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Thread: High Mileage Cars Opinions ?

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    High Mileage Cars Opinions ?

    When I was in high school in the mid 1970’s it was accepted that it was unusual for a car to be usable long enough to turn the odometer over at 100,000 miles. A friend had a 1964 or 1965 (Skylark ? or Special ?) station wagon, short wheelbase without the vista top, that reached that goal. When it got close, we rode around and made a party of it just to see all zeroes appear. It was fun.

    My high school car was a 1962 Lark Daytona. I bought it with 62,000 miles on it. I liked the car. It was not rusted out, and it did not look to bad. The driver’s seat back was broken, and was held in place by a 2x6 wedged under the ash tray on its back. I replaced both front seats with purple Wagionaire seats. I could not jack up one wheel without opening the door first. Once it was jacked up, a door would not open. In deciding who would drive somewhere most people looked at their gas gage. I looked at my dipstick. I seemed to rarely need gasoline, but needed oil for every excursion. That car was fun, and I liked it, but it was a piece of junk.

    Since then I have learned some things.

    Multiple people on this forum mention having multiple hundreds of thousands of miles on cars that they still enjoy.

    I once owned a 1957 Buick that was advertised at 129,000 miles when I bought it. It was a very nice car.

    I bought a 1978 C20 new. The speedometer broke a few years ago at 65k miles after having turned over 3 times. The truck has probably (guessing) 380k miles now with the original never rebuilt or disassembled engine. It starts and runs fine, and gets around 500 miles to a quart of oil.

    My grandmother told me a story about one of my grandparents’ cross country trips. They made many during their retirement. My grandfather owned only Ramblers, and bought them (almost) only from Northside Rambler in Tampa, Florida. On one of their trips they needed some work done on a 1965 Classic somewhere out west, so they stopped at a dealer to have it done. The man at the dealer told my grandparents that their car looked good for having 70k miles on it, and asked if they would be open to making a deal on a trade on a new one. My grandparents accepted his offer, but did not mention that the car had 170k miles on it.

    With this later learning, I figure that my high school car must have had something like 562k miles on it when I bought it. There is no way that it could have gotten that worn out in only 62k miles. I don’t believe any of my high school friends’ cars could have gotten as worn out as they were in the less than 100k miles that they were presumed to have.

    Did all of these junk cars that were suitable only for high schoolers’ use have multiple hundreds of thousands on them rather than the presumed just what the odometers showed? What do others think?

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    Speedster Member avanti-hawk's Avatar
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    The old cars with 5 digit odometers told many mute lies. I still get a kick out of ad's for classic cars that state "totally restored, only 60,000 miles" If it only had 60,000 it wouldn't need total restoration! I would say 80% of the old cars I owned when I was young had been rolled over at least once if not twice.
    I bought a 1980 Cadillac when it was 6 years old that the owner told me had 240,000 miles on it. It still looked and drove great. Up here in The Great White North we have odometers registered in kilometers, so seeing cars with over 300,000 klms is not uncommon, and a few Lincoln Town Cars listed for sale (ex-limo's) up to 900,000 klms.

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    I can think of two factors at play here; 1) five digit odometers and 2) the somewhat common practice of rolling back odometers (before the days of computerized records).

    I bought a 1966 Dodge Charger new. I sold it when it was nine years old and had 150K miles. It looked excellent in and out and ran great. The drivetrain was original except the water pump that I replaced at 99K miles because it started to weep (a B block so it just took four bolts like a Studebaker V8). A few years later, I came across "my" Charger. The owner demonstrated how good that it ran after 85K miles. When I told him it had at least 185K miles, he was speechless.

    I personally knew of many car dealerships in this area that routinely "altered" the mileage on used car odometers. One Chevrolet dealer turned them all back to zero K. When I questioned this, they said that this way they weren't deceiving people - the customer knew that the mileage had been changed. I asked about when the car is sold/traded again in three years and it shows 30K instead of 60K. They didn't have a response for that.

    I only believe the mileage on the odometer of cars that I have bought new or have known since new. When I look at used cars or collector cars, I rarely look at the odometer. When I worked at dealerships, I did note the mileage because that was important in figuring the trade value (many people go by mileage rather than condition).
    Gary L.
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    The six cylinder cars from the 50s typically needed an overhaul (rings, etc.) around 60,000 miles. The V-8s would go longer. The cars back then could go well over 100,000 miles if cared for and components rebuilt as needed. The biggest thing that made people give up and get rid of them was rust out, not that they couldn't be fixed mechanically to keep on going.

