The age old question: do I fix or dump?

Dear Car Talk

Dear Car Talk | Nov 01, 1989

Dear Tom and Ray:

I recently had a minor accident--in my own driveway--with my 1981 Pontiac Gran Prix with 75,000 miles. The insurance company paid me to repair the fender and paint the car. The Grand Prix was a lovely blue when I bought it, but now it is badly faded. Even before the accident, I was thinking of repainting it because it has been very reliable and still runs well. My question is, would I be better off fixing the Gran Prix, or applying the insurance money toward a new car? If so, what car do you recommend? I would like a car about the same size, no larger. I need air conditioning, power brakes, power steering, and cruise control. I am middle aged and not interested in keeping up with the Joneses, but I do want a nice looking car with good repair record.

TOM: First of all, don't worry about the Joneses. Last time they wrote to us, it was to ask about their '77 Gran Prix. Second, why not consider a third option? Drive your Gran Prix as is and spend the insurance money on a wide-screen TV.

RAY: Seriously, Anne, there's a famous Click and Clack Axiom concerning intersection etiquette: "It's the largest, ugliest car that always has the right of way." With a beat up '81 Gran Prix, you're never going to have to slow down again! If the Gran Prix is mechanically sound, and if your ego can take it, keep driving and come home to Jeopardy in 35" diagonal splendor.

TOM: If, on the other hand, you already have your heart set on a new car, you'll probably be very happy with a Mercury Sable, which is the female of the Ford Taurus species. And after you get your Sable, see if you can sell your '81 Gran Prix to the Joneses.

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