Inflation Plus….

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Inflated car prices are a great way to gauge how much we’ve being gouged by the private banks that control (and relentlessly devalue) the currency of the United States. But we’re also being gouged by the government – and those costs are even more hidden.

Let me explain by way of example:

In the latest issue of High Performance Pontiac magazine (I’m a subscriber) there is an article about a restored 1977 Trans-Am. The base price of this car in ’77 was $5,799.

Using the CPI inflation calculator (see here) you’ll discover this sum has the same buying power today as $21,785. To parse this in terms of the real cost increase of a new car (as opposed to merely the increased number of “notes” one must have in one’s pocket today to match the buying power of $5,799 in ’77) it is instructive to take a look at what this sum will buy Now vs. Then.

Then – back in 1977 – $5,799 ($21,785 in today’s money) would buy you a brand-new Trans-Am. Not merely a Firebird. The Trans-Am was the top-of-the-line version of the Firebird – and also one of the most expensive Pontiacs at the time. For another $75, a buyer could select the optional high-performance 400 cubic inch engine and with it, a close-ratio manual transmission. Add $281.76 for that (in inflation-adjusted 2012 dollars).

Total MSRP for a ’77 Trans-Am with the optional high-performance 400 engine and manual transmission: $5,874 in 1977 – the equivalent of  $22,067.53 today.

Now let’s step into a Chevy showroom and see what $22k (the equivalent in real purchasing power of $5,874 in ’77 money) will buy:

A base model V-6 Camaro.

Well, not quite.

The 2012 base model Camaro’s sticker price is $23,280 – so about $1,200 higher in inflated 2012 dollars (about $320 higher in ’77 dollars) than the cost of a top-of-the-line Trans-Am equipped with the optional engine (a big V-8) back in 1977.

The more direct cost comparison is to compare the cost of a current V-8 Camaro SS to the cost of that ’77 Trans-Am. And how much is a new Camaro SS? $32,280. In ’77 money, that’s equivalent to $8,592 and change. So, the real cost of a modern version of the ’77 V-8 muscle car is about $2,800 more – which doesn’t sound like a lot until you put it in terms of inflation-adjusted 2012 money.

Which comes to about $10,520 and change. Not including interest on the loan.

That’s not inflation. It’s the cost of government. For things like driver and passenger side airbags, tire pressure monitors, traction/stability control and all the rest of it – plus more to come, including the just-mandated back-up cameras that every new car will be required to have beginning with the 2014 model year.  Those costs are fairly easy to quantify; dual air bags, for example, add an estimated $800-$1,000 to the bottom line cost of every new car. Assuming the lower figure – $800 – that comes to about $212 in ’77 money – or about three times the cost of the ’77 TA’s optionally available high-performance V-8 and manual transmission! Which would you rather have?  A pair of air bags in a V-6 base model Camaro? Or a big (6.6 liter) V-8 and close-ratio manual transmission instead?

For one third the cost of the air bags?

Too bad the choice is made for us.

The costs of meeting the government’s “safety,” “emissions” and fuel efficiency mandates are harder to nail down. But they’re certainly not cost-free. A new Camaro comes with four catalytic converters and four O2 sensors; the ’77 TA had one cat and no O2 sensors. The ’77’s engine was fed by a single Rochester Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor. Today you can buy a brand-new replacement Q-Jet for about $400 – which is about $106 in ’77 money. See how far $106 (or $400 in inflated money) gets you today when your modern car’s direct port injected EFI needs major service. The new Camaro SS’s V-8 uses cylinder deactivation technology and a skip-shift feature in its manual transmission to help it get better gas mileage. Those aren’t free, either. Granted, the ’77 TA got much poorer gas mileage – but then, you could afford to feed it because the car cost so much less. Check CVS Ad on WeeklyAds2.

Today, the car and the fuel costs more – vitiating the mileage improvement. I don’t know about you, but I’d much rather have the 15 MPG $5,799 top-of-the-line TA than a 26 MPG base model Camaro that costs significantly more in real terms. (Full disclosure: I own a Trans-Am from that era and love its air bag-free 15 MPG self. It doesn’t have a computer; there’s no OnStar monitoring my activities and while it may not have a great stereo, it makes great sounds… government-free sounds. It doesn’t need a stereo.)

The scoop is this:

A top-of-the-line ’77  Trans-Am cost less in real terms than a current-year base model Camaro because the ’77 Trans-Am did not have to comply with all the rigmarole that is required of the new Camaro. GM – like all the other car companies – simply transfers these costs to you, the buyer.

And one of these costs is that V-8 muscle cars are now (mostly)  middle-aged men’s cars. Because it takes most men that long to be in a position to afford one. Back in ’77, a young man just out of school – even high school – could finagle a way into a new Trans-Am. The muscle car began as a youth car in 1964 (first year for the Pontiac GTO). Today, it’s an easy-fit jeans car.

You can thank the Fed – and Uncle Sam, too.

Throw it in the Woods?

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  1. Every time I end up behind an old survivor on the street, or drive West to Los Angeles and am able to actually see more than 500 feet through the air, I’m glad we have modern fuel systems and emission controls.

    Don’t get me wrong, bloat sucks – but clean emissions and the performance of feedback-driven fuel injection are pretty awesome.

  2. Eric,

    Really?? You’re comparing a 1977 Trans-Am to a 2012 Camaro?? Might as well be comparing a 1977 apple to a 2012 orange.

    • Sure – why not?

      Both were/are top dog performance cars in their respective eras. The point being: In ’77 a young guy could afford a new TA. Today, most young guys can’t. The new Camaro – the new SS – is a middle-aged guy’s car. Because of its price.

  3. So what is the point of this article? That the world would be a better place if modern cars were less safe and had a poorer gas mileage, just so young people could afford a huge V8? I love the ’77 Trans Am and muscle cars in general. But from a rational point of view, a modern V6 Camaro is a better car. It’s a lot saver (to drive and in a crash), it is both more comfortable to drive AND a lot better going around corners, it’s even FASTER than your beloved giant big block powered ’77 TA while needing less fuel! And after all… you might as well say the ’77 is over engineered expensive rubbish and a ’40s Ford were the only real “no-government” car.

    • The point is that none of us should be forced to buy “safety” equipment we may not want. That because we are forced to buy these things, new cars have become (or are fast becoming) cost-prohibitive purchases for more and more people.

      • I still can’t believe how much beeping my newer cars do if I don’t put my seat belt on. And the damn light on the dash never goes off. What a major distraction, especially at night time. Drives me nuts! If you want to wear a helmet and five point harness when you drive go right on ahead. Same goes for airbags, seat belts, camera, etc.. Laws forcing us how to act inside our private property is fucking madness! If they really gave a shit about safety all our bathroom showers would be equipped with airbags.

        • Yeah man – this is why bikes are the Last Refuge. But even they are starting to cross over the event horizon into Cloverism. Linked brakes and ABS are now pretty common and some bikes have a form of traction control. Honda offers an air bag with the Goldwing. Just wait. This stuff is going to become mandatory, too – on the same basis and in the same way it got force-fed to the car buying public.

          We’ll all be so much safer, doncha gnoe….

          • I think clovers want to make all two wheeled transportation illegal. They were well on their way to killing off bicycling until the greenies got involved.

            Clovers essentially killed children bicycling to school or anywhere else. They have also done a great deal to stop children from using motorcycles off road too. This would have resulted in an adult population with no two-wheeled experience and nothing but feelings of fear for it. From there they could have made the jump to illegality. But bicycling and motorcycling became ‘green’ thus one group of control freaks foiled the other.

            In the USA the health care cartel kills well into the six figures every year (considered to be the second or third leading cause of death in the nation, with FDA approved drugs being about 100K by themselves) but it gets forced on us.

            Meanwhile there’s ever more regulation for activities and accident types that kill well less than 1% of what the health care cartel does. Bicycling is in the hundreds of deaths a year.

            It’s all about the money and the power. If we live or die was never in the equation, unless of course when our death leads to someone’s profit. The FDA will do nothing about the 100K people dead from its failures each year on drugs alone.

  4. I’m still partial to the ’68 Z-28. With slant-plug heads for an extra 30 or so horses, and maybe a 4.11…About the only real change would be a five- or six-speed transmission.

    My big gripe with most modern cars is what I see as a lack of class in styling. Granted, using a wind tunnel for fuel efficiency doesn’t allow for a lot of variance, but still…A snot-bubble, to use my wife’s label, will always look like a low-rent snot-bubble.

    But, as a prepper, I’ll hang on to my ’85 Toy 4WD PU. I still know how to do all the work on it–as I always have.

    • I also like the ’68 (and ’67) Z28s more than the ’69. Lower profile; cleaner look.

      But, my favorite Camaros are second gen Camaros. The ’70 with the LT-1 350 was a magnificent thing. But don’t overlook the ’73-’74 L-82 Z28. Less hp but much more tractable – and lots of potential. Then there are the ’77-81s. Slow in stock form, but still fun to drive – and also, lots of potential. And they all handled really well for their era, too.

  5. Mind you my dream car is the Mustang Fastback like Steve Mcqueen drove in “Bullet”, maybe if I win the lottery……other than that I can dream….

  6. Eric and anyone else interested…..

    I bought a Landrover TDI 300 Discovery (1997 model ) why ? because I can work on it myself, do 90% of the mechanical maintenance, its a mechanical fuel injection Diesel system and not a Electrical diesel delivery system, I can repair it easily, parts are cheaply available on the net from the UK ,I get 900ks per tank of fuel, uses the same amount of Diesel whether I tow 2 tons of nothing, it has 300,000 ks on it and ticks like a clock !.

    other than regular maintenance I have done no work to it, has no fancy electronics such as ABS, ATC, and all the other gizmos that DO go wrong and cost megabucks to fix !.

