is tacked onto the cost, the heating and cooling of the factories and offices, it all adds up. It is scary to think we spend half our lives paying for the energy used to produce the stuff we by.

     

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  32.  
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    theangryintern (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:34am

    Re: If he *averaged* 55 miles an hour,

    I doubt he would call it wasted time. The other article linked in this one has more of the story and the guy just genuinely seems to love to drive.

     

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  33.  
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    theangryintern (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:37am

    Re: 125 miles one way?

    nope, he lives in Long Island and commutes to Manhattan, I believe

     

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  34.  
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    Sethumme, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Re:

    How're those airbags holding up?

     

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  35. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:46am

    Big Toys

    I have a 737 that I've racked up nearly seven million miles on. It's named the "Trololo-slask" and is a very efficient airplane. They really don't build them like they used to! The only problem I've run into is when I pilot it through snowflakes. It sometimes stalls and sputters when it goes through snowflakes. It's definitely a better ride than my Cessna, which is aptly named "The Mike Masnick". The smaller planes are very susceptible to microbursts and wind shear.

     

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  36.  
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    RadialSkid, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:07am

    Re:

    "Of course, it helps immensely that his car is not chock full of all the electronic doo-dads contained in present day cars."

    That's exactly right...one of the biggest killers of modern vehicles is the the fussy electronic system every one of them seems to have now. The German manufacturers have become especially fond of them as of late, and that's probably why the quality of German cars has been in a freefall for about 10 years now. I honestly feel sorry for anyone saddled with a recent BMW.

    Another thing about older cars is they generally used cast iron engine blocks, as opposed to the aluminum engines in modern cars. While the latter is great for getting the car's weight down, a softer metal just isn't going to last in the long term under the stresses engines go through.

     

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  37.  
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    Big Broccoli, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 9:43am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Need to think about oppurtunity costs here. If you are counting things like energy use of employees you are assuming that they would be using zero energy otherwise?

     

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  38. This comment has been flagged by the community. Click here to show it
     
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    Jose, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    Mi blog en 5 minutos

    Ahora puedes descargar mi blog en 5 minutos por un modico precio en un de las librerias mas grande del mundo http://www.negociosporelinternet.com/

     

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  39.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:00am

    And this is on techdirt because? You must be running out of ideas to spin a good story Mike!

     

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  40.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:02am

    Re: Re:

    I response to your comment to my comment, I remember there was a time when I could change spark plugs, adjust the timing, change the oil, fix the brakes, etc...all the while sitting on the fender and reaching into the engine area.

    Then again, I also remember when I used to fill up my 69 Vette with premium at $.30/gal.

     

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  41.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:14am

    Re: Re: Re:

    Keep in mind though, that all that isn't there for no reason. Some 50 year old cars have higher tailpipe emissions when the engine is *off* than new cars do at speed.

     

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  42.  
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    angry dude, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 10:22am

    big deal

    On a twice rebuilt Volvo engine ?

    I just checked the mileage on my 99 Accord

    339,568

    Drives like new with original engine and tranny
    and it takes regular gas

    Tranny will easily go over 1 mil (highway driving)
    engine can be replaced at some point with the used one bought on Ebay for 600$

    I have 2 other cars but Accord is the most reliable of all

    2005 Passat with 90K is a piece of shit compared to 99 Accord

    Not even talking about american cars

     

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  43.  
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    Mike Masnick (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 11:20am

    Re:

    And this is on techdirt because?

    I thought it was interesting?

    I always find it odd when people tell me what I am and am not supposed to cover. This is my blog, you know...

     

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  44.  
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    trilobug, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:12pm

    That thing got a Hemi?

    Really though that is quite an accomplishment. Coming from a Volvo family (that's how "I roll" -heh) I have always been fond of this car's body - much more elegant than the boxy 240s I grew up with.

     

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  45.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:16pm

    Re:

    Then again, what isn't? ;-)

     

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  46.  
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    Dave from LI, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:17pm

    Re: Re: 125 miles one way?

    Long Island is only 118 miles long... so that's gotta be a round trip distance.... unless he loves to drive so much, he takes a VERY scenic route OR, lives in the lighthouse at Montauk Point.

