Home » Does It Make Sense To Buy A New Gasoline-Powered Car In 2023? Autopian Asks

Does It Make Sense To Buy A New Gasoline-Powered Car In 2023? Autopian Asks

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To the surprise of absolutely nobody who’s been reading The Autopian, David is absolutely smitten with his BMW i3. So much so that he’s sending links to additional i3s into the work Slack, and recently proclaimed his desire to own an i3 “for the rest of my life.” Keep in mind, this is the same dude who helped engineer the current JL Jeep Wrangler, but his rationale for going with a carbon fiber BMW over the JL Wrangler he helped develop is very interesting. According to David, “I’m not buying a JL Wrangler because I think buying a new ICE today is a bad idea.” So, is buying a new gasoline-powered car a bad idea?

0x0 Model 3 16

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On the one hand, there’s life in the internal combustion engine yet. According to the analysts at iSeeCars, the average first ownership period of a vehicle lasts for 8.4 years, well shy of California’s 2035 combustion engine ban. What’s more, the average age of a vehicle on American roads is 12.2 years according to S&P Global, so we’ll still see combustion-powered cars doing everyday duty for years to come. The clock may be ticking on new gasoline-powered vehicles, but we’ll be experiencing used ones for years to come. Then there’s the infrastructure argument — outside of the Tesla Supercharger network, a reliable public DC fast charging network in America is about as real as Bigfoot. While a laundry list of automakers have inked agreements with Tesla on NACS connector adoption and Supercharger network integration, those changes aren’t here just yet. If you can’t charge at home or at work, an electric vehicle typically isn’t a practical proposition.

On the other hand, the list of pro-EV arguments is also long. If you’re able to charge at home, topping off overnight is so convenient compared to freezing your nipples off at a gas station. The lack of required warm-up is awesome, the minimal maintenance is incredible, and current incentives make something like a Tesla Model 3 a financially shrewd move. In addition, electric cars can do more than reduce pollutants — they can give you back the one thing that’s finite: Time. In certain jurisdictions, you can drive an electric vehicle in HOV lanes without any passengers. If that gets you home from work twelve minutes sooner, that’s 24 minutes per day round trip, or 120 minutes per week to see your family, savor your morning coffee, or enjoy the little things in life.

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Of course, if you work from home, there are arguments both for and against EVs. If your annual mileage on a gasoline-powered car drops, the cost-per-mile typically increases as service intervals are based on both mileage and time, and lengthy sitting can cause fuel to go bad. In contrast, EVs require far less upkeep and as long as you keep them plugged in, are easier to store. The flipside is that if you’re a driving enthusiast who works from home, driving is likely more of a treat than it is for commuters, and rowing gears, hearing a characterful engine, or reveling in a lightweight chassis is a hobby rather than a utility-like expense.

So, does buying a new gasoline-powered car make sense in 2023? Now’s your time to take the wheel and steer the conversation. Sound off in the comments below, because everyone’s situation is different and it’s hard to categorize people into boxes.

(Photo credits: Tesla, Toyota)

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EXL500
EXL500
4 months ago

We live in a condo. We have no chargers. One of our biggest pleasures is a 4-6K mile road trip in the fall, which is the vast majority of the 8K miles we drive a year. We own a 2015 Fit. I would replace it with the newest available Fit if it was totaled, or a hybrid. Plug-ins and especially BEVs make no sense for us.

Last edited 4 months ago by EXL500
Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
4 months ago
Reply to  EXL500

My neighborhood is made up of single family homes, duplexes, and condos. Our HOA doesn’t allow for any external EV charging – if you have an EV, it can only be charged inside a closed garage (seriously, it specifies the garage must be closed during charging). There was discussion about the condo sub association installing EV chargers, but that was squashed by the master HOA refusing to amend that covenant. I would hope there aren’t a lot of HOAs as draconian as mine, but I suspect there are plenty that would continue to make BEV ownership hard by intentionally conflating “charging a new EV” with “storing a broken-down crapbox” in your driveway/parking spot.

