200,000 Miles

Monday August 2nd, 2010 – Chicago, IL

Just when I thought I had experienced every single variation of any possible occurrence, event, angle or offshoot of said happenings I could  possibly think of in regards to owning or operating a motor vehicle, I had something new take place today I‘d never had happen.

I’ve owned more cars than the average ten Americans put together. At last count I had a grand total of 122 vehicles pass through my ownership, and I’m sure there are several I’ve forgotten about on top of that. Most of those 122 were battered, beaten, battle weary, bald tired, oil burning, mufflerless jalopy highway scuds on their last legs, ready to be junked.

Quite often I am the second to last owner of an automobile right before it goes back to a junk yard to be parted out and mercifully shredded. I’ve wrecked several cars and can say I’m truly lucky to have lived to tell about it. I’ve had several cars stolen, had a couple get towed, had a couple more burn and sold a few on a payment plan and haven’t gotten paid.

I’ve had quite a few engines blow, some transmissions stop transmitting, front ends get wacky, rear ends get wackier, starters stop, brakes break, tires explode and virtually every other thing that can possibly go wrong do exactly that. Once in a while though, something will go right and it’s my mission to both report and catalog it for a possible future edge.

This particular beatmobile didn’t seem special when I purchased it like I have so many others at the Waukegan Auto Auction last December. I won it for $1000 after getting into a pretty serious wreck with my last car – a 1996 Toyota Corolla which I also bought there.

I try to stick to Toyotas or Hondas, but I’ve ventured off into various brands with mixed results. The current steed is a 1994 Toyota Camry. What makes it special is that it made it to the 200,000 mile plateau on the odometer. In all my years with all my auction rats, I’ve never had that happen. Usually, the ‘game over’ light comes on and that’s the end of it.

The guy before me took pretty good care of it apparently. He owned it for ten years and other than a little rust and a couple of small dents, it was in very good shape when I got it. The interior is extremely clean with no rips and there’s a ten CD changer in the trunk. It’s also got a cassette player, which I like because I can find tapes for a quarter many places.

I stuck a tune up into it, two new tires and some exhaust work. When I got it there were 171,000 miles on it, but I needed a car and since it was so cheap I bought it. All in, I have about $1900 invested including auction fees, and I’ve gotten almost 30,000 miles back in return, which I think is a great trade. I’ve hauled that beast all over the country this year.

Does it need work? Sure. The front end wobbles a bit and I could use some struts which are never cheap, but it doesn’t burn oil and still gets me where I need to go. If and when it pukes in the near future, I won’t complain at all. These cars are all a gamble, but this time I won. More than once I’ve been stuck with car trouble from a deal that’s exploded in my face, so I don’t know if I’m ahead or not in the long run. In the short run, I found a peach.

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