Sunday, April 15, 2007

VW - What's an Old Bus Worth?

One method of determining the value of something is how much someone is willing to pay for it.

Everytime someone sees a $25,000 bug or $45,000 bus they say "That's crazy!"
Then things get crazier :-) Because another method is 'Replacement Cost;' the amount you would have to pay to get the same reliability, load-carrying capacity, fuel economy and so forth. The crazy part here is the fact that no modern-day vehicle can even come close to matching the attributes of my 1965 Volkswagen bus.

People laugh at my old bus. Big, ugly roof rack. Dented nose. Scaberus
paint. They laughed at it in Alaska. Mexico, too. Back east, its tatty looks and California tags earned comments at almost every fuel-stop. It even draws smiles out here in the western US.

Old VW bus makes a hell of a good joke, even when it's in better-than-new mechanical condition, always starts, pulls folks out of the ditch or collects them from a snow bank and keeps chugging right along. Great story to tell the folks when you get home. I've even read about me on the internet (!) Crazy guy in an old bus, pops up out of no where, gives the idiot a gallon of gas then chugs off into the night. It makes me sound like the motorized version of the Flying Dutchman :-)

The main reason I haven't painted my bus is because I actually drive it. It's my daily driver -- a working machine instead of some Yuppie's toy. Make it pretty, the odds are it would get stolen, which is a pain in the ass even when you get it back. (Do you know about TinyTrac? GPS? Ham radio? Swipe my bus and you will :-)

A point all the Yuppies miss by a mile is that, dollar-wise, using an old car for transportation is right up there with Unified Field Theory when it comes to smarts, assuming you know how to keep it running. My wife and I just finished putting together the package for the tax man. Last year 2002) I didn't drive my '65 bus as much as usual, barely ten thousand miles. Total cost, as in TOTAL cost... tags, insurance, gas, oil, filters and two used tires, came to $1,107 for 10,053 miles. (I'll let you do the math :-)

What's my old bus worth? Based on how much it saves me compared to driving anything else, a conservative amount would be in the mid-six figures (ie, life-time 'worth). Of course, no one will believe that. Not now. When they're older, mebbe. Folks usually begin to understand it when they hit the big Five-Oh and look back on their life and wonder where all the money went :-)

If this leaves you wondering what the hell I'm talking about perhaps you should look into the Forever Car philosophy and get acquainted with the real cost of personal transportation, most of which goes for interest and taxes. An old vehicle, one you can maintain yourself, cuts you out of that loop.

Yeah, I know. You couldn't possibly do that. You don't have the time or the tools or the space or the... whatever. And besides, it ain't kewl. It would make you stand out from the crowd; people would laugh at your old bus, even when the joke's on them.

Up to you. It's your money.

-Bob Hoover
-(originally posted in 2003)