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I'm an old codger with a few bucks to spend...

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Dear Tom and Ray:



I'm an old codger (81) with a few bucks to spend on myself, and I've been looking at used Rolls-Royces on the Internet, via my daughter, Lorna. (I still use my Sears electric typewriter!) I have some questions about this venture, and I trust you guys, so here goes: I am willing to spend money in the range of a 15-year-old R-R and am wondering if the maintenance and repairs have to be done by an authorized dealer. (In my town, there are not many choices.) Are spare parts easily gotten in the U.S.? Is there a reasonable upper limit that one could expect to spend, yearly, for repairs and maintenance? (I don't travel far anymore.) I've gotten the impression, from what I've looked at, that belts, hoses and brakes have to be done frequently, and that a smooth transmission might be an exception rather than a rule. Thanks for reading this. You guys are great, and we never miss your column. -- Keith

TOM: Keith, this is a great idea.

RAY: I agree. You're 81, you've got some money to spend on yourself -- go for it.

TOM: Do the maintenance and repairs have to be done by a dealer? Not necessarily. You probably have to get the parts from a dealer. But if you have a good mechanic, with a sense of humor, who's up for a challenge (and has a need to pay off his boat in the next couple of years), he can work on this car. He can order the parts from the dealer and have them shipped to him. Parts for these cars will be available forever.

RAY: Will they cost a small fortune? Probably. But who cares? You'll be tooling around in a Rolls, Keith. The old ladies at the nursing home will swoon when you drive past.

TOM: Here are two pieces of advice, though. First, don't spend all of your money on the car. If you spend every penny on the car, then when you need a new piece of exhaust pipe for $1,000, you're going to be out of luck. So, set aside $10,000 of the money you were going to spend buying the car, and use it as a repair-and-maintenance fund. When it runs out, you can either replenish it or sell the car.

RAY: Second, have some backup transportation. There might be times when your mechanic has to wait for Nigel over in Crewe, England, to hand-fabricate a part, and the Rolls won't be available. So you want to have a Hyundai or something a little more reliable to use for those days -- or months -- when the Rolls is temporarily unavailable.

TOM: And the best thing is, you can get a bumper sticker for the Hyundai that says "My Other Car Is a Rolls-Royce," and mean it. Send us a picture of you in your Rolls, Keith. And live it up!
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