     

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  47.  
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    Dave from LI, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 12:21pm

    Re: big deal

    Sorry to hear that you're so angry, but in the 50's 60's and 70's... America built some damn fine automobiles. It'd be interesting to find some of the cars out there with miles on it like that because I'm sure there are plenty of them.

     

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  48.  
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    Killer_Tofu (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:06pm

    Re: Re: I'm a slacker

    They more than likely do. However, he takes better care of his car than I do mine. So, the salt doesn't help me. It may not affect him though. Maybe he waxes his car better or coats it with something. Darned if I know. (And I didn't rtfa this time, don't care enough)

     

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  49.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 1:31pm

    Re: big deal

    VWs in general are POS. I thought they got better after 04 though.

    My wifes 03 Jetta was falling apart at 60k. Got rid of it ASAP. They try so hard to make the cabin nice on initial quality that everything else in the car gets the cheap crap. If it is supposed to be made of metal. It's now made of cheap plastic. Engine parts and other well wearing components, plastic. The tail lights have stamped sheet metal contacts instead of plugs, and don't even get me started on changing the oil/plugs. Mind you, I am very mechanically inclined but I know crap when I see it.

     

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  50.  
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    minijedimaster (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:13pm

    Re: big deal

    I have an '07 Passat with about 70k miles and it's running great so far. Only minor issue I have is that it eats oil more than most engines do. Having a turbo I'd expect that though, especially with the way I drive.

    I do agree doing regular standard maintenance is ridiculously hard. I brought it in to have break pads and tires put on and decided to have the air filter replaced too. Mechanic said everything went fine except that the air filter took the longest to do, LOL. VW may not be there yet for quality/reliability, but mark my words. Give them about 4-5 years and they'll be the car to beat.

     

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  51.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:29pm

    Re: Re: big deal

    Um no, there are absolutely NO good american cars from the 70s. The 70s is like the dark ages of american automobiles.

     

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  52.  
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    Brad Hubbard (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 2:52pm

    American Cars, maybe

    To be fair, people are only surprised when you get an American car to go more than 200k miles. Japanese and German cars tend to breeze on past that without any major maintenance.

     

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  53.  
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    carol, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 3:58pm

    Re: 125 miles one way?

    he lives on Long Island, NY near the bay (salt water in the summer and salted streets in the winter!

     

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    nasch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 4:36pm

    Re: Re: Re: big deal

    That is just not true, though the later into the 70s you go generally the worse it gets.



    I could go on. I think the 1973-74 oil crisis (and tougher emissions laws) is when it really hit the fan for US cars. The dark ages were really 1973 to... um... 1986? That's when the Taurus was introduced.



    Those dark ages are perhaps (only perhaps mind you, I welcome any other submissions) epitomized by the Musting II, introduced, not coincidentally, in 1974.

     

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  55.  
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    Miller, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:11pm

    the more you drive, the less intelligent you are...

     

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  56.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 11th, 2010 @ 5:22pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: big deal

    Agreed that the american auto dark ages did end until sometime in the 80s. But I really have to disagree about the early 70s being ok. Some 1970 models might be okay but anything after that not so much. Even before the oil crisis cars we being detuned to help reduce smog. It was not until sometime in the 80s when fuel injection got good enough that we started getting good cars again. Could not agree more about the Mustang II.

     

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  57.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:44pm

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: big deal

    The other thing is, were any other cars really that great in the 70s? I know there were several economical, reliable and efficient cars coming from Japan, but most of them weren't all that *interesting*. And when I think of great European cars from the 70s, I'm pretty much coming up blank. BMW maybe? I don't think Jaguar was doing much. Ferrari was in a bit of a slump, between the magnificent cars of the 60s and upcoming cars of the 80s like the Testarossa and F40. Basically that whole 10-15 year stretch was generally a bad one for cars, period. Porsche may have been the bright spot, as I don't think the 911 ever really faded.

