Time for a New Car
3 min read

Time for a New Car

I divide the cars I own into three classes: my daily driver, the family car and utility vehicles.

I have only really ever had two utility vehicles, both pickup trucks.  I currently own a 1986 Ford F-250.  It runs OK but with a 7.3 liter diesel engine it is expensive to drive.  But I can haul a ton of stuff home from Home Depot.

The family car is my wife's car.  She had it before I met her and she loves the thing.  It's a 2006 Scion TC with about 200,000 miles on it.  It's been reliable but is getting up in age.

My daily driver is a 2008 Mazda Miata with 300,000 miles on it.  You see, until recently (before Covid), I drove 100 miles a day just to and from work.  It really consumed the Miata and it burned through a lot of gas.

I really have only had four cars that were "my daily driver".  All of them I bought new and drove for years.

  • 1979 Fiat X-19 (1978 to 1986 – 8 years)
  • 1986 Subaru Justy (1986 to 1995 – 9 years)
  • 1995 Mazda 626 (1995 to 2009 – 14 years)
  • 2008 Mazda Miata (2009 to 2021 – 13 years)

The Fiat I kept and eventually gave to my daughter when she turned 16.  The Justy I traded in on the 626 (got $400) for it.  The 626 broke its timing belt at a bad time.  Maybe it could have been fixed but it was 14 years old and the AC was broke and I wanted a new car.  Every time I think about it, it makes more economic sense to fix the car you have rather than buy a new one.  But sometimes, you just want a new car.  Sure, it's few years of payments; but, it's also a few years of no headaches.

The X-19 was always fun.  Though having picked up two children in a marriage, it was not always practical.  I do remember having it going 105 when I passed the sign that said my turn was in a mile and a half.  The poor thing was loaded up for a weekend camping and two people, I overshot my turn by about 100 feet.

I always said the Justy was "Justy a little car".  There is not much else to say about it, it was cheap and it got me back and forth to work for nine years.  It was OK to drive but not fun.

I loved the 626, it was big enough for four people, but was fast and agile.  I destroyed the engine at one point (in 2004 I think) and replaced it (only cost $1400 to swap with a junk yard engine).  I don't remember how many miles it had on it when it died, but it was well over 200,000.  I was sitting at a red light one day and it died and would not start.  (It was a pretty spring day.)  The mechanic said the timing belt broke and it was an interference fit engine; if he replaced the belt, there was no guarantee that a valve was not bent and it would need another engine.  I was sad to see it go but, it was time.

The Miata I love still.  It's got 200,000 miles on it and still runs pretty well.  The engine makes a funny noise and the paint is dead.  The suspension needs work, but it still rides like a sports car.  I'm gonna keep it as my project, sunny day car.

What's Next

So, my wife has been accepted to medical school. It's something we have worked together to accomplish for years.  Unfortunately, the school she will attend is 250 miles away.  She will have her car there and I will drive back and forth to see her.  (Medical students don't have time to come home on the weekends.)  Driving 500 miles every other week or so would kill the Miata, and while it's old and needs work I really like having a convertible.

I figured it was time to break down and buy a new car.

When I bought the Miata I wanted it to be the car I had in retirement; but, I knew that the 100 mile a day commute would be hell on it and it was.  And then there is the Texas sun. (Here in central Texas, we don't has any problems with salt.  But a lot of cars have dead paint from the sun.)

A few years ago, I thought that if I had to buy another car I wanted it to be electric.  So, lets look at that.  To go on with the story click here.