    Having all the electronic toys in a car is a waste to me and quite frankly I like to beat the system of consumerism that pervades the world, the Gordon Gecko ” greed is good ” is just another sacred cow that needs pricking.

    I think living simply is the answer and works on all levels and learn a bit of self sufficiency won’t hurt anyone, until the next GFC hits we will just roll on and on and on.

    American consumerism is now the disease that is going to the third as well, wellcome to the brave new world of loss of liberty and government control.

    • Completely agree.

      Living below one’s means is the most effective way to combat the stress, the hassles of modern “consumer” life.

      Here’s an example, fresh off the plate:

      We know a nice couple down the road from us. They are perpetually in debt, always worrying about money. But they drive brand-new cars. The guy just bought a ’12 Chevy Silverado 2500 that had to have cost him at least $35k. They have a flat screen TV. This guy probably only makes $15k a year (his wife makes maybe $24k as an elementary school “lunch lady”). They also have a big mortgage, of course. And they’re in their 50s.

      Me? My newest vehicle is 10 years old, bought used for $7,200. We don’t have a flat screen “entertainment system.” Or a sail fawn. We have a tube TV I bought eight years ago. Still works fine. And a corded, plug-in-the-wall phone I bought for $15 at Target.

      But I haven’t had a mortgage since I was 35.

      • yea well , I USED to be in the same boat ……then I went through a messy divorce ! lost everything except the seat of my pants ( I wonder about that too at times ) my upside is I got re married to a great gal ! and am now wondering the best way to get a small place to have in this GFC world .

        at least I am still sane can work , so I make do with less and learn to live simpler

      • the couple down the road won’t like it much WHEN the dollor goes south would they ? bet they havn’t put any junk silver aside or prepared for an ” emergency “…….the way Helicopter Ben is printing money , well…..lets just say hyperinflation is not pretty.

          • ha ha……they may come knocking on your door !

            there will be hundreds of millions of the “Zombies” very very unhappy, I look at Greece and think it will get ugly very quickly , no modern society will be immune, I personally don’t look forward to a monetary collapse on a world wide scale, only a fool and a madman would, but at the same time, I would be equally a fool if I did nothing when I can prepare now for things ahead.

            I think of all the pets who will suffer unbearably and the elderly who will feel helpless.

            I have little sympathy for the yuppy types and those too stupid to prepare, the Darwinian gene pool will sort out many, many will be people you and I know .

            • They may!

              I hesitate to put this out in public, but I have been thinking about a fallback position. If we have to leave the house, I mean. Something like a small shelter/cabin deep in the woods (all around us), defensible by dint of being invisible and well-stocked for just in case…..

          • A modern day Robin Hood or Robinson Crusoe.

            Interesting concept. The Great White North or West has many places that can be suitable for hiding out till the winds fury expends it energy.

          • I finally caved and turned in my 15 year old tube TV for a flat screen HD. i must admit its nice. However, i did ask for and receive best buy gift cards for every birthday and christmas the last 2 years including my co -workers office gift exchange. so i waited until around superbowl time and got one on sale. The gift cards covered almost half of it. Then they gave me 36 months interest free cuz i have good credit. im torn between earning next to 0% on my savings and paying 0% on my debt to best buy.

            i’m a closet prepper also. my wife thinks its cute that i like to buy cases of excess food and water and toilet paper/baby wipes at Costco. Since we live in the SF Bay area, i tell her its for earthquake preparedness. Same thing with my flock of chickens and organic garden i keeep in my yard. she thinks the ultra fresh, free range eggs are much better for our small kids than hormone laden store boughts. so its win-win. She knew i was a gun nut.. err enthusiast before we ever married so my gun and ammo collection is a non issue, plus she enjoys shooting. I also had her buying gold coins for me in 99/00 when they were under 300 oz, a few firms uses to have loss leader teasers in teh wall street journal and they would sell you a 1 oz krugerand for ‘cost’ to get you in as a client. then call you ever day to hard sell you on overpriced numismatic coins. only 1 per household addres so i had everyone i knew buy one…

            i just have to balance between keeping the wife happy with newer things and my preps

            i do want a nice newer car though…

      • Collectivism has ways of paying us back for our frugality.

        It will not let those who have enjoyed so much luxury to suffer for their short time preference. It will make those of us with a long time preference suffer instead. For they will continue to view our ability to weather economic storms with jealously and consider it to be nothing but “luck”. They will not consider what we went without. Even if they mocked our lack of fancy clothes and new cars previously. To them, it’s mere luck, fate and people shouldn’t suffer because of bad luck. They will not examine their past choices. They live for today with no realization that today is shaped by yesterday.

        So in the end, our savings, our stores of resources, anything we have will become subject to collective pooling. So what’s the point? I think perhaps the masses understand at some base level collectivism’s true nature so they consume and enjoy for today, for tomorrow it may be taken from them.

          • As a prepper ( Yes I read Survival blog every day and sub to other related websites )

            the general massess don’t see whats coming, fortunately my wife is 100 percent behind me, most of my family and hers think I am a bit ” nutty ” ,so I can get away with it ( prepping ) here is Australia there is a core community of perhaps about 200,000 people , not a lot from 23 million people, smaller amount in NZ maybe 20 or 30 thousand, lots network though.

            and the ever watchful eye of the socialist state looms over social media forums, so its a given that monitoring is taking place.

            my point is……..that Eric everyone of us needs to have a fall back position , because in the final wash up ahead, no one knows how the events will pan out, but one thing can be guranteed human nature does not change one iota, people in mass will and do panic and take by force what is NOT theirs to take and frankly if a person has no moral compass internally then they are open to anything goes, I have been in a place where are large riot was and its scary stuff, not fun , large scale looting and the cops are now where to be found, they are also in fear of their lives and then over react.

            with a large scale US dollar collapse, whole countries will end up in flames . that’s a sobering thought, that the people you, me and others tried to warn will do absolutely anything to put food in their belly.

            I hate to be a kill joy , but that’s inevitable at this point in time, maybe its a deliberate plan , I don’t know, but I do know I cannot do nothing for my immediate family .

            anyone disagree ? I just say I am a practical realist, I see things and people as they are.

  7. No offense to the TA owners here, but does anyone recall that SNL sketch with Willie Nelson who hosted a TV show called “Great Moments in the History of White Trash”? Phil Hartman (RIP) plays a drunk at the bar, Jan Hooks the waitress, and a TA gets ’em together. There’s another episode with Danny DeVito, also a TA owner. I still carry the laughs with me to this day (which is saying something for an otherwise crappy tv show).

    The transcripts are here and very short (no vid cuz NBC is full of nazis).


  8. The average/typical American is a communist bully. Not all are, but most are. As a whole, that is the defining mark of our self-demarcated slave pen and also our United Nations system of internationally cooperating slave pens.
    Any free nation or peoples, says Ayn Rand for one, has a right to overthrow by any means at hand, a nation of slave masters and slaves, and to allow the productive men of said nation to enjoy the fruits of their labor under a new system.
    True libertarians are one type of exiles and peoples.

    How did it come to be, that a bag of coins with a face value of $1000 and containing 715 troy ounces of silver is now worth $23595.

    For centuries silver was between 75 and 110 cents to the ounce, kept in this range by responsible Governments.
    Under AMERICAN and WESTERN COMMUNISM it now freely floats almost up to 5000 cents per ounce. Currently it is 3300 cents per ounce.

    Kellog Corn Flakes
    1 cent an oz 1930 onward
    2 cent an oz 1950 onward
    5 cent an oz 1980 onward
    10 cent an oz 1990 onward
    17 cent an oz 2000 onward
    25 cent an oz 2010 onward

    When everyone accepts the MONOPOLY of decision making by the inner party in every field, then we are by definition the outer party. We are communists. It sucks, but it is the reality.

    The 3 billion on the internet are voluntarily a part of American and Western society. Sadly, those societies are in the main communists, and dont be surprised when the true nature of the free internet becomes apparent.

    Broadcast TV is supposedly free, but are its affects freeing, or chaining on average. Is there anything you see on there that come from an individual, or only from controlled entities of the INNER PARTY.

    Howard Stern has mostly been unpersoned for all but a few of the inner party of the world. I for one would rather rant and be an unperson myself, instead of a STINKING RUSTED METALLIC ROBOT HULK of a man, content to spew the few hundred NEWSPEAK catch phrases you here anywhere in America right now.

    • Agree – with a qualifier.

      America is more a fascist state rather than a communist one. We have the forms – the legal fiction – of ownership. But in reality the government owns everything because it controls everything. You don’t even own your physical body. The state asserts ownership rights over your very corpus by decreeing how you may use it (and demanding a portion of its labors, too).

      The other hallmarks of fascism are militarism and national exceptionalism – both of which characterize America, too.

      • I wish we were only fascist. A fascist regime holds up an ideal and uses state power to enforce it.
        Lets say, after a popular vote, we decide that the men and women in the old western movies are our fascist ideals, and everyone must be like them or go to a gulag.
        That would be a huge improvement.
        The presidential seal does depict an eagle holding a bundle of olive branches in one claw, and a bundle of arrows in the other.
        The bundles can be thought of a great many varieties of permissible fascisms both peaceful and militant.
        To me, the fact that no one of the fasces held in the claws are preferred, puts us in an even further degraded status of regime uncertianty limbo, best described as American Sovietism.
        Regardless, keep up the awesome work, and thanks for letting me participate as best I know how.

    • Tor, you’ve hit at the CORE of the problem–fiat debt money.

      If that one thing–debt money were overthrown today, tyranny would end!

      Pretty bold statement? Look at it; without the power to print endless money–and FORCE you to use it–the state would wither and die.

