(Double) Weekly Roundup: End Of The Road Edition

It took Hunter S. Thompson seventeen years to work up the guts to kill himself, then it took him four days more. In his famous “Football Season Is Over” suicide note, he wrote “67. That is 17 years past 50. 17 more than I needed or wanted.” He thought about it for about ninety-six hours, then he put the gun to his head. Readers, as I approach my fiftieth birthday I am starting to understand the appeal of that. You can feel the machine winding down inside you. Two weeks ago, at the inaugural event of an Ohio-wide pumptrack championship, my recently-turned-twelve-years-old son beat me in raw time, 58.17 seconds to 60.20 seconds. The hilarious part is that he came off the track absolutely furious with his performance, which nabbed him second place in the 11-13 category, while I finished my run thinking I’d perhaps ridden over my head just a bit. (For the record, I was the oldest rider at the race, and not the slowest, or even all that close to being the slowest.)

Faced with a future in which each day is a slightly lesser child of the day before, I can’t say I’m like 100% opposed to calling time on my own season, although I think I’d want to do it via a re-creation of the Snake River jump or something like that instead of just nipping off and shooting myself like the cow in a Douglas Adams book. Alas, I have a child to raise and a couple of novels to write. The former still requires a few years and the latter can’t start until I leave my current job. Nor can I expect a deus ex machina to pull my card for me; yeah, I’m a little overweight but I’m in remarkable health and I still exercise about 300-400 “intense” minutes a week with no trouble, according to my little Garmin fitness nanny.

This is what I don’t have: a plan to fill these years to come, or much motivation in one direction or another. Until I saw the above car at the Bonhams auction on Amelia Island this past week, and realized what I want to do.

I think I have about ten years before I start to fade as a daytime driver. My best night driving years are already behind me; the idea of setting a race-winning fast lap at 3AM through mystery dust clouds at Buttonwillow, as I did back in 2012 or thereabouts, already seems more like hopeful fiction than future possibility. When the sun is out, however, I think I can see and decide a little better than I did at thirty-five.

My Radical PR6 is still a work in progress, partially because there have been a few unexpected problems but largely because our priority in the household has been to get Danger Girl through a first-rate season in her completely rebuilt MX-5 Cup. That’s going very well and she actually beat me in the second race of last weekend’s SCCA Majors by 1.1 seconds at the line. (I was in the Neon, not the Radical or the Accord, obviously.) It still seems likely that I’ll take some laps in the PR6 before the end of the race season, particularly if I can lose the 10 or so further pounds I need to fit in the thing safely.

I know from experience that I have no trouble driving sports racers at about the appropriate pace and with some practice I’ll get better than that. The PR6 fits into SCCA’s P2 class, although it’s kind of a knife in a gunfight, so I can burn 100 or so hours in the pursuit of a few regional trophies.

Which takes me to the age of 55 or 56, at which point I’ll buy my last racecar. I think that car will be a Radical SR8. If you’re not familiar, it’s a little prototype-ish thing with a V-8 engine following the approximate bore and stroke of the Suzuki Hayabusa and cranking out about 400 horsepower to motivate 1300 pounds. It is about as fast as a Norma LMP3 race car. If LMP3 cars come down in price over the next five years I’d look at them, but in reality it will probably be the SR8 for me.

They aren’t that bad to buy, maybe seventy grand for a good one against an original retail price of twice that, but operating costs are about $2,500 an hour exclusive of tires and gas. Not a problem. I’ll sell some guitars, and I won’t be riding expensive mountain bikes any more at that point.

Just owning the car is no fun, you have to compete in it. So I’ll probably try to win the NASA Super Unlimited class. This was not that tough to do a few years ago but now the entry sheets are filled with ex-Flying-Lizard R8 LMS cars and stuff like that. It will be a challenge.

