Home / Car News / I Just Got A $3,200 Check From The State of Michigan For Hoarding Cars. Now It’s Time To ‘Reinvest’

I Just Got A $3,200 Check From The State of Michigan For Hoarding Cars. Now It’s Time To ‘Reinvest’

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The state of Michigan is paying drivers $400 per vehicle in an attempt to shrink an insurance fund that has ballooned out of control after residents paid into it for decades. I just got my check — which was based on how many vehicles I had insured in October of 2019 — and it turns out: I had eight. And now I’m rich. Naturally, like any shrewd businessman, I’m going to reinvest. Help me find my next junker.

“You should buy a house, David” they told me. “Buying all these junky cars is a bad financial decision,” they declared. But oh were they wrong. So, so wrong.

I will admit that, when I bought my rusted-out Jeep Grand Wagoneer, my non-running 1979 Jeep Cherokee Golden Eagle, my totaled 1991 Jeep Cherokee, and the rest of my fleet, I wasn’t doing it for any “intelligent” reason. I was doing it because these vehicles are awesome and I could literally see no reason not to buy them. I was blinded by obsession.

I later learned that owning lots of cars can be a burden; I’ve been stranded a few times, I’ve been overwhelmed every moment of every day for the past seven years, and my bank account has contained tumbleweeds all too often. Despite this, though, I’m thrilled to say that luckily I ended up hoarding cars that have gone up in value. People love old Jeeps! So my “problem” has actually been a decent financial decision, somehow, and that was made even clearer last week when I received this fat check in the mail:

I’m rich!

Thirty-two hundred smackers — do you know how many Postal Jeeps I could buy with that? Six! Do you know how many rusty Forward Control pickups I could get? At least two! And if we start talking about parts, things get even more nuts; I once bought a running Jeep 4.0-liter engine for $145. The check above — which I earned by simply hoarding Jeeps — is worth over 22 running Jeep engines — TWENTY TWO.

Anyway, clearly I’m thrilled that somehow my stupidity has paid off.

A bit of background on why I am now The Richest Man At The Junkyard. It all starts with a rule in Michigan that required motorists to pay into a big fund meant to cover folks injured in crashes. From the The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association:

The Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association (MCCA) is a private unincorporated, nonprofit association created by the Michigan Legislature in 1978. From the time the Legislature created the MCCA until July 2, 2020, Michigan’s unique no-fault insurance law required the owners and registrants of motor vehicles registered in Michigan to buy unlimited lifetime coverage for medical expenses resulting from motor vehicle accidents.

It turns out, that fund has become bigger than necessary, so the MCCA decided that it’d be handing out refunds based on the number of cars each resident had insured on October 31, 2021, or roughly the time when I reached peak-hoarder. From the state of Michigan:

The MCCA’s analysis determined that approximately $3 billion of the surplus could be returned to policyholders while ensuring continuity of care for auto accident survivors. The refund plan submitted to DIFS Monday by the MCCA will return money to every Michigander with an auto insurance policy in force as of 11:59 p.m. on October 31, 2021…The surplus funds will be turned over by the MCCA to the insurance companies operating in Michigan by March 9, 2022, and the insurers will be responsible for issuing checks to eligible policyholders.

Needless to say, I’ve been surfing my local Facebook Marketplace listings for business opportunities in which to invest my newfound riches.

This Crosley right here is only $2,000. That’s so cheap I can’t lose:

And check out this 1948 Kaiser. The body and interior look good given that this car costs only $3,400:

Then there’s this Studebaker Lark for sale; it’s only $2,800! What a deal:

I have to admit, I’ve been jonesing for a Model T for some time now:


But I’m not dropping over 10 large on that. Instead, should I opt for a $7,000 Willys Whippet — the poor person’s Model T?:

May be an image of car and outdoors

Then of course there’s still that Corvair for sale for only $3,700 — the one we mentioned in one of our Shitbox Showdowns last week:

It’s pretty clear to me that buying cars in bulk is just smart business, and I need to continue doing it. I had planned to part ways with some of my fleet — and I’m sticking with that goal — but that just means there’s more room for new mechanical friends. Maybe I should buy that green two-door manual XJ…