      This is why I’m convinced we must focus our efforts on free monetary competition. Let everyone use whatever they want for money, and may the best solution(s) win.

      But the Elites are absolutely desperate to make sure that never happens, for they know the source of their power. This is why they so viciously prosecuted Bernard von Nothaus, the originator of the honest Liberty dollar–gold and silver currency.

      The game is near its end for today’s fiat system. When the Misesian crack-up boom comes, they’ll either fool us into a global fiat monetary system, or we’ll replace it with honest money again.

      Other issues–the police state, the NWO, the slow kill, the planned mass kill-offs–are entertaining and distracting. But NONE of it is possible without the deadly debt-money system that enslaves us all and steals our prosperity and liberty.

      • I used to read the peak oil sites such as Mike Savinars Peak oil, I started to read serious articles that shot holes in peak oil, a part of PO is or could also be a false flag by the elites.

        It also cannot be pushed without the fiat money system and forcing people to so called green initiatives, the carbon tax enslavement is another scam.

        That too cannot be pushed without fiat money

      • You are 100% right. TPTB have constructed a society on the basis of bad money. From an automobile perspective, consider a money system to be the same as traffic lights on the state controlled roads.
        During the boom times, TPTB stimulate the traffic and give all 4 directions a green light at the same time. This is the boom time, and some drivers make out very well. Some are T-boned by cross-traffic and don’t do as well.
        The accidents continue to accrue, and then the bust comes. TPTB act the hero, and give all 4 directions of traffic a red light at the same time. This is where we are right now. No one can go anywhere. The pressure to break the law and run the red light approaches infinity, and the people are forced to overrun the system if they want to get anywhere at all.

  9. As for the performance and features of old vs. modern versions of the same car. I think to really have a valid comparison, you have to compare the old car with what else was available on the market at the time. At the time in 1977 a Trans-Am was, relatively speaking, at about the same performance level vs. other cars of its era as the current Camaro line-up is today. Thus the 0-60 times, 1/4 mile performance, etc. of stock V6 modern Camaros may be superior, yes, but relative ratio of performance/dollar is probably similar if you factor in inflation AND government mandated stuff.

    Now, just for fun, I also will comment that I was recently in my local GMC dealership to have the oil changed in my 2008 Sierra Denali. Now bear in mind that this particular truck was top-of-the-line at the time and the only option it didn’t have on it that year was the dealer-installed rear seat DVD screen/player (mostly because I like to drive, not ride). I happened to time the purchase right when gas prices first spiked and truck sales plummeted. They were selling every brand new Dodge Ram truck at the lot next door for 50% off. I’m not making this up. This was also before the bailouts of the Big Three and the worst of the economic downturn.

    My truck stickered at $43k and change that year. I got it for significantly less. Since that time there have been a grand total of 2 significant options added to the list of equipment on the Sierra Denali, Bluetooth phone integration and a backup camera (mine only has sonar and these ingenious things called mirrors and a brake pedal to assist in backing up). Additionally, a lot of the trim and fiddly bits have gone decidedly downmarket as if they’re trimming costs. Yet somehow, the 2012 models cost around $56k for a similarly equipped truck.

    That’s around $13k in 4 years all due to Fed printing of dollars devaluing the currency.

    It will likely be the last new vehicle I ever buy, but it’s a great truck. We’re about to all have to go Cuban with our cars.

    • “Go Cuban”–that’s exactly what I was thinking a few days ago, SojournerMoon. I’m leaning further and further toward older cars that I can still work on; mind you, I’m not afraid of fuel injection and electronic ignition.

      But the newest generations, sans even a dipstick, are a bit much.

      And having to inform several microprocessors that you’ve installed a new headlight, or changed the battery–that’s just too far. True story–a friend replaced the headlight assembly on a late-model 7-series BMW, and it wouldn’t turn on. He had to pay a guy who helps out DIY’ers with the electronic stuff three hundred bucks an hour for 90 minutes to introduce the various computers in his car to the new headlight!

      That’s pure dealer-protection. I’ve heard the arguments that it’s to protect against thefts and chop-shops, etc etc ad nauseam; but the fact is in the majority of cases it protects dealerships who get favorable deals on the roughly $50K worth of electronic equipment it takes to comprehensively service the newest BMW’s.

      I yearned for the new 1 M-coupe…but I’m leaning heavily now toward either a very stoutly rebuilt 80’s Mustang 5.0, or a used new 5.0. At least I can work on the damned thing. Maybe a Subie WRX STI. Heck, if they made the Infiniti M56 with a stick shift I’d be tempted…or the Genesis R with a manual, Mmmmmm. My wife’s Infiniti is every bit as computerized and sophisticated as the BMW’s, but I love working on that car; everything’s easy, everything’s accessible, and the computers don’t get in the way.

      I wonder if the Nissan GT-R is something mere mortals can work on?

  10. I have a 97 VW Golf that i bought in Sept 06. $2500. my cost is down to about 37$ a month. i havea buddy that is a former VW dealer mechanic, now at a differnt shop. if it needs work, he works on my car after hours for cash and i supply parts. He recently fixed some doo dad and cleared a check engine code so i could pass the CA smog test for $20 bux and the cost of the parts at Kragens. so i have this paid for beater, that i use to get to the train station for work and on nights and weekends. its a real POS. cosmetically and the seats are going south with 130k+ miles. The speedo/odo are intermittent so true mileage unkown. but it mostly runs reliably and gets almost 30 mpg and aside from basic maintenance. it has 14 inch tires so i had walmart put a set on sale for about $200…
    Anyway. wife dives the “new car” its an 06 exterra, paid for, with all the safety features but im pretty religous with the maintenance. but it carries teh most impartant cargo, my 2 kids in the car seats. CA mandates until they are 8!? I drive the beater cuz if it craps out on the side of the road, at least it wil be me and i can go to my emergency kit that i keep on board and get home without incident. i dont want my wife and kids stranded.

    but back to my roach. I really want a new(er) car but im torn between my cheapness and wanting a nice newer car. what to do ?

    • Hey Tim,

      My recommendation is to go out and buy a 3-4 year old Yaris or Versa or Corolla – which you should be able to find in excellent condition for $7,000 or less – and then drive it for the next 15 years. The car will be like-new relative to what you have now, and within a few years, you’ll have amortized your initial outlay. After that, it’s almost-free transpo (just the maintenance and gas, etc.) like you have now.

      • Eric: That is exactly what I am getting ready to do for my car and my college age son’s (he’s paying). 6 or 7 or 8 yr old Corolla or Civic are my top choices. A certain southeastern state has these for around 5k each (average “low” price on autotrader) with good title and say, 70k miles. I am considering going to fly to that state, rent a car, enjoy the beach then pick out two and me and pop are going to drive back to TX. TX prices HIGH< HIGH compared.
        Incidently, Car and Driver says the 5 yr cost to own is $35k ($7k/yr) for a "new" "electronic gadget filled" VW Golf/Mazda 3 type vehicle. I say bleepin' RIDICULOUS. My 5 yr cost to own, all expenses including gas and maint and ins, for these will be about $2,500/yr or about $13k each. ps — even though I am a middle aged lady, I want to learn to tool my own car!

  11. Imagine if the government never got involved, and cars went the same way as computers. I’d have freakin’ FIVE of those Trans-Ams!!!

    • Cars are cheaper than ever even with all the stuff. That is cheaper in terms of something more constant like ounces of gold. The bankers just took all the productivity gains and then some.

      Computer productivity increases simply outpace the bankers being able to steal it, but nature of everything is to decrease in price while getting better and adding more features. It is inflation that steals from us.

    • The lines of the second gen. F cars were tight – even the mid-’70s models, which had to be tweaked to meet the new bumper-impact standards. Pontiac did a much better job than Chevy, in my opinion. Pontiac pioneered the bumperless look – the GTO and Firebird were the first cars to have their bumpers hidden underneath body-colored flexible plastic front and rear clips. The Firebird – the TA especially – also had a much nicer interior layout.

    • Absolutely – however, they’re much more expensive to repair when they do need repair and these repairs can easily exceed the worth of the vehicle after about 12 years or so (or even sooner).

      Here’s an example: Go look up the price of spark plugs for a new/recent Ford F-truck and the cost of a tune-up. It will re-set your jaw!

  12. Bought my first air-bagged car 3 years ago. Never have needed them, but maybe they’ll save my life if I happen to fall asleep at the wheel, which I guess you could say air bags encourage you to do via their giving a false sense of security.
    Traction control was an option on my car, so no problem with that.
    I don’t like that it has a black box recording the last few minutes of my driving, of course to be used against me if desired by TPTB.
    This will probably be my last new car, unless they come out with something that really gets good gas mileage.

    • I’m pretty sure my ’02 Nissan will be my last new “car” (it’s a truck). I won’t have the black box, or the back-up camera or the rest of it.

      I’ve decided that when the time comes, I will acquire a ’70s (or ’60s) era vehicle, make a few updates to it and drive its airbag-free, politically incorrect self until the wheels fall off – then put ’em right back on again!

  13. What a great story, Eric! All of the comments really take me back, too. Back in high school (early 80s), I worked at a grocery store. I guy I worked with had a Trans Am, but I can’t remember the year, but I seem to recall it was turbo charged? It was metallic brown with gold trim.

    Another guy had a Monte Carlo.

    Me? I drove my father’s hand-me-down, a ’76 Ford Capri II (AKA Long Nosed Henry). That car was bullet proof and I spent many a night blasting down the highway at 100mph in that car. My dad took the catastrophic converter off of it, installed headers, made it a true dual exhaust and put some Monza exhaust tips on it to top it all off. He also installed some suspension parts. To this day, it was my favorite car. However, the car wasn’t even six years old and I had to get major body work done. Even in the early 80s, it wasn’t much more than $1500 for body work and paint. Even after all of that, I was always repairing the body. Those German cars of the day just couldn’t handle our Canadian winters.