I’ll give myself until my sixtieth birthday to show some promise in the thing, at which point I’ll hand it all over to my son and tell him good luck. He will be twenty-two years old. We could be within a few years of seeing some grandchildren. It would be a good idea to stick around for them. Or maybe I won’t have lost as much daylight vision as I’m expecting to. There might be an enduro series out there in which I could run the Radical, albeit at mouth-watering cost.

And then there’s still maybe that novel to write. Updike had no trouble writing coherently at sixty, although Roth couldn’t quite manage it. I’ll write it with zero you-know-whats given. Tell all the stories, even the ones people think I don’t know. You can come to the assisted-living facility and serve me with your lawsuits if you like. I’ll have some spare time to read and respond, I think, after my shift at Wal-Mart. It could also be a good time to brush up on my Latin, so I can return to Commentarii de Bello Gallico, to enjoy the raw ego and polished steel of Caesar’s prose style. Get that done, and maybe I’ll see if I can improve some of Pope’s translations. By then, the grandchildren will want to hear stories, maybe not the kind I’ll have in my novel. Definitely want to be here for that.

You can’t hope that the years after fifty will be willful reiterations of the ones past. You can’t hope that you’ll magically repeat your successes of the racetrack, the bedroom, the bike park, the cocktail party. But I think Hunter S. missed out on an essential truth, namely: the existence of one season implies the potential of another, and you can’t know what it contains unless you bother to show up and see for yourself.

* * *

For Hagerty:

62 Replies to “(Double) Weekly Roundup: End Of The Road Edition”

  1. toly arutunoff

    I’m 84 2/3 and with only 1 leg I could still hustle an automatic ’55 bird with a rear antirollbar around the Pittsburgh street circuit in ’16 and the vernasca silver flag hillclimb a couple years ago. a real fast car makes the lap go by too fast to enjoy it; that’s why I raced hprod for so long and bsr for just a few years…also ran a europa and the Flaminia zagato in enduros; admittedly long long ago. remember, wide tires ruined racing

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      I’m not quite in the position where I’m willing to disappoint my distaff friends, but that day is fast approaching where I won’t care if I have walnut balls.

      Reply
  2. Fat Baby Driver

    If I recall correctly the friend bought a Sequoia get back home. I think…

    Growing old sucks but most days it beats the alternative, if only just.

    Reply
  3. KoR

    I’m near as makes no difference 20 years your junior, and at a different crossroads in life. Looking back about the years I’ve already wasted, mistakes I’ve made, regrets I have..

    I’ve taken some comfort in the final paragraphs of this pece, the one at least sorta about the Tempo, and Sam Smith’s latest on his hobbled together death trap. So thank you all for that.

    Reply
  4. John C.

    I never knew the Tempo GLS V6 five speed was such a rare bird. My next door neighbor had a maroon two door when I had my first house and 93 Corsica that year. Always thought the Corsica was more substantial, but probably had a bias against the Tempo for being a stretched Escort. When I had one as a rental though, it was fine.

    Those that want to compare cars like the 1990s Corsica and Tempo to the 90s Accord should be required to give the context of the difference in price. Here it is from 1993, Tempo LX V6 5 sp including package 233A, $13,372. Accord EX, $19,300. The EX was the only way to get the 140hp engine Jack mentioned. Those around then will understand that list prices understated the American price advantage, with more bargaining and rebate opportunities. You import humpers can still claim it was a better car, but shouldn’t it be for 50% more? You are still left with explaining how it could jump size classes and go from a single person’s hatch to a family car and yet whatever car Honda put the name on was ideal.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      The Corsica was a stretched Cavalier, so it shouldn’t have bothered you! But yes, the Corsica/Beretta sometimes seemed like they were a half-rung above the Tempo, particularly in the early years

      Reply
  5. NoID

    I had a similar (and at the same time, somewhat opposite) reaction to the Jeep Cherokee as you had with the RAV4. The first one I borrowed was a 2016 Trailhawk, and I found the execution inside and out to be exactly what a CUV Jeep should be. Somewhat funky styling inside and out, comfortable and durable interior, not pretending to be a Jeep but simply executing the Jeepiest take on a CUV in the best possible manner. It would never hold a candle to a “real” Jeep like the Wrangler or past Cherokee, but it didn’t offend me emotionally or physically.

