Jump to content

Should I get a beater?


Recommended Posts

So this happened yesterday:

img011.jpg

Now, I fully plan on keeping my car until it dies. That said, I've been considering whether to buy a cheap older car with good gas mileage to keep from piling up more miles than necessary on my primary car.

Would it be economically responsible to find a ~$2K beater that gets about 30-35 mpg to trek the 30 miles each way to work? Or would initial cost, insurance and probability of repair make it not worth it?

-RBB

Link to post
Share on other sites

Your question is a double edged sword. Yes, it is prohibitively expensive to buy another car, insure it, drive it, and maintain it versus driving your current car as is. You will NOT recoup the money you outlay for a very long time, if ever. There is no financial reasoning that will ever make this a good idea. Same argument goes for Hybrids and diesels. The paybacks are 10's of thousands of miles or MORE and the car you find will NOT last that long.

With that said: HELL YES! There is a wonderful pleasantness that comes from having a car that you less than care about. The park anywhere you please freedom, the answering of "NO" when asked if you want to buy the car wash at the gas pump, the "Go ahead and pull in front of me" attitude that you will exude while traversing the highways in your high mileage beater. Rock chips and door dings BE DAMNED! The smile you will get when you look down at the Def Leopard Hysteria cassette stuck in the Kraco stereo - WITH 5-Band Equalizer!!!. Plus, there is always the nostalgic feeling you will get when you are driving down the road admiring your new for '92 delux consolette or the 4WS Steering system you found in the Honda Prelude Si you picked up in an autotrader you picked up on your way out of the grocery store. Hey, become a high miler and find yourself a CRX DX or Geo Metro GSi 3-banger and watch the folks in line for gas stare at you in a jealous rage. :neenerneener:

I can actually say that I enjoy driving a beater more than my primary cars just for these reasons. I am actually in search of such a smile maker right now.

Edited by toesuf94
Link to post
Share on other sites

YES! :)

I've got less than $350 TOTAL invested in my 1992 Buick RoadmOnster

since I bought it in Jan. of 2008. Beat THAT! :)

12,250+ miles

almost 9 months

$200 purchase price

$0 reused battery from the Datsun

$147 in parts

= $1/cubic inch :smilewide:

Edited by Sixty8panther
Link to post
Share on other sites
So now your garage looks like Red Neck Yard of the week? :P

That makes 3 right, or 4?

3 currently. I had purchased a '94 SL2 that had a misfire that I'd hoped was just from the leaky valve cover gasket, but it turned out to be a bad valve seal. I pulled the engine & sold the body for the same money as I bought the car for.

The current one actually has quite a few performance parts in it. It's a '96 SL2 in nice shape, built engine, short shifter, performance clutch, and I got a buncha other goodies on the side. I'm returning the car to stock (including swapping the engine) and will sell it for a profit. On top of that, I'll have the performance parts to put in my '99 SC2. The 3rd S is my wife's '99 SC1. They've been nothing but reliable, efficient, and easy to work on. :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

I most likely won't act before spring, but I was tempted by a '98 SC2 for sale locally with roughly 150K miles for $2k.

If I could find something for >$1K that doesn't require <$1K in repairs, it'd probably be worth it.

-RBB

Link to post
Share on other sites

If I'm going to pay $2000 for a car with 150,000 miles it BETTER be

way cooler than some FWD, 4-cylinder econo-box Saturn with

Rubbermaid body panels and zero style. To each his own though...

Link to post
Share on other sites
3 currently. I had purchased a '94 SL2 that had a misfire that I'd hoped was just from the leaky valve cover gasket, but it turned out to be a bad valve seal. I pulled the engine & sold the body for the same money as I bought the car for.

The current one actually has quite a few performance parts in it. It's a '96 SL2 in nice shape, built engine, short shifter, performance clutch, and I got a buncha other goodies on the side. I'm returning the car to stock (including swapping the engine) and will sell it for a profit. On top of that, I'll have the performance parts to put in my '99 SC2. The 3rd S is my wife's '99 SC1. They've been nothing but reliable, efficient, and easy to work on. :)

A 96 sounds nice.. I just saw a 98 sl1 in good shape....

