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Wrecking Car - Daily Driver

Does anybody here have a “wrecking car” or bomber? The type you daily drive and pretty much dont care about.
And maybe you have a special car you keep in the garage for nice days.
I met a guy who bought a cherokee for $600 and has driven it the last 3 years.

Id love to get a beater for maybe $2000 thats cheap on parts and I do nothing but gas and cheap oil.

Maybe a car like that is a bit of a fairytale, but its not entirely rare Id bet.

But knowing me, Im a little OCD on keeping my cars clean and maintained. I wonder if I could even own a cheap beater and not give a crap about it.

What you describe is not that uncommon, but used to be a lot more so before all the emissions and inspection requirements became common. Even a beater has to be up to snuff for its annual inspection… at least here in NH.

I’m willing to speculate that in the 33 states that don’t have annual safety inspections it’s a lot more common.

Personally, when I had a decent daily driver and a beater (my old pickup), I spent a lot of time fixing the beater up. Like you, I’m not sure I can do the old beater thing properly. I can’t not give a crap about any vehicle I own.

We called them “winter” cars when I was stationed up north. I drove one all winter while my new car was in the garage. My wife drove the “beater” I suppose because it was a year round car (Subaru). My winter car was a 1972 Chrysler Newport. It was also known as a “boat” for some reason or another. Someone actually attached a magnetic mast with a sail one day and I drove around with it until the sail was beaten to shreds by the wind. I paid $300 for the Newport and drove it for 5 winters. In keeping with the tradition (on base) I sold it to the next buyer for $300.

I’ve always called them “beaters.” I drove them for many years. My preferences ran towards early to mid 70 Olds Cutlasses and Vista Cruiser wagons. Then, a couple of things happened to change my car buying habits. First, those cars started to become “collectable” and the prices started to go up, no matter what shape they were in. The second thing that happened was me doing an emergency brake job on an old '74 rusty Cutlass Supreme in -10 F weather. That cut it. i was done with driving junk. We bought our first “new” (Less than 4 years old) car that spring. I felt like I was driving a limousine. In fact, the wife and I jokingly called it “The Limo.”

I’ve owned a number of beaters gotten on the cheap and used them mostly for the daily commute to work. At one time my commute was about 170 miles a day round trip so cheap and low maintenance was the order of the day.

The cheapest cars I’ve ever bought for daily use was a SAAB Turbo from my next door neighbor for 20 bucks; and it had plumb full tank of gas. The other was a 1960 Chrysler New Yorker for 10 bucks.

The problem with having two cars, if you’re one person (without an indoor garage) is you tend to drive one car and the other one sits. And deteriorates. My “nice” car has had a number of issues related to sitting, and recently I noticed that the clearcoat is peeling off of it. Seems that time and the elements can wear out a car more than driving it, it seems. Edit: I guess what I really have now is a “nice” beater and a “beater” beater.

Agree, the beater car is great. Don’t have to worry about it getting stolen or carjacked. Don’t care about stray shopping carts, insurance is cheap, and certainly no worries about the repo man.

I’d sure love to find a beater for maybe $2,000 as well, but got worried that that car might have more issues than the one I currently have, so opted to spend $1,000 repairing my current beater, under the logic at least I know the history of a car I’ve owned for 19 years.

I don’t know what I’d dislike most about a new car: the car payment, having to fuss over it in a futile attempt to keep it “nice” as long as possible, or all the new fancy overcomplicated technology I consider unnecessary.

I agree about beaters. They are fewer to come by in states with strict inspection laws. By the time older or beat up cars are made compliment, you have too much money in them to just disregard. I understand not fixing light dents, but body damage in general means quicker rusting, tires have to comply and you can’t drive a smoker. Everyone is so concerned about safety and mandated safety equipment, it’s hard to keep up an older car without putting money into it too. That defeats the purpose as well. Do you put winter tires on a beater ? Even in states without strict inspection laws, everyone knows you can get written up for an unsafe vehicle. Beaters in general are a tough sell. And mandated insurance costs ? Makes a crappy car a little ambiguaous.

Now, if a beater means just keeping an older car up but debadging and not washing it…count me in ! People avoid dirty cars and living on a dirt road during mud season means…no one parks next to me a parking lot…even when my cars are new. Mud is the built in beater factor ! Gotta love it.

Amazing similar stories to my own. I had a beater that had a dent in every panel, even the roof. Open the trunk and you could see your shoes through the rusty floor. I got tired of working on it to keep it running and upgraded to a newer used car. All before my county started emissions inspections.

The inspections were EPA mandated to reduce pollution caused by being a crossroads of 2 major national highways. That’s OK because the beaters were all given a pass once paying their $20 because we wouldn’t want to disadvantage the poor and the rest of the cars would easily pass. The result was no net reduction of pollutants and filling the pockets of the company that built and ran the inspection stations with driver’s dollars. The county subsequently dropped inspections and the EPA was never heard from again.

My brother had a rusty 1956 Chevy 6 with only automatic. This car was used to drive to various construction sites he was working on when starting his business., It always ran and started in any weather. Later on he switched to a used pickup truck.

Cars with full frames could be driven forever.


“Cars with full frames could be driven forever.”