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95 Responses

  1. David, I think there is a website where you can enter information to be in an article titled “What Car Should I Buy?”. Some guy named Tom runs that article….
    I wonder if I can find it…

  2. Step 1) Use refund as deposit on a cheap warehouse to store the current fleet
    Step 2) Register the Church of the Toledo Holy Grail (or something to that effect), for the tax advantages (obviously, the warehouse IS the church, as far as the government is concerned). To take it legitimately seriously (beyond just spreading the gospel of the Holy Grail ZJ), there’s legitimate automotive charity that can be performed, all sorts of basic maintenance for the working poor who are dependent on aging cars for transportation.
    Step 3 (optional) ) – find a cheap camper or RV to stash on the property, that just became your new home! With that monthly rent freed up, think how much more money you’ll have to fill the warehouse!

      1. Fair point, and I’m assuming the AX15 came out of Indiana (Based on a rudimentary search of Aisin US facilities)?

        It’s clearly not a well-thought out plan, just the first pass at something to justify the warehouse.

  3. I like that Kaiser and would otherwise say get that, but buy parts to fix your fleet. then sell what you fixed to pay for the EV swapped FC you’re planning. or use the money to fix another one of your vehicles and sell that, and use the proceeds andthe money saved on your insurance to pay for the FC.

  4. First, just a typo – you said “required motorists to pay into a big fun “. You need a d on the end there. It might be fun, but it doesn’t really sound like it.

    My opinion is to go for the corvair – unsafe at any speed supposedly.

    Also, my first comment at the new site. It looks great and I’m excited that you’re back out there.
    Hopefully I am actually authorized to post since I never was at the old site as I had to wait for some kind of blessing that never came.

    Lastly, I thought USAA didn’t do insurance in Michigan, specifically because of the no-fault policy. At least that’s what my son ran into when he tried to insure cars there a couple of years ago.

  5. We had something similar here in Quebec. We have no fault medical insurance for road accidents. The premium was paid annually with our driver’s license. We’ve all got a few years of $60 off on our license.

    1. I can’t believe you don’t have classic car insurance on a few of them. The insurance on my classic costs less than 1/4 of my other cars, but I’m only getting $80 back from Michigan for that one.

  6. You’ll want to save at least half of that to fix your Valiant Ute in Australia. The rules to get a rust bucket like the Ute registered in Australia appear to be much stricter than the US. Converting US$ 1,600 to South Pacific pesos should give you roughly AU$ 2,300.

  7. Could I interest you in an absolutely perfect(ish) 1987 Mercedes 300sdl? It’s the limousine model and it’s basically emp proof, which I used to only say as a joke. I’ll drive it to you.

    *The adjective perfect is based on my understanding of YOUR understanding of the word based on years of reading about the catastrophically bad decisions that resulted in your receiving this check….call me

  8. I think you need to invest in a GoPro, and some video editing hardware/software, so we can get some unadulterated David Tracy content. Think ZipTiesnBiasPlies but PG-13 rated. Someone I wouldn’t mind having my son watch. “See son, Dad’s neon collection isn’t really THAT bad”.

    My vote is the Corvair. Unsafe at any driveway.

  9. Sell them all and then use the proceeds from that sale and the $3,200 check to buy yourself a nice mid-spec 4 cylinder camry, painted in beige, and with a dent in the corner of the rear bumper. Problem solved. Or not.

  10. David, ignore all these “sensible” comments advising you to fix what you already have and pare down the fleet. While that may generate a couple decent wrenching articles, you’ll make more hay from buying something new that you are unfamiliar with that needs fixing. I like the idea of an old junker from a defunct US brand, preferably with some interesting engineering behind it. We’ll get some history as well.

    The devil on your shoulder

  11. You need to buy whatever you think will piss The Karen off the most.

    And then make sure it is registered/plated/insured so that there is zero legal recourse they can try and force the city to take.