    A few years later we had a dealer-loaned a 2019 Limited while the family Durango was in for some service, and it felt like the shinyest turd I’d ever driven. Chrome accents and premium features in spades, but all pasted on top of…a Jeep Cherokee. It felt like the most expensive piece of trash, and my wife (who is no connoisseur of automobiles) provided similar feedback, completely unsolicited and not coached one bit. And this one had an asthmatic 4-cylinder that threatened my life on every hairpin on-ramp instead of the Pentastar V6 from the Trailhawk which just PULLED you wherever you pointed the thing.

    It was just terrible, and if I hadn’t first driven the Trailhawk a few years before it would have turned me off of the Jeep Cherokee, and perhaps the entire brand, instantly.

    It’s amazing how trim levels can turn what is ostensibly the same vehicle into two completely different animals, one which beckons and the other which repulses.

    Reply
    • Compaq Deskpro

      I strongly agree about the trim levels. A base model Challenger (and its siblings) is cheap and cheerful, fast and good looking and punching above its weight on usability and performance. A loaded Challenger is an overweight rocket sled that can’t turn and the interior doesn’t cut it at the price point.

      If I was the Sultan of Brunei, could I get a V6 Challenger with a manual?

      Reply
      • NoID

        I drive a Challenger GT, and I wish to high heaven they’d toss a manual transmission in the V6 cars. Up to now the HEMI’s thirst (relative to the PentaStar) and requirement for premium fuel in the MT version has kept me out of the V8, but if work from home becomes the new normal and my weekly commute continues to be drastically reduced, I just might find myself in an R/T Shaker before long. I don’t think you’d need to be the Sultan of Brunei to get a manual in a V6 Challenger…I know there are shops converting them into convertibles, and that seems like a much heavier lift than adapting the existing Tremec to the back of the V6, or pulling the 6 speed out of a JK or JL Wrangler (which is already mated to the Pentastar).

        I’d agree about the interiors of the Challenger if the higher price points didn’t have earth-rotating levels of torque available. That’s what you’re paying for. That said, there is a sharp trim corner at the very back left of the foot well on the driver’s side that snags my shoes if I’m not careful, and it makes me wary any time I wear decent shoes. I would wish or will that trim design away in a heartbeat.

        As for turning, if you’re using the steering wheel to turn a Challenger you’re doing it wrong. The proper way to steer these cars is with your right foot.

        Reply
  6. dzot

    As someone 10 years your senior, I’ve found the the key to success in these years is acknowledging that your peaks are behind you, but continuing to work and play and live as if you could reach them again. It is a contradictory mindset, but at least you will know your limits were imposed by the world and not from personal capitulation.

    Reply
    • Manbridge

      I like the cut of your jib.

      Wishing I didn’t know now what I didn’t know then? Nope, the best is yet to come for followers of JC.

      Reply
      • NoID

        Man, you got it. When True North isn’t temporal but eternal, keeping on keeping on is easier to swallow. It might even be an adventure.

        I for one am looking forward to my future time in the galactic navy, exploring the grand and wide universe. Eternity is a long time, and Revelation tells us (or implies) we’ll have jobs and roles to play. I wouldn’t mind spending mine establishing Kingdom beach heads across the galaxy.

        And who knows…maybe we’ll play some role in another creation’s story, the way angelic beings (another creation) play a role in ours. Whatever shape the future takes, I’m stoked.

        Reply
  7. Jeff

    I nearly bought a Rav4 Hybrid for the combo of mpgs and awd. Ended up with a Passport and I’ve loved every second of my gas guzzling J35. I’d love to hear your thoughts on it.

    Reply
    • Compaq Deskpro

      I know a Pilot owner, its a dead reliable family workhorse, he doesn’t enjoy driving it, calls it a pig. I’d want a substantial price cut for the third row chop though.

