Since getting my driver’s license a little more than 20 years ago, I have personally owned a total of 8 cars (including the two I own now). Two of those cars were purchased brand new, the rest were used and I have never been loyal to one manufacturer; owning cars from Ford, Chevy and Chrysler.
When I think back to every car I have owned and look at cars I would like to own, one car always comes to mind when making a comparison: the 1982 Dodge Aries I owned for a little over a year my sophomore year of college.
After spending my freshman year car-less (mostly because of parking restrictions for new students), I decided I wasn’t going to rely on my fellow students for rides any more and, that summer, searched for a vehicle to drive. Like most college students, I had a very limited budget and, even with my parents’ help, I could only spend so much. That’s how I ended up with the Aries; which I purchased used for $800.
At the time of the purchase, the car was already 13 years old and had 80,000 miles on it. Plus it had quite a bit of rust on it. So, when I bought it, it was with the intention of just keeping it for a year; until I could save up for something newer. I followed through with that plan the following summer but, as it turns out, no car since has ever measured up to that car.
When I say that, I want to make it perfectly clear this was not the type of car I ever envisioned driving. It was a smaller car with very little leg/head room, a somewhat ugly gray color and just cried out “boring” whenever I saw it. But, when it came to reliability, I have yet to find anything better. Even though I had it for just a year, I pretty much drove the wheels off of that car. Driving home on weekends was an 8-hour round trip. Plus, I used the car pretty much every day in all kinds of weather. Throughout that time, I never had an issue where it didn’t start, never had even a hint of engine trouble and, as far as gas mileage goes, I would rate it higher than even some of the so-called fuel efficient cars I owned after it. For example, I could make that 8-hour round trip on one tank (though I did usually fill it up just to be safe).
Quite honestly, I was so impressed with this car, I would have kept it past that one year had it not rusted to the point it was starting to fall apart; starting first with a hole in the floor (something we fixed with an old street sign) and finally with the gas tank falling off; which forced me to replace it.
Unfortunately, after that car, I had nothing but car troubles. The engine of the Mustang I replaced it with blew up after a few months. The car after that fell apart after about a year and the two new cars I bought both had ongoing engine issues. And, with every single one, I actually found myself wishing I still had that car. After all, it might have been old, rusted and dull. But, I have yet to find one that was built as well as that one was.