1 2 3 4
1/28/23 9:49 p.m.

Up to about the late 70s or early 80s, you could buy a car like a Mercedes, Rolls Royce and maybe even a Bristol and with regular service, pretty much expect it to last you for the rest of your life.


Ironically, the Mercs and the Rolls have gone on to be cars that you don't want to be caught dead owning past the 5 year lease period. 


Is the "forever car" a dead genre? Or has it just been replaced with a Silverado pick-up?

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/28/23 10:07 p.m.

It's a lot of the cultural view right now. Latest most modern is cool. Older stuff doesn't get you youtube or insta views/likes unless it's into the classic era. 

Do forever cars exist? It's in weird niches now. Usually it's a car that was discontinued that was in a unique part of the market. 

alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 10:09 p.m.

Although, right now, the average car is older than it ever has been.  So more cars are lasting longer than they ever have.

maschinenbau GRM+ Memberand UberDork
1/28/23 10:11 p.m.

Uh, did they ever really exist? Very few cars from the past would make it to 100k miles without major overhaul, even the nice stuff.

My El Camino is a "forever car" in the sense that I plan to keep it forever, whatever that takes. But I think that's different than what you're talking about.

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 10:16 p.m.
alfadriver said:

Although, right now, the average car is older than it ever has been.  So more cars are lasting longer than they ever have.


Cars aren't rusted out before the 36 month loan is paid off, worn out everything before 100k miles.

Maybe my view of the idea of a "forever car" is cynical because I live where all cars are ephemeral.  They're like beloved pets, you know you're not going to have them around for very long.  But I am still impressed at how even the Japanese are figuring  out, slowly but surely, how to make cars last.  When I started my career in 1996 the rule was never try to lift a Japanese car by its jacking points if it was over four years old.  If the vehicle still had rocker panels, they'd collapse under the weight if you tried. 

I had a ten year old Subaru that was literally crumbling: I installed hood pins because there was no hood left where the latch was supposed to go, and I removed some of the seat belts by lightly pulling.  Eight years later, I had a 18 year old Golf that could no longer tricycle because the floor was a sandwich of undercoating and carpet with ferrous Grape-Nuts in between.  The doors popped open instead, which is entertaining when the 2-point seat belt (no lap belts!) was attached to the door.

Things are nowhere near that bad anymore.


That said, I bought my Volvo specifically because I wanted something I could keep for a long time.  That was four years ago, I'd like to get another one or two years out of it before it's time to go.

nocones GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
1/28/23 10:24 p.m.

They still exist but they are super high end.  I would say cars that will realistically have parts built to rebuild them until we are done doing cars as a enthusiast item.   My picks would be any Caterham, Morgan, and the Singer 911.  

These cars will be able to be maintained forever.  They are popular enough that You will never not be able to get parts for them and they are simple enough that the vehicle electrical system integration with the chassis can just be upgraded whenever rebuilds are done.  

ShawnG MegaDork
1/28/23 10:28 p.m.

90s and earlier pickup trucks.

Everything is unit repair. Remove failed component, repair and reinstall.

I'm never getting rid of my 89 7.3IDI F-250

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 10:29 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

I bought just such a vehicle in 1997  it was a 1/2t short box stepside 4x4 Chevy pickup.  It was paid for at least 3 times. From company car allowances. 
   It carried my house to here ( you've all seen the house).  Massively overloaded  and vintage race cars all over the country.    
  Traveled all over the Midwest to meet tens of thousands of customers and prospects. 20 years and 371,000 miles the distributor rotor broke and barely got me home.  Looking at it, the tin worm had destroyed the front fenders and doors.  The brake lines had been replaced 3 times and  the exhaust was moments from leaving for a vacation on the side of the road.  
     The original shocks were still good, In fact the important stuff like engine, transmission, rear end,  and suspension.  All original and still working.  
  Replaced with a Ford. Of the same characteristics. 

frenchyd GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 10:34 p.m.

In reply to NOHOME :

Perhaps it might be cars like my MGTD  I got it in the summer of 1962  owned it since   60 years and counting  

dps214 Dork
1/28/23 10:56 p.m.

I'm going to say it's cars from the last decade or so, if nothing else because corrosion protection has gotten much better fairly recently.

Also on top of the average vehicle age pretty much always increasing, so is the average annual miles driven. The average "lifetime of driving" now looks to be about 50% more miles than it was in the early 80s.

Appleseed MegaDork
1/28/23 11:12 p.m.

Forever cars exist as they always have. It is entirely up to the disposition of its owner

Tom1200 UberDork
1/28/23 11:16 p.m.

Irv Gordon didn't seem to have a problem with getting past 100K without a major overhaul.

VolvoHeretic GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
1/28/23 11:32 p.m.

Are we talking a forever daily driver?

alfadriver GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 11:40 p.m.

I think there's also a perception problem- the fact that there isn't a new car that you don't want to own forever vs. a POS that you love and are willing to put the time in on it.  

I remember seeing data on the Sierra Cosworth- one of the least reliable cars Ford ever sold, but also one of the most loved.  So a lot comes down to how much you want a car.

Nathan JansenvanDoorn
Nathan JansenvanDoorn Dork
1/28/23 11:45 p.m.

^ I'd agree with that. Disinterest probably takes nearly as many cars off the road as an absolute need to replace them. 

There are plenty of very high mileage land rovers on this side of the pond, kept in the road by owners who love them. 

To answer the original question: I'd argue a Landcruiser 100/200 series comes pretty close. 

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 11:53 p.m.

A couple of years ago I jumped in my father's old Miata and drove it across the US. 2000 miles in a few days, no tools on board and no need for them. The car was over 30 years old at the time.