  12. I’m going to be “that guy” against my better judgment. The state of Michigan didn’t give you that check, USAA did at the states behest. I could go an about the Michigan Catastrophic Claims Association, but since this isn’t a car insurance forum I won’t.

  13. This is the weirdness of content creation.

    On one hand, god, would I love to see you actually complete a project. Like…seeing one of them with a nice paint job, no significant rust, and no mechanical issues? That would be amazing.

    On the other hand, as soon as I see that David bought another shitbox that is absolutely the first article I click on.

    As long as it’s not as bad as the postal jeep or the willy’s. Every article on the Willy’s I was shouting at my screen to push it into a quarry and never speak of it again.

  14. Ah the classic car guy conundrum- I have extra money so should I put it into one of my (numerous) existing project cars or buy another project car?

    Of course, the obvious answer is buy another project car. You can use the little bits of extra money you come across from time-to-time to buy parts for your projects, but we’re talking thousands all at one time here.

    Being from Cincinnati I have always had a soft sport for Crosley’s so I say go with that 1950 Crosley CD Sedan. While a Crosley Farm-O-Road would be more your style they are a lot harder to come across.

  15. Wait…so you have been insuring all these cars, and paying too much into the fund? Therefore, you get money _back_ that you _overpaid_, without the benefit of any interest you could have made in a bank account. This is hardly a windfall. This is like a tax return…somebody keeps your money for a while, uses it, gains interest, and then gives it back to you later. It’s like loaning $100 to a guy who uses it to go gambling, maybe makes $200, then gives you the $100 back without you seeing a “piece of the action.”

    No my friend, this is not a windfall.

    That being said, if you did the responsible thing and put this in some investment or even some interest-bearing account, perhaps even use it to fix up and thin the current fleet so you can save insurance money, even pay off a few bills, I think the readers would be disappointed.

    We don’t read your column because you make good decisions. We read it like we watch a train wreck in slow motion.

    So that being said…what is the absolute _worst_ choice you can make? What would be the car you could buy that would give you oodles of mechanical stories for articles, yet still never be reliable or predictable? Aha! Old British 2-seaters! Maybe find yourself the one that has ties to Detroit…for example, the Triumph TR-8, which used a Rover V-8 based on a GM Buick powerplant. And then you can start writing articles about electrical troubleshooting!

    “Why do the British like warm beer? Because Lucas makes their refrigerators.”

  16. The Corvair is probably the rational choice, in that you’d lose the least money if you bought and sold it, but the ride quality on those Kaisers was excellent, and the Crosley could be parked in your laundry room if the township decided to come after you for the illegal junkyard thing again. Tough choice

  17. What happened to the idea of buying a new Wrangler because you designed part of it?

    Housing might not be a bad idea, although now rates are rising. Is DT sure he will never get asked to leave this rental? Finding another landlord that is so accommodating of the fleet is not going to be easy. DT will have to be like Mercedes at Jalopnik who seems to have vehicles stashed all over town.

  18. David I have a terrible idea that fits you like a glove. Buy my non-running rust-free 01 Land Rover Discovery. It is like your Jeeps but more comfortable and less reliable. The perfect combination for a man like you. I own it for next to nothing (close to Gambler 500 money) and the only thing keeping it from running is my lack of time due to other projects (my other Land Rover, a home that was built in 1929, and My Dog) In all seriousness PM me if you are interested.

  19. Wow…Here we thought you were making progress with all the car therapy and counseling sessions, selling Jeeps and rust buckets left and right, and as soon as a windfall comes, you fall right off the wagon. When is it time for a reader intervention?? (I liked the Corsair…I prefer to be part of the problem, though, not the solution).

      1. Now David your article here was short but funny. But all joking aside and you have to realize we all love you. So ARE YOU FUCKING NUTS? Yeah you paid 10s of thousands got a few back and you think you are ahead? Fix what you got if it can be fixed the rest dump based on what the current recycling price on rust is. Finish one project before you start the next. BTW local guy has a decent 68 Barracuda project with no rust most of the parts for $6800. That’s what you spend money on. Not going to tell you who or where because a Barracuda is to special to turn to rot in your cesspool.

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