Brandt S
Brandt S
4 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

Depending upon where you live, your state or city/county government may have laws that supersede the ability of the HOA to restrict this type of thing. HOAs love to have covenants on the books that are draconian, racist, or downright illegal until someone decides to take them to court. But I know in CO at least, there’s a state law that prohibits HOAs and Condos from limiting individuals from installing charging infrastructure. Also Solar goes this way. Ask me how I know how much of a PITA hoas are. I’m an architect.

EXL500
EXL500
4 months ago
Reply to  Brandt S

Our condo association can’t afford it as we scramble to comply with Florida’s Surfside laws. It will be years.

Squirrelmaster
Squirrelmaster
4 months ago
Reply to  Brandt S

I’m in Colorado too, and I’d love to know the article numbers of those laws. I recall voting on one last year about not restricting the types of energy a homeowner could use, but I thought that one failed? But if there are laws on the books, my HOA seems unaware and is enforcing the covenants with seemingly no pushback.

Who Knows
Who Knows
4 months ago
Reply to  Squirrelmaster

CRS 38-33.3-106.8 for unreasonable restrictions on EV charging, and 106.7 on energy efficiency including solar. There can be some restrictions, but not to the point that makes it excessively difficult to install these. The main problem is that Colorado has zero enforcement of CCIOA by the state, so the only true recourse is the court system for HOAs violating things (I’m currently in litigation with an HOA, different topic). They are considering maybe doing something about it- https://engagedora.org/hoa-task-force, the more negative feedback about HOAs they receive the better.

Drive By Commenter
Drive By Commenter
4 months ago

For people who mortgage single family houses in suburbia it makes zero cents to buy a new ICE-only vehicle. Driving is necessary for getting anywhere. Minimizing the fuel expense is paramount. The current crop of EV’s have low enough TCO where it makes cents to switch. Especially if a new vehicle is desired.

My personal situation where both cars are paid off and generally reliable. They’re soon going to be making the average age higher. So I’m casually keeping my eye out for a replacement. Which will be an EV for personal reasons.

Eggsalad
Eggsalad
4 months ago

I’ll make the opposite argument and suggest that there is only ONE narrow use case in which you SHOULD buy an EV.

IF you live in a dwelling that can reasonably provide charging
and
IF you are part of a multi-car household that owns a gasoline-powered vehicle (including a hybrid)

THEN, and only then, should you consider buying a full EV.

Philip B
Philip B
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

This is the real answer.
Maybe it’s because I’m Australian and the US public charging system is amazing compared to what we have here.

Andreas8088
Andreas8088
4 months ago
Reply to  Eggsalad

Exactly right. I could technically sell my second ICE car to get a BEV, but realistically, I’d only do it to get one with a range extender. I am considering a BEV as a third vehicle, and I live in a single family home. There are just too many times when I need to take long driving trips with my primary ICE vehicle to areas that have no charging infrastructure and are in the middle of nowhere, or with my secondary ICE vehicle which doubles as a camper for boondocking. Neither situation would work for a BEV, even though my daily commute needs could be met by one.

RataTejas
RataTejas
4 months ago

As the owner of two hybrids, one conventional and one plug-in, I’m looking for another hybrid or IC for my next personal car.

Costs are too high for a full electric, and sort of like PC’s and other electronics, they’re getting better rapidly, ultimately disposable, especially when everything inside is electronic, and I’ll wait until the price starts to come back to earth.

Scorp Mcgorp
Scorp Mcgorp
4 months ago

depends on use case.i’ve had my 2012 Fiat 500 Abarth for almost 6 years. i’ve been remote working for the last 3.

given that i don’t drive the car a lot, my next care will likely still be an ICE, and it’s looking like it’ll probably be a wrangler (JK because i don’t buy new).

if i had a regular commute, i’d probably be looking at a hybrid with at least 40 miles of range, which would allow me to commute for almost zero dollars.

even though i could charge at home – which is IMO the largest challenge for most peple in choosing to full EV – i also need to take my car for 300-400 mile round trips several times per year, and dealing with range anxiety, broken chargers, and lengthy charge times is something i’m not willing to deal with.

better all around infrastructure and range will solve those concerns, but not for at least a decade. and that means my next care will have some sort of ICE.

