A new report released Monday found that the average age of America’s fleet of vehicles has jumped two years to 12.1 years, according to IHS Markit. We are making our cars last longer than ever, which got me wondering, what’s a car you made last well beyond its supposed finish line?
A lot of us swear by the car knowledge we’ve inherited, by so-called truths about The Cars, for better or worse. Somewhere along the way I picked up the notion that foreign (read: Japanese) cars were the only ones that could last forever.
Boy, was I wrong, because a lot of cars end up on the road for a long time, regardless of their origin, which is why I’m asking this today: What car lasted longer than you ever expected?
A buddy back in high school used to swear by the reliability of his family’s mid-’90s Dodge Ram 1500 Club Cab truck. It was a big, red Ram 1500, and his family called it Clifford. I called bullshit any time he mentioned it, because it was a Dodge truck and those are the worst, amirite?
Back when we used to tell stories about what we would drive after graduation, or choose sides in the fight between the Camaro and Mustang (it’s Mustang or bust,) or when we argued over which carmaker reigned supreme (BMW, duh) my friend would interject and claim that nothing could outdo Clifford.
He would tell us his dad passed it down to him and that the damn thing was bulletproof. He would brag that its eight-cylinder engine hadn’t been phased by all the driving his family did, and claimed it had just gone past the 300,000 mile mark.
Of course, I didn’t believe him. I was pretty sure he was lying in order to make for a good story about his average pickup. That is, until I finally saw it with my own eyes. I just had to see about this legendary mileage for myself, I said to him. So, one day we walked out of first period CAD class and to the parking lot of our old campus.
Sure enough, Clifford the big, red Ram had rolled its odometer over six figures three whole times — and then some. I had to eat my words about Dodge being unreliable and that’s when I finally came to appreciate not only the Dodge Ram and its ilk, but anything with an American V8.
Before that, I thought the only car that could travel that far or drive that long was something from Toyota. I have yet to witness a Toyota drive one million miles myself, but Clifford is still on the road today.
I’ll see it around the grocery store parking lot now and then. For reference, I graduated high school in 2007. It’s very possible that pickup truck is going to outlive me. So, what car has surprised you? Which one has lasted longer than you ever expected?