Aging cars on road

Got a truly old wrench type of question about old cars.

Wonder why I see more 10+ year old domestic cars still on the road than foreign?

I sense a flame war starting…


I sense a flame war starting…

No, no, no…not what I’m trying to do.

Long since settled old debate here many times about reliability of foreign vs domestic. Stats back fact that Asian cars of last 20 yrs generally need fewer repairs. But I see far more 20 yr old GMs and Fords, mostly Buicks and Grand Marquis on the road than any Camrys.

Just wondering why and asking the opinion of all the experienced old wrenchs.

It may have to do with where you live. In some parts of the country Asian vehicles are much more prevalent than in others. I used to live in Las Vegas where foreign cars are probably a majority. Then I’d visit family in Michigan and you have to look around a bit to find a Honda. The closest Honda dealer to the homestead in Michigan is 2.5 hours away. The same for a Kia, Hyundai, Nissan or Mitsu dealer, or even anything European.

Just on the Camry. They were first made in 1983. You probably don’t recognize that model enough. When I sold the 83, it already had 260,000 miles on it. I sold it in 2002. If you live in the midwest, people did not buy Japanese cars there, sometimes for nationalistic reasons. Many foreign manufacturers did not build cars here for some time. If you live in the cold, a lot of 80’s Hondas wouldn’t start well after 80,000 miles because of the retarded ignition timing required on the CVCC engines. They were great where it was hot. They could be useless in Northern Maine. The bodies were terrible for rusting out too. Lots of junk information here. GM made a lot of cars. Ford and Chrysler too.

Regional differences makes sense. I’d just wondered. Definitely NOT trying to start a flame war or the old debate about which cars are better. Just been curious about preponderance of older domestic cars I see here.

Back in '90 and '91 I got to take a pair of extended driving vacations out west and did notice far more Asian makes on the west coast than here in the midwest at the time. Also noticed that in desert country no one drives a black car and saw few bright colored cars there either; just mostly tan and silver cars and trucks with half the paint worn off in sand storms.

So guess the obvious answer to my question is that it may truly be a regional/cultural difference.

Thanks for the feedback. I’ll hush up now and go back to reading and lurking.

I don’t know. Maybe you are living in an area where they bought very few imports 10 years ago. Maybe you have not counted accurately or maybe there are more domestic? What do you think?

Where I live, Ohio large city, they appear about even. If I drive south and head out in the country, I very seldom see any import cars, new or old.

Maybe because you’re not paying attention. There are many 10-year-old cars on the road from both domestic and foreign manufacture. I have two such vehicles, one Subaru and one Acura.


“But I see far more 20 yr old GMs and Fords, mostly Buicks and Grand Marquis on the road than any Camrys.”

Maybe it’s as simple as… If you want a really big (2 tons + boat classic) car then you have to tap the pool of yesteryear because today’s pool has no deep-end that has room for these behemoths. I don’t recall seeing a 4700 pound Camry with fender skirts and wide whitewalls.

I drove a 1976, 4700 pound Olds Toronado for many years. There is really nothing in recent history that can walk in its shoes. I’m not necessarily saying that’s a good thing, either.

Tons of blood, sweat, tears, dollars, plastic surgery, transplants, and time are poured into these bad boys of yore to get them back up on the road, whereas lesser cars are left to rest in peace in the boneyard.

I don’t recall seeing a 4700 pound Camry with fender skirts and wide whitewalls.

Whitewalls aren’t very popular for today’s vehicles. But, give it a few years and that Camry WILL get to 4700 pounds because of safety equipment. :stuck_out_tongue:

Come to think of it, it’s been a long time since I saw a Ford Pinto, Maverick, or Chevy Vega on the road. It’s not that those cars couldn’t be restored, it’s that nobody really wants to restore them.

On the other hand, there are people who pay way over the original msrp to get ahold of one of these.

Where to you live?? Not here in New England…I see 2-3 times more Toyota’s, Nissan’s or Honda’s that are 10 years old then ANY GM, FORD OR CHRYCO. FAR FAR more.


Is that a six cylinder Honda air-cooled? I forgot they made one. Is that your’s?

I’ve got a 1977 CB 750K squirreled away in the back of my garage. I think they’re like belly buttons, everyone’s got one.

As other have pointed out, it’s a matter of past sales volume and geographic distribution. California was the first stae to really embrace imports; it also does not put salt on the road. Other states were much much more conservative; I remmber being in the deep South when Japanese cars were becoming popular. You were considered a traitor there if you bought one. OP will NOT SEE a lot of these American cars on the road anywhere::

  1. Ford Pinto, Ford Tempo, Ford Contour

  2. Dodge Omni, Plymouth Horizon

  3. Chevy Vega, GM X cars, Chevette

  4. AMC Gremlin, Pacer, Alliance, Premier

Al these forgettable cars were built in North America.