Pointy Deity
Pointy Deity
4 months ago

I WFH and mostly only leave the house to buy beer and go to autocross and track days. I bought a new Miata earlier this year and it’s worked out extremely well for my purposes :D.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago
Reply to  Pointy Deity

Hell yeah

Racer Esq.
Racer Esq.
4 months ago
Reply to  Pointy Deity

WFH is way better for the environment than mining lithium so people can grind up brake pads and tires to commute in heavy electric cars. Interestingly one of the people that whines the most about WFH has a large stake in an electric car company.

Crank Shaft
Crank Shaft
4 months ago

Yes.

JDE
JDE
4 months ago

For Mr Hollywood over there, it would seem that the plug in Hybrid 4XE Jeep wrangler is more his type of new vehicle.

It really is a pretty good vehicle though to be honest. Just wish the price was less and the Transmission options included a Crawl 1st gear manual trans

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago

I think D.T. is suffering from premature electrification. ヽ(͡◕ ͜ʖ ͡◕)ノ

David Tracy
David Tracy
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

To be clear: I’m not advocating buying a NEW EV either. I’m just saying dropping $40,000 on a gas Wrangler in 2023 doesn’t seem like an amazing financial decision. Especially given rising gas prices in CA.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
4 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Seems like a great time to plug my horribly complicated miles/California average cost per Gallon measurement!

the average price per gas in CA is $6.02/gallon (up 58%! on the national average) while the average kWh cost is 19¢ (up 12%). So with Miles/CaG (California specific), the Mache E comes out to 73 miles per equivalent gallon of fuel cost and the Lightning bumps up to 54 miles/CaG.

I’ve not yet run the math on the i3 REx or the Wrangler 4xe but now I’m curious. I’ll reply back after work with the answers!

Last edited 4 months ago by Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
4 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

Per Car and Drive, the Wrangler 4xe has a 14 kWh battery good for 21 miles. That’s $2.66 to charge the battery and scales up to 47 miles per $6.02 spent (the average CA cost per gallon from last week).

David previously reported his i3 can go 96.7 miles on electric only, using the available 18.8 kWh. That costs Mr. Tracy $3.57 to fully charge and gets a whopping 163 miles/CaG ($6.02)!!! I guess the moral of the story, once a cheap bastard, always a cheap bastard. Just now with fancy leather seats.

Last edited 4 months ago by Spartanjohn113
Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Dropping money/financin any new vehicle isn’t a great financial decision, and hasn’t been for decades. Depreciation is no joke, and neither is paying interest on dozens of thousands of dollars. Used is the way to go, new is a luxury item we pretend is necessary.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

^ this is the correct answer.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Usually, that’s the case. However, pandemic pricing has created instances where used vehicles can be sold for more than MSRP. KBB says my ’23 Maverick with 19k miles is worth $32k…yet I bought it for $26k.

Last edited 4 months ago by Spartanjohn113
Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

Yes, well that is an outlier.

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

It appears there are at least 14 outliers, mostly hybrids. https://www.iseecars.com/used-cars-cost-more-than-new-study#v=202303

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

I’m not the least bit surprised to see Hybrids on that list, as for the rest of the vehicles: a fool and his money are soon parted t(ツ)_/¯

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

Look Dave, you are still in the honeymoon stage of EV ownership, the BMW really is a cool vehicle, (I love the interior), but with 50-60 miles of range, it is a glorified golf cart to me. And, if you owned that vehicle in Michigan, you know that the range would most likely be 40-50% lower in the Winter! Not really practical, IMHO.

Anyway, My Brother bought a New Mach E, standard range, AWD in May of 2021 and he resides in Michigan ( like myself) and in the Winter he is lucky if he gets 150 miles of range! Even with preconditioning the battery.!

