Frugal Friday 44 Or The Last Eldo

“The Last Eldo” sounds like the title of a novel about the end of some dynasty. Well, I guess in a way, the last Cadillac Eldorado was the end of an empire.

I have become quite taken with the last generation Eldorado that was manufactured from 1992 through 2002 with refreshes in 1995 and 1996. The first of the front-wheel drive, two-door Eldorados, the 1967 model, was part of my Ultimate Garage 2.0.

The Cadillac Eldorado debuted in 1953 along with the Oldsmobile 98 Fiesta, Chevrolet Corvette and Buick Roadmaster Skylark as top-of-the-line, limited-production specialty convertibles introduced by General Motors. By the mid-1970s, the ninth generation Eldorados had become quite popular. Model year 1973 sales exceeded 50,000; even with the OPEC oil embargo sales remained at over 40,000 for 1974. The tenth generation, running from 1979 to 1985, had the most sales of any Eldo model, reaching about 78,000 in 1984.

Foreign competition in the luxury segment and missteps by Cadillac (Cimarron, anyone?) changed the perception of the make, which hurt the Eldorado. Even with the advancements in the car, by the 1990s sales had fallen dramatically, dropping below 20,000 in 1997 and never recovering, leading to the end of the Eldorado five years later.

These last model years of the car have become a stealth contender (well, I guess not so stealth anymore) for being the Corvette companion/grocery car after the move to the desert. Neither my wonderful wife nor I has ever owned a Cadillac. While Cadillac is not defunct (not yet), the Eldorado is a defunct model with great history. In addition, these last-generation Eldos are “modern” cars with airbags, disc brakes, fuel injection, etc. They are also extremely inexpensive to acquire. Here is an analogue for this week’s Frugal Friday car from this AutoTrader ad:


See the source image

This 1999 model, which coincides with the year my wonderful wife and I married, has about 56,000 miles and the seller is asking $8,995. The ETC badge on the lower part of the trunk lid means the car was powered by the higher output V-8 that produced 300 HP/295 LB-FT of torque from its 4.6 liters/279 cubic inches. According to the Kelley Blue Book® valuation at the bottom of the ad, the car is worth much less than the asking price with a “Fair Market Range” of just $2,631 to $4,728. When the time comes to pull the trigger, a similar disparity in value vs. price might mean we could buy one of these for about $5,000. I think that’s the definition of a Frugal Friday car. The 1999 Cadillac ETC (Eldorado Touring Coupe, near the beginning of the awful Cadillac convention of three-letter names for their car models) had an MSRP of $43,495, $66,937 in 2020 dollars. From Car Gurus a better picture of a 1999 Eldorado:


See the source image


I’m pretty sure this car could easily serve as a grocery car with four seats and a trunk of 15+ cubic feet capacity. I think they are quite stylish and are hardly slugs. What do you think?






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Frugal Friday 12

Last night my wonderful wife and I watched the first two episodes of Ant Anstead’s new show, Ant Anstead Master Mechanic. Before yesterday the show was only available on the Motor Trend app–or MotorTrend’s website, I presume–but to watch the content there one must pay. We already pay triple digits a month for satellite TV so we’re not paying extra to watch a channel we can already watch. Anyway…the shows were excellent, fast-paced without being frenetic, informative without being boring. Besides, for me learning is entertainment. Short attention span that I have (I’m one of the lucky 15% of those with OCD who also have ADD), the fact that each episode is a half-hour is ideal.

What’s the premise of the show? You’ll have to watch it yourself…


This CNBC article is titled, “The coronavirus pandemic has upended auto sales and buying a car will never be the same.” The key points are presented upfront in these bullets:


Key Points
  • The coronavirus crisis has upended auto retail, and many don’t think it will ever be the same again.
  • Dealers and automakers are investing millions in new digital sales tools as consumers demand more online and personalized services.
  • It’s a more flexible purchasing process that doesn’t have to be conducted during traditional business hours.


As almost everyone reading this knows, I purchased my car–a 2016 Corvette Z06–the “21st century” way, online without a test drive and having it delivered to my house. Just as the coronavirus will probably lead to a permanent shift in the workplace paradigm, it will probably lead to a permanent change in how we buy cars. Get ready to groan, everyone: “The only constant in the world is change.”


