The last car

My wife and I began to think ahead toward the time we might no longer be able to drive, not that we are old geezers yet, and wondered what car we might consider for our “last car.” We presently own a 1998 Volvo S70 with 250,000 miles,and a 2003 VW Jetta TDI with 150,000 miles. We like both vehicles, but the Volvo is more comfortable especially for long trips. Considering that we probably won’t drive as many miles annually as we have in the past, should we look for a new car that we would want to keep for the next 20-30 years, or just renovate the Volvo? What do you think?

I would look at buying a new car, 20 to 30 years is a long time to keep a car, so I doubt the next car would be your last. The Volvo is already 13 years old and parts are soon going to be very hard to find and even harder in 20 or 30 years. With any “last car” I would also make SURE it was easy to get in and out of. As we get older things just don’t work as good as they use too. So a car that sits a little higher and doors that are a little bigger keeping in mind you or your spouse might need a wheelchair at some point. Comfort would rank very high, heated seats, air, etc. A good quality crossover, or gasp a mini-van would be on my list.

I’m thinking along the same lines, expecting the next car will be my last one. I think I’ll stick with petrol, since it’s what I’m used to. I like small cars, and my Kia Rio is now 10 years old, and I’d like another. However, my body doesn’t bend as well as it did 10 years ago, and having to fold down that low isn’t really appealing. However, on the same platform is the Kia Soul. Almost as good mileage, but I don’t drive as much, so that isn’t so great an issue as when I was doing 20K a year. If you like your current cars, see if the manufacturer makes a crossover, perhaps on the same platform as one you like now. You’ll be sitting higher, bending less, and enjoying it just as much.

Keeping a car as a primary vehicle for 30 years is a fairly serious commitment. My MR2 is only 18 years old, and already there are parts that I can’t get for it. I fully expect that in another 10 years I’ll be having some parts custom-fabricated for it, which will be a royal pain. And that’s a car that’s only a summer fun toy, not a daily driver. I wouldn’t want to think about a vehicle being my “last car” until I expected to stop driving within 10 years of the purchase.

As a daily driver you want some comfort, reliability and availability of parts and service for the next 25-30 years. That dictates a high volume car with good reliability.

My brother still has his 1987 Honda Accord, and can still easily find parts and service for it.

I would recommend a Toyota Camry 4 cylinder with automatic, power windows, air conditioning, cruise control, electric door locks and little else. Alternate vehicles would be a Honda Accord, Hyundai Sonata, Mazda 6. Stay away from complex gadgets and sunroofs; they will cause you grief as the car ages.

Getting in and out will be increasingly more difficult as we age. A car that is too low, or too high would a bad choice.

As people age they drive less and the typical retiree only puts on 9000 miles per year. At that rate in 30 years you would only have gone 270,000 miles, well within the capability of the cars recommended.

Will we even BE driving in 20~30 years? Who’s to say that they won’t put the “auto” in automobile and we’ll just me riding in cars and not driving them? Google is shooting for the 1 million mile mark on their automated cars.

Popular Mechanics predicted the auto-driving car in the 50s! Like the Jetsons, this type of lifestyle never happpened, mainly due to human limitations. However, I foresee many driving AIDS, such as collison avoidance radar, and other driving aids to keep the driver safe, no matter how unsafe his driving may be.

In any case, getting in and out easily, driving comfort and reliability/ease of service will be with us within those next 30 years.

I would recommend the smallest van that can be converted for handicap use. Chances are that one of you will need that before the other. You also want that van to have a comfortable seat height so that getting in and out now, is not a chore. The older you get, the harder it will be to get into any car or van.

You don’t need to make the conversion until it is actually needed. I think the Honda, Toyota or even the Dodge minivans should work. Just verify that the conversion can be done and find the most comfortable one with the easiest access. Also check out the Ford Trans Connect delivery truck.

I’ll respectfully disagree with Keith. Retrofitting an existing vehicle to handicap conversion is an arduous process that’s very expensive, and at the end you have a used car that won’t last as long if you can even find someone reputable who’s willing to do the job. Remember that in converting a minivan (or van) to wheelchair accessibility, you have to lower the floor, redo the suspension (either stiffening the springs on the lift side for a full sized van or adding a kneeling suspension to the minivan), install the lift/ramp, install seat risers (to compensate for the dropped floor), and other sundry items. It’s better to either buy a used van that’s already accessible or buy a new one.

Don’t sell your buying time short. If you plan on driving for the next 20 to 30 years, you may be going through several more cars. Technology increases exponentially and the cars will change rapidly enough you may want to buy again. I predict that in 20 years, cars may be user friendly enough that you may still have many more years of driving left. By something for now…let the future take care of itself.

Keith, Shadow, they’ve come out with a vehicle that’s already modified from the factory to accommodate wheelchairs and such, the MV1 I believe it’s called. While I don’t know the exact amount it’d cost to convert an existing vehicle, including purchase price of said vehicle, it’d probably be cheaper to buy that vehicle

Yeah, I know - it’s made by AM General (the guys who made the original Humvee) but it’s not out yet. They’re saying it’ll cost around 40 grand, which is in the ballpark of a converted van.

That said, buying it now would be silly, since it could be 20 years before either of them actually needs it.