    My next car was an ’85 Mustang Cobra GT. It was the last of the carbureted Mustangs. I used to always say: No computer, no fuel injection, no turbo, no problem. It was a fun car to drive as well.

    Now I have an Acura TSX. Nice car, but it doesn’t have the character of the Long Nosed Henry.

    • Thanks, Pat!

      That Capri sounds great, by the way – I remember when they were pretty common. We even had a guy running around in a Saab Sonnet (sp?)… remember that one?

      Those ’80-’81 turbo Trans-Ams were great-looking cars but the turbo 301 was a rush job and didn’t fit the bill. However, given a few years of development, it could have turned into something impressive – like the Buick 3.8 V-6 turbo, for example. I’d still like to acquire one of those old turbo TAs, and hot rod it with a 400 turbo and a six speed….

  14. I can get a Subaru WRX – a Turbo 263hp AWD rocket with a rally experience stiffened chassis and tuned suspension for .. $25,000.
    The dealer emails me once a week trying to get me to buy another one.

    The WRX will run rings around that ’77 Trans-Am.
    Not to mention some other Detroit projects that cost a lot more.

    • True – but that turbo’d Soobie is a complex piece of equipment; when it needs, say, a new turbo – it’ll probably cost as much or more than it would cost to rebuild that ’77 TA’s 400 to 400 hp! And the TA’s big V-8 is understressed, simple and very easy to work on/modify/rebuild. The Soobie (any modern car) isn’t. They’re disposable bazookas.

      • I like my engine to make power. It shouldn’t require what is essentially 3/4 of a jet engine to accomplish the task.

        All the computer brains, power-adders and other assorted spoofers detract heavily from the personality of the car itself. It’s the automotive form of lipstick on a pig.

        Just my opinion; you know what they say about those.

        • Amen.

          Turbos, intercoolers – pull a lot of power out of a small package. But also pull a ot of dollahs out of your wallet. Both these items add easily $3k to the cost of an engine. That sum will pay for a blueprinted rebuild of the 455 V-8 in my Trans-Am. The entire engine. Not just the peripherals. I can get a very streetable 375-400 honest hp out of the big V-8, without anything fancy. That’s enough to smack down the Soobie WRX in a drag race (even though the Soobie will still outcorner and outbrake me). But even better, the 455 will not need much more than the occasional plugs and ignition rotor and some adjustment of its carburetor. And when it’s tired after 100k or so, I can rebuild it again for about the same money.

          Would you want to own a 100k turbo’d and intercooled WRX? And it’s not just the turbo and the intercooler, either… you’ve got a couple of catalytic converters, multiple O2 sensors, all the sensors related to the EFI… the ABS scheisse, etc. – all of which have a useful service life (long as it may be) and which will fail eventually and cost you a fortune to replace when they do.

          An old car such as my TA has none of that crap.

          Also, major work is simple. I can, for example, remove the transmission in about 30 minutes with basic hand tools. Try that in a Soobie sometime….

          • Would you want to own a 100k turbo’d and intercooled WRX?

            Hell no. All Subarus are very popular around these parts because of the inclement weather and fact that it’s currently the thinking, eco-sensitive man’s car, having dethroned the Volvo. Everyone wants one so they hold their value to the point that there’s little difference between a brand new one and one up to three years old. There used to be a brisk little shadow business of folks who buy them from the southern states and ship them up here for that reason.

            Same for the WRXes. Interestingly enough though, once they get up around that century mark they start to get a little more, uh, “affordable.”

            I doubt we’ll see many of them in 35 years.

          • turbo’d soobies are also driven by young guys who want to drive hard, no questions asked. For that reason alone I’d stay away from them.

  15. Oh, but those inflation numbers based on governments statistics give me chuckles. Does anybody here really believe than anything with a cost of $5,799 in 1977 could be bought at a cost of $21,785 nowadays? I didn’t think so. Being an old man who had a Firebird and a Camaro during the ’70s, and having had to pay for all kinds of things then as today, I can guarantee you that 5,799 in 1977 is not equivalent to 21,785 nowadays. In reality, to buy a basket of products, any products, for 5,799 in 1977 would cost somewhere between 30,000 and 40,000 nowadays. That’s not to say that I disagree with you otherwise.

    • Sounds like our coppers here in Australia. Police are out of control everywhere in the western world, more so in some places than others. And the cops wonder why we have no respect for them, along with thieving pollies.

      • “And the cops wonder why we have no respect for them, along with thieving pollies”

        I’d go farther (speaking for myself, at least): I feel nothing but contempt and loathing for them. Hatred, even – when I hear/read yet another story of the badged/costumed goons abusing helpless, usually innocent people. And getting away with it.

  16. MikePizzo wrote, “when you look at the new SS and Mustang 5.0…..airbags and all…the Golden Age of Detroit High Performance is Right Now. … They will be fetching breathtakingly high prices at the Barret Jackson auto auction in 20 years.”

    I guess, “golden age” means different things to different People.
    I kind of equate cars with guns in some ways, People will likely collect and value 1911’s in the future but for some reason I doubt GLOCKs will have the same appeal. Every modern car the average Person can afford (and then some) these days seems more like a GLOCK than a 1911.

    Or perhaps another way to look at it is, today’s cars are just like modern coins, the content has little value and low durability.

    Who knows though, plastic toys fetch high prices at auctions these days too I suppose, but they are still just junk to me.

    • Perhaps I should add, my perspective is from the practical side, one of, not, how-much-a-month does it cost, but the cash price paid on a used and sometimes abused vehicle.

      Ten years down the line, if a 77 TA and a modern Mustang or Camero were side by side in equal beat-up shape, the one with the electronics and other expensive to repair parts would have less value, imho.

      All this talk you guys do of new cars,… all I keep imagining is the steep depreciation once the car is driven off the dealership lot. Too fancy for me.

    • That’s an excellent analogy – one I’ll second.

      As appliances, the new stuff (like a Glock) has great merit. But will they really be collectibles in a quarter century? I doubt it, for several reasons – the chief one, though, being cost-prohibitive (and possibly impossible, literally) restoration due to the exponentially more complex systems and components, many of which I doubt will even be available in a quarter century.

      Example: I see “survivor” (stock/original, lower mileage) mid-late 1980s-era Camaros and Firebirds every once in awhile. But I have yet to see one restored example. Reason? The cost – and parts availability. Sure, there are modified versions of these cars around – with complete new drivetrains and so on. But what about a “correct” restoration of, say, a circa 1985 Tuned Port Injection IROC-Z? Have you seen a car like that? Not me!

      They’re certainly old enough now to be considered antiques. the early-mid ’80s was 30 years ago. Yet you don’t ever see restored cars from that period. Just stored examples.

      Meanwhile, in contrast, it was routine to restore 1960s-era stuff in the 1980s – only about 20 years after these cars were new. Reason? It’s economically viable; resto parts are readily available. The cars don’t require complex tools/skills to do even major work on.

      So, I predict that while we will see museum-kept examples of current-era cars in the distant future, we won’t see restored examples. Most will be thrown away and replaced.

      Just as you’d do with a worn-out Glock!

    • Durability? I’ll take modern any day of the week. 1970s got eaten by the road salt where I live. Modern stuff holds up much much better. There’s no contest. The old stuff the seals go bad, the coatings fail, the panels rust out. It happens despite how well someone aims to care for the car. Drive it daily in the winter and its gonna have serious problems.

      As to electronics, those are unlikely to need replacement. People do restore 80s cars btw. I’ve seen enough articles on restoring Fox body mustangs of ’79-’93 to know they are being written for a reason. Many people resto-mod but they aren’t removing the fuel injection or taking the car into the carb era. They are just seeking more power. Stock restorations just aren’t going to happen often because these cars aren’t worth enough in stock form to make them happen. When stock is worth more than modified to people then it will happen. Right now people modify to their own desires. That’s the value in these cars to the people buying them.

      • BrentP wrote, “1970s got eaten by the road salt where I live. Modern stuff holds up much much better. There’s no contest.”

        I don’t know, maybe what they put on the roads here is different? I see a lot of newer stuff rusting just the same as the older stuff, although not as many as before.

        Maybe how a person washes and waxes has an effect too?
        Maybe it’s more about the advances in undercoatings? And paint for sure, but paint isn’t the car.

        Then of course there are better car washes these days, more of them and more convenient, so People who didn’t wash before, do now.
        Plus, lots of BenBernak easy credit to pay for it all on impulse, unlike decades ago.

        BrentP wrote, “As to electronics, those are unlikely to need replacement.”

        Maybe it’s just me but replacing electronics is my biggest and most frequent expense.
        Heh, I’ve never had to replace a hand window crank.

        BrentP wrote, “Stock restorations just aren’t going to happen often because these cars aren’t worth enough in stock form to make them happen.”

        I was under the impression restorations were never about what they were worth in terms of money, rather it was about something money can’t touch. That certain something isn’t there with the newer cars, that’s why People mod. Jmho.

        • I have only rarely seen true rust buckets in recent years. When I have seen one it has almost universally been some survivor from the 70s or early 80s.

          Coatings and the steels themselves are vastly improved. You’d never see a manufacturer offer 5 year rust through on a 70s model. Ever.

          Having fought rust on 70s vintage cars and having my ’97 since new I cannot side with the old stuff. And this includes needing the trunk floor fixed under warranty because a hidden spot didn’t get coated properly.

          Electronics… I’ve cared for few 80s and newer cars to 190K+ point and just haven’t seen it.

          Stock restorations are driven by what what the car will bring. Both money and show prizes. Otherwise people do custom to their own tastes. Except for those people who like the car stock and that’s because that’s their taste.