I drove Tim Suddard out to Moab in my '85 CRX a few years back. He was surprised that I didn't have tools with me. Why would I? It was a 30+ year old Honda that got driven regularly.

Now, regular maintenance is about all you need to make a car last an amazingly long time. No roadside repairs, no need to replace points or fiddle with things, they just work.

Keith Tanner
Keith Tanner GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/28/23 11:54 p.m.

In reply to Nathan JansenvanDoorn :

Series Land Rover owners are fun because they expect everything to last forever. "These aftermarket swivel balls don't last, I just put these ones on 20 years ago and they're already pitted!"

Woody (Forum Supportum)
Woody (Forum Supportum) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
1/29/23 12:36 a.m.
maschinenbau said:

My El Camino is a "forever car" in the sense that I plan to keep it forever, whatever that takes.

Dammit. sad

Tk8398 HalfDork
1/29/23 5:45 a.m.

There are too many complicated special parts that once they are NLA the car doesn't really function anymore for cars from the last 20 years or so.  I think the 70s-mid 90s (depending on the car) are probably the most sustainable, but newer cars will last the longest without much work, although they are dispoable after that.

1/29/23 7:33 a.m.


Some good points presented. 

Durability-wise, most new cars already exceed the lifespan of what we considered "High Quality" cars of the 80's.

With perhaps the irony being that those models like MB, BMW and Rolls Royce are not to be trusted after the lease period.


What we are left wanting in cars is always the newest in entertainment. And that evolves too fast for anyone to want to hang on to a car very long.


The irony of it all is that "Forever Cars"  might have gone from being the purview of the well-to-do where they served the purpose of announcing a self-made-man who had "arrived", and become more of a benefit for the not-well-to-do who can keep a GM truck or old Volvo on the road forever because they cant afford to replace.

Ian F (Forum Supporter)
Ian F (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
1/29/23 7:44 a.m.
Tk8398 said:

There are too many complicated special parts that once they are NLA the car doesn't really function anymore for cars from the last 20 years or so.  I think the 70s-mid 90s (depending on the car) are probably the most sustainable, but newer cars will last the longest without much work, although they are dispoable after that.


Reliability and general durability of new cars is at an all time high.  The issue is the integration of computer systems and what the solutions will be when some of those systems fail and replacements are long NLA. And even if you can source a used part, you'll need to find a willing dealer who still has the diagnostic tools to reprogram the integration. 

I have a slim hope the aftermarket can fill that void, but I have fears about how profitable it will be and if a business case can be made to make the investment. 

ddavidv UltimaDork
1/29/23 7:54 a.m.

I love my 2006 Mustang and have no desire to replace it. I'm a few days from being 58 and would happily drive it the rest of my days. It's got 109,000 on it currently. Now, if I were still commuting to a job every day I doubt it would last. Fortunately, I work from home, so it gets very few miles put on it anymore. That, and keeping it in the garage, make it being a Forever Car much more possible.

Having just been to the local auto show yesterday, I don't find new vehicles very interesting. Nothing I looked at (aside from Mustangs and Challengers) are something I consider more than an appliance. And most of us tend to get bored with appliances when they start having problems. Just replace, because we aren't attached to them. I think the boredom/malaise of modern jellybean cars will be the reason they get traded off.

I've repeatedly said I would drive 'vintage' stuff daily if I lived in an environment that didn't eat steel several months out of the year. Older cars or trucks that are easy to work on and have cheap replacement parts can make 'forever' easily attainable. Just pick up an LMC catalog for the pickup of your choice built prior to the 2000s and see how you can mail order nearly the entire vehicle. Or, any vehicle supported by NPD, Autokrafters, etc.  Modern stuff will never enjoy that level of replacement parts support because of the complexity of the parts and the materials used.

Apexcarver UltimaDork
1/29/23 8:21 a.m.

An interesting aspect is the increasing complexity of cars. Cars are more and more electronic with more and more modules that run on a bus architecture. Finding a new car that will have support going forward is what is going to keep it from happening. 


People running Ferraris from the mid '90s on have been seeing this for years that they end up spending thousands of dollars to have electronic modules rebuilt to keep the car running. This is pervasive as cars get less and less support over time unless they're an enthusiast model that does get aftermarket replication of these electronic modules or mass rebuilding at an effective price. Or an OEM that stockpiled enough components to support it in service for a very long time... ( Ferrari sure doesn't)


One newer example go find me tail lights for a Cadillac XLR.


At the very least it would have to be a popular enough vehicle that there would be enough parts coming out of junk yards to keep it running for the foreseeable future.


At the very least this is a timely thread because my mustang is kind of my forever vehicle and I've been buying a lot of parts to keep it going and revitalize it in the last couple weeks. That said I have an easy lift it's only got about 62,000 MI. Lots of what I need is fairly readily available due to the popularity of the platform.

Duke MegaDork
1/29/23 8:37 a.m.

We had a 2003 325i and a 2004 TSX.  We replaced them in 2017 and 2019, and we live in a place where they brine and salt the roads.

Neither had any body rust and we could easily still be driving both today from a mechanical standpoint. We just had the money and wanted to change them up.

I sold the BMW to a stranger and never saw it again, but the Acura went to an acquaintance and is still going strong.


dculberson MegaDork
1/29/23 8:44 a.m.

I've seen enough super rusty 50s-80s Mercedes and Rolls and BMW to know that "forever car" was never a thing. It was mostly marketing.

Even the "stainless steel" Delorean had a mild steel structural backbone that rusted terribly. 

1 2 3 4
Our Preferred Partners