Good morning! I hope you all had a good weekend. And I hope you didn’t come here looking for nice clean used cars, because we don’t have any of those today. Both of today’s entrants are actually sort of impressively rusty. I don’t expect you to actually want either of them, but I do hope you enjoy gazing in rapt wonder at the huge chunks of them that are just plain gone.
On Friday, I asked a serious question, and from all appearances, most of you are just as baffled as I am. Why would anyone pay twenty grand for a car that’s essentially the same as one that can be bought for a fifth of that? And yes, I understand that it’s not an apples-to-apples comparison, with the salvage title on the California car and all, but honestly, to me, even that one seems too expensive.
One other thing that stuck out to me in the comments were quite a few mentions of residual/resale value. This is something I’ve honestly never taken into consideration when buying a car, or anything short of a house, really. The thing costs what it costs, and I’m either willing and able to pay it, or I’m not. And if I sell it later, I check to see what other people are selling similar ones for, and undercut them a little bit. What I initially paid doesn’t even factor into the equation; that money is gone. It’s not worth what I paid for it; it’s worth what someone else is willing to pay for it. In any event, the consensus seems to be that the imported Integra is not worth the asking price.
So, let’s move on. Rust, as our buddy Neil Young once sang, never sleeps. In the case of today’s two cars, it slammed a bottle of No-Doz and washed it down with a two-liter of Mountain Dew. The oxidation process has been very busy on these two, but the good news is that they’re both excellent runners and drivers according to the sellers. Does it matter, though? You be the judge.
Engine/drivetrain: 2.2 liter overhead cam flat 4, four-speed automatic, AWD
Location: Madison, WI
Odometer reading: 97,000 miles
Runs/drives? Runs great!
All-wheel-drive Subarus are popular cars in snowy parts of the country, and Madison certainly counts. The ability to just plow through snowdrifts is a wonderful thing, especially in a cheap car that you don’t have to care about. The trouble, of course, is that the snow isn’t hard on cars – but the salt used to clear it away is murder on them, sometimes literally.
This first-generation Legacy sedan has fewer than 100,000 miles on its odometer, but it looks like all of them were acquired during the winter. Road salt has made such a meal of this thing that the entire rear door sill corner is eaten away on the passenger’s side. Both rocker panels are Swiss cheese, the lower portions of both front fenders are absent, and the bottoms of the doors aren’t too far behind. Someone has attempted to disguise the damage, or maybe just distract from it, with some half-assed spray painting, but somehow that just makes it worse.
It runs great, the seller says, and has had a bunch of recent work done. The timing belt, head gaskets, exhaust, radiator, and rear brakes are all new. My question isn’t why they did all that work to such a rusty car, but how. I had a Honda Accord once that was so rusty I couldn’t put it on a lift to replace a blown rear brake cylinder. I ended up junking it because I just couldn’t safely get it off the ground. And this one looks a lot worse. How in the hell were they able to do a brake job and exhaust on this thing without it breaking in two?
But since it’s all been done, it could make a decent winter beater, though there’s no way of knowing how many winters it has left in it. I do find it amusing that the seller points out that there are no child seat anchors; who in their right mind would let their baby anywhere near this thing?
Engine/drivetrain: 2.3 liter overhead cam inline 4, five-speed manual, RWD
Location: Palm Beach County, FL
Odometer reading: 150,000 miles
Full disclosure: If you click on the link above for this truck, you’ll discover that it has already been sold. The listing was two hours old when I downloaded the photos at noon on Sunday, and by 7:00 PM, it was gone. This rusty-ass Ford Ranger sold in just nine hours. I’m writing this based on what I remember of the listing, but the photos tell most of the tale.
LIke the Subaru, this one has big chunks that simply aren’t there any more. The rear cab corners are completely rusted away, as are the rocker panels, and the rear wheel arches are certainly not the shape they were when it left the factory. Both the front and rear bumpers are rusted through from the inside out as well. It has a plastic bedliner that I think is probably structural at this point.
The seller did say it runs “perfect,” and the air conditioning is “ice cold,” so it’s got that going for it. Mechanically, these little Rangers are hard to kill anyway, and with only 150,000 miles on it, I wouldn’t expect much to have gone wrong. It’s usually rust that kills these trucks in the Midwest, but you don’t expect to see one so eaten away in Florida. The only thing I can think of is that it spent a lot of time in proximity to salt water, driving on the beach or something. The Baywatch trucks probably look like this by now, too.
I get why it sold so quickly – these are great little trucks, and what’s left of this one could probably still be useful. But man, you almost feel like you need a tetanus booster just looking at it.
Since moving to the west coast eighteen years ago, I haven’t given much thought to rust on cars. It just isn’t much of an issue out here. Sure, cars out on the coast, exposed to a lot of sea spray, get rusty, but usually in places you can see; they don’t rot from the inside out, slowly shedding chunks of rocker panels and floor pans. But frankly, most of the cars I had when I lived in the midwest weren’t this bad, either. But sometimes it’s fun to look at the extreme cases, because it’s actually impressive just how rusty cars can get without buckling under their own weight. I don’t envy the buyer of the truck, and I’m not suggesting that any of you rush out and buy the Legacy, but if you did have to choose one, which would it be: all-wheel-drive traction and comfy seats, or heavy-duty hauling capacity?
(Image credits: Craigslist sellers)