My ‘new’ van at age 10 and 200K miles gets no respect

By John Toth
Bulletin Publisher

A few columns ago I bragged about how my green 1995 Dodge Caravan reached 200,000 miles. I was so proud of it that I lost track of how many miles are on my “new” Dodge Caravan.

I call it new to distinguish it from the old green “ghetto van” with the peeling paint job that requires that I wear dark glasses each time I drive it. I’m working on that, but it takes time.

I also call the newer model the “gold van,” because – it is gold.

The gold van is a 2001 model. It is like the middle child; often ignored because the first demands more attention. The gold van also recently reached 200,000 miles on the odometer, and I didn’t even notice it.
The ghetto van’s odometer was commemorated with a photo on that special occasion. There was no photo, no recognition whatsoever. I just looked at the odometer recently and noticed. I knew it was close, but didn’t much care.

The gold van has served us all these years without much trouble – a new A/C and routine repairs. Dodge made the Caravan a lot better after revamping the model. I have heard other Caravan owners who have relied on this van for many years comment on what a workhorse it is as well as being trouble-free.

Here I go sounding like a car review columnist, which I am not. I just have been driving these two vans for a combined mileage of more than 400,000. That makes me somewhat of an expert on the model – at least an amateur expert.

Why would I keep these cars for so long?

I get attached to cars and hate to let go. I wish I never would have sold my 1968 Buick Skylark. It had a lot of memories, but I traded it in for a new compact car in the early 1980s.

Also, old cars are cheaper than new ones, and with maintenance they can run for a long time.

And, they have a lot of character. My 1999 Cadillac still has the older design with the emblem in the front sticking out on top of the hood.

Cars may be made better today, but they are not built to withstand the test of time as far as memories are concerned. The Skylark was my car in college and the car that brought me to Texas in 1979. It took me through a lot of states for many years, and had I kept it, it would now be a classic. But I got rid of it as a $400 trade-in – big mistake.

The gold van has lots of memories also, but it has never captured me in an emotional way – maybe because of its design. The 1995 van reminds me of the old VW buses. The 2001 model is just too modern and sleek-looking. That’s probably why it didn’t occur to me to commemorate the 200,000th mile with a photo.

The gold van has to be given credit, though. On the outside it still looks pretty much like new, and the inside has stayed together a lot better than the interior of the ghetto van. And, the gold van is a lot more comfortable to drive than its predecessor.

Here is the best part of the “new van.” It has an original cassette player.

Am I the only person in the world who still likes to play cassettes in the car? Probably. Am I?