          • Lots of 1990’s rust bucket trucks around here. Give the other cars ten more years to equal the time span of the 70’s and 80’s cars and things will likely be the same,… or worse?

            Another factor to consider, Cash for Clunkers sucked up a lot of the supply, so the true state of things may never be known?

            The housing bubble might have had some effect too, not as many People had garages prior to the bubble. And garages make a Huge difference when it comes to rust.

            Electronics… I’ve cared for few 80s and newer cars to the 190K+ point as well, I guess we just disagree.

          • Another 10 years? 60s and 70s stuff was rusted out before it was 10 years old in most cases. I am old enough to remember when 60s and 70s and early 80s cars roamed the streets and less than 10 years in the winter driven ones would be missing inches of lower body work. The 70s japanese cars I had friends, neighbors, and friends of friends that would buy them for $50. Held together by rust.

            A neighbor had a mid-late 70s F-body. He kept it in the garage. Rarely drove it. Most of the time I saw it was when he pulled it out to wash it. By the mid-late 80s it’s lower quarter panels were rusting out. He kept it out of the salt as much as he could and it still rusted!

            Yes if you keep driving a modern car in the salt for 30 years yeah it will be rusted. The 70s car had a rust caused structural failure long before that.

            Yes. I’ve seen it. Many times over. I’ve crawled under many a fine 60s-70s car (back when they were merely 15-25 years old) and found structural rust issues. Sure the body had been fixed but nobody did a thing about the frame rails, torque boxes, etc.

            The only electronics that ever left me stranded was an ignition module in a ’86. Which is 1970s technology and certainly an improvement over points.

            • Part of the reason for that (and your observation is accurate) was the much poorer body integrity, which trapped moisture, which accelerated rust. But the real killer was- and still is – road salt. I mentioned this in an earlier post. You can travel out west to say Arizona (my parents live there) and routinely see cars from the ’60s and ’70s that are completely free of rust – and original.

              Modern cars hold up better to rust, but they are not immune. My ’98 pick-up has some bubbling around the fender lips; the lower radiator support is going to need to be cut out in the not-far future and a new support welded in. Why? Because it was subjected to road salt in the winter – especially in its former life (before I got it) in West Virginia.

            • PS: My ’76 TA is original. Original paint, everything (except the engine). I am the second owner. I’ve had it for 20 years. Virtually rust-free.

              Points: Not a great fan, however, they gave you some warning before the car stopped running. Electronic stuff often just stops working. Fine one moment – the next, you’re stuck! Granted, it doesn’t happen often and these systems are generally very reliable. But when a problem does happen….and yes, they’ve happened to me.

              Pros and cons to both, that’s all I’m saying. I’m inclined to the older stuff because it’s simpler, cheaper and more amenable to tinkering.

              PS PS: I have a friend who operates a repair shop. He was telling me about the new/recent Ford F-trucks recently and what’s involved when it comes time to replace the spark plugs… check into this, for some very interesting reading.

          • I seem to recall quite a few non-rusted out 1960’s cars that were around in the 1970’s, same for 1970’s cars in the 1980’s. I rode in some.

            BrentP wrote, “and less than 10 years in the winter driven ones would be missing inches of lower body work.”

            Yup, and that describes just about every 1986 to 1991 Toyota pickup on the road in my area for the last ten years. Quite a few Ford and Chevy trucks too.
            I think the blossom of automatic car washes everywhere is the biggest factor in the other’s longevity.

            Heck, in the 80’s – for the most part – if you didn’t get 20 bucks in gas, you didn’t get a carwash unless you did it yourself. At least that’s how it worked in my neck of the woods. And as you know, 20 bucks was A Lot of money back then, so far fewer People hit the car wash (compared to the last ten to twenty years) and certainly less often.

            From what I’ve been told, the reason the 70s Japanese cars were held together by rust was due to using steel dredged up from the ocean floor, and poor smelting. I don’t know if that’s a fact.

            I had a neighbor with a mid-late 70s F-150. He kept it in the garage. Rarely drove it except to Florida and back in the Winter.
            I bought the truck from him in the 90’s because it was solid as all get out.
            And, it did see some salt.
            It was solid when I sold it ~ 8 or 10 yrs later too, after it saw A Lot of salt and sat outside.

            My favorite truck of all time was a 1968 C-10. It had 350,000 well maintained miles on it when I bought it in the 80’s – it came with all the maintenance records – quite an interesting read. It saw lots and lots of salt and had a better body on it than the 1986 to 1991 Toyota’s I see on the road today. I’m not kidding. And the Only problems I had with it was a dropped carrier bearing and a flat tire.
            Proper maintenance matters.

            I’m sure there are 1990’s Toyota’s and Fords out there with over 300,000 miles on them, but I haven’t seen one.

            I’ve crawled under a couple of 1960’s and 1970’s cars too, while the sheet metal was rusty, the frame was solid, unlike quite a number of newer cars and trucks I’ve had the displeasure of working on, usually because some electrical component failed. Alternators, fuel pumps, sending units, map sensors, and on and on…
            And I don’t do more than stock radios, so overload wasn’t a factor. Same for everyone else’s car I worked on. Jensen Triaxle speakers were as tricked out as it got.

            Like I said, we just disagree. But it has been a lovely distraction from the day.

            • Though the body integrity of modern cars is better, it’s salt that’s determinative. Out West, it’s routine to see rust-free cars from the 70s and earlier.

              Salt will eventually eat any car, including the latest stuff.

          • I bought my ’73 mav with 19,900 miles on it in 1994. It had rust. It’s an original Chicago car.

            What people in the south and the west think of as rust ain’t rust as far as I am concerned.

            It’s a whole different ball game with modern stuff. 15 years, nearly 200K and more winters in the salt than not and my ’97 with the same care is light years better. Just one manufacturing defect and a design defect leading to rust of any seriousness. Both in well hidden areas. No way a 70s car could take that much exposure so well. Unless… it was like a story, maybe fiction, a friend told me. someone his dad knew worked at rail car painting place. He had a car painted with the paint used on the rail cars. I forget if it was the hidden areas, the whole car as a primer or what… but supposedly the car didn’t rust. It’s the coatings and the seals that matter most.

          • The same key moisture traps are in modern cars. Now the upper body seals that failed and let water into those areas, those are better as is the steel itself.

            My mazda had a pool of water that would form behind the rear wheel. despite going on for who knows how long before I found it and then going on for awhile until I found and sealed the leak it did not rust through. It would have eventually if the leak had not been corrected but my 70s cars… I had to be drying up the water in that same area as soon as it stopped raining or else.

          • It’s just amazing how many of the factors contributing to the rusting out of cars, and the removal of many factors, seems to all stem from Greenspan and Berneke’s easy money flow.

            I wonder how much salt the state would put on the roads if it weren’t for all the easy money?

            Another factor is the transforming of many major hyways from two narrow lanes into wider four lane divided lanes.

            Most of the semi-truck traffic that used to go very fast down my narrow two lane hyway sand-blasting every oncoming car with fine particles now avoid this road and take the wider and cleaner four lane divided hyways. The result is, far fewer cars are sand-blasted this way today.

            I used to get all kinds of chipped windshields from oncoming semi-trucks. It’s very very rare nowadays. Heh, the glass certainly isn’t better than before.

            Many formerly gravel roads have been paved over in the last decade or so, there’s another source of sand-blasting removed from daily life.

            I just never thought about all this before.
            The seen and the unseen.

        • Ya know, I can’t recall the last time I saw sand and black cinders being applied to the roads in Winter. The stuff has the effect of sandblasting, in combination with salt, this speeds up the rusting process. They used to use black cinders quite heavily, everywhere.

          Is a small sharp chunk of black cinder more damaging to a car’s finish than a rounded bit of sand or gravel?

          I don’t recall seeing snow-plow trucks outfitted with revolving brushes going down the hyways in the Winter and the Summer months blowing fine debris and sand off the sides and shoulders of the hyways in the 1970’s and early 1980’s.
          This reduction in the sandblasting effect was likely significant.

          I imagine the prevalence of city street sweeping machines are more numerous and more effective than what was used in the past too.

          On my recent trip half-way across the country I noticed most of the roads were brand new, smooth and free of particle producing potholes. And the hyways all seem to have been widened, much like the hyways in my area were in the late 1980’s which allowed cars to travel further away from the small particle laden shoulders and further avoid the sandblasting effect.

          Not to mention the shoulders themselves were better maintained, brushed and widened so the finer particles would work their way further away from the traveled portion of the roadway and be less likely to act as sandblasting material allowing the salt to do its thing.

          I remember as a child walking on the shoulder of the hyways looking down and closing my eyes often as a semi-truck would blast by blowing fine bits of sand and particles.
          While out hunting as an adult walking down the sides of the same hyways the experience wasn’t anywhere near as bad, now I know why.

          Alan Greenspan’s and Ben Bernake’s easy money fueled all these changes, from the prevalence of car-washes, the frequency of use, the rise in garage ownership via the housing bubble (heated garages were a luxury once not long ago, it doesn’t seem that way today) the improvement in roads and road maintenance equipment and materials, all of these would likely have taken A Lot longer to happen without the monopoly the central bank has over the money supply and therefore People’s perceptions wouldn’t have been so easy to manipulate and fewer People wouldn’t be feeling the illusion of wealth and false prosperity.

          Man, that funny money has worked it’s way into everything! I mean, in the 1970’s and the 1980’s I don’t know of anyone who had special soap for cleaning their car, so unlike today.

          A common theme I’ve noticed lately is, “Perception is reality” I think it is merely a perception that car bodies last Much longer today than in decades gone by. Jmho, YMMV.

          Hope that read well, I haven’t had any caffeine yet.