    My Dad had a 6 cylinder 55 Chevy that he loved, and had it until 126,000 miles, but by then the engine had been rebuilt twice and needed it again, and the body was pretty bad. He sold it in 1968. A friend of mine in high school bought it and "restored" it, and converted it to '58 Chevy 348 power (with an adapter kit from JC Whitney.)

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    Silver Hawk Member JoeHall's Avatar
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    I believe 1950s-60s roads had a lot to do with how long cars lived. Also, whether it was used on local roads, or larger roads. Then too, how well it was maintained, ad far as suspension, brakes, parked inside v. outside, etc..

    My dad, as a mechanic, made his living repairing & rebuilding cars of the 40s-60s, back during that era. He used to say the six cylinders wore out faster than V8s, no matter who made them.

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    Quote Originally Posted by JoeHall View Post
    I believe 1950s-60s roads had a lot to do with how long cars lived. Also, whether it was used on local roads, or larger roads. Then too, how well it was maintained, ad far as suspension, brakes, parked inside v. outside, etc..

    My dad, as a mechanic, made his living repairing & rebuilding cars of the 40s-60s, back during that era. He used to say the six cylinders wore out faster than V8s, no matter who made them.
    My 1966 Charger, mentioned earlier, got its 150K miles mostly (about 95%) on local roads in Dutchess and Putnam Counties, NY. The car was maintained by a fanatic, at that time, me. It got oil changes once per month.

    I believe that the six vs. V8 difference was partly due to the gearing (causing higher RPMs) and the amount of work that they had to do for about the same weight car.
    Gary L.
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    Golden Hawk Member 8E45E's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avanti-hawk View Post
    The old cars with 5 digit odometers told many mute lies. I still get a kick out of ad's for classic cars that state "totally restored, only 60,000 miles".
    A look at the cars with far less miles than that at the 2013 Lambrecht auction shows why some of them needed "total restoration"!!

    Craig

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    Speedster Member avanti-hawk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by studegary View Post
    I can think of two factors at play here; 1) five digit odometers and 2) the somewhat common practice of rolling back odometers (before the days of computerized records).

    I bought a 1966 Dodge Charger new. I sold it when it was nine years old and had 150K miles. It looked excellent in and out and ran great. The drivetrain was original except the water pump that I replaced at 99K miles because it started to weep (a B block so it just took four bolts like a Studebaker V8). A few years later, I came across "my" Charger. The owner demonstrated how good that it ran after 85K miles. When I told him it had at least 185K miles, he was speechless.

    I personally knew of many car dealerships in this area that routinely "altered" the mileage on used car odometers. One Chevrolet dealer turned them all back to zero K. When I questioned this, they said that this way they weren't deceiving people - the customer knew that the mileage had been changed. I asked about when the car is sold/traded again in three years and it shows 30K instead of 60K. They didn't have a response for that.

    I only believe the mileage on the odometer of cars that I have bought new or have known since new. When I look at used cars or collector cars, I rarely look at the odometer. When I worked at dealerships, I did note the mileage because that was important in figuring the trade value (many people go by mileage rather than condition).
    I never look at odometers when looking at old cars. Far too easy too falsify. I remember a very old retired Chrysler dealer telling me the same thing about rolling the odometers back to zero. He also told me about an independant guy who would go around to all the used car lots and "regroove the tires, and paint whitewall on them"

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    With all the advances in fuel injection making it all cleaner and synthetic oils, better bearings etc. It is not uncommon to see vehicles with 300K on them and in great shape.
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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    In early October 1967, I bought a new 1968 Volkswagen beetle. A day or two before Christmas 1968, I sold it privately, with over 52,000 miles on the odometer (including a trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Tehauntepec, Mexico and return) and bought a new 1969 VW fastback. Next time I met the man who bought my '68, perhaps a year or so later, he was driving a '69 VW bug. He told me he had traded my car at a dealership in Toronto in July 1969, with the odometer showing over 80,000 miles after 21 months on the road. I wonder what the dealer did with that!
    Bill Jarvis

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    Speedster Member Stude Shoo-wop!'s Avatar
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    I wouldn't really be able to tell all of you much, but of course on vintage cars only take what the odometer says with a grain of salt as its (of course) extremely prone to lying because thats the way old-time dealerships both new and used were run.
    Jake Kaywell: Shoo-wops and doo-wops galore to the background of some fine Studes. I'm eager and ready to go!

