I am a college student and I drive a eight...

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Mar 01, 1994

Dear Tom and Ray:

I am a college student and I drive a 1979 eight cylinder Pontiac Catalina. It's my first car, and it has over 150,000 miles on it. I love this car! However, my mechanic tells me it needs a new engine (and a new stereo and headliner, but mostly an engine). He says if I put $1,000 to $1,500 of engine work in it, I'll probably get another five or six years out of it. My mom thinks I should put that money into another used car. But I've already replaced everything in the Catalina, so I know what I have, and I'm familiar with its problems. And did I mention how much I love this car? What do you think I should do?

TOM: No question about it, Stacy. Keep the Catalina. Your logic is impeccable.

RAY: I actually agree with my brother, which is quite a surprise to me. You know exactly what's wrong with the Catalina, Stacy. Your mechanic has checked it out and says it's in good shape and will go another five years if you rebuild the engine. And most importantly, you love this car.
It's the car you want to drive.

TOM: If you took the $1,500 and put it into another used car, what kind of car would you get for $1,500? Who knows what would be wrong with it? Maybe it would need an engine, too? And you'd hate it, because, in your mind, it would never be as good as that Catalina you loved.

RAY: Your heart's desire and your best economic interests are normally at odds with each other. But you must have led a good, clean life, Stacy, because in your case, they're one and the same. Good luck with the Catalina.

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