          • Are there any car washes that still use brushes these days?

            I can’t recall the last time I saw one.

            It was like being in a 60 m.p.h. storm going through one.

            I imagine they strip finishes off cars lickity-split and that’s why every car guy says not to use them.

            Those brush car washes must have been a huge factor in cars rusting out prematurely in areas that used salt on the roads.

            I was just wondering about that as I sat in a brush-less car wash this morning.
            There are just sooo many things that contribute to the rusting of cars that are no longer around. – says I – as I look out at my 1990’s rust bucket that doesn’t look any different from the rust buckets I’ve owned from other decades.

            Thought I’d post this for posterity.

    • You had me going there for a minute — a ’58 Camaro would be QUITE valuable.

      I bought a new Camaro when I got out of school in ’68. It was in September and the ’69s were out so I got $500 off the $2700 sticker. It was a stripped 6 cylinder. A year later I dropped a 327 in it.

      What I’ve kicked myself for all this time is they had a new ’68 Z-28, dual carbs, 4 speed, black on black, 4:56 gears for, as I recall, around $3600. But I couldn’t swing it, heh. Who knew?

  17. In 1965 I traded a ’62 Bel Air for a 1961 Austin Healey. Plenty of room for a 13:1 327. 0-60 in five or six seconds, just using 1st gear. Top end around 145.

    In 1958 I gave $2,000 for a ’67 plain vanilla Camaro. $500 for a 427 passenger car 385 horse. 0-30, yuck. 30-150, best in the county. 17 mpg at 80 mph.

    Busted knuckles and scar tissue on my hands? Priceless.

  18. These comments are scratching me right where I itch. I’m a cheap sob too and can’t stand government intrusion. I own 2 90’s-era cars and love the savings and love beating the system.

    My young son and I both love cars. He recently asked me what my favorite car to own would be. With so many choices (Lambos, Ferraris, Mustang GTs, BMWs, Porsches, etc.), I struggled for a couple of minutes to give him an answer. Ultimately all I could say was one that’s a good deal. Price and operating costs are increadibly important to me (and as I see important to those leaving comments).

    Here’s to subversive automobile ownership!

    • Careful KD.

      Subversive auto ownership tends to lead to subversive thinking in other areas as well. If all of us entertained subversive thoughts where would we be?


    • KD,

      When I lived in Chicago, I worked with a guy who drove this total piece-of-shit LeBaron and was able to circumvent the local automotive property tax by selling his car to his wife for $1.00 every year. Then the next year, she’d sell it back to him for $1.00. Told me he’d been doing this for years.

      I guess the city didn’t want to waste the resources chasing him for its take from that dollar.

      • This makes no sense. There isn’t property tax on automobiles in Illinois. The title fee is in addition to the registration so there’s no savings on registration. Now if he lived in Indiana that might be different.

      • Just owning an old vehicle usually does the trick. After a certain point, the “book value” is so low that the tax becomes negligible. What hobbyists should worry about is some Clover agitating for a new law that “adjusts” the tax on antique/classic vehicles according to their individual market value – such as by having an assessor come look at it or using your agreed value insurance policy. If you own an old muscle car you’ve restored that’s worth $30,000 or so, the tax could be as or more obnoxious than the tax on a new car.

  19. This is really off the subject (I guess the article got me to reminiscing) but my high school buddy bought a ’68 Vette when he got home from Vietnam around 1970-71(?)It was a 427 but I don’t remember which HP.

    He had trouble with it so he traded it for a brand-new ’72 Trans-Am, 455 cube with the shaker hood scoop, but I don’t remember the HP either.

    At any rate the TA was faster than the Vette and cornered better also.

    • The “second gen” Trans-Ams were the best-handling American cars of their time – objectively, as determined by skidpad numbers and road course performance. I’ve also driven ’70s-era Corvettes; I was surprised at how poorly they handled, especially given their on-paper suspension advantages (IRS rear, larger wheels/tires, etc.)

      • Eric: We judged acceleration and cornering ability by how it felt after 8-10 beers, lol.

        Probably not too scientific, and not something you’d want to try today.

        • Sometimes!

          But, here’s the thing: While the old stuff wasn’t as quick, it felt quicker – in part because you were more involved. Ass end out, tires skittering all over, you fighting to keep the nose pointed in the right direction… with the new stuff, which has traction (and traction control) you accelerate in a much more controlled manner. But it’s a more passive, disconnected experience.

          That’s my take, anyhow – as someone who drives the new and owns the old!

          • Yup. I have a 2011 Tacoma 4wd and the buzzers and bells drive me nuts. Every time a wheel slips or the truck fishtails I have to listen to them, grrr.

            I grew up slamming lot cars around and sliding taught us how to handle a vehicle.

  20. You missed a nasty, and expensive gummint expense. That of “pollution inspections” that many states “mandate”. I owned a 76 Stingray (OK I’m snotty, but not rich) that was a real kickbutt with its reworked 350CI engine. I bolted on a supercharger (crank destroyer) and the state inspector nearly went into convulsions. It failed the “mechanical”, but passed the “emmissions” part. It was either remove the supercharger or park it. Great choice on a car that I “owned”! Also I made a fake smog pump as one was originally factory installed and required for the mechanical inspection. It was nothing more than a gutted pump with a pulley and bearing remaining, but it did pass their inspection. It had rubber hoses that went to studs I welded onto the header to make it appear to be working air rails. Oh yeah, I got an incredible 10mpg but it was the prettiest car I ever owned. Today I drive a Y2K Mustang GT ragtop with a 5 speed that I bought new, but it’s just not the same. I’m hoping I just having a mid-life crisis as I just turned 66 this week, but I noticed its getting harder to stand back up after changing the oil. The car racket is all a costly game now that we have state and federal co-owners helping us.

  21. Great points. I have owned a 76 firebird fromula 400 and a 87 camaro 2.8. (I know big whoopty do a 2.8). The firebird was built like a tank compared to the camaro, roomier too, real trunk and all. Now the Camaro had it’s good points, I put a chip set in and upped the horse power so that at least it was nice on the expressway. It handled a lot better too.

    Now for the bad parts. The Camaro was a pain in the arse to work on. It didn’t really get that good of milage and there were times when it still lacked power. Many of the parts were clearly inferior. It sure as heck couldn’t hold a candle to the formula in power. I’m partial, but come on the formula was way better looking.

    If you factor in the inflation on gas because of the FED and our exportation of our inflation I could actually drive my formula cheaper (inflation adjusted to today).

    So I could have a muscle car that is roomier, built stronger, that I could work on easy and drive for less money.

    Oh thank you all powerful state, you helped me so much. (dirt bags)

    Don’t even get me started on the State mandated insurance scam. (18 bucks a month on my formula before the mandates)

    • Hi Brad –


      PS: I have a soft spot for the third gen ’82-up cars – I guess because they were new when I was in HS and college and just everywhere. I even spent a summer working at a Chevy dealer and took a few informal “test drives” of new Z28s and SS Montes (remember?). The L69 HO 305 Z28s were pretty peppy and could be made more so, like the second, with a little tuning and a few fairly cheap parts. I miss that. Also, no &^%$!! air bags. No traction control. If you sit in one of them today, you’re struck by how much more in common they have with cars like your ’76 Formula and my ’76 TA.

      The new stuff does nothing for me at all.

      • Eric,

        My first car was an ’85 Firebird 2.8 that smelled like stale cat piss and was on the wrong end of the fatigue graph, but I loved it. And research taught me that the third-gen Trans Am was probably the most aerodynamic street car GM ever designed.

        Since they knew going in that they wouldn’t be able to install really powerful engines, they instead focused on the body.

        The third-gen Trans Am (though not the Camaro, because of its more upright nose) is aerodynamically stable to 300 mph. Even the later LT1 and LS1 cars weren’t that good. Apparently even the 4th-gen TA would flip onto its roof above 260 or so.

        So it seems to me that a good project car would be a remanufactured 87 GTA clone with an LS-T56 driveline.
        Whatever deficiencies GM built into it can be corrected with a rotisserie and a MIG welder.

        I believe that the third-gen cars have the greatest overall POTENTIAL of the entire F-body run: lighter than the Disco Era cars, slipperier than the LT1/LS1 run and a far stronger body shell than the late ’60s stuff

        Besides, there’s a certain clean, classic athleticism to the third-gen TA that’s missing from the Batmobile LS1 cars. They look cool, but ultimately too busy.

      • Hi, Eric.

        Oh yah, I remember them. In highschool my best friend had a Z28 and another one of my friends had an Iroc. My girlfriend had a Grand National (nice back seat lol). We had a cheesy little car club with our own fake silk jackets and everything (girlfriends loved em).

        We were more of a road riders group, the other club in town was mostly mopar with a couple of chevelles thrown in. They were more into wrenching and racing. Small town so we all hung out. Many times with a keg in the garage and burt rubber on the road.

        I haven’t thought of that for years, thanks for reminding me.

        • Good stuff!

          And good memories…

          The GN was a great car; still is a great car. I miss big performance coupes – lots of room up front, decent back seats and a big trunk. Just yesterday, I saw a mint circa ’86 Olds 442. Of course, it only had a limp noodle 307, but what a great looking car – and tons of potential… .

          • Have you seen these attempts to revive the GNX with the modern Regal? None of them work.

            The GNX was menacing partly because of the black paint, partly because of the size, but I mostly because it was an ANGULAR BOX.

            The only way you could pull it off toady would be a dedicated platform sporting a Challengeresque retro design.

            The new Regal, while good, just can’t pull off the Samuel L. Jackson Big, Black, Bad Motherfucker thing.

  22. Property taxes on cars? You have got to be kidding me. Wonder what I’d have to pay on all those big, old Dodge trucks I have by the garage.

