Four hours of my Monday was spent in the dentist’s chair this morning getting four crowns and a filling. I’ve now got four new front teeth in the form of temporary crowns with the real ones getting put on in a few weeks. While not pleasant, it also wasn’t unexpected. I had known for a decade that I would eventually have to do this, so come this past November I maxed out my FSA contributions for this year and decided it was time. As I settled up with the front desk on the way out to the tune of $3100 (my part of the bill after dental insurance) I began to think about the fact that I’ve bought good cars for less money.

My first truck in the form of a 1991 F-150. 5.0/auto/2wd, XLT lariat package, tow package with a nice shell in a similar color. Previous owner had removed all the emissions controls and cats and fitted a pair of glasspacks to it. I completed the effort with a good intake and set of under drive pulleys. It wasn’t fast by any measure today, but it made nice noises and breathed well for a malaise era Ford small block. Bought it from the second owner in 2003 with 138k on the clock and a stack of maintenance records to go along with everything working for $2800.

I drove it for a year or so, and I think I ended up selling it for exactly what I paid for it. It was a bit harder to after moving back to Albuquerque, where to next owner was either going to have to do something about the no emissions of any kind thing, or live outside the county. Actually, I sold it for a bit more. The buyer paid $2800 without the shell, which I sold on its own for another few hundred dollars.

1991 Acura Legend coupe. Bought for $2100ish in 2011ish from the original owner with 155k on the clock. Came with the original window sticker and a mountain of service records, everything worked, but the paint was getting a bit tired. An afternoon with an orbital buffer brought it back to looking good.

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Drove it for a year or so, did nothing more a tune up, a few oil changes and a couple of Svendings. Sold it for $2700 with 165k on it, and its still around Las Cruces. Great car, but it was due for a timing belt service, had some other maintenance investments coming up, it only got 19mpg on the highway, and it only drank premium. Having recently acquired a house and 52 mile round trip commute, investing in an old car that got crappy fuel mileage to use as a 25k/year highway commuter didn’t make a lot of sense to me.

1989 Acura Integra LS. 5 door auto w/130ishk on the clock. Bought in 2003 for $525, because it ran rough, lacked working A/C and only 3 out of 4 gears worked in the auto. Bought as a 2nd driving to high school car, because the reality of driving a newly caged race car (an 88 integra) on the street was something that even my 17 year-old self rapidly realized was a bad idea. Correctly set the timing to make it run right, swapped the working A/C from the racecar onto it, and it turned out to be perfectly usable as a (certainly not quick) daily driver without second gear. That’s right, at 17 I owned two first gen integras.

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(Not the actual car, but just like it)

I drove it for a few months, and then sold it for $925. I ended up adding up all the receipts, tax/registration, insurance, fuel, the works.. and it turned out that I profited about $20 over 3 or 4 months of owning the car and driving it to school and my after school job. This one wasn’t really a good car, but it was presentable transportation for less than $600, so I’ll throw it on the list.