Link to post
Share on other sites
If I'm going to pay $2000 for a car with 150,000 miles it BETTER be

way cooler than some FWD, 4-cylinder econo-box Saturn with

Rubbermaid body panels and zero style. To each his own though...

For most people, the idea is a fuel efficient commuter car that requires as little investment, maintenance, and repair as possible. It's not about your obsessions with certain vehicle characteristics - that's saved for their OTHER vehicle, which they can more readily afford (and keep nice longer) because of how little cost/much abuse their 4cyl econobox provides. Show me a BOF, RWD, no b-pillar car that gets over 30mpg in mixed driving and almost 40 on the highway, and looks almost still new after 12 years (not even a door ding :neenerneener: ) without having been babied constantly. The Saturn S-Series isn't a glamorous car, it's not a sporty car, but it's one heck of a great commuter/beater. And if it's been even halfway well taken care of, still has 50-100k miles left in it with a few small repairs at 150k miles on the odometer.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some good points there...

Sooooo.... what is it again that you are "keeping nice longer" by driving a beater Saturn?

I was not aware you had a classic...?

Last time I checked your daily driver Ford-mazda was your only car, no?

Link to post
Share on other sites
For most people, the idea is a fuel efficient commuter car that requires as little investment, maintenance, and repair as possible. It's not about your obsessions with certain vehicle characteristics - that's saved for their OTHER vehicle, which they can more readily afford (and keep nice longer) because of how little cost/much abuse their 4cyl econobox provides. Show me a BOF, RWD, no b-pillar car that gets over 30mpg in mixed driving and almost 40 on the highway, and looks almost still new after 12 years (not even a door ding :neenerneener: ) without having been babied constantly. The Saturn S-Series isn't a glamorous car, it's not a sporty car, but it's one heck of a great commuter/beater. And if it's been even halfway well taken care of, still has 50-100k miles left in it with a few small repairs at 150k miles on the odometer.

True.

I'm still thinking about getting my hands on a 96-99 SL 4 dr.....

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd just keep driving it... see if you can get 150 or 200k on it. If it's paid for, I wouldn't see any cost advantage to buying/insuring/etc a 2nd car... what's the Mazda 6 get, 25 or more?

Link to post
Share on other sites
I'd just keep driving it... see if you can get 150 or 200k on it. If it's paid for, I wouldn't see any cost advantage to buying/insuring/etc a 2nd car... what's the Mazda 6 get, 25 or more?

I get right at 24-25 MPG. It's a V6/manual.

I agree that I should be able to get 150-200K out of it. My thought was if I had a to-work-and-back beater, that it'd take maybe four years to get to 150K instead of 1½. I do need a car that can comfortably hold four adults, and the MazdaFord suits that purpose well, as well as being fun to drive. But I'm not interested in paying $20K+ for a replacement any time soon.

The theory is getting a little runabout that's cheap to buy and somewhat cheaper to drive saves my bigger car wear and tear, and in theory might prove a money saver in the long run. I'm just trying to figure out if it makes economic sense or not.

-RBB

Link to post
Share on other sites

As a final point to this: I am more apt to have a beater when there is a 'special car' that I do not want to drive on salt covered roads. Not knocking your car, but a Mazda with 100,000 clicks on it is already on it's way to the back lot if you were to trade it in anyway. At this point, you are probably beyond 'saving' the value of the Mazda due to mileage/vintage. You would probably be better off just driving your car, as it looks nice and probably does not owe you anything. Now, if you were driving a new Camaro or Corvette, or a limited production Miata or something rare, then it makes a lot of sense to have the beater for the every day driving care-free motoring.

Sorry if you take this as a dig, but it really is not. Your Mazda looks like a nice car and is a rare color, and I mean you and your car NO disrespect. I respect EVERYONE'S Ride(s) as wheels is wheels!

