What kind of car to buy to keep forever?

My wife and I want to live debt free. Our 2008 Pontiac Torrent is just about paid off and we want to trade for another similar car that we can keep forever. I am a diesel mechanic, so I plan to do all the maintenance and repairs. I had wanted to keep trading up every few years, but then got another idea that we could just keep a car forever and maybe have it turn into a classic. Drive it on into our old age. I’m thinking the cost would be about the same. Replace the engines, transmissions, brakes, go through it and keep it mint, whatever it takes. Am thinking of something made now that has the potential to be a classic in 30 years. Any ideas?

With today’s disposable society, I doubt ANYTHING will last long enough to become a classic.

Not saying it can’t be done, but how many Mustang or Camaro owners thought their junked up 60s car would be worth some sweet cash after 50 years? Can anyone predict what could possibly be a classic in the future? Will you be able to find any parts for the car after 10 years?

With the huge changes in technology, I’d look for 15 year cars, not lifetime cars. I’d hate to be driving a 30 year old car today, even if it was in mint condition.

It likely could not have been predicted that 1955-1957 Chevrolets would be desirable now. Old Cadillacs are good to have at holiday car shows too. I can’t imagine that most Asian models will qualify except for a very few. How about starting out with a Cadillac ATS or a CTS? If you live in the north, keep it out of the winter salt. If you live in the South, keep it out of the hot sun and garaged nightly in any case. Both weather conditions mentioned, with no doubt whatsoever, will ruin a car. You must have an alternate car to save your long term car from the salt or the summer sunshine. If you want to spend less, it might be better to buy a domestic brand that is something special, not a minivan or an ordinary sedan. Any car that you might buy will bottom out in value and then rise again over time if you have kept it nice.



well,@texases, I’m quite glad my '94 F150 isn’t a “15 year vehicle,” or it’d be Chineese appliances by now.

In fact, the more anal-retentive The Powers That Be become W/R/T emissions, safety, and who knows what else, the greater the value of 25+ y.o. vehicles become.

Irv Gordon’s Volvo certainly makes the more recent models look like the POS cars that they are.

The new ones probably couldn’t even make it to 300K without breaking the bank

Irv Gordon’s car is an example of what Volvo did right back in 1966, and a reminder that they’ve made so many mistakes since then . . .

“My wife and I want to live debt free. Our 2008 Pontiac Torrent is just about paid off and we want to trade for another similar car that we can keep forever.”

If you want to live debt free, you have to start by keeping the Torrent. Then save the extra cash for the next purchase. As mentioned, I do not believe any of the regular offerings on the market today would be a classic. The most valuable ones would be the ones that are unique for unusual reasons (company went bust, worst car ever, obsolete technology, etc) and that is anybody’s guess.

Body condition is the big problem for many cars as they age. In addition, though transmissions and motors at some point will need to be replaced, they have enough longevity to make it worthwhile. But, here is the catch and why after 200 plus K, both our kids were forced to give up their Accords. Air conditioning, power windows and other nagging peripheral items began make the car cost more then it was worth. Things like, seats will begin to sag, operation levers etc, will fail in a never ending replacement sinereo that make it too expensive.

The closest you can come, is to buy a popular car with long term junk yard parts availability and good initial reliability…like a Corolla. Then you run into the biggest factor that keeps people from keeping cars a long time, especially with a Corolla…BOREDOM ! There is a reason you are looking to dump the car you have now. That reason will follow you to the next car.

If you want to save money long term, the key is invest wisely and stay married to the same partner ! Changing wives( or husbands) is the most expensive draw down of your savings as opposed to occasionally changing cars. The other biggest drain as you age, is healthcare. So, rather then worry about the amount you save on a car only, do everything you can to properly prepare and maintain “your body” for old age first and plan to stay married. After that, don’t worry about giving into the occasional urge to buy an older USED car while using public transportation when possible. Plus, your ability to maintain a car may wane as you age. It ain’t as easy as think.

galant wrote:
If you want to live debt free, you have to start by keeping the Torrent.

This is exactly right. You have a car with a known maintenance history and a number of good years left. Between now and 2018, put away the equivalent of your monthly payment into an account that you don’t touch. Use that when you shop for your next car.