    Though I live way off in a rural spot, there is a crank environmentalist couple some miles away who make a point of finding cars on distant, rural lots and then complaining about them. I hope they never come this way.

    • It’s a Virginia thing. You would not believe it. The annual tax on a new car with a purchase price of around $35k – about what a new SS with a few options costs – is in the neighborhood of several hundred bucks. A year. Every year. For years. I’m still paying almost $100 to these bastards every year on my ’98 compact-sized, regular cab four-cylinder truck!

      • Well, Eric, if you keep your car for 20 years, no more property tax, as I found out last year when I got a demand for zero dollars for my ’91 toyota p/u.

        Do you mind if I offer a public thanks to Massa here on your blog?

        Thank you, Massa, thank you! Youse a good massa!

          • If they ever do, it will be because the politicians will have enacted a “vintage auto tax,” the expressed purpose of which will be to “compensate the state for the additional costs incurred with containing environmental damage caused by vehicles not compliant with current government environmental standards” – or some such BS nonsense. Of course the real reason will be that the state just CANNOT allow any vehicles to escape the property tax, because … well, the state just needs the extra revenue.

          • Dear Eric,

            You better delete liberranter’s tongue in cheek suggestion about a “vintage auto tax.”

            The Clovers just might see it and decide, “Hey that’s a great idea!”

            • I know!

              Actually, just such has been proposed already. The only reason it (and similar measures) hasn’t been passed into law is because the old car hobby is pretty organized and vocal – and responded forcefully, stomping it in the crib.

          • They’ve wanted to go a lot further than tax in the past. They have proposed multiple times outright bans on cars made before 1980 that were not static displays in museums. They wanted to treat all cars made before 1980 like military hardware. Crushed or rendered useless.

            Get this, these proposals were floated initially in the late 1980s. Yes, that was banning ~8 year old cars at the time.

            The end result was the crusher/clunker laws. These were above market value payments for old cars so they would be thoroughly destroyed and then pollution credits would be granted for various industries to use instead of cleaning up their act. A scam from top to bottom which destroyed a lot of rust free cars.

            As far as the clovers go, taxing is just their toned down idea to progressively getting to their real goal, crushing any car older than they want to see.

      • A Virginia thing- I get a bill every few months from Albemarle County Virginia, for overdue property taxes from 2004 on a flatbed trailer, with interest and penalties and threats. I can’t seem to get through to them that I sold that trailer in 1999 when I moved to a different state!

        • What a debacle… and of course, the fact that you sold it doesn’t register. I hope you have some proof – or the bastards will pursue you to the ends of the earth, like Inspector Javert, to collect what you “owe.”

  23. You also need to figure the maintenance on the new ones. You touched on it with the comparison of EFI to carbs, but it’s really the whole car. A teenage kid could (and still can) fix a busted 1977 TA, good luck doing that with a 2012, you need a Rocket Scientist license.

    Why aren’t airbags optional? I figure it’s part of the Obama Care plan; they don’t want you getting messed up at the public’s expense. Next step will be to wrap us all in bubble pack, put us in a concrete bunker and feed us through a tube. It’s the only way to keep us safe.

  24. Eric,

    Here’s some accounting you never hear from the media.

    y 1995 Volvo 850 Turbo (don’t laugh, it’s fast, tough and invisible to cops and car thieves) gets an average of approximately 20 miles per gallon around town. I’ve had it for a year and 10,000 miles and with the rear main seal repair I did (FWD, so lots of fun), the engine crane, some tools and a few minor bits, I’ve still got less than $5,000 in the unit, not counting fuel.

    Here’s about how my expenses work out: I go through about a tank of premium every ten days, so that’s about $200 a month in fuel. Legal minimum insurance runs less than $40 a month. About the only standard maintenance items I have to deal with are tires and oil changes. Yeah, it’ll light the rubber.

    So we’ll say $240 x 12 = $2,880 per year in fuel and insurance, with another, eh, $800 in rolling stock per annum.

    These things’ll run for hundreds of thousands of miles if cared for. I try not to lean on it too much, as I’m going for maximum lifespan and at just about 189,000, I’m less than halfway through the vehicle’s expected lifespan.

    I wouldn’t buy a new car, even if I could afford it. For one thing, I really like this 850. I’ve had it long enough to know what every little noise and vibration means, and a new car would mean a new learning curve.

    But to get back to my accounting issue, a new car would run me $600 a month just to keep it in the driveway, $100-150 in full-coverage a month and elevated repair bills for tires and parts.

    Just to cut my fuel bill in half? How much premium (or speed parts)can I buy with the $500 surplus EACH MONTH i have over running my amortized 850? Hell, six months of that pays for the manual-transaxle swap.

    Besides, every so-called affordable new car is hideous. I HATE hatchbacks and I’ve got a theory about why.

    Hatchbacks are an admission written in metal that you can’t make a car that small look like a car.

    A hatchback, a modern one that’s not a third-gen GM F-body or a Mustang, is an exercise in forced perspective. An automobile needs certain minimum dimensions in order to be physically attractive.

    Look at some of the new designs such as the Ford Focus and Fiesta, with all those strange, visually-cacophonous panel lines. It’s as if the designers are trying to use surface geometry to hide the fact that the car is shaped like a shoe.

    Then look at a Thunderbird Super Coupe or a Crown Vic. Those cars are large enough to accommodate attractive proportions and can utilize a small handful of carefully-chosen lines.

    Now, I think that coupes work quite well at this size (hachiroku Corolla or EK Civic), but sedans and minivans are simply too much car to try to compress into this dinky little package.

    • Not laughing! I dig older Volvos for exactly these reasons.

      On accounting: I ran through the same tabulations with Clover, using my ’98 Nissan pick-up as the example. Another year has passed, so time to review the numbers again:

      Purchased about nine years ago for $7,200 (in cash). No expenses to date other than normal maintenance (tires, oil/fluids/filters; still has the original clutch at 140k).

      So: $7200 divided by 108 (9 years) = $66.60/month.

      But – as I pointed out to Clover – as low as that is, it’s really lower still. Because the the truck is still worth about $3,500-$4,000 (compact 4WD pick-ups hold their value really well).

      So, let’s re-adjust to reflect this: $7,200-$3,500 = $3,700. $3,700 divided by 108 equals $34.

      So – my “monthly payment” to own this truck for nine years is about $34.

      Each year that passes, my payment goes down – not up.

      Next year, for instance, I’ll be at “free” – or very close to it.

      The year after, I could probably sell the truck for a profit – and start over!

      • After I read this post I got curious about my 1991 Ford Ranger Supercab.

        My Ranger was a gift from a friend in 2004 who figured he wouldn’t get much on trade-in from dealer. He charged me $1.00 to fill in a space on the title.

        8 years x 12=96
        $1.00 divided by 96=$0.01 a month.
        Registration is $70.00 a year divided by 12=$5.83 a month multiplied by 96 months=$560.00

        Liability insurance is $30.00 a month x 96=$2880.00

        Total hardware costs (excluding maintanance and gasoline)–$3445.84 divided by 96 months total time of ownership=36.00 a month.

        KBB only goes back to 1992 so this is a ballpark estimate. Private party retail value given trucks milage and condition rated good=$2800.00

        $3445 minus $2800=$646 divided by 96=$6.72 a month

        I think I’ll keep her for a while longer.

    • Ford makes the ugliest cars on the road, they deliberately assault your visual senses. Especially the baby fords, such godawful junk. Not to mention the irreplaceable air filters they use. Even skodas and chinese junk look better.

  25. The exhaust systems started to last longer when lead was no longer an additive.

    I still dream of an ’11 Mustang GT. Maybe one day.

    • I like the new Mustang – but the cost is absurd. I’d much rather get a clean ’80s-era 5.0 LX and hop it up myself. No debt albatross around my neck – and something I built myself, that’s uniquely mine!

      • Ah… actually, adding lead was a problem for the exhaust, in the very early days. Many bright young men had independently come up with the idea of adding lead (tetraethyl lead) to fuel to reduce knocking, only to find that it caused more problems than it solved because lead got deposited in the exhaust, particularly fouling the valves. The real breakthrough came a bit later, when someone realised that if you also added methyl or ethyl bromide to the fuel, the bromine got released as well as the lead and took the lead up in a form that didn’t cause fouling.

  26. One factor you don’t mention is the differing equipment levels. Growing up our full size Chevys and Fords didn’t have power windows, locks, seats or a stereo. Try to find a car with crank your own windows today. Cars back then didn’t have the longevity of today either. I’ve never changed an exhaust system even on the Silverado I kept until 149 k miles. Every one of these things adds cost. I can’t wait for hood mounted air bags.

  27. When I started my first decent job at 17,I went out and purchased a new 1988 Mustang LX 5.0.The window sticker was just over $13k.My next car was 1992 LX 5.0 and that was $17.5k .The sticker price went up $4K in 4 years put my pay went up quite a bit so it was O.K.Since then my wages have been pretty much stagnant, unlike car prices.A new Mustang GT would be $35-$40K,more than twice the price of my last Mustang.Wish I could say my pay had doubled…….

    • Yup – that’s the other factor. Inflation would be ok (sort of) if our wages inflated to match, but of course, they don’t. So inflation takes a big bite. It also encourages consumption rather than savings, since the sooner you spend those depreciating dollars, the less value you lose.

      Sucks all around.

      • That’s the whole point of inflation, lowering wages. When you figure my father was working for $6000/yr in 1970, he could buy a nice 3 bedroom house, 2 cars (an old Dart and a Charger) and my mother didn’t work, it makes you wonder what the hell happened. Inflation, of course. To remain “competitive” the central planners in Washington inflate the currency, intentionally devaluing it, in order to increase exports. At the same time, we get annual “reviews” that make sure we get a little more money year over year, but not enough to make the company unprofitable.