Link to post
Share on other sites

I've thought about the beater question also...my '00 Grand Cherokee has almost 95k now, has depreciated over 8 years to 1/8th it's purchase price, and is long since paid for. It still runs well, looks good, though it has a few scratches, paint chips and dents. Admittedly, it gets only 18mpg, but that's ok with me. It makes no sense financially for me to buy something cheap and used that is an unknown quanity and a potential money pit to use as a daily driver.

At some point in the next year or two, I'll buy a new daily driver and keep the Jeep for winter use or for when I need to haul something.

Link to post
Share on other sites
As a final point to this: I am more apt to have a beater when there is a 'special car' that I do not want to drive on salt covered roads. Not knocking your car, but a Mazda with 100,000 clicks on it is already on it's way to the back lot if you were to trade it in anyway. At this point, you are probably beyond 'saving' the value of the Mazda due to mileage/vintage. You would probably be better off just driving your car, as it looks nice and probably does not owe you anything. Now, if you were driving a new Camaro or Corvette, or a limited production Miata or something rare, then it makes a lot of sense to have the beater for the every day driving care-free motoring.

Sorry if you take this as a dig, but it really is not. Your Mazda looks like a nice car and is a rare color, and I mean you and your car NO disrespect. I respect EVERYONE'S Ride(s) as wheels is wheels!

No offense taken at all. But it is a bit frustrating that I'm not getting my point across.

I'm under no delusions that my car is something special. I'm not trying to baby the car or protect it from salty roads, dirt or rain - Hell, I park the thing on the street under a tree that apparently houses a 2-3 dozen birds whenever my vehicle is present. I have a cracked windshield that I've yet to replace. And because of a previous accident the rear bumper doesn't match the rest of the car. Honestly, I bought it because it was cheap for what I needed - not because it was rare or I like yellow so much. Still, I like it, and replacing it with a newer car would cost more than I'd like to spend at this point.

I'm trying to figure out if splitting my driving between two older vehicles is more economically viable in the long run. I do need a mid-sized vehicle capable of carrying four people in comfort. I prefer the V6-powered variety. But the bulk of my driving (roughly 60 miles per day) is commuting by myself to work and back - I don't need four large seats or a V6 for that.

So, all that said, if I get a cheap little commuter car, will driving that to work plus the MazdaFord when I need carry more people be less expensive in the long run than using the one car for both purposes and replacing it?

Or would it be cheaper to save the money I'd spend in purchasing, insuring (I'd pay cash and go w/liability only), maintaining, the other older vehicle, just drive the Mazda until it dies and then fork out the extra cash to purchase/put a down payment on a newer car of similar size and purpose?

I'm simply trying to figure out a way to avoid a car payment as long as possible.

-RBB

Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, as I said previously: Two (or more!) are always better than one.

Just remember the rules for beater-ness is it has to be a new to you beater, you cannot buy a new car and use the old car you already have as your beater. There is no fun in that.

I think for what you are describing your desires for the car is to get you to and fro cheaply without needing a ton of money while splitting the mileage between your current Mazda and the new car. I would say a 4 cylinder something or other would really get that job done quite nicely and keep you from having a new car payment for quite some time.

Further to this point, let me also introduce to the discussion the Granny Car. You see them all the time, and while they may not be exciting to look at, they provide excellent carefree driving for years for very little coin. I am talking about Buick Centurys, The Cutlass Cierra Broughams or the Chevrolet Celebritys that are ALWAYS out there with only 35K to 40k miles on them for $1500 or best offer. The very unexciting nature of these cars is the very reason they are ripe for the plucking. They run well for years, cost very little if anything to operate, and are out there for a song. The 4 cylinder variants are great for high MPG and they are safe reliable transportation. I have a buddy that bought a Century (86) with 85k on the clock for $900. He drove that car for 8 years and 145,000 more miles. He finally junked it recently due to the trans starting to go, the rust winning the battle on the body, and the rear brake lines being pinched off due to broken lines. He drove it with all of the problems I just described for three years! Give it a thought!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

Link to post
Share on other sites

I bought my granny car/beater Achieva almost a year ago, convincing myself with the same rationale. My other car ('03 VUE) is nice still but no collector car either.

