Barring a colossally unforeseen event, say, I win Mega Millions, I’m never going to be part of the one percent you’re thinking of, meaning the mega-rich.
But I’m pretty certain I’m part of another exclusive one percent here in the good old US of A, and probably even beyond that.
Let me explain.
You see, my 1992 Acura Integra officially turned 20 years old today. I bought my beloved blue Integra new, off the lot, two decades ago in, of all places, Southern New Hampshire – though I was actually living in Massachusetts at the time.
My first stick shift I’ve held onto that car since the day I bought it. Twenty years and bunch of miles later — 159,298 miles to be exact – I’m still driving that very same car.
This puts me in a very exclusive and, I’m guessing, extremely rare group of American car owners: People who’ve bought a brand new carand who have continued to own, and drive, that very same car for 20 years or more.
Yes, there are plenty of cars on U.S. roads 20 or more years old: The average age of the vehicle on U.S. roads has crept up to nearly 11 years old. However, the vast majority of these 20-year-old cars are almost certainly on a second, third, fourth, heck, even fifth owner.
Not that I have anything against used cars. The other car in our auto stable is a 1994 Camry we got from my brother. It has 283,000 miles on it — according to a recent Jiffy Lube survey, just eight percent of cars in the U.S. have more than 200,000 miles on them!
Add the mileage of our two clunkers together and you’re closing in on half a million miles between them.
How many ’92 Integras still on road? If in fact I am part of the one percent of Americans still driving a car they bought brand new 20, or more, years ago, I’m also wondering how many of the 1992 Integras sold by Honda are still running. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find any information on this. So, if anyone out there can help me track down the number of Integras Honda sold in 1992 and the number still on the road, help me out and I’ll add these figures to this blog entry.
In any case, I figured that 20 years with the same car warrants some “retrospecting”. So, here, goes a bit of somewhat random retrospection and reflection on my trusty 1992 Acura Integra:
I was just 25, and single, when I bought my Integra; I now have a wife and two kids, ages 5 and 7.
The Integra replaced a 1984 white Plymouth Reliant station wagon I’d inherited from my parents – can you imagine a more un-cool car for a single male in his mid-twenties than a white station wagon? 😉
I paid $15,000 for the Integra and managed to put down $7,000;
It’s been paid off for 16 ½ years; yes, that’s right, no car payments for 16 ½ years!
I bought it partly because of excellent reliability ratings from J.D. Power. Wow, were those ever right! had no idea back then that I would still be driving the same Integra when I was in my mid-40s.
Even though I bought it largely for its sportiness, looks and reliability, it’s turned out to be a pretty good family car.
It’s still got the original clutch, 20 years, and 160,000 miles later! (Better knock on wood now, eh? 😉 ) On the other hand ….
We’ve spent roughly $16,000 in maintenance and repairs over the past 20 years (I’ve got 95% of all maintenance receipts), for an average of $800 per year.
Assuming about a 25 mpg average, which is probably a bit lower than the actual mileage, we’ve burned about 6,400 gallons of gasoline in the Integra. Assuming a rough, even somewhat random averaged number of $2.25 spent per gallon across 20 years, that’s roughly $14,500 in gasoline costs.
The Integra has pumped about 125,000 pounds of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere during its lifetime
Some personal & historical milestones A lot has happened to me, during the two decades I’ve been putting around in my 1992 Integra. Here’s a sampling of events:
1996: Quit my job as a print journalist after eight years in the field and moved from Massachusetts to Colorado;
1997: Got married;
1998: Earned master’s degree in English from Colorado State University;
2004: My wife and had our first child, who came home from the hospital in, you guessed it, my ’92 Integra, our sole car at the time;
2005: Landed a full-time job as a professor at the University of Denver & we bought a house;
2006: Had our second child and I officially graduated from University of Colorado, Boulder with Ph.D. in Communication;
2010: Had 5.59 kW solar system installed on our home’s rooftop;
201?: Hopefully will someday get to add an EV to our home solar PV
The last 20 years haven’t just been about me 😉 A lot has happened in the world since I first began zooming around in my Integra. Here’s an admittedly eclectic, random and U.S.-centric sampling of events that have occurred while I’ve had my Integra:
1992: Bill Clinton defeats George H.W. Bush, elected president for first time;
1993: First bombing of the World Trade Centers;
1994: O.J. Simpson “chase” (1994); Nirvana’s Kurt Cobain takes own life;
1996: Bill Clinton re-elected president;
1999: Dow Jones Average hits 10,000;
2000: George W. Bush wins controversial presidential election vs. Al Gore;
2001: 9-11 attacks on World Trade Center, Pentagon
2003: U.S. invades Iraq;
2004: George W. Bush wins 2nd term as president;
2005: Hurricane Katrina;
2008: U.S. economic meltdown;
2008: Barack Obama elected president;
2009: Michael Jackson dies;
2010: BP Deepwater Horizon oil spill;
2010: Chevy Volt, Nissan LEAF go on sale in U.S.
2012: More than 80 U.S. cities set record warmth records for month of March;
Not an auto maker’s ideal buyer A few other notes: I’m 45 and our Acura Integra is the onlynew car I, or we, as in my wife and I, Christine, have ever owned. In fact, it’s only the fifth car we’ve owned between us.
For the 41 years of adult-era driving between the two of us, five cars isn’t bad. It’s safe to bet many American couples who’ve driven the same number of years between them have gone through a lot more cars than we have.
Finally, as much as I want to move on to a solar-charged electric vehicle — I so badly want to ditch our gas cars for a solar-charged one that I’m pitching one-year lease ideas to local car dealers (we’re in a highly unusual life situation that’s keeping a normal route to an EV out of reach for us right now) – I am proud of the comparative anti-consumerism that holding onto a reasonably fuel efficient car for 20 years ultimately reflects.
Of course, I’m guessing auto makers such as Honda probably aren’t all that keen on folks like me who drive one of their new cars off a dealer lot – and don’t come back to buy another one for 20 years or more 😉