If Toyota built cars with full frames, they would rust as badly as Tacomas and Tundras

Speaking of rusty frames, I sometimes read a us post office magazine for employees, online. Apparently, they’re replacing a lot of rusted out frames on their Grumman LLVs. Those are the ones that are based on the early S10 trucks, with the iron duke engine

No offense to any postal employees reading this . . . but from what I gather, there are gaping holes in their maintenance practices and policies. A lot of the accidents and incidents could apparently have been avoided by practicing better maintenance

While a disaster, it should be known that the Toyota frame rust problem was isolated to specific years.
My '79’s frame rotted away on both sides after only 11 years.
My '89’s frame was still full and solid after 18 years.
Same environment, same driver, same maintenance, same everything.
The problem disappeared at one point, but then returned again. I don’t have access to any inside information, but that makes me suspect a vendor problem.

I used to work with a guy who had a early 70’s Lincoln Town Car and a Myers Manx as his babies and then went to the tow yard auctions to buy whatever $100-$500 car he could. Usually either older VW’s (he knew how to fix both VW’s and Ford products) or some older american car that would get him to work and back. His wife was really rough on whatever she drove but he could keep a beater going nearly forever.

Years ago I had a neighbor who bought a car like that, an under-$1000 wonder, specifically for going to his college’s massively attended football and basketball games. He said he could get out of the parking lot really fast in that car, as everybody in nicer cars ryng to leave at the same time as him, they would take a look at his dented, rusted beast and get out of his way. He referred to this as a daring game called “crinkle fender” … lol …

For the most part I have had a beater, but I missed out on having the good car :slight_smile:

When I had a good sporty car, I used to live in a city with good public transportation.

Right now, I am driving a bigger SUV for my daily driver, it used to be our weekend/road trip car but when my teenager got her driver’s license, the cost of keeping a third car became prohibitive. She is staying at the dorm and does not drive, but the insurance company would not have that as an excuse (distance has to be more than 100 miles).

I am still looking for a “beater” to give our SUV some rest. We had an older Dodge Caravan, but it was getting long in the tooth, I needed reliable transportation. I was buying parts so often that the NAPA counter guys thought I had a shop and would give me the mechanic’s discount. Now that I have gotten rid of that car, I have extra time on my hands and get to do some house projects.

When I search, if I want to buy something that would give good service for my ~50 miles/day trips, the cost gets close to $5-6K which is more than what I want to spend for a “beater”.

I often wonder, what if somebody bought a clean, non rusted car, but it was cheap from very high miles, and put in a brand new crate engine and transmission. Ive seen new chevy 350’s and auto’s go for cheap relatively speaking. You could possibly “build” a brand “new” car for under 10 grand. Hell maybe even at the 7ish price point. Not that itd be a beater or anything. I just wonder why more people dont do that. Yes you have shocks and breaks and radiator, etc. But you’d still be at far cheaper than a new car.

I drove a “work” car for many years. They were all slant 6 mopar products. Their only purpose was to get me and my bag with clothes, gloves, flashlight a few books enough clothes for a few days and a small tool kit. I also had a radio box with a CB, an AM/FM , two 6x9 speakers, two antennas welded to a vise grip and hook up wires to power it from either a power post or the fuse box. Such is the gear of a union line haul driver. We had to be on call 24 hours a day 7 days a week and when the phone rang we had 2 hours to get to work. Sometimes you came home covered in grease and you needed a car you didn’t care about getting dirty inside.

My last one was a 66 Valiant I paid 235 dollars for in 1986 and drove it until 1995 when I retired. I drove it the last 11 months with a torsion bar that had spun in the frame and the car resting on the bumpstop on one side and junked it when it was due for inspection again.That car sat 4 days at the terminal and was drifted over with blowing snow at -16 degrees and started right up. I was able to jump a lot of the almost new cars that were sitting there and wouldn’t start.

I had it up well over 90 on the way to the junkyard, just to give it a treat.

40 years ago I met an elderly fellow who had been one of hundreds of young men who had participated in my former community’s oil boom about 60 years earlier. He was part of a crew that built thousands of those old wooden oil derricks that you see in pictures. I gave him a ride in my restored 1921 Model ‘T’ Ford.

Since he a had roots in that community, he didn’t want to move to the next boomtown when oil was discovered there a few years later. He and five other men pooled their money and bought a BRAND NEW BEATER, a Model ‘T’ Ford. It cost a bit under $400, touring top and side curtains included. No heater, and certainly no A/C. Every working morning about 5:00, six guys would pile into the ‘T’ for a 35 mile ride across the hills on completely unimproved roads that were little more than two rutted tire tracks. In the evening, they drove home. It had to be pretty tight. The Model ‘T’ was not a large car. After about six months of commuting, their first ‘T’ was completely worn out due to about 9000 miles of mistreatment and abuse. So they scavenged the top and side curtains off of their first car, the only parts that weren’t worn out, and bought a new one for $35 less. They pushed their “old” car off into a ravine. This was repeated over a period of about four years until the new oil field was saturated with wells. There is absolutely nothing there today but rolling pasture land.

MG McAnick Thanks for reminding me of my Father’s stories. He was cowboying for a cattle ranch on the West slope of the Rockies. His first car was a new 1926 Model ‘T’ roadster. The price was $305 F.O.B. Denver. There were no dealerships. You paid an agent and the car was shipped to a designated rail station. He said Denver was the only one in CO. He had to take the train across the Rockies, pick up the car and drive it back to the ranch. Of course the roads were nothing we would call roads. He said it was quite an experience to cross the Rockies while learning to drive! June 1927 he married my Mother in Rifle CO and moved her to the ranch where she cooked, sewed, and tended the garden/chickens and pigs. When it was time for a new car you took your “old” car to the agent who gave you $50 and insured the vehicle was destroyed. The last thing manufacturers wanted was a used vehicle and parts supply available. He bought a new 1927 Chevrolet roadster. That was the last new vehicle he bought until a 1952 Chevrolet which they had when I was born.