Has it really saved any money? I don't think so. Am I still glad I did it? Absoultely. Having somthing a little older and a little easier to tinker with has been enjoyable for me. Plus it does spread my 80 mi/day mileage out between my two cars.

Now if I did not work my own cars I don't know if I would be as likely to buy one as those repair costs can add up quite quickly, even on the low mile beaters simply due to age. My Achieva probably had $1,000-1,500 woth of work done to it if I had a shop fix all the things I have done to "restore" it. :wink:

Link to post
Share on other sites
Well, as I said previously: Two (or more!) are always better than one.

Just remember the rules for beater-ness is it has to be a new to you beater, you cannot buy a new car and use the old car you already have as your beater. There is no fun in that.

I think for what you are describing your desires for the car is to get you to and fro cheaply without needing a ton of money while splitting the mileage between your current Mazda and the new car. I would say a 4 cylinder something or other would really get that job done quite nicely and keep you from having a new car payment for quite some time.

Further to this point, let me also introduce to the discussion the Granny Car. You see them all the time, and while they may not be exciting to look at, they provide excellent carefree driving for years for very little coin. I am talking about Buick Centurys, The Cutlass Cierra Broughams or the Chevrolet Celebritys that are ALWAYS out there with only 35K to 40k miles on them for $1500 or best offer. The very unexciting nature of these cars is the very reason they are ripe for the plucking. They run well for years, cost very little if anything to operate, and are out there for a song. The 4 cylinder variants are great for high MPG and they are safe reliable transportation. I have a buddy that bought a Century (86) with 85k on the clock for $900. He drove that car for 8 years and 145,000 more miles. He finally junked it recently due to the trans starting to go, the rust winning the battle on the body, and the rear brake lines being pinched off due to broken lines. He drove it with all of the problems I just described for three years! Give it a thought!

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/Cars-Trucks...d=p4506.c0.m245

Absolutely!

I always look for granny cars when a beater needs to be found. Best bang for the buck in cheap transportation that you'll ever find.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Check out this thread:

http://www.cheersandgears.com/forums/index...granny&st=0

The car was mega clean, and has required no repairs as of yet. Unfortunately, he has crunched it twice now so it doesn't look so nice anymore. But who cares? The car is doing the job and he doesn't have to sweat the bumps and bruises too much.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sort of different, but I'm considering fixing the Millenia up now that I can somewhat afford to do so. It would be nice to have a second vehicle to save the Jetta from racking up so many miles (It's hard to believe I've already put almost 7k miles on it since June). Not to mention that I simply miss driving the poor ol' thing and hate seeing it deteriorate in the yard. However, as much as I want to, I know I'm not going to get any of that money back. Some sacrifices can be made, but I don't know about one such as that. Perhaps not now, atleast.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would say yes to a beater, but get a better beater. I picked up a 3k, amazingly clean Chrysler Concorde about 6 or 7 years ago, drove it for 3 years-80k, and then sold it for $350.

A $3000 car that is clean and trouble free is better than a $500 or $1000 junker anyday.

Actually, I am in the market for a beater myself as I am thinking about trying SCCA Rallycross, as well as some TSD ralllying. I want a car that I can BEAT on and still take me through an Ohio winter.

Chris

Link to post
Share on other sites

On a somewhat related note, I should have bought that diesel Chevette

that XP found on craigslist last year... it was in Maine, short change.

That kid is like the king of craigslist finds. Whenever my phone goes off

and I'm with my wife and it's XP she's always "what now?" cause so many

times it's something wild like: "Datsun 310 hatchy 4-speed on CL Conn."