      John C: LOL

      Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      Honda hasn’t been eager to give us a look at a Passport. It’s one of those vehicles, like the Accord Coupe, where you can’t see the sense of it unless you’re an owner and it really fits into your niche. Everyone else is probably better off with a Pilot or an Accord sedan.

      Offhand the Passport strikes me as a CR-V for someone who wants to drop the hammer in a straight line, but of course it’s more complicated than that.

      Reply
      • CJinSD

        The first new Passport I saw was getting it done on the beach in Ocracoke a few years ago. I suspect that it’s a two-row CUV for people who know about the issues associated with small displacement, turbocharged, and direct-injected engines without knowing about the issues associated with VCM.

        Reply
  8. RJ

    Jack, take heart. Fifty turned out to be not so bad, and it’s two years behind me in the rearview at this point. I’m riding cross country again on an Epic Evo (a brilliant piece of engineering even if specialized did, like pretty much everyone else but GG, abandon American production in favor of the holy grail of REDUCED LABOR COSTS), and am setting some of my fastest laps since my late 20s. Literally two days ago I bought a 2013 Grand Sport 6MT with 7K on the clock (OMG why didn’t I get one of these years ago?) despite my general loathing for the general and their cavalier take on what a bailout by the taxpayers actually obligates them to do (hint: it isn’t ‘write each other checks’). The kids are out of the house. I skydive on weekends. There are motorcycles in the garage, hounds at my side. Having grown up literally no-electricity poor, I feel like I’ve reached some sort of apogee only dimly glimpsed in my awkward high-school and college years. Sure, there are negatives (Colonoscopy? Don’t remember a thing except violent but completely odorless and hilarious sheet-ripping farts in the car afterward as my wife drove me to Cracker Barrel for the best damned pancakes ever, because I was still kind of high from the anesthesia), but dang, the accumulated knowledge, wisdom, ability to talk to fellow humans (including women), collected anecdotes, jokes, and bits of timely sarcasm are well worth the cost to glean them over the years.

    Like Robert Frost said, “nothing gold can stay”. Seriously, though, maybe I’m the outlier but it really seems to be getting better as the world gets weirder….

    Reply
    • NYFinanceGuy

      I love your comment RJ. I wish Riverside Green published more articles written by writers like you – not just JB, Mark, and Tom Klockau. I feel there is a lot of wisdom in the commenters here that is bursting to come out.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        We rarely if ever say no to a guest contribution… but most people are more comfortable just leaving a perceptive comment.

        Reply
    • hank chinaski

      Ah, Propofol. That prep though….

      40 was a piece of cake. At 50, I noticed the gentle downslope, and the effort needed to keep it so, but have seen it to be pretty steep slide in others with worse genes and ‘mileage’. An older colleague shared this pearl: ‘What are the three lessons you must learn on turning sixty? Never pass a men’s room, never waste an erection, and never trust a fart.’ I would say now that the biggest frustration is being old enough to watch the world repeating the same mistakes (knowingly, joyously even), and the regret of not starting a family a decade earlier.

      JFC! How much *with* tires and gas!? That’s a lot of guitars.

      Reply
      • Jack Baruth Post author

        An SR8 requires $12/gallon fuel and it can burn two grand worth of tires in a sprint race.

        I have a lot of guitars, so it’s alright!

        Reply
        • Steve Ulfelder

          Looks like I’m exactly 10 years older than you. My racing and novelist years coincided to a great extent, call it ages 41 to 55. Even when I was up to my elbows in both activities, I knew they were momentum pursuits – that is, I knew that when I skipped a year of racing, or went a year without writing a book, that was it. I was right! But you know what? Life is sweet. I earn an honest living, I read Patrick O’Brian and John D. MacDonald over and over (plus LONESOME DOVE every 5 years), and I wait for those grandkids to come along. Could be worse.

          Reply
          • Scout_Number_4

            +1 for O’Brian (just finishing my second circumnavigation with Jack and Stephen) McMurtry and grandkids all in the same sentence.