The cars and trucks you still see on the road are high volume reasonably well engineered, and ALL HAVE CHEAP PARTS AVAILABLE from a number of sources.

In another post we stress that if sales voume is not high, and low cost spares are not available, the car will not live long, no matter how well it is engineered.

In the past month I’ve been stunned to run across a very early Camry, a basic box hardly as big as today’s Corolla. It sounded like a threshing machine and had a similar pattern of rusted out body I remember dealing with on my '73 Toyota in its latter years.

I’ve also seen a very early Ford Escort hatchback and been stunned to see one that old still running and not totally rusted out.

What really blew my mind was seeing an old AMC Pacer in apparently mint condition being driven down the road. Hadn’t seen one of those in years. Wonder where they got the parts to maintain it?

With a Ford plant having closed here a few years ago, a GM plant having cut down to one shift, a Chrysler plant totally shutting down and a second Chrysler plant cutting down to just one shift, there are ugly feelings in town between drivers of domestics vs foreign makes. Lots of foreign makes, especially Hondas and Hyundais on the road here though.

Big argument going on is the folks losing jobs at the car plants accuse drivers of foreign makes as un-American. Drivers of foreign cars point out the number of auto workers who do all their shopping at Wally World. Understandably lots of hard feelings from the displaced workers. And lots of feelings from the general public that if Chrysler made better vehicles more people would buy them.

Funny how people debate the merits of car makes so vigorously but don’t similarly debate about other major appliances or even the building style of houses. The closest thing I see to the which is better car debate is today’s frenzy over cell phones.

As for me, think I’ll go back to arguing with the teenage checker at the grocery store trying to convince her that fresh bunch carrots from the produce section that still have the green tops really are carrots. She thinks they pop out of the ground trimmed and grown in only 1 lb. or 2 lb. plastic bags. sigh

Air cooled? yes. Mine? I could only wish or maybe I should be careful what I wish for. Imagine synchronizing the throttles in six separate carbs and adjusting 24 valves by replaceing shims under the buckets.

Google up Honda CBX for more info. They came out around 1979 and were only made for a few years. They were slow sellers when they were new. Oh well, Edsels are collectable too.

“As for me, think I’ll go back to arguing with the teenage checker at the grocery store trying to convince her that fresh bunch carrots from the produce section that still have the green tops really are carrots. She thinks they pop out of the ground trimmed and grown in only 1 lb. or 2 lb. plastic bags. sigh”

Huh. Maybe that’s why the day shift never does anything at the grocery store where I work. They figure everything gets done automatically. Oh well… that’s why I get paid more (much more, actually) to work nights and actually do work.

Iprocter I feel your pain!

Further one off topic, one day I was buying a full load of fresh veggies, fruits, milk, eggs, butter, bread, basic meats, and a few staples such as flour, sugar, salt, seasonings, rice, and pasta. The boy sacking the groceries looked at all that and asked me why I wasn’t buying any real food. Turns out he thought if it wasn’t prepared frozen food ready for a couple of minutes nuked in the microwave it wasn’t food. Big sigh.

Years ago, as a car aged, the more popular cars remained on the road and the more expensive, less popular cars were scrapped. In the early 1960’s, a 4 year old Volkswagen Beetle sold for the same price as a 4 year old Cadillac in equivalent condition. A six year old Chevrolet would fetch more than a Buick in this time period, assuming the cars were both in good condition. Better availability of parts made the difference. People kept old VW Beetles going for a long time. On the other hand, the VW Squareback and Fastbacks were more difficult to maintain than the Beetles of this time period and the Fastbacks and Squarebacks seemed to be scrapped earlier.

The utility of a vehicle also had something to do with how long it stayed on the road. The pick-up trucks of this time period were what we would call “work trucks” today. These pick-up trucks sold for less than most cars, yet retained their value better because of the utility factor.

I would guess that in today’s market, a car for which parts are inexpensive and readily available and the car is easier to repair and maintain than most other cars will likely be on the road longer, whether the car wears a domestic nameplate or an foreign nameplate.

I’d go along with the post about it could be a local area thing but a small factor to consider is the age of local residents. I get several seniors in my shop with Buicks & Crown Vics that tell me it would not make sense to buy a new car foriegn/domestic at their age. They just keep driving their land yacht until the final days.