    I know, totally off topic but it's basically my favorite subject. :-)

     

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  58.  
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    roadrunner2525 (profile), Aug 11th, 2010 @ 8:53pm

    Re: 5 cars

    5 cars?? I've been driving since 1962 and average about 40K a year. For my 2 M miles, as best I remember, we have gone through 25 cars. Highest mileage cars are a 1960 Ford (160K), 1990 Caddy (155000 and still going). 1988 Olds 88 (152K) and a 2005 Dodge Stratus (136K and still going). About 1/2 the cars went over 100K, so you can see I get car fever frequently. I don't average 55 on the hwy either :') I love to drive to new places and absolutely despise retracing my trips.

     

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  59.  
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    martyburns (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 4:59am

    Re: I better get 250k

    It's a Toyota Corolla bro, they will run forever on the sniff of an oily rag.

     

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    angry dude, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 5:46am

    Re: Re: big deal

    "VW may not be there yet for quality/reliability, but mark my words. Give them about 4-5 years and they'll be the car to beat."

    Hah ??

    They were there, many years ago, but blew it

    Still, this piece of shit is very safe to drive (when it drives)
    On collision between Accord and Passat I want to be inside Passat for sure

     

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  61.  
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    nasch (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:05am

    Re: Re: I better get 250k

    Yeah, I had a Geo Prizm (same thing) that went 300,000 miles without being especially well cared-for, and as far as I know it's still on the road.

     

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  62.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 9:06am

    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: big deal

    Good point. Most of my 70s car knowledge is of american cars. But I cannot really think of a non-american car that was any better. My dad had a datsun in the 70s that was pretty reliable but not very interesting to be sure. Emissions requirements ruined cars until we figured out how to make them run cleaner.

     

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  63.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 9:10am

    Re: Re: Re: big deal

    You are so right. I got in a rear-end accident in a mid-90s Civic, I think that entire car became one big crumple zone, even the seats bent out of shape. I won't drive another Honda for anything, not worth my life.

     

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  64.  
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    Anonymous Coward, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 11:20am

    Re: Re:

    He obviously hasn't needed them.

    Volvos are tanks anyway, I'd be more concerned for others on the road.

     

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  65.  
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    Vash the Stampede, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 1:17pm

    Re: Re: Re: big deal

    My dad had a 1976 Ford F100 4x4 until several years ago that was good until he decided to "hook it up" which resulted in it sitting in the yard on cinder blocks. Probably got bad gas mileage but it could pull well and it drove up to the mountains 5 or 6 times a year.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  66.  
    icon
    Spaceman Spiff (profile), Aug 12th, 2010 @ 8:35pm

    Pretty good

    And I thought 160K miles on my '99 Camry was pretty good... :-) No major repairs, only standard maintenance, though it is about due for some new rear wheel bearings and shocks.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  67.  
    identicon
    Corina, Aug 12th, 2010 @ 10:42pm

    Re: If he *averaged* 55 miles an hour,

    What do you mean "wasted"? He's spent about six years of his waking life doing something he thoroughly enjoys. That is never a waste.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  68.  
    icon
    minijedimaster (profile), Aug 26th, 2010 @ 7:13pm

    Re: Re: Re: big deal

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  69.  
    identicon
    adams, Sep 29th, 2010 @ 5:20am

    used cars

    its superb... used cars

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  70.  
    identicon
    Ovlov4, Nov 8th, 2010 @ 7:26pm

    Re: I'm a slacker

    Irv lives in New York - I think they use salt there...

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  71.  
    identicon
    Anonymous Coward, Dec 22nd, 2010 @ 8:30pm

    Re:

    a 66 volvo about 40mpg it was a 1.8L inline 4.....only american car companies think 25mpg is special. research what cars in europe and japan get for mpg. Amazing what cars can do when contries actually care about fuel economy and not just say they do. Japan and europe love the inline 3 turbo diesel and on average they get between 60-80mpg. We hate 3cyl engines and most diesels

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]

  72.  
    identicon
    w8, Sep 18th, 2011 @ 9:52pm

    Re:

    so i have a 1984 mustang with 356,781 miles 5.0l gt hatchback.cluch was replaced about 138,000 miles to a kevlar racing cluch.
    my father has a 1999 f-250 with 311,000 miles 7.2l diesel those are all hauling miles.
    my mother has a 2001 dodge durango 4.7l with 263,142 miles.
    about 8 times a year is driven through the rocky mountain range.

     

    reply to this | link to this | view in thread ]


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