What was the best beater you ever owned?

The worst POS car thread was fun. What was the best cheap car you ever owned? Here are my two entries:

  1. 1983 Datsun Nissan Sentra Diesel (it had all four of those nameplates strung across its trunk lid). Bought it in 1990 for about $800 - drove it for seven years and seven months. I put 80,000 miles on it and never got below 42 MPG. Had to replace two axle shafts and the alternator once, and it did leave me stranded once due to a bad wheel bearing, but that was because the shop that installed it messed up. It died unceremoniously squished like an accordion between two Chevy Pickup trucks. The other guy’s insurance paid me $1100 when it got totaled.

  2. 1988 Ford Festiva. Purchase price $1000. Lasted from November 2000 through February 2008. Put 85,000 miles on it. Beyond regular maintenance, I replaced two sets of tires, one set of brake pads, a radiator (less than $100 online) and a distributor for it while I had it. The only thing about it that compared poorly to the Sentra was its gas mileage- only 35 city, 40 MPG highway. It was, however, twice as quick as its predecessor. The hatchback feature of this car made for huge cargo capacity with the back seat down. I hauled a full-size dishwasher and a front-loading washing machine home in it with the hatch latched (two trips-not at the same time). I made up my mind that I was going to redo the front suspension, fix the AC and paint the car. Never did it. It met a tree when I avoided T-boning an idiot who pulled out in front of me. The other guy’s insurance paid me $1500 for it. I bought a brand-new Toyota Yaris to replace it, but I still miss that car.

I bought a 1972 Chevy Luv in 1988 or so from a friend of a friend. I had mentioned that I wanted to get a “project truck,” something that I could get running for as little cash as possible. My friend mentioned that has friend had one with a broken timing chain. I asked how he knew that, and he said “I can see it hanging out of the front of the engine.” So, I bought it for $200, and we towed it home - backwards, since it had no front bumper. I spent the next few weeks going to junk yards to get parts to fix it. It turned out that the timing chain was the only component in the timing system that wasn’t broken. I had to replace the layshaft, all the timing gears, tensioners, etc. I got it running, and it ran for years and years. I spent a long time looking for a front bumper at salvage yards, until one day one of the guys I asked said “You’re never going to find a front bumper, you might as well stop looking.” I asked him why he said that, and he replied that the reason that these trucks end up in the junkyard is they’ve been in an accident, and the first thing that get’s destroyed is the front bumper. So, I made one out of a 4x4 piece of wood. I would probably still be driving it, but one night I was coming home, and I heard a loud bang, and the clanging of metal, and it died.
When I opened the hood, I saw the timing chain hanging out of the front of the engine…

It had over 20,000 (maybe over 300,000) miles on it when it died.

It’s a toss up between a Hitachi Magic Wand and a 1972 Plymouth Valiant.

1990 Toyota Tercel hatchback. Man, that car was awesome. It was tiny, but with the hatchback and the seat folded down I could fit everything I owned in that car, including several large pictures/posters, a papasan chair and cushion, and TWO lava lamps. Oh, yes, I was cool.

64 VW bug. It was one of my first childhood memories when my dad brought it home new in 1963. I inherited it after it went through all 4 of my siblings. Someone pushed it over the cliff in Isla Vista into the ocean one day. I bought another 64 bug that I still own today. I drove that car almost 400 miles with almost no brakes, plus a half dozen trips down to Mexico. Easy to fix. One time the fan belt broke so I coasted into a K-Mart, picked up another fan belt, popped it on, and I was on my way in half an hour.

'93 Acura Integra. Huge dent in the trunk (which leaked a little) and dogs had eaten the interior, so I got it for a song. But it ran great and got 32 to the gallon, so it was a great car for a college student.

Oh, wait. That’s still my car.

My favorite beater wasn’t a beater when I bought it.

I bought my last S-10 in 1990 when it was two years old. I drove it as a second vehicle for a few years before switching it to primary.

It was one of those vehicles that seemed to have a target painted somewhere on it that only bad drivers could see. In the 13 years that I owned it, it was hit 11 times.

'73 VW Bug the speedometer/ Odometer died, so I have no idea the mileage, but it was LOTS. For 6,000 miles, there was no starter in the car, so everywhere we went we had to do the Olympic Bobsled thing.

'87 VW Vanagon, 212,000 miles and still used daily.

'95 Ford Ranger, best vehicle I’ve ever owned. 158,000 miles and I’ve never put anything into it other that gas, oil and tires.

My best beater wasn’t a beater when I bought it.

