20 Reasons Why We Still Drive a 20 Year Old Car

When Vanessa and I got married, we decided to sell our Toyota Camry to help finance our financial goals.

Nearly five years have passed and we are still sharing a vehicle – a decision which has greatly reduced our auto-related expenses. Of course, sharing a vehicle won’t work for everyone, but it is a great way to reduce gasoline consumption, insurance costs, repairs, and the other costs of car ownership.

Our little jewel is a 1996 Saturn SL1 (pictured above) with absolutely no options added. It’s bare bones with manual locks, manual windows, black steel rims, a CD player that doesn’t play CDs, and a number of other incredible features that I’ve grown to adore.

Here are just a few of the many humorous reasons we choose to keep this particular car:

  1. It Runs Reliably
  2. It’s Fully Depreciated – I bought the car in 2010 for $1,700 and have put more than 40,000 miles on the car since.
  3. It Gets Good Gas Mileage – 30 MPG city, 40 MPG highway.
  4. It’s Worry-Free – I don’t have to worry about someone dinging my door in the parking lot, or rocks causing the occasional paint chip. If that happens, who really cares.
  5. It’s Simple – With fewer bells and whistles, less power everything, and less engine complexity, there are fewer opportunities for problems and maintenance.
  6. It’s Unbelievably Slow – The 98 Horsepower (in 1996) 4 cylinder engine prevents my adrenaline junkie wife from racing those pesky Honda Civics equipped with mufflers the size of your head.
  7. It’s Practical – My primary desire is that my vehicle transport me from point A to B. This car performs that task well.
  8. It’s Reliable – With a timing chain and simple engine design, we’ve had basically no maintenance outside of oil changes.
  9. It’s Uncomfortable – This is especially true when it’s cold outside. The Saturn rattles and vibrates, which makes you want to drive as little as possible.
  10. Insurance is Cheap – Liability only + tiny engine = low price.
  11. Taxes are Cheap – Personal Property taxes are next to nothing.
  12. Tires are Cheap – 14 inches of frugality, yeah!
  13. Keys are Cheap – What is going on with those new computer chipped keys that cost $250? Ours can be replicated for a dollar at Walmart.
  14. Free Theft Insurance – No one would ever choose to steal a 1996 hunter green Saturn with body and paint flaws.
  15. I Love to Eat – After a certain number of years pass, you just stop caring about keeping the carpets spotless. I’ll eat anything and everything while driving. If it falls on the seat or floor, I’ll still eat it. And never for one moment do I worry about stains.
  16. Cars Aren’t an Investment – Buying a new car is like flushing money down the toilet. Vehicles depreciate, and I prefer allowing someone else to eat that depreciation before buying.
  17. Temperature Control Issues – It takes forever for the heater to work in the winter, and the A/C works well enough but the lack of window tint makes for a hot ride in summer. Both of these encourage less driving.
  18. It Keeps Us Humble – A 20-year-old car draws no attention and helps us remember that cars are meant to get from A to B, not to impress the person in the next lane who is financed up to their eyeballs.
  19. It Makes Me Kind – Life is inevitably stressful, and sometimes difficult. The last thing I want to worry about is my car. That lady with screaming children who bumps me from behind at the stop sign. No Big Deal! Accidentally backed into that pesky telephone pole again? Just another Monday my friend.
  20. It’s Sexy – Saturn is now an extinct and exotic species. Plus, they just don’t make them like they did in the 90’s.

I know someday we’ll have to move on and find something a little more civilized, but til then, we’ll be rockin’ the Green Machine and stackin’ that money.

Update – We recently sold the Saturn for $1,500 (I paid $1,700 in 2010) and purchased a 2015 Mitsubishi Mirage for $6,300 cash. There were no immediate concerns that prompted the exchange, but I believe it was an excellent financial decision. The Saturn still ran well, but the windshield was cracked and the tires needed to be replaced within six months. Routine maintenance like this is never recaptured during a sale, so I knew it was time to look for something newer.

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