My husband and I rented a Buick Lucerne while we were vacationing last week and he really liked it. So it didn't surprise me much when marketing research firm J.D. Power and Associates sent me a report this morning that said Buicks, and the Lucerne in particular, are among the top-10 most popular cars among people older than 65.
We've been talking about whether we should replace his current vehicle -- a Bonneville -- before he retires, or whether we ought to keep driving it until its wheels fall off. We own it free and clear and it's an orphaned model -- they don't make Pontiacs anymore -- so it doesn't have much resale value. Taking on a car loan at this stage doesn't seem smart, so we'll probably pay cash, which would be a pricey purchase.
I don't drive much, but when I do drive, my transportation is a 10-year-old pickup truck that we also use to pull our fishing boat and the trailer we take to the race track. I don't see much point in replacing the truck anytime soon -- maybe never. It only has 65,000 miles on it.
Deciding what to do next with our fleet has been one of our most contentious retirement planning discussions. Left to his own devices, my husband would buy two new vehicles -- the aforementioned Buick Lucerne for driving around town and a new four-door Ford F-150 for the fun stuff.
I look at the $80,000 or even $90,000 that he proposes spending as putting money down a rat hole. New cars lose 20 percent of their value when you drive them off the lot. Plus, people living in retirement don't commute, so why do we need brand new cars? A car that's a couple of years old would be much cheaper and -- if we buy smartly -- just as good. My current truck will run forever and we only need to keep liability auto insurance on it
My husband argues that his car is 6 years old and already has had some weird maintenance issues, and we don't want to be stranded on a long trip. Besides, he loves cars and he wants a new one.
In the end, we'll probably compromise. He'll buy the Lucerne, and I'll keep my old Ford. I'll remind him frequently that his car cost too much, and he'll complain endlessly every time he sees another rust spot on the truck.
It's the price you pay for being married.