Speaking of a C7 Z06, I decided that for this week’s Frugal Friday I would look for the least expensive example available. However, I did not include any cars with more than 50,000 miles or cars sold on a salvage title.


The photo that used to be here has been removed from the AutoTrader website as the car has been sold since I wrote this post. This was a 2016 Z06, same year as mine. The ad trumpeted the “fact” that the car, offered at $53,895, was priced at $5,400 below NADA retail. The car has almost 40,000 miles on the clock and has the same trim level, 2LZ, as mine. Granted that I bought my car about 14 months ago (!), but my car only had 4,400 miles at purchase. It is a tad disconcerting that only 2 of the 18 photos showed the car, the same photo is shown twice, and the other 16 touted the dealership. From a picture of a 2016 Z06:


See the source image


I don’t know if the advertised car had the Z07 performance package like mine, a $7,995 option when new, but I assume it didn’t or it would have been mentioned. Thirty-seven percent (37%) of 2016 Z06s were ordered with the Z07 option.

So, what do you think? I think these cars are the performance car bargain of all time, cheap at twice the price when new and an absolute steal used. Yes, they’re not for everyone or even for everyone who can afford them. Remember, though, that the number of American households consisting of a married couple with no children is higher than the number of married households with children.








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Frugal Friday 11

I guess not too many people are interested in John Unitas, anymore. Too bad…


I really wanted to call this post “Frugal Friday, Aughts Small Displacement Version.” That’s not exactly a title that appeals to the eyes or rolls off the tongue, though. Still, that’s my idea today. I will show a couple of small displacement vehicles built from 2000 to 2010. (OK, so I stretched the aughts a year.) Also, the cars have to have forced induction, supercharging or turbocharging. I mean, I couldn’t care less about some naturally aspirated 4-banger.

Well, whadda ya know?! A whole bunch of cars like this showed up…


Used 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP Convertible PETOSKEY, MI 49770 - 550297641 - 4


From this AutoTrader ad a picture of a 2007 Pontiac Solstice GXP convertible. This car in Mysterious Black over Ebony has about 31,000 miles and is listed for $13,000. The transmission is an automatic and, of course, given the GXP designation the car is powered by the turbocharged 2-liter/122 cubic-inch inline-4 cylinder engine that, from the factory, produced 260 HP/260 LB-FT of torque. This might still be the highest specific output (power per unit of displacement) of any engine in General Motors history.

Everyone who reads this blog knows I am a big fan of the Solstice/Sky. Everyone knows I think GM made a major mistake in not giving an upgraded version of this car to Buick as a halo car after the demise of Pontiac and Saturn.

I am not a big fan of the car pictured below, but most cars have a price at which they are appealing.


Used 2006 MINI Cooper S Convertible BURBANK, CA 91505 - 545079804 - 1


From this AutoTrader ad, a picture of a 2006 MINI Cooper S convertible. The car in Pepper White over Black has about 41,000 miles and the “no-haggle” price is listed at $6,990. One thing I like about the AutoTrader ads is that for most cars the Kelley Blue Book® value is shown at the bottom. For this car the value range is shown as $5,426 to $6,889. Most cars are listed for prices far above the top of the range. At least this car is close, but no-haggle doesn’t always mean good deal.

This MINI, built by BMW, is powered by a 1.6 liter/98 cubic-inch supercharged inline 4-cylinder engine that generated 168 HP/162 LB-FT of torque. For a car with a curb weight of under 2,900 pounds, that’s not a bad power-to-weight ratio. Remember that these are front-wheel drive cars.

One could buy both of these cars at list price and pay just half of the average transaction price for a new vehicle purchased in the US, at least before the coronavirus. Imagine his and hers convertibles for 20 grand total.

I know Dirty Dingus McGee has had an active career as a car buyer with many of those purchases made online. To all readers, I would like to read about your experiences in buying a car, good or bad, online or in-person.







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Frugal Friday, 1995-96 Corvette Edition

It was in the 70s here on Wednesday; this morning it’s in the 40s with intermittent SNOW! I am not a meteorologist, but I guess what is happening is that a very cold column of air is right above us and even though it’s substantially above freezing at ground level, the very shallow layer of air near the ground is not sufficient to melt the snow before it gets to “people level.”