            Seriously, though–the grandkids are a blast. There’s something special about being in the life of a little one that will walk the earth (God willing) long after you’re gone.

  9. Newbie Jeff

    I recently had to come terms with aging… I had a bit of a spill on my motorcycle a couple of months ago. Nothing too serious, but then again, it’s sort of hard to escape unscathed from that sort of thing…

    I have more or less felt 25 years old for the past 15 years, and that changed very quickly after the accident. Suddenly I feel very 41. But I also resolved to keep doing as much as I am physically able to do… as such, I started ordering parts for the bike while I was home from work nursing a separated shoulder and a broken toe…

    My perspective may change as I age, but I don’t want to leave anything in the tank… I want to be active in my 60’s, 70’s, and 80’s if I’m lucky to endure that long. I also fly gliders, and the gliderport’s instructor is 85 (and a coronavirus survivor… barely slowed him down). He’s on his fourth career, and likely one of the highest time glider pilots in the world. He flies almost every day, and despite being practically deaf, he is incredibly sharp. He’s who I want to be when I’m older.

    Reply
    • dejal

      You can be active as you want. There are somethings age related you have absolutely no control of. Of course, plan for the best, but don’t surprised if that doesn’t save you. Enduring that long, doesn’t mean you will be in tip top shape that long.

      Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      For me, breaking my leg at the age of 44 and having all the subsequent nerve damage was the real wake-up call. Hated it.

      Reply
    • DougD

      Yeah, aging and motorcycles.. I just sold my Kawi C10 Concours and will look for a well equipped Versys 650. My younger years were spent climbing the displacement ladder and I guess I’m about to start climbing down at 54.

      I’m not too worried though, if you’re in reasonable shape and not too hung up about it there is good fun to be had at all ages. As Mark Knopfler said about playing guitar “Fun for young and old. In this case, old.”

      Reply
  10. David Florida

    Jack, we humans now know that if we stick with the 300-400 minutes per week and watch what we eat, amazing things can happen in the third act. Names like Earl Fee, Ed Whitlock, and Olga Kotelco come to mind. All of them came into their senior years relatively unused-up, but I don’t think that the pace of discovery will slow down and we may anticipate procedures, processes, and nutrition which will aid those of us who have had surgical repairs. A fighting spirit is required, of course.

    “Old age hath yet his honour and his toil; Death closes all: but something ere the end, Some work of noble note, may yet be done, Not unbecoming men that strove with Gods.”

    Reply
      • David Florida

        Thank you for the reply. I was also amused that within an hour of writing my post, I turned on the radio and heard that Helio Castroneves had won number four at Indy aged 46. Momentum indeed!

        Reply
  11. Ronnie Schreiber

    I turn 67 this year. I’d like to see my grandsons’ get married, but I’ll settle for their Bar Mitzvah celebrations. The youngest is 3. I don’t mind getting old but when I lay down in bed so many things hurt that I can only laugh. I can understand why tendonitis in my good knee hurts when I climb stairs, but it’s frustrating when it hurts rolling over in bed.

    Life is bittersweet. I got a ridiculously high offer for a domain name that I owned and then had to spend a big fraction of that on replacing my water heater and fixing my furnace.

    My kids and grandkids are healthy, everything else is gravy. I’ve resigned myself that I likely will not find another woman to share my life with, but on the other hand, how many wives smile at their husbands the way my grandkids smile when they see me?

    Reply
    • Benjohnson

      Ronnie, I hope your taking care of yourself – you’re a treasure. I say this because my observent Jewish friends are not aging well – carbs and K’riat haTorah. Sub in an audio-book, some Aftershokz oper-ear headphones, and some walking now and then 🙂

      Reply
    • David Florida

      Inflammation can be reduced, Ronnie. I am ten years younger and have piled up the debris from more than a few injuries and bad habits, but I think the curcumin, fish oil, yoga, and exercise have all helped to reduce my need for painkillers. Hang in there. Ben is correct, you’re a treasure.

