1985 Chevy cavalier odometer confusion

Now you are 2 for 2 on avoiding vehicles that are not worth having .
Why are you looking at vehicles this old anyway that are not collector types ?

1 Like

It means it was a piece of junk when it was sitting brand new on the showroom floor

Does that answer your question . . . ?!


What are you going to look at next . . . ?

Chevy Celebrity . . . ?

Ford Tempo . . . ?

Dodge Omni . . . ?


I’m mainly looking to buy a cheap car to drive around town so I’m not putting so many miles on my main car, preferably something that’s in good shape. Unfortunately “cheap” and “in good shape” usually equate to old.

So far that equates to ‘does not exist’…

1 Like

I guess avoid that kind of thing if you can but I bought a car back in 1976 from the wife whose husband split. It was in his name but managed to get DMV to transfer it to me. She was just trying get money to make the house payments. I paid $250 for a 67 Buick wagon. I needed a wagon for building a house. I knew it needed work. The guy had a welder and just welded everything. It needed valve work and I had a guy at work do that. He said the bottom end was like brand new and looked like he got that far and just quit. Probably planned splitting a little ahead of time. So that cost me $350. Then I put tires on for another $100, fixed the seat, etc. So for under a thousand I had a pretty good utility car but my eyes were open.

Hard to imagine how you’d be money ahead putting hundreds (maybe thousands) of dollars into an old car, once you add in purchase, repair, insurance, etc. Why not take some of that money and fix up your current car?

1 Like

The shaky story about the car’s registration, location, and inability to remember the owner’s name would end this for me rather than potential mechanical problems.

So this “buddy” can’t remember the name of his friend’s wife? Sounds like BS up to the eyebrows to me.

If that car is titled in his wife’s name only then he can’t sell it. Maybe it’s in his buddy’s yard because that’s where he is hiding it out from the possible ex and divorce court. There’s always a story behind these things and usually not a very good one.


If you buy an old car like this to appear as an eccentric individual you are going to need that “main” car more than ever, old cars are a hobby, not a method of transportation.

About 4 years ago a co-worker found a late 1980’s Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham in great shape, classic boxy styling and chrome bumpers. Not a practical car but he drove it for two years, I don’t know why he sold it but sometimes a guys luck runs out, he was not a mechanic capable of repairing the car himself.

That only make sense to me if your main car is leased and you are in danger of going over the miles. When I was working and needed a car for me just to get to work and leave my radio box and my overnight bag in, I used to buy cars like this but usually Mopars. When I started my last trucking job in 1990 I was driving a 66 Valiant.
As soon as I got hired steady, one of the other drivers congratulated me and said," now you can get a better car". I laughed and said " Why would I want a better car to get the mile and a half here and sit in the parking lot for days?" At the time we were working on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week and when they called we could not refuse and we had 2 hours to get there. we were working 70 on duty hours every 8 days and that didn’t include time spent waiting for a call at home or time in bed or waiting for loads out of town. I told that driver “You have a $40,000 Dualie pickup rusting away in this parking lot that you need to pull the camper and boat that you don’t have any time to use.”

There is a lot to be said for not buying more car than you need for your purpose. If I had need of such a car today I would have no problem with buying one of the simpler ones from the 60s or 90s. I would stay away from 1972-1990 cars because of the lousy smog controls.

1 Like

Back to the original question which is irrelevant, there is a felt pad containing ultraviolet ink that rubs on the 10,000 place wheel of the odometer. After a complete rotation it was planned that you could see the ink with an ultraviolet lamp.

For this vehicle it is likely that the felt pad dried out before the vehicle reached 20,000 miles. The “device” was intended for those in the car business to spot late model vehicles that have exceeded the odometer capacity, after the vehicle is ten years old this is of little importance.

1 Like

Heh heh. When I was working 6-7 days with 12 hour shifts, I drove my $90 bicycle to work. Then bought a $150 Corvair for the winter. Not fun but made money. 1972 and now people have to wear spandex and helmets going to work on their bikes.

1 Like

Not really a good place to hide things. Unless hiding in plain sight really works.

Alone, these would not be red flags to me. I’ve bought enough used cars under similar circumstances that had zero issues. For example:

  1. So what? It’s the wife’s car. What matters is what’s on the title and if that person is going to sign it. I know many couples where the wife has no dealings whatsoever with buying and selling cars. They show up for the closing to sign the documents…
    Funny story or tactic- I fan out and wave the cash I’m offering in front of the guy’s wife and gotten many deals that way. Helps to have the SO on your side :wink:

  2. Yep, been on both sides of that situation. What if he lives on a cul-du-sac somewhere but his buddy has a house on a more traveled road where the For Sale sign gets noticed? Who cares where the car is sitting now? The buddy might be getting a cut of the proceeds for putting up with the aggravation that comes with selling a 35 year old car and the never ending parade of people with champagne tastes that are interested in such…

  3. Again, so what? If the “buddies” wife owns it, he may not know her name. I have a number of friends I would be hard pressed to recall their wife’s name. They are only referred to as “the wife” when we talk. She might not even have his last name…

If you apply this level of caution to buying a really old car, you may miss many of the bargains you’re seeking…

He didn’t forget his buddies wife’s name. He forgot his buddies name.

Any flakiness like that, I’d walk away.


Well, just going off what you said-
Couldn’t remember the owner’s name, registered to buddy’s wife…

Sorry, I meant the buddy couldn’t remember his friends (the guy I’d been talking to) name, not his friends wifes (the supposed owner) name.

It means that even when it was new back in 1985, it was considered a very lackluster car. It didn’t do anything well compared to it’s competition. The 4 cylinder models (Iron Duke IIRC), managed the trifecta of being under powered, unreliable, and still somehow got worse fuel economy than it’s competitors .

1 Like

My neighbor in 1983 bought a Cavalier wagon, and got 16 mpg in town. YIKES!

1 Like

Does the mileage really matter at this point? It was garbage at 100 miles.

1 Like