I bought my first S10 pickup in 1990 when it was two years old. I drove it as a second vehicle for a couple of years before making it my daily driver.

It seemed to have a bright red bulls eye, only visible to bad drivers on it. In the thirteen years that I owned it, it was hit eleven times. :eek: I never had to turn in a claim to my insurance company. It was actually totaled two of those times. Of course, once a vehicle gets so old, minor body damage can do that. :stuck_out_tongue:

I never had to do much to it mechanically, other than regular maintenance and tires. Most of the money that did have to go into it was the result of road hazards when driving in rough country.

I gave it away when the original clutch went out on it at 200K+. A friends’ high school son needed a beater to drive to school and his part time job. He put a new clutch in it and drove it for a couple of years before retiring it.

I loved that truck so much that I replaced it with a new S10 that I still drive. :slight_smile:

ETA: Hit submit too soon and timed out on edit, so began a new post.

Colby, a '68 VW Bug. Owned by my uncle, then my dad, then me. Apart from the time he had no transmission in rural Kansas at one point… that’s where he got his name. Dude was indestructible. Even after his floorpans had rotted away, all it took was some cardboard and duct tape to keep the slush out of our laps. In a Colorado winter. Awesome car: no dents, so the fenders were worth more than the engine by the time I sold it.

The seatbelts were a pain, though.

91 Ford Ranger. I paid a bit more than I should have, but I still got a good deal used.

It was driven by a little old lady before me. Even though I bought it at a lot, I know that. How? I found a recipe for crab cakes written in cursive on a 3 x 5 note card under the passenger seat :slight_smile:

I owned that truck ten years and it never, ever once broke down on me. I traded it in for a brand new Dodge Ram that was a fucking lemon :frowning:

When I was stationed on Adak Island in the Aleutian Islands of Alaska, another guy and I went in halvesies on a $300 1959 Plymouth station wagon. That thing was a tank and served us well for many months before giving up the ghost.

1974 Vega that I bought in 1982 for $25 dollars so I had a car to drive while I fixed my 1971 Dodge Demon.

The Vega had very low miles and an excellent engine but had been stored dirty in Detroit where they use all salt for their roads in the winter. Rust flakes would fall everywhere when I drove. The front wheels were extremely angled at the top towards each other. When I drove over the hump of an intersection and got to the down side the front end would hit the pavement. I learned how to drive a stick on that car. I drove it all summer then sold it to the junkyard for $35.00.

1979 Honda Civic with at least 270,000 Kilomiters (Close to 185000 miles). I got it at a police auction for $200 CDN, put new tires and muffler on it (less than $800) and put another 80,000 km on it before a strut gave out.
It would start at -40 (without being plugged in), used gas extremely sparingly, and got me all over Alberta in all 4 seasons reliably, safely and comfortably…

I miss it.

I just retired* a 1995 Geo Metro. 180,000k, the thing would not die, and trust me, multiple attempts have been made on its life. Gave it a timing belt last year, brakes at appropriate times, and the fuse box crapped out while still under warranty but other than that, no major malfunctions. I wanted a hatchback so I got a Fit this year, and I’m determined to drive that sucker into the ground too.

*passed on to younger relation

Well, like some of the cases above, my beater wasn’t when I bought it. I got a 1996 Toyota Tercel sedan in 2000 with some 45,000 miles on it (it was even featured in the local mall!) and it now has over 265,000 miles on it and no signs of stopping anytime soon. That car is made of Kryptonite. All my previous cars - Fords, Chevy, Olds, Subaru, are total junk compared to Toyota IMO. The seats are wearing out and it has been in two fender benders where the front end was damanged but it didn’t even get out of alignment. It ran out of oil one time when I accidentally left the oil cap off but no damage resulted. We’re getting a new car soon and I am lobbying hard for a Toyota (and keeping this one).

The Mini 1000.

No heater, variable brakes (ask me about the 98miles I did through the snowline with no brakes or heat!). Failed to start in rain.

It kept going. Amazing amounts of body and engine could fall off and be tossed into the back seat and it would still keep going.

I took that wee car off road in places a 4x4 would pale at, but it kept going.

40 - 50 thousand k added to the odo while I had it, multiple trips the length of the island via the scenic routes and it kept going.

Random servicing and minimal visits to the mechanic - and it kept going.

Living in Wellington with the daily salt laden trips around the harbour - and it kept going.

It was POS beater when I bought it, I knew at least three teenage boys had learned to drive in it, yet it kept going.

I loved that wee car.