      Reply
  12. Relic

    It’s good to read these comments from everybody, I’ll be a broken old man soon so it’s all great advice. Nothing to add, other than pay close attention to even minor health issues: something innocuous can turn deadly or serious as we get older.

    Reply
  13. Gene B

    Jack,
    I was in a similar situation about 6 years ago. At the age of 47, I realized I needed to transition my life and career into the “final stage”. I wasn’t going anywhere in my career but had lots of experience. By chance I started looking at alternative careers and stumbled upon business coaching…I bought a franchise and started an adjacent sales consulting business. The point was to transition into an “elder statesman” type of role that 1) uses my experience and expertise, 2) allows you to have conversations with people on a much higher level than before and 3) allows you to charge $200-300 per hour of your time. I find my new life much more fulfilling, and interesting than before. I have a lot of fascinating clients and I am learning more about everything than before. I also never left my old career, I kept it as a part time job so I was never broke during the transition. I am now busy, with 3-4 sources of income – but I am doing things only people with experience can do. I created my own career that will last as long as I want it..and now that I learned how to get my own clients, I will never starve.

    You have the experience, intelligence and ability to do this too, and reap the benefits of your fascinating life. There are many people our age doing this when they realize they have outgrown the job market.

    Plus you never have to lie to anyone for money, something I would never do.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      You’re an inspiration, I think you have more control of your life than I have of mine, or at least that’s the impression I got when we met.

      Reply
  14. Laney

    Hitting 50 is the alarm clock telling you it’s time to get up or shut up. Buy the race car, go to Greece, Safari the Q5 (suddenly this turned into my list… not yours…). This isn’t time to slow down or cash in, more so time to get real and hit the damn gas like you mean to win the race.

    Reply
    • Jack Baruth Post author

      You’re just saying this because you already completed your studio (or as near-as-dammit to it) and you’re feeling cocky. With good reason, I would add!

      Reply
      • Laney

        Yeah, but I feel like once it is done, the full force of the mid-life crisis will creep in. The studio kept me super occupied during this crap-ass past year. Gonna need another project to keep my hands and mind busy. I told Cody (my kid) once he was out of college I was going to find a cute little E30 project car. I’m used to frustration so why the hell not?

        Reply
  15. CliffG

    What’s so bad about 67? I like being 67. Grandkids, everything paid off, pretty fabulous. Bought a cbr1000rr when I was 55. Goodness, that was a fun bike. This week I will finish my 40′ by 4′ retaining wall in my back yard that I hand dug, every shovel full of gravel moved twice, and around 400 bricks. I still work full time and the thought of retirement is non-existent. Got my bout of cancer over, hopefully. Life is really good, at the end of long day, a cigar and a bourbon. A while back I read about a guy, 77, still racing 175cc bikes. Think he thought it was all over at 50? You move around the goal posts a bit, voila, you are in a good place. Just because Hunter was too fucking stupid to realize he had another whole life in front of him is mostly a reflection of him being without imagination. Sheesh.

    Reply
    • Ronnie Schreiber

      Thompson wasted his talent. Jack’s the literature major so I’ll defer to his expertise but in retrospect I think the best thing HST ever wrote was Hell’s Angels, his first book and it was mostly downhill from there, though F&LiLV is a fun read.

      When I was going to Michigan in the early 1970s HST made a speech at Hill Auditorium and I went with some friends. We were all big fans and sat in the front row, where we did flaming shots of Chartreuse out of paper Dixie cups (the trick is to down the drink before the flames melt the cup’s waxed surface). The stage, and lecturn, were littered with joints and other drugs people threw onto the stage. After the talk, my friends and I attended a small reception with HST at one of the dorms on North Campus. Thompson got into an argument with a reporter from Detroit’s leftist weekly, The Fifth Estate, who wanted him to be more explicitly more political and HST was having none of that. When the reporter asked him, “Why, then, did you come here?” and Thompson replied, “To score some heroin.”

