Geezers and Old Cars

Sep 29, 2001

RAY: This Puzzler was inspired by an email I got from Dave Trayers. I, of course, obfuscated, embellished, modified, and switcherooed everything.

Here it is: A few days ago, I was sitting at a table at a little restaurant. Next to me were two old geezers chatting away.

They were lamenting the state of modern cars. Specifically, the fact that all modern cars have fallen victim to the rules of aerodynamics. As a result, they all look the same. At some point, I lost track of the conversation. When I tuned back into it, I heard one of them say, "Oh, yeah, I miss that, too." The other guy chimes in, "Yes, so do I. I used to look forward to seeing that every year in my car."

The first guy then asks the other, "Have you seen it in your new car?" to which the second guy replies, "No, no way, you¹re not likely to see it the way I drive either."

The question is: What the heck are they talking about?


TOM: A broken water pump. I used to look forward to that broken water pump all the time. No, am I wrong? Am I right?

RAY: You're close. You don't realize how close you are. No, what they lamented not seeing was all the digits on the odometer reading the same. Back in the old days, your odometer would read five digits, so it would go up to 99,999 and then it would flip to all zeroes. But, just about every year, assuming you drove 11,111 miles, you would see all ones and then the next year you could see all twos and all threes, but with newer cars having six digit odometers, you're not going to see that until you get to 111,111 miles and you may only see it once in the time that you own the car. Pretty sad.

TOM: If you're lucky enough to live that long.

RAY: And the way these old guys are driving 700 miles a year, they're never going to see it. So who's our winner?

TOM: Wow! The winner, the first winner of the new Puzzler Season is Roger Cook, from Burlington, Vermont.

Get the Car Talk Newsletter