“A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

– Ralph Waldo Emerson

Just because yesterday was not a Throwback Thursday doesn’t mean that today can’t be a Frugal Friday.

I have written quite a bit about my relatively newfound interest in C4 Corvettes (1984-96); more specifically, my interest in later C4s, especially 1995 and 1996 models. From the invaluable The Genuine Corvette Black Book here are some reasons why I have such interest in the last two years of the C4.



Out of sight were numerous Velcro strips to reduce rattles and a stronger radio mount for less CD skipping. A drip tube was designed into the A-pillar weatherstrip for improved water intrusion control.

Connecting rods were changed to a powdered-metal design to improve both strength and weight uniformity. (My note: The change in connecting rods actually happened late in 1994 production, which means 1995 was the first full year for the improvement.) Fuel injectors were revised to better cope with alcohol-blend fuels and to reduce fuel dripping after engine shutdown.

Clutch controls in the automatic transmission were improved for smoother shifting and its torque converter was both lighter and stronger. (My note: In 1995 the automatic was standard and only 23 percent of Corvette buyers paid for the manual transmission option.) The 6-speed manual was redesigned by replacement of the reverse lockout with a high-detent design for easier operation.

Windshield wiper arms had revised contact angles and higher contact force to reduce chatter at all speeds and lift at high speeds.


Automatic transmissions had improved friction materials for the intermediate clutch and front/rear bands, improved shift quality and more durable torque converters.


OK, it’s a fair question to ask why these improvements were not made before the 12th and 13th years of the C4 Corvette. I do think car aficionados often forget it’s the automobile business.

I think these cars represent a great way to get into Corvette ownership at a small price. Objectively, was the C4 as good a car mechanically and in terms of drivability as the C5? No…the C5 had a new and more modern engine, better weight distribution with its new rear transaxle and its design that put the wheels more at the corners of the car gave it better handling and stability as well as increased interior space. Still, I have already owned a C5 and in the last year or so have come to the opinion that the C4 looks better. Besides, the C4 is still a hell of a car and a lot more interesting than most of the dreck on the road today.

From AutoTrader a picture of a 1995 Corvette Coupe in Polo Green Metallic over Tan with 58,434 miles and an asking price of $7,995.


Used 1995 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe HERKIMER, NY 13350 - 528588338 - 2


OK, everyone join in: the average “transaction price” for a new vehicle is about $40,000 (or it was before the coronavirus). $7,995 for a Corvette…


Originally, a picture of a 1996 Corvette Convertible in Torch Red over Black with 34,583 miles and an asking price of $13,200 was shown below, but the picture link is broken. From gtcarlot a picture of a similar car:


See the source image



I suppose I am preaching to the choir for many of you and this Frugal Friday will be dismissed by the rest. Anyway, it doesn’t take a fortune to buy a Corvette, if you really want one.






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Frugal Friday 10

First…I almost always think that the “truth” lies between extreme positions. However, I must acknowledge that another axiom I hold dear, no thought/behavioral paradigm is always appropriate, is why I must use the qualifier “almost.”


In the state in which we live car dealerships are only open for service. In my almost daily scan of available cars I have noticed that more dealers are offering walk-around videos of the cars and home delivery. Could this lead to a permanent change in the automotive marketplace? Does this mean a company like Carvana is well-positioned to become a dominant force?

I have to admit that I am not dealing with this coronavirus situation well and, as such, am kind of lost in terms of generating content for Disaffected Musings. Having a stand-by like Frugal Friday is only helpful to a point.

I don’t know if they’re still doing this feature, but Hemmings has run a $5,000 Challenge, looking at cars that are listed for no more than $5,000 and then asking readers to comment and/or to pick a favorite. I will use the Hemmings idea, but modify it so that the cars are listed for between $9,000 and $11,000. Oh, all of these cars are also from 1961 to 1965.

How about this car?



From this Hemmings ad a picture of a 1961 Metropolitan listed at $9,900. I know many car enthusiasts would call this a Nash Metropolitan, but I am a stickler and the Nash make ended with the 1957 model year. In 1961 the car was an American Motors product.

OK, I admit it; I think these cars are adorable. The Metropolitan was the first car designed by a US car company for sale primarily in North America that was built elsewhere, in this case in Britain. This example has just 43,083 miles and looks good in the photos.

How about this one?