      Reply
      • David Florida

        Lol! I concur with your assessment of his work, Ronnie. But the man had a genius for snappy comebacks!

        Reply
  16. gtem

    Your rental reviews never disappoint. Toyota has been doing the “service without the smile” for going on two decades-ish now. The last gasp of Golden Age Toyota was probably the 1st gen Highlander, made until 2007, or perhaps the 4th gen 4Runner (last year 2009). What I’ve noticed with Toyota is their constant drive towards cost cutting, but they generally have mastered the art (or they think they have) of doing so in places where “normies” won’t notice. But in reality I think sooner or later even the layman notices stuff like how much rock chips their 2 year old Camry has, how crappy the door cards look compared to their old one, etc. I thought my wife’s 2012 SE was bad…. then I drove a 2018 LE rental. It’s always three steps forward, two steps back: the 2012 had some content added back from the 2007-2011 gen, but in the process lost the last vestige of old Toyota: the nice soft velour cloth seats. The 2018 LE somehow manages to have even crappier feeling cloth and door cards than the 2012-2014 cars. All said and done, despite my grousing my wife’s 2012 Camry has rolled through 100k miles with nothing but a battery (prematurely at 4 years old), oil/filters/wipers, two sets of tires, rear pads at 60k miles (started to drag), then a full brake job with rotors front and rear at 90k miles. I also replaced a rear hub assembly and a rim after she curbed it. DIY on all this of course. About to do the transmission fluid, it’s a pain in the ass on 6spd Aisins without a fill plug, and the 2012-2014 Camrys have actually earned a reputation for shredding torque converters due to a stupid MPG-chasing implementation of pulse-width-modulated torque converter actuation. Ironically enough the hybrids have a stupid simple drain/fill procedure for the ATF. That’s the Camry to buy these days IMO: the hybrid. I have my suspicions about the longevity and long term ownership costs of the 8spd autos.

    Reply
    • John C.

      Just for info, I’m not judging. At what point has a car served to where you have got your money’s worth? At 9 years and 100k, the Camry might seem to have got there. Especially in the hands of a non mechanical female. You seem to be investing money and sweat equity hoping that the car has many more miles to go. Perhaps it does, but there are probably many buyers out there who think Toyota’s never age out, and such they are probably willing to pay more than they should hoping that Toyota will never let them down. Time to move on?

      Reply
      • gtem

        I very strongly considered it and even detailed the car and listed it for an optimistic (crazy?) $11k… and I’m pretty sure I would have gotten it in the current car-buying environment. But my wife and I decided that selling one of our newer/reliable cars was not the best idea just with other things we have going on right now. I sold my $400 Buick for $1800 instead. Still, I think you are right on the money. Considering the car was bought for $20k new, selling it right now for $11k would have been awesome from an overall cost of ownership perspective. Now in the next several years I’ll be sweating the torque converter after dealing with that silly ATF change procedure, then it’s spark plugs and coolant, and perhaps finally some kind of wear and tear issues will crop up. Still, if we can get another 5 years and 50k miles of commuting out of it, my guess it will still be worth over $5k at that point, and that $/mile will still look very good.

        Reply
        • gtem

          I’ll also take issue with your “non mechanical female” point. Yeah she’s non-mechanical, but she’s married to a VERY mechanical male (me) who keeps a watchful eye on it and feeds it a steady diet of synthetic every 5k miles, takes care of any cosmetic issues, etc. The car looks better than just about any other 2012 Camry I see on the roads or for sale, barring a few minor dings/scrapes that come from busy hospital parking lots. I’ll also give her credit for being more mindful than most other gals (or guys) about dodging our plentiful potholes downtown.

          Reply
          • John C.

            I definitely did not mean to cast any aspersions on your wife. I just understand that if the failures come, it will be her at the wheel and perhaps more than a few miles from home.

