Frugally Living With Old Shit

Frugally Living With Old Shit

Yesterday’s post got me thinking about financial responsibility and how we all justify this thing of ours. In most cases, obviously, there just isn’t justification for the money we spend on this stupid old stuff. You can talk about the appreciation of ’32 Fords or the investment side of collecting, but at the end of the day – if you buy or build any old car and then drive it regularly, you aren’t going to come out ahead in the end.


I’d argue that’s simply not the case. In fact, I know from experience that a very good way to get value out of an old car is to drive the damned thing every single day. Let me explain.

For almost a decade I didn’t own a car made after 1965. Instead, I avoided a car payment by driving whatever old heap I had at the time every single day. The best example I can give is my 1964 Ford F100. I drove it every day for five years. Here’s the financial breakdown:

  • Purchase Price: $3500
  • Shared gas/accommodations with Stevo to haul it home from California: $371.71
  • Oil Changes over 5 years: $1,223.40
  • Other Maintenance: $1567.31
  • Gauge and gauge panel replacement: $412.36
  • Speedometer gear box: $119.21
  • Steering Wheel replacement: $50
  • Disc Brake Conversion: $719.38
  • Pocket Door Inserts: $261.19
  • Shifter and cable replacement: $228.56
  • Carb replacement: $301.09
  • Front Frame horns and stock bumper: $198.21

So other than gas and insurance, I drove that truck for five years and it cost me a total of $8,952.42. I then sold the truck for $9,000 for a profit of a little less than $50. If I was paying myself for the hours spent on maintenance and improvements, I’d be paying myself far less than a $1 an hour. So, not great… and certainly not sustainable, right?

But what about opportunity gain?

I now drive a 2017 GMC Sierra that I bought used for $36,000. I’ve owned it for less than two years now, so doing an apples to apples cost comparison is impossible, but lets do it anyway. Over the past two years, I’ve had zero maintenance costs as I bought it CPO and the dealer has handled all of the oil changes and any other problems were covered under warranty. I did a little market research and estimate that if I were to sell the truck right now, I’d get about $30,000 for it.

In the end and after only two years, I’m in the hole for $6,000 on the late model truck. Give it three more years and I’ll be far deeper into my pocket. In fact, I’d estimate at least $10,000 more of depreciation… and that’s being very generous to GMC.

So, I am guessing if you compare the cost of ownership between my 1964 F100 and my 2017 Sierra over five years you are going to see a difference of a little less than $16,000. Is the GMC nice? Hell yeah… I love the A/C, the Apple CarPlay is amazing, and who doesn’t like heated seats? But is all that worth $16,000 over driving a really bitchin’ little F100 that is just capable only with less comforts?

I dunno man… But I can tell you that driving old cars every day is actually pretty financially responsible so long as you meet a couple of conditions. Namely:

  1. You are willing to do it without a modern backup. Car payments kill this plan entirely.
  2. You live in area that is favorable to old car daily driving. I live in the country and don’t deal with traffic. I know I couldn’t drive an old car in traffic every day and I’m fairly certain most old cars couldn’t handle it without a crazy maintenance line item that, in turn, would sway the financials.

And that’s really it. If you meet the criteria, what are you waiting for? Spend your money on something old and drive the shit out of it. It’s the smart, responsible thing to do.

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