From Hemmings a picture of a 1963 Buick Skylark with what is believed to be just 47,000 miles. Of course, that qualifier gets the seller off the hook. The asking price is $10,000.

This car has the original 215 cubic-inch aluminum V-8 engine that, when new, produced 200 HP and 240 LB-FT of torque. These cars were not heavy at about 2,800 pounds. Buick produced 32,109 of these for 1963.

Buick, Oldsmobile and Pontiac all used the novel aluminum engine in the early 1960s, but ceased after the 1963 model year. The engine was then licensed (or sold, can’t find the answer definitively) to Rover of Great Britain who used the basic architecture into the 1990s.

OK, one more:



Also from Hemmings (and from Country Classic Cars) is a 1965 Ford Galaxie 2-door hardtop. This ad copy is sparse: “…new tires and wheels and paint on good body, good orig int, bucket seats, console v8, 4 speed, runs and drives good.” The asking price is $10,950. The odometer reads 89,376 miles. Ford used four different V-8 engines for model year 1965 so without looking at the VIN and/or having a Ford guy interpret the engine bay photos, I can’t tell you what motor is in this car.

My ever-present quest, no matter how active, for a Z06 companion that can serve as a stylish grocery car is probably why I focused on cars of this vintage. So, do any of these appeal to you? I would very much like to read your thoughts. Thanks.








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Frugal Friday, Mecum Glendale 2020 Edition

First…in Where Is Cristy Lee? I noted her absence from the telecast of the Barrett-Jackson auction from Scottsdale, Arizona in January. Well, as some of you may know that was Motor Trend’s last broadcast of a Barrett-Jackson auction, at least for the foreseeable future. When those auctions resume they will be shown on the A&E networks (e.g. History, fyi). As Cristy Lee is under contract to Motor Trend, I assume, given that Motor Trend is part of the Discovery “empire” and that A&E is jointly owned by Hearst and Disney, I don’t think the gorgeous Ms. Lee will be on the broadcasts, anymore.

Of all of the on-air talent only Steve Magnante actually works for Barrett-Jackson. It could be almost an entirely new cast of characters the next time a Barrett-Jackson auction is held and broadcast.


Some automotive “experts” advise not to buy a car for less than $15,000 or so at any auction as that is strong evidence, they believe, of a sub-standard car. Well, I think that all depends. Some cars can be purchased for so little money that even if they need work the total cost will still be low. Example #1 from the recently concluded Mecum auction in Glendale, Arizona is a car like this:


See the source image


From autoblog a picture of a 1999 Cadillac Eldorado. The actual Mecum car was White over Tan with a faux convertible roof. Mecum’s own estimate for the price was $5,000-$10,000, granting that they have incentive to overstate the value. Anyway, the car sold all in for $3,850, which is even slightly less than Hagerty’s estimated value of about $4,500. OK, maybe this is not the best example of a frugal buy, but I think being able to buy a good-looking (IMO) Cadillac for under $4,000 is a good buy.

How many of you know what this is?



See the source image

From a picture of a 1986 Mercury Capri ASC McLaren convertible. Only 245 of these were made. They were powered by a 5-liter/302 cubic-inch, fuel-injected V-8. The Mecum example, also in Red, had just 28,000 miles. It sold, all in, for $5,775. That’s a rare, good-looking (IMO) convertible that is not a slug for less than six grand! I’m sorry, but that screams “Buy The Car!” to me.

If we weren’t about a year away from moving, which means we would have to store a new car outside and then move it across the country, we might have purchased a car like this.






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Frugal Friday 9

Happy Frigal Fruday!

You say you’re having a mid-life crisis? You say you want an exotic car, but you can’t spend more than $40,000? Tell you what I’m going to do…



From this Hemmings ad a picture of a 1982 Ferrari 308 GTSi with about 21,000 miles. The seller is asking $39,900. For the nth plus nth time, the average “transaction price” for a new vehicle in the US is about $40,000. Also remember that it’s easy, if you have the money, to spend $300,000 and up for a new Ferrari.

Ferrari introduced fuel injection (the “i” in GTSi) into this line in 1980. Here is the rationale from Ferrari’s website:


“The fuel injection system gave both models much smoother power delivery. Unfortunately, meeting anti-pollution regulations meant that a few horses had to go, and the cleaner engines were less powerful than the previous carburettor ones. Aware of this situation and the need to re-establish its cars at the top their class, Ferrari immediately began further development of the V8 engine with the aim of increasing power whilst still keeping exhaust emissions within acceptable levels.”