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    President Member Jeff_H's Avatar
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    My Dad used to say a 6cyl Chevy needed a valve job at 40k and a flathead v8 Ford a overhaul at 80k.

    I may have posted this photo before:



    This photo was taken Sept 28, 1951. The man with the gasoline blow torch heating up the frying pan is my late Dad's uncle Al. The car is Dad's '39 Ford and uncle Al and Dad went on a road trip from MN to the Oregon coast and back. Dad was 18. That car was his first car, previously owned by a mail carrier. I think it had like that magic 80k on it when he got it.

    I drew a red arrow to point out the 5 gallon can in the car trunk. I'd assumed that can was spare gas in case they were in some desolate place w/o too many gas stations. I asked my Dad about this and was told NO, that was oil for the car!!

    My folks bought a new '67 Ford Fairlane 289 v8 and by '78 when they traded it in with only about 56k on it, it was using oil and had been to the body shop at least twice for rust repairs. The '78 Fairmont wagon with 200 -6 that replaced it did better but needed a rebuilt engine at something over 100k due to oil use that fouled a plug all the time. My own '79 mustang 4cyl had a rebuilt engine when I got it at 33k (prior owner through a rod out) and I had to have main bearings replaced when that engine had about 100k on it. After that it started to use more oil and the lifters were starting to make noise when I parked it at about 155k. The body was pretty tough at that point as well.

    I own my paternal grandpa's last car, a '65 Ford Galaxie with the 352 FE v8. It has about 74k on it I think. This car has been in the family since '66 so mileage not in doubt. Sadly, I've not had it running in over 10yrs now. Any rate, I had the heads off in 1994 to drill out broken exhaust manifold bolts and discovered that I could feel a "ripple" in one of the bores. It should be bored out, etc. and rebuilt but given the lack of use, not going to happen anytime soon! Grandpa was fond of starting the car and immediately flooring it to make sure it was running....

    Jeff in ND

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    Quote Originally Posted by Greenstude View Post
    In early October 1967, I bought a new 1968 Volkswagen beetle. A day or two before Christmas 1968, I sold it privately, with over 52,000 miles on the odometer (including a trip from Halifax, Nova Scotia to Tehauntepec, Mexico and return) and bought a new 1969 VW fastback. Next time I met the man who bought my '68, perhaps a year or so later, he was driving a '69 VW bug. He told me he had traded my car at a dealership in Toronto in July 1969, with the odometer showing over 80,000 miles after 21 months on the road. I wonder what the dealer did with that!
    This reminds me of when I worked for a livery company. The sedans did not go on long trips, but they did go about 65K miles per year. They were usually sold in less than three years with 180K miles. With five digit odometers, they showed 80K. The cars were well maintained physically and mechanically and when they weren't on the road they were in a heated garage. Most people thought that they were high mileage cars with 80K miles.
    Gary L.
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    Speedster Member bumpkinvilledano's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff_H View Post
    Grandpa was fond of starting the car and immediately flooring it to make sure it was running....
    In the early 70's, we had an elderly neighbor who owned a 68 Chevelle, 4 door, straight 6 and Powerglide. EVERY time he started the car he would hold it wide open for 10 seconds(or so), then let off. Then repeat this for at least 1 minute. Once satisfied, he would drive away at maybe 25-30 mph, even out on the 4 lane highway. I never felt as sorry for a car as I did for that one, but I gained a ton of respect for the durability of those Chevy stovebolt 6 bangers.
    Money may not buy happiness, but it's more comfortable to cry in a Mercedes than on a bicycle.

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    Golden Hawk Member BobPalma's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bumpkinvilledano View Post
    In the early 70's, we had an elderly neighbor who owned a 68 Chevelle, 4 door, straight 6 and Powerglide. EVERY time he started the car he would hold it wide open for 10 seconds(or so), then let off. Then repeat this for at least 1 minute. Once satisfied, he would drive away at maybe 25-30 mph, even out on the 4 lane highway. I never felt as sorry for a car as I did for that one, but I gained a ton of respect for the durability of those Chevy stovebolt 6 bangers.
    An inadvisable practice for sure, Dan.

    But the last Chevy "Stovebolt Six" was made in 1962. The engine in your neighbor's Chevelle was the newer 7-main-bearing 194 or 230 that started out in the 1962 Chevy II. AFAIK, it doesn't have a nickname. BP
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    My dad had a couple of Lark's,a '59 and a '63.then he switched to Oldsmobiles.the got the oil changed every 30 to 40 thousand miles whether they needed it or not.he was a believer in Quaker state....they usually made it to 100k ....but just barely. once I pulled a valve cover on his '71 to replace the gasket and was amazed to find that I couldn't see the valve springs. That stuff would come up something awful. It gave me great respect for the rocket engine. How they survived is beyond me.

