Gunners Garage

Low-Miles Skepticism

   If you read Angelo Van Bogart’s latest “Under the Hood” blog you’ll hear about and see the 19’66 Caprice that ex-Old Cars Weekly staff member Kenny Buttolph picked up last week. It’s a very nice car with 19,000 miles showing on its odometer.    Kenny has been involved in the hobby for years and knows how to spot a low-mileage car. I’m sure he checked his Caprice out very carefully. 
  However, I have to admit I usually get skeptical when I hear stories about cars 40 or more years old that have unusually low odometer readings. Not Kenny’s car, mind you, but cars in general.
   I have seen many 100,000-mile-plus cars that were very well maintained and look like 20,000-mile cars. On the other hand, I have not seen many cars purchased only to be stored away and never driven. People buy cars to use them and it’s easy to put thousands of miles on them with only minimal use. My girlfriend has a ’97 Cadillac that she maintains meticulously and only drives once every two weeks. In the winter, it’s used even less. And it already has 35,000 miles on it.
   Years ago, cars did not have sealed speedometers that read to six digits and mileage laws were not as strict as they are today. So I can’t help thinking that a lot of the “low-mileage” cars you see in the old-car hobby today are just well-preserved cars that rolled over the 100,000-mile mark rather gently.
   What do you think?  Click on “comments” below and tell me. 
 
“Gunner”

4 thoughts on “Low-Miles Skepticism

  1. John

    Ok, last one. I don’t think I’m as skeptical as you, John, although I’m sure I have seen cars billed as low original miles that have been around at least once. I owned a 66 Buick LeSabre from 1999-2005 (thus my e-mail address). It had 14,391 miles on it when I bought it and with the documentation, I believe it was true. The car was originally ordered in May of 1966 and built the third week of June 1966 according to the body plate. It was purchased by an older man in Chicago and was transferred to his son in 1973. I had the title from that transfer. The son sold the car to the fellow I bought it from in 1979 and there was documentation showing 11,000 miles at that time. That fellow put it in his collection and drove it about 100 miles a year for the next 20 years. In 1999, he was thinning his collection. I saw the ad in "Old Cars", responded and bought it. I sold it to a fellow from Sweden in 2005 because I wanted something different, but regret doing so. I replaced that car with my ’72 LTD. I bought it off E-bay from a family in Boston in January 2006. It had 34,000 miles. It, too, was originally purchased by an older gentleman in Pennsylvania. The second owner found it for sale on the side of the road on his way home from Hershey in 1979. He bought the car and put it in storage, using it infrequently. In 1999, it was sold to the family I bought it from with 27,000 miles. They used the car as a third vehicle summers but eventually didn’t need it and had no room for it. I had the car thoroughly serviced and gone over and you can tell from the underside that it is completely original and rust free. Low mile original cars are out there !

  2. John

    Ok, last one. I don’t think I’m as skeptical as you, John, although I’m sure I have seen cars billed as low original miles that have been around at least once. I owned a 66 Buick LeSabre from 1999-2005 (thus my e-mail address). It had 14,391 miles on it when I bought it and with the documentation, I believe it was true. The car was originally ordered in May of 1966 and built the third week of June 1966 according to the body plate. It was purchased by an older man in Chicago and was transferred to his son in 1973. I had the title from that transfer. The son sold the car to the fellow I bought it from in 1979 and there was documentation showing 11,000 miles at that time. That fellow put it in his collection and drove it about 100 miles a year for the next 20 years. In 1999, he was thinning his collection. I saw the ad in "Old Cars", responded and bought it. I sold it to a fellow from Sweden in 2005 because I wanted something different, but regret doing so. I replaced that car with my ’72 LTD. I bought it off E-bay from a family in Boston in January 2006. It had 34,000 miles. It, too, was originally purchased by an older gentleman in Pennsylvania. The second owner found it for sale on the side of the road on his way home from Hershey in 1979. He bought the car and put it in storage, using it infrequently. In 1999, it was sold to the family I bought it from with 27,000 miles. They used the car as a third vehicle summers but eventually didn’t need it and had no room for it. I had the car thoroughly serviced and gone over and you can tell from the underside that it is completely original and rust free. Low mile original cars are out there !

  3. Gunner

    Two great personal experiences. I like the idea of documentation of a low miles car and I mean something other than pointing to oil change stickers on the door jamb. With full and proper documentation, low mileage adds to the owner’s enjoyment of a vehicle, not to mention its value.

    Gunner

  4. Gunner

    Two great personal experiences. I like the idea of documentation of a low miles car and I mean something other than pointing to oil change stickers on the door jamb. With full and proper documentation, low mileage adds to the owner’s enjoyment of a vehicle, not to mention its value.

    Gunner

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