In US spec, the 2.9 liter V-8 (179 cubic inches for Bill Stephens) produced 205 HP/181 LB-FT of torque. This is not a monster performer and it wouldn’t be cheap to maintain, but it’s a beautiful Ferrari for less than the price of a well-equipped Toyota Avalon. That’s a frugal buy in my book.


From the Classics “division” of AutoTrader comes this car:



This is a 1966 Chevrolet Chevelle two-door post model. Although the ad doesn’t specify the vintage, the car is powered by a 350 cubic-inch V-8, which I will assume is a Chevy small-block. This is not the original engine as that displacement was not available on Chevrolet cars until 1967. The transmission is a Turbo Hydra-Matic 350. The seller is asking $17,995.

Heretic that I am I have always preferred the looks of these GM A-Body cars compared to the style introduced in 1968. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder or different strokes for different folks. Anyway, back to this car…even with shipping and a fair amount of work you would probably be in this car for no more than $23,000-$25,000. Yes, one could buy a new turbo-4 or maybe even 6-cylinder Camaro for that price, depending on how it’s optioned. You won’t have any rear quarter vision, though, and to me the new Camaro looks are a little soulless. I think the look of these cars is quite appealing.

Please feel free to offer thoughtful comments.








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Frugal Friday 8

Obviously, I have written far more than seven previous Frugal Friday posts. (The actual number is close to 40.) This is the eighth post with the title of Frugal Friday without any embellishment.

Although I am not strictly a devotee of just one make or one country of origin, my automotive net is still not that large. As I have written many times, I have no interest in SUVs or pickup trucks as objects of affection. I have next to no interest in four-door sedans, apart from the occasional Rover P5B.

I like two-door cars that look good to me and have at least decent performance, even if not a performer like my Corvette Z06. However, as cars like that are not being made in large numbers anymore, my universe of interest shrinks in comparison to the auto world at large.

It might seem as if this car appears way too often on Disaffected Musings, but it hasn’t been featured in a Frugal Friday post for almost a year. (This is also the first post with this specific year/model tag.) Here is a 1993 Cadillac Allante:



This car, with 89,000+ miles, is listed on Hemmings with an asking price of $8,500. I passed on some 1989-93 Allantes priced even lower because I am not a fan of cars with white exteriors.

1993 was the last year for the Allante and the only year it was equipped with a 295 HP/290 LB-FT of torque NorthStar V-8. Cadillac produced 4,670 Allantes for model year 1993, which was actually more than the combined number for 1991 and 1992. In fact, 1993 was the best-selling year for the car that was produced from 1987 to 1993. At this distance, it’s not clear why the car was discontinued at that particular time even though it had been a major disappointment from the beginning. By the way, the MSRP for a 1993 Allante was $61,675, $110,106 in 2020 dollars according to this site.

Scarcity doesn’t guarantee future value. The Allante has sunk to the bottom of the depreciation curve and stayed there. While one man’s meat is another man’s poison, for me this car is almost the definition of good value in a collector car. The body was designed and built by the legendary Pininfarina, designer of so many Ferrari bodies. It’s not such an old car that service would be especially difficult. It is certainly less expensive to service a Cadillac than a Ferrari. Of course, I think the Allante is stunning in appearance and always have.

If it weren’t a “fail” as a grocery car, an Allante might very well have been the car I would have chosen as my Z06 companion. No, I am not thinking about a companion for my companion.






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Frugal Friday

First…even though their market share in the US was less than two percent, in the third quarter of 2019 electric cars still outsold cars equipped with…manual transmissions. (Sorry, can’t remember where I read this, but I’m virtually certain this is correct.) I believe that 1.8% of new cars sold in the US in that quarter were electric and 1.1% had manual transmissions. The latter figure has to be an all-time low.

I will offer the opinion, somewhat heretical in some corners, that at least in the US the manual transmission is already dead on its feet, but no one has had the decency to knock it over and to give it a proper burial. I will also offer the opinion that many of those, but not all, with a stated preference for manual transmissions are actually engaging in signaling.


