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Hagerty Employee

The Rules of Repulsion

Last week, I wrote about " The Rules of Attraction." In it, I talked about what pulls us toward a hobby or a passion in general, then looked specifically in the car world at what causes us to be lifelong devotees of a single make and model.
Pit Crew

I've had two that rated Rules of Repulsion. My '69 Ford Galaxie 500, inherited from my father in October of '69 was a repair-of-the week car. I used to joke that every time I put the key in the slot it was $35. That was a lot for a high school student with a part time job. Add 7 mpg to that and I was glad to see it go when I bought a motorcycle to replace it. The second was my 2005 Dodge Magnum RT. The car checked all the right boxes: street cred, great looks, power, decent handling, comfortable, and deep in the bones, a little MB DNA. Unfortunately, it spent a significant portion of its life in the shop for repeated failure of parts that should go 200k miles. Then there were the endless arguments with the dealer to make covered repairs under the extended service plan (I won't call it a warranty). When the ESP expired and an AC clutch failure (the third in 80k) required a trailer rental to haul it home and a squashed vacation, I did the math, priced it right and dumped it to the first person to screech to a stop to look. Good riddance.
Advanced Driver

There's no shame in bailing out of a car that doesn't do it for you.

When i was in a tight spot I bought one of the dreaded GM "j" cars, Oldsmobile version I think. It was late December and the pos made me walk twice in the snow. The second time after the dealer "fixed" the problem. The next day I bought a new Festiva, the only one I ever saw with factory aluminum wheels. On a trip to the Smokies cruising 75mpk with the air on I got 50mpg great little car but I had to move it along to buy a new Samurai.

My deepest condolences on having to purchase a "J" car... Sometimes life is just full of HATE! 🙂

For me repulsion often happens after an accident. I had a 1991 Honda Si (the little hot-rod one) that I loved until someone rear-ended me at a traffic light. Yea, the insurance repaired it, but it never 'felt right' afterward and I got rid of it within a year.

My 2001 Mazda MPV I also loved for many years, until the windshield started leaking from a faulty install. Then a door handle broke off in the winter. I sold it and bought a 2008 Ranger which I still have and love.

I had a couple of Chrysler K cars that I absolutely hated from day one. Went through 3 of those fancy electronic dashes (with digital speedo), even one burning up while driving and filling the cabin with smoke. GONE, gone, gone. No regrets dumping a K car, for sure.

Just let go a 2004 Saturn this spring because the noise it made turned out to be the transaxle. The car simply was not worth the thousands to get it repaired and I'm too old now to do it myself. (not a transaxle, anyway).

I've let cars go because something critical broke and could not be welded to pass safety inspection (Nash Metropolitan front strut connection to body). I've unloaded cars (Dodge Neons) because I got tired of replacing engine oil seals after it dumped all the oil on our driveway (TWICE) or blew head gaskets (TWICE). We had 2 (wife and I) and dumped both.

So usually it's ... ONE BIG THING that makes the repulsion happen, not a bunch of small things. It also usually happens SUDDENLY. Like you wake up one morning and think: "I want this thing gone", just like that.
Intermediate Driver

I once owned a '92 Dodge Spirit, V6, auto, air, etc.  The Mitsu engine had the loudest valve noise I've ever heard but that little car was bulletproof.  I drove it 104,000 miles with no failures other than the rear window switch.  It was still tight and right when i donated it to charity.

I had a '98 Olds Intrigue that was designed and built on the proverbial Monday.  Door to window gaps that you could put your fingers through, electronic and electrical parts that were probably Lucas rejects.  It had the 3.8l V6 with the 200hp and 200 lb ft engine that couldn't hold cruise control speed up the hills between Baltimore and York, PA.  I still hate that car.

My best and most reliable cars were Chevy Impalas from the 1960s.


"Since I had other much cooler cars, he was not pleased"

I only had once such moment with my Dad. He looked at me flatly and said, "This is what you get for free." He always had the Help Wanted classifieds nearby for emphasis, and I knew that simple phrase applied to absolutely everything in life. From then on, Dad and I always understood one another.
Advanced Driver

Years back, I worked for a guy who, like me, had three sons. He said he told all of them "Here's the deal. I buy your first car. It'll be a sh*tbox. You'll pay for all the upkeep." I really liked his clear no-nonsense approach. Unfortunately, in practice, it was usually more difficult than that.
New Driver

Y’all do realize that unless you are junking a problem car, when you euphemistically “dispose” or “move on” or whatever term helps you sleep better you are passing on your pain to someone else...🤔. The car and its woes don’t just mythically vanish to that non-existent place called “away”.

My repulsive hobby cars can be narrowed down to two C4 Corvettes, a 1984 Z51 and a 1988 35th Anniv. Both were low mileage, both were purchased from the estate of the deceased owner and both morphed into unenjoyable project cars. Was glad to see them go, but in hindsight, I sold the 1988 for too little, even though I broke even (financially, not emotionally). Hobbies should be enjoyable and therapeutic, not a chamber of horrors. Lesson learned: Spend a little more up front and minimize the unpleasant surprises.

We had a 1978 BMW 320i after selling our 1976 Porsche 914, the biggest mistake we ever made. The Beemer would continually stall when it rained and shuddered like a nudist in a snow storm at speed. Both things were said to be normal for this model. ("They all do that." said the BMW sneering mechanic.)