Edited by Sixty8panther
Link to post
Share on other sites
On a somewhat related note, I should have bought that diesel Chevette

that XP found on craigslist last year... it was in Maine, short change.

That kid is like the king of craigslist finds. Whenever my phone goes off

and I'm with my wife and it's XP she's always "what now?" cause so many

times it's something wild like: "Datsun 310 hatchy 4-speed on CL Conn."

Speaking of old Datsuns, I saw a '70s Datsun B-210 GX hatchback today..in decent shape w/ faded blue paint. There was a very clean gray '82 Celebrity parked behind it, a repaint I think (no badging).

With the cooler fall weather here, I've been kickin' it old school--- enjoying driving to work in the 500SEL with the huge sunroof open... will drive the 300CE tommorow with all the windows down and the sunroof open..(no point in letting my sister's cars sit and let the batteries go dead, may as well drive them some).

Edited by moltar
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've been thinking about replacing the Roadmonster with a 300CE.

How cool would THAT be? A 100% two-door fleet consisting of two

Mercedes Benz hardtops and a 1959 Buick. These days two kids

means "gotta have a minivan/suv" to most Americans, here I am

considering getting rid of my one sedan for another TWO door. :lol:

Link to post
Share on other sites
I've been thinking about replacing the Roadmonster with a 300CE.

How cool would THAT be? A 100% two-door fleet consisting of two

Mercedes Benz hardtops and a 1959 Buick. These days two kids

means "gotta have a minivan/suv" to most Americans, here I am

considering getting rid of my one sedan for another TWO door. :lol:

You could do much worse...it's a very solid car. Quiet, reasonably quick, and the straight-6 is bulletproof. My sister's red '91 is in very clean shape, needs a few small cosmetics (one piece of wood interior trim and the fabric a-pillar/window frame 'molding' needs replaced, as do the visors--I bought a pair of visors from ebay for her). It's always been garaged, so the black leather interior and dash are perfect, not the usual nuked AZ interior..(it's originally a Chicago car, according to the car fax she did before she bought it 5 years ago). She bought it to replace a '91 Acura Legend coupe that was still in nice shape when she sold it.

Edited by moltar
Link to post
Share on other sites

yeah.... you gotta own one to understand, even in a side impact these cars prob. do as

well if not better than a lot of "five star" cars these days. Everything opens, closes and

moves like a bank-vault. Mercedes is one of a few manufacturers that gives unibody

chassis a good name. When I "hate" on unibody a car like my 500SEC does not count.

Link to post
Share on other sites
yeah.... you gotta own one to understand, even in a side impact these cars prob. do as

well if not better than a lot of "five star" cars these days. Everything opens, closes and

moves like a bank-vault. Mercedes is one of a few manufacturers that gives unibody

chassis a good name. When I "hate" on unibody a car like my 500SEC does not count.

One thing that amazes me is how solid and rattle/squeak free these cars are, even with high mileage and age ('91 300CE--114k miles, '84 500SEL--175k miles). They drive very tight.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 weeks later...

Granny cars are harder to find on my area.....

A co worker picked up a 96 Cavalier 2dr w/ 110k on it for 990 bucks....everthing works, ans the motor is nice and clean...

I see quite a few mid 90s J bodies as beaters.....they get good gas milage, parts are easy to find, and the 2.2 tends to be a long lasting motor......though the motor lacks balls (only 115hp)

Link to post
Share on other sites
Where you finding these? S-series' in STL area are mostly still going for north of $2k:

From individual sellers - dealers all think cars are made of gold. It also helps to be familiar with the cars and be able to fix some problems... problems that convince the seller that the car is worth nothing, but that I know I can fix for very minimal money and effort. :) Best part about this one is that it has a built motor that will be going into my SC2 with the hope of eventually turboing it, and I will be building a stock engine to put back in this SL2 and then selling the car at a profit.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You are posting as a guest. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.



About us

CheersandGears.com - Founded 2001

We ♥ Cars

Get in touch

Follow us

Recent tweets

facebook

×
×
  • Create New...