The last Frugal Friday car of 2019 was a Buick and so the first Frugal Friday cars of 2020 will also be Buicks. First, the current Mecum auction in Kissimmee, Florida offered a car like this for sale yesterday:


See the source image


This is not the actual car—Mecum does not allow the online photos of current and recent lots to be captured—but it is a car offered at a Mecum auction in 2011. This is a 1990 Buick Reatta convertible, of which only 2,132 were built. While I prefer the coupe in appearance, I have always liked the way these cars look. When I moved to California in the mid-1990s I wanted to buy one, but the Buick/GMC/Pontiac dealer from whom I eventually purchased my Pontiac Grand Prix did not seem to want to find me a used Reatta. Production of the Reatta ended in 1991.

Anyway, the Reatta convertible offered yesterday sold, all in, for $3,850. Yep, $3,850. Even if you needed to put that much in it after purchase and had to spend $1,500 to ship the car (I paid much less than that to have my 2016 Corvette Z06 shipped to me from Oklahoma), you’d only be in the car for about $9,000. Everyone from Mecum to Hagerty to Barrett-Jackson is telling us that cars from the 1980s and 1990s are becoming more popular and should continue to do so. While except in rare instances like a 1930s Duesenberg I would never recommend buying a car as an investment, buying something like this could prove to be a money-making endeavor. Even if it doesn’t, you would own a fun, good-looking car (IMO) that is probably not too bad on gas and that could probably still be serviced by Buick dealers for less than ten grand up front.

A car similar to this next one was featured in my Ultimate Garage 2.0. While not a 1965 model, this Hemmings ad shows a car in which I would have interest, especially at the asking price of $16,950: a 1963 Buick Riviera:



While I wax nostalgic for cars like a 1963 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk or a 1956 Packard Four Hundred, if/when I buy a companion to my Z06 the practicality of having the car serviced could steer me away (see what I did there…) from a car like that to a car like this. I am not a mechanic and don’t know if I want to start wrenching in my 60s. In addition, if I were ordered to limit my Ultimate Garage to five cars, this generation Riviera would definitely make the cut.

As always I welcome thoughts from you. Have a good weekend…







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Last Frugal Friday Of 2019

First, a story…about two weeks after I submitted my Masters thesis the “institution” I had attended informed me in a letter that they were not going to accept the paper. The reason? The margins on three or four pages were an eighth of an inch off, only on the right side of the pages. As I had not typed the paper and, instead, had paid a secretary in the department to type it and given that the department knew this, I was shocked by the letter.

What did I do? I threatened to sue the university, the same university that would—about 25 years later—bestow upon me an “Alumni Award of Excellence.” What do you know…a couple of weeks later I received a letter informing me that the paper was accepted and I would be receiving my Masters degree.

Why am I writing about this? Sometimes a person or institution has to threaten in order to get results. This Hemmings article is titled, “After SEMA files lawsuit, NHTSA drafts replica car rules.” I wrote about this situation here. By the way, I have only filed a lawsuit once and, in general, think the US is too litigious.

ANYONE who thinks that people are always good-hearted and always have good intentions needs an operation to have their head removed from their rectum. Some people, and institutions are just collections of people, are ornery or mean-spirited or have to show they’re in charge. Counting on the goodwill of people to always do the right thing is naive and foolish. Besides, much disagreement exists about what “the right thing” is, anyway.


The last Frugal Friday car of the year is sentimental to me. I was actually surprised, upon reviewing the list of Frugal Friday cars, that this one had not been included. From Hemmings:



This is a 1956 Buick Century four-door hardtop sedan, of which 35,082 were made. One of these was the first car I really remember and the first car I ever drove. My father purchased one in 1961 and owned the car for more than 20 years.

One of the pictures accompanying the ad shows 210 miles on the odometer; the only thing we don’t know is if the car has 100,210 miles or 200,210 miles. The seller is asking $16,950. While pictures can be misleading (and often are), the car looks like it’s in good condition.

I believe this is the 34th Frugal Friday post. For at least the 33rd time I will offer that I would much rather have this car at $16,000-$17,000 than the vast majority of today’s new vehicles for which the average “transaction price” in the US is about $40,000.

I would very much like to read about your first car or a car that holds a special place in your memory. Happy Frugal Friday!







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