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    President Member Colgate Studebaker's Avatar
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    When our daughter was in high school and got her license she drove the wifes '82 Malibu wagon for a short time till I found her a "beater" to do just that, beat it. It was an '86 Olds Delta 88 Royale with 223,000 miles on it. It was in pretty decent shape and the 3.8 V6 checked out and ran well. She kept that car through her last 2 years of high school, all through college and moved to Nashville with it. She moved back home after a few months in Nashville and got a different car. We sold it to a college student with just under 300,000 miles on it and last we knew he drove it for about 6 more years. It still ran good, didn't use oil and got over 30 MPG on the highway. Quite a good car I'd say. Bill

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    It seems like good care is the key to long life. My high school car could not have had much care, but maybe it did have good care, but also 500k+ miles on it. There is no way to know.

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    "oil changed every 30 to 40 thousand miles"

    Uh, do you mean 3 to 4 thousand miles? 30K to 40K back then would be record breaking
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    No,I mean 30,000 to 40,000 thousand.yes it was record breaking,but not in a good way.....

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    Quote Originally Posted by avanti-hawk View Post
    I never look at odometers when looking at old cars. Far too easy too falsify. I remember a very old retired Chrysler dealer telling me the same thing about rolling the odometers back to zero. He also told me about an independant guy who would go around to all the used car lots and "regroove the tires, and paint whitewall on them"
    I remember seeing the Re grooving Guy at Tom Mitchel Buick in Atlanta ( Buckhead ) Georgia around 1956-'57. He drove a laundry style truck, and had a machine mounted inside the truck that cut out a "ribbon" of rubber, in the re grooving process. Never witnessed the Whitewall painting.

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    President Member Kurt's Avatar
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    My dad would say most cars needed a valve job at 50-60,000 miles. Then an overhaul at 90-100,000 if the rust didn't get them first. Around here most cars were rusty junk by the time they were 10 years old
    1962 Champ

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    President Member t walgamuth's Avatar
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    Those low mileage amounts for rebuilds also were correct for the oil before multigrades became available. People's attitude about mileage possible lagged behind the reality if they would just change their oil more often.

    Dad used to buy clean cars with 100K on them and drive them anothter 100K or more. He'd say "most people think at 100k their cars are on their last leg so they stop taking care of them, then before too long they are junk.

    Now a lot of folks expect 240K from their cars and get it easily if they take care of them.
    Diesel loving, autocrossing, Coupe express loving, Grandpa Architect.

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    Speedster Member daytonadave's Avatar
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    My Dad bought me a 62 Daytona, 289 and 4-speed, in 1967 to drive to high school. It had 80,000 and no oil filter. I had wrecked my Brother's 55 Speedster 2 yrs earlier and took parts off it for my car. Dad and I rebuilt the motor with NOS parts in 1972. I was using STP and I could not hold onto a push rod when we took the motor apart at 120,000 miles. I sold it in 1975 with 152,000 miles. I never repacked the outside rear axle bearings in the 7 yrs in my ownership. Who has my car now?

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    Quote Originally Posted by BobPalma View Post
    An inadvisable practice for sure, Dan.

    But the last Chevy "Stovebolt Six" was made in 1962. The engine in your neighbor's Chevelle was the newer 7-main-bearing 194 or 230 that started out in the 1962 Chevy II. AFAIK, it doesn't have a nickname. BP
    Bob Palma: The 194 cid six was introduced in 1962 as you have stated but not the 230 cid six. To correct you the 230 cid six was introduced in 1963 not 62 as you indicated. The 194 cid six was in production from 1962 through 1967. So it would have been impossible for a 194 cid six to come from the factory in 1968 in a Chevelle. The two six cylinder engines that Chevy offered in the 1968 Chevelle was the 230 cid six cylinder and the new 250 cid six cylinder. The last of production for the 230 cid six was 1970.

    Since you recently wrote a letter to Hot Rod magazine pointing out some errors they made concerning an article on the 1958 Packard Hawk they published. I think it is only fair that persons should point out to you the errors you make concerning automotive history and what you write.

    In closing please correct me if I have made any errors concerning the information I have posted about the 60's Chevy inline six cylinders.

    John S.

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