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Happy? Redux

Here is something that makes me happy. My new car. Now I am kind of a maroon when it comes to cars. There is nothing new I like. The car that gives me the giggles now is a 1996 Volvo 850 Turbo Wagon. Kinda lucked into this one. It is just getting broken in at 331,576km. Runs like a top. Spent its life in BC, so underneath it is brand new, and the previous owner – one – spared no expense on maintanence. Everything on it is almost brand new. The complete set of snows on wheels was a bonus. It goes like stink and is a car that I always hoped to get sometime. It will give me at least a couple of years of enjoyment. By that time it will be well over 450,000km and then I can throw it away if I want. Or keep it for my son as his first car. I like to try to get cars that will cost me no more than a few nights stay in a fancy hotel and this fits the bill. It had a lot of skin cancer – stone chips, but no holes – and that’s what turned most buyers away. Me! I see the inner beauty. I also like the solid build of Swedish cars. Some bodywork and paint and she is lookin fine.

Which brings me to another point. Volvos tended to be simply engineered. The 850 was the last of the breed before Ford got involved and start to mess things up. All cars today are really messed up. The common joke around car shops is that if a car engineer/designer walked in he or she wouldn’t survive 3 minutes. It really is inane. Some cars are built with no more thought to maintenace costs than my sons put into cleaning their rooms. What every goes togehter the fastest is the solution. That’s fine when you have all the components on the floor and build them into subassemblies. Easy. When those subassemblies get plugged into the engine bays and wheel wells, dashes and other nooks and crannies it is a little harder to disassemble them. It may make a difference to the designers if the buyers of cars were able to look at maintence costs for the cars they were interested in and compare them. “Oh look. Car A has a labour time of 1.1 hours to do a valve cover gasket. At $80 / hr that’s $88 bucks. Car B’s time is 5,2 hours. That’s $416. What else is screwed up on Car B.”

Honestly, one car we had in the shop cost the customer and additional $77 dollars because the factory placed one hose clamp in a postion we couldn’t get to. It took an extra hour removing things so we could cut it off. If it had been rotated 120 degrees – which it easily could have – it was a twenty second job.

Poorly thought out car design, by my estimation, cost some car owners thousands of dollars in extra maintenance charges over the life of the car. I think that is something that should be considered in your purchase decisions. I know it is in mine. The older the simpler. The simpler the cheaper. And Elke – my “new” Volvo makes me giggle.

Until then, I remain,

A Sour Kraut

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