When I had my old, family hand me down, college ride got to a point of repeatedly stalling on the highway and needing to sit a few minutes before restarting (the issue was known, but would have cost nearly the value of the car to resolve, so I limped it along since it was nearly 15 years old), I caved and bought a car that was inexpensive enough to afford on my single guy with first job out of college budget, and was reliable for my 20 mile round trip daily commute. It was also my first ever brand-new vehicle, a 2011 Scion xB. Was it cool? NO! Was it reliable, spacious, and less than $18k new? YES! I kept driving it for the next 8 years until my wife and I had our first kid and decided the little boxcar was no longer appropriate to our needs. Since we had just had a kid, planned for at least 1 if not 2 more, and had a much better budget than I had when I had gotten the Scion, what did I trade it on? A new loaded minivan of course.

I should add my wife got all the cool cars and turbo sedans, I get to drive the practical parent cars.

I had a wife once that wanted/got all the coolest cars - I thought I was keeping her happy.  Now I have a wife who realizes that "things" aren't what make her happy.  And thus, both she and I are happier than we've ever been in our entire lives.  The Rules of Repulsion can apply to stuff other than cars, trust me on this!


Great article, The Triumph GT6+ virtually came from the factory tied together with baling wire and duct tape. Whatever didn't break fell off then broke. British engineering at it worst.
Advanced Driver

The only car I ever hated was my '76 Corvette. A perfectly awful DD - 10 mpg, no matter if on the highway or in town, impossibly hot in the summer, impossible to drive in the winter, uncomfortable and impractical. Cashing the check when I sold it was a joy I cannot describe!

I never bought a car that was repulsive. Everything big have had was interesting or I made it interesting in some way.


No soulless Honda’s or Toyota’s. No Euro money pits. 

The most boring was my 1963 Galaxie sedan but it was lowered and we added Ansen period correct wheels from the 60’s. I had less than $1k in it but it was in like new shape and made a good cruiser. 



Advanced Driver

The thing of it is a car is never truly “yours” until you’ve been through one particularly horrific repair evolution. To me it feels like somebody else’s toy until the engine puller comes out and things could go either way whether it’s off to the scrapper or to the next cars and coffee. Making value out of someone else’s cast off is the spice of life!!
Pit Crew

1996 Dodge Ram 1500 4x4, and I was happy to see that POS gone! Lots of weird problems, and the topper was the auto shifter that was flaky. While running in my shop one day, it decided it wanted to leave and started reversing out of my shop by itself! I had to wait until it cleared the door as it was heading for the street, and flip the door open and jump in to shut it down. After that I tightened the incredibly sloppy shift linkage and sold it pronto!
Intermediate Driver

I picked up a used 1996 aqua green GMC Sonoma pickup because I thought I needed a pickup. It was a decent truck but the color never grew on me and I slowly began to repulse it. My fault for buying in the first place. Sold it to someone with a happier personality than me that liked the color.

Advanced Driver

Only one...and it was actually my wife's. She decided that the car she absolutely had to have was a shiny new 1985 Buick Century: dark blue, with a blue velour interior--and bench seats. I was able to persuade her to get the heavy duty suspension, the gauge package and Buick's version of the contemporary BMW eta engine--all torque (194 ft lbs) and no hp (121, on 3.8 liters). I warned her that she wasn't gonna be happy with the car's quality...but blue Buick Century it was.

At least the A/C worked well. It was problematical from day one--a never-solved electrical problem, paint that started to come off after 18 months, numb handling--and this with the "sport" suspension. I wonder what it was like with the standard suspension. Letters all the way up the Buick food chain produced no satisfaction.

Like Rob, we tend to keep our cars for many years, but after four years, she admitted I was right, and she wanted out. We sold it to one of her co-workers with only 64k miles; within 2000 miles the transaxle gave out. It was our first, and last, GM car.

She replaced it with an Acura Legend--and a legend it was. She only sold it when it was (1)17 years old and (2) she wanted a small SUV--ending up with a V6 RAV4 with a sport suspension. It steps along right smartly with 269 hp under the hood and handles well for an SUV.

Back in 1997, Nissan was literally Giving their hardbody pickups away. I mean, $75/ month (lease) for a regular cab, and $95/month for the extended cab. Wife & I had a 94 Ranger that we loved, but it was a bit expensive for us at that time. So, we traded her Ranger, I parked my 88 LSC MKVI, and leased 2 for two years. OMG, I could NOT wait for the time to be up! To be fair, neither truck had any major issues, got ok mileage, hauled junk in the bed, never failed to start, etc. (Both had 5 speeds, too). But they were the most BORING trucks to drive! Not very powerful (4 cyl), lousy shifter, cheap hard plastic interior parts, just that typical tinniness found in **bleep** vehicles at that time. The Ranger was luxurious, compared to the Nissans. My Lincoln LSC was like a sports car. Interestingly, Nissan had leased soooo many of these things out, that when 2 years was up, the market was flooded with them. Could have bought one cheap! My answer was Buh Bye to those two, and any other Nissans to this day.
Community Manager

They did the same thing in recent history by putting pressure on dealers to sell inventory for less and less profit (with a promise of more money afterwards) so this seems to be a recurring theme for Nissan?


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