            I have a sister in law with a 2011 Camry with circa 120k and bald tires, a not working A/C and the husband that bought it new for her and paid off her house gone. Having done his Christian duty to her, he sensibly escaped with his sanity. My wife worries about her sister driving that sad car. I worry that they are going to expect me to put it right. The car would be easier than the SIL

          • gtem

            Ah I totally get your point, my bad. My gut reflex to “female owned/driven” is “the car is a rolling biohazard with no oil on the dipstick” lol

        • John C.

          My case seems even stronger with your numbers. I was thinking 30k new with a current residual of circa 7.5k. Your families choice of course.

          Sorry to hear that your Buick is gone, if that was the 90s Park Avenue you have mentioned here before. In the late 1980s, they had a neat set of articles in R/T by Peter Egan. They bought a then cheap 68 MGB and a 74 Alfa GTV fixed them up some and then kept them in the magazines long term test fleet, putting heavy mileage on them to see how they held up and how cars have progressed/regressed. The cars were hardly trouble free, but Egan bought the MGB from the magazine at the end of the test. I was looking forward to hearing your progress and setbacks with the Park Avenue in a similar vein.

          Reply
          • gtem

            Yeah the Buick was intended to be a quick flip but turned out to a) have more issues than I anticipated and b) I decided that the old girl needed a proper American road trip before I sent her on to a new owner. It had a bit more rust than what I would want in a keeper as well. I will say in the future I will be casting a wide net (into the road salt-free West) for a clean Park Avenue Ultra of this generation. My perfect car would be a ’96: 240hp variant of the Supercharged Series II, and the burgundy interior while I’m dreaming. I’d then like to put it on some decent tires and a modest improvement to the handling without compromising the ride quality of ground clearance. Sort of a mild-Q-ship, a midwestern stealth mile eater.

            As it was, even with the lowly 170hp Series I, rolling on 7 year old whitewalls plucked from the junkyard and China’s finest $10 Gabriel Guardian struts, I had WAY too much fun whipping my ’91 through some fantastic twisty roads in Southeastern Ohio (cutting SE from Zanesville down to the Wayne National Forest). She’s a marshmallow for sure with pretty dead steering on center, but with a reasonably low center of gravity, and with some smooth inputs I was thoroughly impressed with how I could maintain a 60mph pace without squealing the tires or any other drama. Also took her down some single lane gravel “township highways” at Google’s suggestion. No problem, even did a few (shallow) water crossings. Turned out to be a very memorable drive in a very memorable car.

          • John C.

            Not exactly a Q ship and not as cool inside as the 4 seater Regal GM 10 that Toly remembers, but the 1988ish Lesabre T Type coupe with Darth Vader level black paint/black out trim made quite a statement on the road, and would have often had the bordelo red seats. Still with the 165hp 3800 but a lighter weight and a shorter final drive could be the ticket, or at least get you a few.

          • gtem

            Yeah the T-Type coupes are sharp, a early 90s Regal Coupe could work as well. What I liked about the Park Ave for the purpose of a road trip was the massive 20cu ft trunk and load leveling suspension. The air shocks and compressor were both dead when I bought the car, I swapped on some replacement Monroe air shocks ($40 a pop) and simply ran T’d air lines to a schrader valve that I pumped up with a small bike bump. It was like a bootlegger’s car. I had the trunk stuffed with a big cooler full of steak and beer, firewood, backpacking gear, and even a 5 gallon jug of gas (my trip coincided with the fuel pipe shutdown, I figured better safe than sorry). Air shocks leveled out the load perfectly. Between the revived old Buick, all the camping gear, extra gas, driving on gravel roads and then hiking in a fairly remote part of Appalachia with rusty oil derricks scattered throughout the woods, the trip had a bit of a post-apocalyptic flavor to it. It was, as the kids say, a “vibe.”

  17. toly arutunoff

    in ’90 or thereabouts I had the hots for a Buick 2+2–I forget what model it was available on. 2 dealerships had no idea it existed! anybody out there have one? the console went to the rear to divide the rear seats, thus a true 4-seater.

    Reply

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