Saturday, July 2, 2011

Frugality and Car Selection

The standard vehicle advice on personal finance blogs is either don't purchase one at all or purchase a used inexpensive Japanese model (many of which are now made in the US).  Either advice is sound, but let me introduce you to the Rodent's twist: purchase a nice semi-luxury or even luxury vehicle, keep it for 15 to 20 years, and most importantly learn to maintain or repair it.  In my case this was a brand new VW Golf bought in May of 2001.  Ten years later with a 193 thousand miles it still feels just as luxurious as when it was new.  If I had to do it all over again I would have purchased a slightly used Golf.  Over it's lifetime I have never taken it to a mechanic with the exception of some recalls and tire mounting/balancing.  I don't have the equipment to mount and balance my own tires and I don't think it makes sense but I'd love to be proven wrong by a reader.  In our society there is tremendous pressure to consume, but not all is lost yet:  Driving a 1970s or 1980s diesel Mercedes is still considered "cool".  I am convinced that in 2020 when many cars will be electric and autonomous the VW Golf will be a slight head turner - look at this old timer and how cool the smelly exhaust is.  I am strongly convinced gasoline vehicles will have similar appeal as steam engines have currently.  In a future article I will talk about what basic tools I have used over the years.


  1. My husband and I bought a new Volkswagen Vanagon in 1984. We kept it for 23 years.


  2. Wow, that is the car of my dreams! Did you guys maintain it yourselves? Up until the early 2000's VW still had the Eurovan available in the US but I missed out. Thank you for posting on my blog!