The best guess I’d have for a classic potential might be a 3 series BMW, either coupe, sedan, or even wagon versions. The wagon would be the most practical to live with all those years. It won’t be the cheapest to repair but a beemer should hold up over the long haul.

I bought a new '03 Honda Civic, 4 door, EX, with manual transmission with the idea of keeping it going until I’m too old to drive anymore. I was 55 at the time and 10 years later at 140K miles the Civic is living up to my expectations. I expect it to make to my 75th birthday for sure and then we’ll see how I’m doing and how the Civic is doing and take it from there. So far repairs have been few, and minor. Burns no oil, runs just like new, no rattles, no shakes, and still on the original clutch.

Forget the Classic bit; it is very hard to predict t what car will become a classic. If you want to stay relatively debt-free, keep the Torrent until it falls apart. Then buy a car selling in high volume (so you can keep having access to parts) that’s also reliable and simple.

That might be a Toyota Camry or Corolla, a Honda Accord (without a CVT) or a Civic. I would also look at a Mazda 3 or Mazda6, or a Hyundai Sonata or Elantra… Buy the basic engine and avoid all those options you don’t need.

So what is wrong with the CVT ?
I am of the mind that once the Accord or Camry, the main stays of their perspective companies start using them, perhaps they have arrived. IMO, as long as the internal combustion motor is used, you will see more and more of them in sedans.

I agree with @Docnick. The only vehicles I would add to the list are Nissans. I put their quality on an even par with any Honda or Toyota. Why they are usually overlooked at recommendation time is beyond me.

Nothing wrong with a CVT; the OP just has to budget $4000 in today’s money for a replacement if he wants to keep his car a very long time. Even though he is a mechanic he won’t be able to fix or overhaul it.

@missileman I like Nissans, but after all these years I still find they are more rust-prone than the others on the list.

While not made anymore, a Crown Vic / Grand Marquis has the potential to provide what you are looking for…They can be purchased very reasonably, they are VERY reliable and you can fix them yourself with readily available parts…A Ford or Chevy pick-up, same thing… I was able to retire at 55 by avoiding the “buy a new car / go into debt trap” and keeping my transportation cost per mile as low as possible. Beginning with a 1978 Chevy Malibu and then 4 Crown Vics, a 1992, 2002, 2005 and 2006 models, all purchased for cash for very reasonable money and then self-maintained, my transportation costs are but a fraction of what many of our friends are…Rebuilding engines and transmissions? No, when the cars started getting tired I sold them and moved up to a newer model. With careful selection, that’s cheaper than doing major repairs…

In 2001 at age 59, I bought a new Sienna with the idea, that you had, of driving it until I didn’t want to drive any more. 12 years later, it has 197,000 miles on it.

Last year in the McAllen retirement park where we live when we are in the States, I talked to a man well into his 80’s. He had just driven from Minnesota. I walked home and told my wife we needed to start saving for our next car.

Not all plans work. You might get the best car in the world, and 8 years later, a drunk plows into you. Or, in the north, it eventually rusts out and is not fixable.

So, I say make your plans and then do your best. Then, accept what happens.

I also agree with those who say keep your present car until it becomes impractical, then with the money you have saved, go for a good car. But, don’t think in terms of getting a classic. Go for a reliable model. You cannot predict what will be classic in 20 years.

On the other hand, my wife’s best friend died last December, around 97 years old. She had, I think it was a 1995 Buick, didn’t drive much and did whatever the shop told her to do for maintenance. That car ran out perfectly, and the body and interior was in perfect shape. The trick was, she didn’t drive a lot. If she had been driving 25,000 miles a year, she would not have been able to keep it up like that.

You don’t say how many miles your Pontiac has on it. I’ll guess around 75,000. You should get at least another 6 years out of the Torrent, and probably more if you want to. Parts won’t be a problem since it is so similar to the Equinox. While thinking about your next car is fun, it shouldn’t be necessary for several more years. You might think about diesels. It looks like many manufacturers will bring out small Diesel engines for automobiles. GM will bring a Cruze diesel to the showroom in 2014 for about $25,000. Mileage is expected to be 27 city and 46 highway.