        The problems start when other currency manipulators do the same thing. Then it’s a race to the bottom. You know when it’s happening when politicians start talking about “evil speculators” driving up costs. No, the speculators are the only ones who can give themselves raises to cover the loss in dollars.

        • Hit send a little early. Of course we won’t get raises that will make companies unprofitable. But you know what I mean. You feel better for a little while with your new raise, until you realize that you aren’t any wealthier. It’s all about making labor cheaper.

          • I don’t mind being more productive. In fact, I take great pride in the amount of work I can do in a day. But I’ve read a lot of Ayn Rand. She just about destroyed my American Work Ethic a long time ago.

            • I’ve also read all of Rand’s works. She did a lot of good reanimating ideas that died with people like Albert Jay Nock (and HL Mencken). But she also did a great deal of harm to the cause with her cult (to be an “individual,” you must accept every jot and tittle of Randian philosphy, as articulated Rand or her acolyte, Nathanial Branden – subsequently “excommunicated”) and her hypocrisy (she accepted Medicare, despite her principles and despite being a millionaire). She’s worth reading – but with a grain of salt. Several.

              A great writer, but a poor human being.

        • Two comments to support your points, Eric. First, I went to college in the late 60s and early 70s. I was able to earn about half of the cost of college by working in the steel mills for the summer. What summer job pays half the cost of a year of college these days? That’s inflation for you. It’s a very much misunderstood point that inflation first hits points where government money is directed. That’s why the cost of college and health care has increased so much in recent years. And of course, the government’s answer is to throw more money at those areas of the economy.

          Second, it’s true that all countries seem to be vying for an export advantage by devaluing their currencies. I don’t remember who said it, but there is a lot of truth in the observation that fiat currencies don’t float…they just sink at different speeds.

  28. I’d like to see an objective performance comparison between that TransAm and a new V-6 Camaro. I expect the new V-6 meets or beats the TA in 0 to 60, and quarter mile times. And gets much better mileage too.

    If that is correct, you can buy almost as much new car performance for just a slightly higher (inflation adjusted) price today, as you could then. That “Thunder Chicken” on the hood may say “high performance,” but it doesn’t really make it much faster than today’s Camaro V-6.

    • Well, yes and no…

      ’77 was not the best year for acceleration (though relative to what was available at the time, the T/A 6.6 Trans Am was very quick) and yes, a V-6 new Camaro would beat it, 0-60 and 1/4 mile.

      But go back 3-5 years (from ’77) and the dynamic changes. A RA III or 455 HO Trans-Am evens things up, performance-wise and the cost differential’s still in the same ballpark (a ’77 was more expensive than a ’72, but not by as much as ’12 is relative to a ’77).

      Plus, it’s very easy (and cheap) to hop up those older cars. For example, a $200 cam kit, $300 set of headers headers and some tuning will really wake up a car like that ’77 400 4-speed. From stock 15s in the 1/4 mile to mid-low 13s – very competitive with a new SS. Now, it’d take more money to achieve comparable handling/braking, but I think the point still stands.

      I’d rather have the $22k-ish V-8 performance car sans all the crap – than the $32k car with all the crap.

      I’d really like it if we could choose. But the Clovers won’t allow us to.

    • Oh – I forgot to add:

      The intangibles.

      I’ve driven both (the old V-8 muscle cars; the new V-6 versions of the modern muscle cars). The V-6’s are (hp) powerful, but sound awful and don’t have the torque of those old big-inch V-8s. The feeling is very different. My TA, for example, will throw you back in the seat. A new V-6 Camaro doesn’t do that. It just picks up speed rapidly once you get it moving.

        • Yeah – if you can afford it!

          I make a decent living, but would never lay out $32k (plus the taxes, plus the insurance) for a new Camaro or Mustang GT. That same sum would buy a restored classic-era muscle car – which will appreciate (or at least, hold its value) rather than depreciate. Plus it’d be cool.

          My old TA might not beat a new SS in a drag race, but which car has more curb appeal? Imagine: Bright orange, huge screaming chicken on the hood. “455” callouts on the shaker. That big lump might not make 400 hp, but there is something intangibly marvelous about an almost eight liter V-8 sucking air through a big four barrel and spitting out uncatalyzed exhaust that makes your eyes water and your heart glad….

          • Reminds me of last summer with my wife; we were behind a ’67 GTO on the highway and I was in hog heaven smelling those acrid exhaust fumes, when she said “that car is so nice they should spend some money on the engine. It smells really bad. Is there something wrong with it”?

            Made me want to bury my head in my hands and cry.

          • That $32K is still affordable to those in America’s rapidly shrinking middle class. Heck, the ordinary Nissan Murano you just reviewed goes from $29 to $44K. The Camaro seems Ugly to me, but I’d definitely consider buying a 5.0 Mustang.

            And, as the all time high water mark of Detroit muscle, these road rockets will appreciate sooner than the 60s and 70s Big Boys. They will be fetching breathtakingly high prices at the Barret Jackson auto auction in 20 years.

            Can’t argue with your Subjective preference for loud, uncatalyzed exhaust, eye catching bodywork and sounds, and big torque off the line. Heck, everyone loves big torque.

            My primary preference is simply for maximum accelerative G Forces. And I like that performance as silent as possible. Much less likely to attract the ire of Clovers or road going badge

            To conclude, no disrespect to the icons of that era. However if I got to pick from then or now,, my first choice would be the current Hemi Dodge Charger, if and when it gets that 8 speed auto trans.

            • “That $32K is still affordable to those in America’s rapidly shrinking middle class.”

              Only via the magic of debt! How many people can really afford a $32k car (plus the taxes,plus the insurance – several thousand dollars more over a 5-6 year period)?

              I’m “middle class.” I make an ok living; we have a nice house, 16 acres of land. But I can’t stroke a check for $32k. And I am not interested in a $500 a month payment plus another $150 a month for insurance, plus probably $500 a year in personal property taxes. Can I “afford” it?

              Only by going into debt and assuming a pretty significant financial obligation for the next five years.

              I doubt very many Americans can really afford a $32k car – which is why I am convinced the car industry (and the economy itself) is dancing on the edge of a cliff.

              People continue to live far beyond their means, spending virtually all their disposable income and even going into debt to buy toys and finance a “lifestyle.”

              The only reason I don’t have massive debt is because I know I can’t afford a $32k car (plus the extras) and buy older, cheaper vehicles I can pay for in cash – and then keep them for years.

              But maybe I’m an anomaly!

    • why would you buy a base v6 camaro when you can find babied muscle cars like this

      which do exactly the same thing for miles less ( i was very tempted to get it except for snow driving which i haven’t done in something as powerful and the missus who claimed it was a car for mexicans. Damned mexicans, they have all the fun)

    • I agree. Also, the better weight distribution of the V6 versus the V8 make the modern Camaro a better car.

      While I agree with Eric’s basic premise that government adds to the costs of cars, I think a better explanation for the inflated price difference would be the manipulation of the way the government calculates inflation.

      The government “inflation” numbers are completely arbitrary and have been constantly manipulated downward since the ’70’s. I’d bet if you used the inflation rate as computed using the pre-1980 formula and compared the old Trans Am to the present day Camaro, that the prices will be very close.

      The lesson would then be that the government has been lying about inflation for 30 years.

    • Yup – huge factor. Also property taxes, in states like VA that have them.

      Believe it or not, as recently as the early ’80s, insurance was optional in my state. My god! The horror! And property taxes on motor vehicles are also a relatively new trick.

      Both these things add significantly to the total ownership costs of any new vehicle.

      In my area, if you buy a $35k car, you can expect to get hammered with a property tax bill in the neighborhood of $600 a year for at least 3-5 years. I’m still paying around $100 every year on my ’98 Nissan pickup!

      • I was down to paying $75 per year on my ’99 4runner and then they changed the tax laws in Nevada. Now it’s $105 and change and never goes down. The tax man cometh and taketh the bread of my labors. Luckily this “truck” should run another 100,000 before it bites the dust. And it’s a 5 speed manual which is impossible to find in this model anymore.

        • Here in Mexico, the vehicle tax (based on the value of the car) was eliminated this year. We now only pay for the license plates. My yearly fees on one car went from over $400 US to $25.
          When I was living in Nevada, I always registered my cars out-of-state saving thousands over the years I was stuck there. One year, I avoided paying nearly $5000 in sales and use fees – including the $3 Nevada Highway Patrol charge.

    • The mid-’70s stuff gets slammed unfairly, in my view. Yes, in stock form, the power was low. But the engines were the same basic engines as the earlier high-performance versions and easy (and cheap) to bring up to snuff. For example, the 180-200 hp 400 in the ’77 TA could be brought up to 350-plus hp with a cam change, tuning (carb and ignition) and (unlike a modern car) easy to changeout exhaust upgrade (headers, pipes, etc. – all doable yourself with basic hands tools in a weekend). This would be enough to get the car into the mid-low 13s, without slicks (street tires).

      New cars do deliver fantastic performance right out of the box, but you pay through the nose for it – and you get a lot crap you may not want (well, which I don’t want) such as air bags, back-up cameras, etc.

    • What’s awesome is once these cars are out of warranty- I had to replace both cats and the two front 02 sensors in my 97 Formula and that was no fun. There’s two ways to go: replace that emissions equipment or tune them out through the obdii port. 😀

      • It’s stuff like that keeps me away from them. I can unbolt the entire exhaust system in my TA – including my “cast iron headers” (Pontiac was one of the few companies that ever made high-performance cast iron manifolds that look like headers and flow almost as well) with simple hands tools and – if I needed to – can replace everything from the manifolds back for about $300 – about the cost of one GM OE converter.


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