To quote Vanilla Ice:” ICE, ICE Baby”! ⸌(ㆆ‿ㆆ)⸍

Spartanjohn113
Spartanjohn113
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

To be fair, Tracy has the range extender. That gives him a 1.9-gallon fuel tank, rated for 39 gallons MPG and 200 combined range. That’s nothing to sneeze at, especially when gas stations are still an option.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Spartanjohn113

So, he would have to rely upon an ICE, ICE Baby! Which, is my point!

Ben
Ben
4 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

He also owns multiple vehicles aside from the i3 and has access to the press fleet when he needs to do something his i3 can’t. Which, honestly, is the ideal ownership experience for EV.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
4 months ago
Reply to  Ben

Which is a luxury that Joe Six pack does not have.┐(´д`)┌

Mr. Canoehead
Mr. Canoehead
4 months ago
Reply to  David Tracy

I usually buy used vehicles and last time I was in the market (admittedly 4 years ago), I wanted to find an EV, since we have 3 IC vehicles in the family already (motorcycles excluded).

I bought a 5 year old Ford Escape for $11k Cdn. The closest EV I could find was a 4 year old Nissan Leaf for $18k Cdn. It was a no-brainer, the Escape is a much better vehicle than a Leaf and $7k buys a lot of gas and maintenance. Hopefully next year when I retire our 22 year old Volvo, used EVs are more competitive.

EPGCivic
EPGCivic
4 months ago

I think the real question is does it make sense to a gas powered car that is not a hybrid? Now that Honda has the Accord hybrid and CRV hybrid that look like a regular car, seems normalized.

Paul Magno
Paul Magno
4 months ago

Yes, it still makes sense to get an ICE if you don’t have a way to charge at home or don’t want to bother planning your charging route on your road trip. People should consider getting a hybrid at the minimum though. They don’t cost that much more and their gas savings are worth it over the long term (at least in today’s gas prices).

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
4 months ago

Thomas didn’t include my comment, but I said if Volkswagen announced a new Touareg TDI tomorrow I would be one of the first in line to buy it. Ok, so long as it actually rode on a beefy platform like it used to and not some variation of “bigger Golf.” lol

So, yeah, I wouldn’t just buy an ICE vehicle, but I still like diesel, too.

JDE
JDE
4 months ago

the big question for you is will you consider the EV Scout by VW? Knowing your experiences with VW and electronics and all.

Mercedes Streeter
Mercedes Streeter
4 months ago
Reply to  JDE

My first EV will probably be something terrible like a Th!nk City EV, something that’ll certainly make VW electrics look tame. 🙂

Edit: Well, I will be buying a Motocompacto, so my first EV car will probably be terrible.

Last edited 4 months ago by Mercedes Streeter
Timbales
Timbales
4 months ago

For me, yes. I’ve done all the math and going to an EV that is comparable to what I am driving would cost me quite a bit more than my current financing, maintenance and fuel costs combined.

It would also likely mean I have a vehicle with features I absolutely do not want – a glass roof and only centered tablet display.

Last edited 4 months ago by Timbales
SaabaruDude
SaabaruDude
4 months ago

Yes in many cases, no for some (like those who live in LA and already have a road trippable vehicle like a range extended i3). I need to be able to do long drives to remote midwest towns on demand in January with one vehicle, and I love having a convertible in the summer. No EV options for those yet, so I’m looking at two new ICE (possibly hybrid of some sort) within the next 2-3 years.

Forgetting that not everyone is in the same situation as you (geographic, use case, housing, or just personal preference) is why legislating choices out of existence isn’t great. Shape choices, don’t eliminate them.

Trenton Abernathy
Trenton Abernathy
4 months ago

I think it depends. If you live in an area with decent EV charging infrastructure, it makes sense to minimize your car ownership costs by adopting an EV earlier. However, I, and many others, live in parts of the country where that infrastructure is non-existent. In that case, you would likely have to rely on an ICE vehicle to carry you until the EV infrastructure is there.

But that’s just utility. ICE vehicles are more fun, in my opinion. In that regard, it’s worth it.

Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

It makes sense for the millions of buyers who have no personal garage, parking spot or any type of spot with a home charger on it.

PL71 Enthusiast
PL71 Enthusiast
4 months ago
Reply to  Goblin

Yep, I can’t afford a new EV but when I was looking for a daily I would have considered a used one. Unfortunately, for anyone living in an apartment it’s impractical. Which on the coasts is basically everyone below the age of 30.

Also EVs don’t come with sticks so that takes most of the desire to daily one away.

Last edited 4 months ago by PL71 Enthusiast
Goblin
Goblin
4 months ago

Yup, EVs work for everyone but for the 40 million Americans living in apartments , the ones for whom an EV doesn’t work (just the few dozens of millions needing a imnivan or a 3 row SUV that does not cost millions), and the other several million who don’t have a parking spot with a plug 🙂

Last edited 4 months ago by Goblin
Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
4 months ago

Yes, but with caveats. For daily driving, if one can find an affordable EV, they are great, but the charging network is not yet up to snuff for long trips. As well, stopping to charge a car takes a long time. I have two kids, and keeping them from getting punishingly bored in the car without long stops to charge is bad enough. So, in my case, a hybrid could make sense.

My wife could conceivably be OK with a hybrid, but she worries about battery life and the cost to replace batteries when they fail.

If we did go EV, I would probably want to keep our van for longer trips. That said, I am a cheap bastage, and won’t likely pay for new car ever, especially not.one that costs $60K-plus like may EVs.

That Guy with the Sunbird
That Guy with the Sunbird
4 months ago
Reply to  Rollin Hand

Same here. EVs are just too damn expensive. There are no affordable options. We have two 2016 Mazdas and no plans to replace either anytime soon since inflation continues to kick our asses and my wife works in the unstable mortgage industry. Why would I replace either relatively new-ish reliable ICE car with an expensive new or relatively new EV and also have to invest in electrical upgrades to my 1980s house for a home charger since there are no public chargers here in my small Kentucky town? No thanks.

If either Mazda meets an untimely death and I’m forced into this godawful car market, another cheap used ICE car will be coming home.

Ranwhenparked
Ranwhenparked
4 months ago

Yes, because all the electric cars with halfway decent range are north of $45,000, and the bulk of them are over $50,000. Lineup also leans crossover heavy and manufacturers are still decking them out with screens, gadgets, and scifi styling details instead of just normal cars with a motor and battery instead of an engine and fuel tank

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago

Of course it fricking makes sense to buy a combustion-powered vehicle in 2023, have you all gone daft?

And since when was car enthusiasm about making sense!? What fun is there in making sense?

Y’all have gone off the rails sucking up to EV proponents, when I heard this place was going to be started by Torch and Tracy I had hope that this place would be able to recapture some of the old magic from car sites like Jalopnik before they went to crap, but clearly I was wrong.

If this headline was meant as rage-bait, it worked, congratulations on being clickbaity. I thought y’all could be better than that.

Last edited 4 months ago by Austin Vail
The Bonnie Situation
The Bonnie Situation
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

it can be true that you like fun, old beaters you can wrench on yourself, AND recognize that people who buy cars as an appliance are doing the math and seeing we’re closer to EV cost parity

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

Came here to say something similar.

As an enthusiast, I loathe the day that ICE is banned/phased out. Very few (if any) electric cars offer an experience for an enthusiast that is worth having. After you get past the instant torque, most electric cars are heavy, complicated, inconvenient, expensive, and unoriginal (in driving experience). They might work well for someone who wants an appliance, but for folks who want an authentic driving experience, they will never be up to par. To make matters worse, I’d be willing to bet that after new ICE cars are banned, there will be sweeping legislation to get the remaining ICE cars off the road (taxed heavily, fined, or gas will be too expensive). European cities are already banning/fining certain cars from city centers and those boundaries are moving further and further out. Maybe hybrids are the answer, but even those are too complicated for my liking.

I miss the articles where DT was hopelessly wrenching on a rusted out Jeep that was destined to be a refrigerator, but those days are apparently over (at least until he goes to Germany to work on the Chrysler).

I am also a bit disappointed that DT didn’t end up with a JL. If I had put my efforts into designing something as epic as the JL, I’d want one in the driveway, despite how inefficient it might be.

Captain Muppet
Captain Muppet
4 months ago
Reply to  Jacob Rippey

I’ve been an OEM engineer on a lot more projects than DT, but I’ve never owned any of the cars I’ve worked on. Sometimes life just doesn’t work out like that.

I was looking at an early project last night, and I could buy one for a couple of grand, but it doesn’t suit my needs as much as the cars I have. I’ll never stop looking, and I’ve got some key parts I’ve worked on hanging on my trophy wall, but I may well never own a car I’ve worked on.

Mark Schmitz
Mark Schmitz
4 months ago
Reply to  Austin Vail

This! Sorry bro but an EV is a hard ‘no’ in my book. Reading about them leaves me cold, I just don’t care about EV’s because it represents cars becoming appliances – I don’t bother to read about the latest and greatest Maytag washer or LG fridge, it’s the same about EV’s to me. I used to know all about the new cars each year, what new engine technologies were coming to the market, etc. Frankly I have no idea what new EV’s are coming out, who makes them or any of that crap. I just don’t care to know because whirring electric motors, depleting batteries and sitting around for hours waiting for the frigging thing to charge up is not what I signed up for when I became a car enthusiast years ago. Sorry, count me out…

MrLM002
MrLM002
4 months ago

For me it doesn’t make sense to buy any new (Mass Production) ICE automobile. That being said there’s not a single new (Mass Production) Electric automobile I want to buy that is currently sold in the US. The Cybertruck could be promising and same with the 500e, but really what I’d want is basically a 2 door BEV Jeep with the option for a soft top.

Modern ICE vehicles are so tech and sensor reliant they’re not long for this world, and even if all of those never fail your emissions systems will and good luck replacing those after your car has been out of production for years.

S13 Sedan
S13 Sedan
4 months ago

Yes because for many people, finding a reliable charge source for an electric car is extremely inconvenient or outright impossible. The promise of a better charging network in the future won’t do much good for someone who needs a new car today.

Austin Vail
Austin Vail
4 months ago
Reply to  S13 Sedan

Charging stations are like train stations. Only the big cities and popular destinations can afford to build and maintain them.

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago

I own an EV and a plug in hybrid. If you live in a house and want a regular car, there’s no reason to get a gas car anymore. EVs are just better at being cars. I can’t road trip my Bolt but newer cars with access to the Tesla charging network will be able to road trip just fine

If you live in an apartment or need a truck for truck stuff, gas or hybrids are still the way to go

Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
Carbon Fiber Sasquatch
4 months ago

IMO, with the exception of some dedicated enthusiast cars, every car should be electrified to least standard hybrid. What’s the point of the non-hybrid Accord or Rav4? Maybe the TRD with its trick rear diff but that could have been implemented on a hybrid drivetrain.

That guy
That guy
4 months ago

Yes, or a lot more parking garages may go up in flames. lol

Dinklesmith
Dinklesmith
4 months ago
Reply to  That guy

Not sure if you know this but gasoline is flammable

That guy
That guy
4 months ago
Reply to  Dinklesmith

I was referring to parking garage article

Buzz
Buzz
4 months ago

Yes, because you can’t buy an electric Ford GT yet

Goof
Goof
4 months ago
Reply to  Buzz

To be honest, will you be able to buy one of those when they exist?

You’ll be competing with the people who bought the first two, well known dealership owners, “influencers”… Then you’ll need to win successive bracket duels to the death where your weapon is a random car part (good luck winning with a wing mirror housing!), to be in the final group who has to impress a judge panel with a poem about the Ford 8-8 or something.

To then still probably not be chosen to buy one!

Pit-Smoked Clutch
Pit-Smoked Clutch
4 months ago
Reply to  Goof

But Soft! What light through yonder engine block window breaks?

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