Hammer Time: Breaking The 400,000 Mile Barrier

“I am going to keep this car forever!”

So many say it. So few mean it.

The truth is, even if us hardcore old car lovers are talking about driving a car for the long haul, it usually takes a special car and a unique keeper mindset to make it happen.

Just recently I viewed the mileage results of 14,372 vehicles that were traded in to over the past two weeks. In a sign of our times, plenty of  cars now hit that once magical 200,000 mile mark. Nearly 1 in 14 trade-ins reach this coveted honor, with nearly all of them in good drivable condition.

Guess how many of those 14,000+ cars and trucks actually hit 400,000 miles?

Five. Pictures are in short supply this week since a lot of folks at the auctions are taking their vacation time. However, The winners of this purely anecdotal honor are….


A 2002 GMC Envoy SLE  with 400,634 miles

A 2002 VW Jetta GLS TDI with 418,946 miles.

A 1990 Chevy S-10 Blazer with 437,327 miles

A 1992 Honda Accord EX with 412,917 miles.

A 1991 Honda Accord EX with 456,193 miles.

Ever since a slew of volunteers started tracking the trade-in history of dozens of vehicles that wind up at auction throughout the country,  we have seen ever increasing numbers of the same result.  In fact, feel free to click below to get a pulse on the current state of things.


Most of the vehicles we see registering the highest overall mileage will usually (but not always)  fit in one of four categories.

1) Chevy truck

2) Ford truck (and Panther platform)

3) Honda car

4) Toyota everything.

These four categories represent about 30% of the overall trade-in inventory at the dealer auctions, and well over two-thirds of the top 30 finishers, week after week.

Name isn’t everything though, and a hearty, “Amen!” to that. Nearly every brand out there can lay some claim to an amazing longevity feat somewhere in this fair land.


The 500,000 model Fiat. In this case a meticulous 1980 Fiat Brava.



The 576,000 mile Mercury Comet owned for 48 years by Rachel Veitch,  a wonderful lady from San Diego, California.



Heck, there is an even a million mile SAAB, a 1989 SAAB 900 SPG ,  that managed to stay together through 17 Wisconsin winters thanks to the care of long-time SAAB enthusiast Peter Gilbert.

Just like a baseball team is highly reliant on the efforts of their pitcher, a car’s longevity is overwhelmingly based on the behavior of the owner. A loser of a baseball team can still wind up with a pitcher that makes them win like a World Series champion. Likewise, even the lowest rung of cars can cling onto the highest rungs of durability and longevity with the right owner.

Have you any of you known a long-distance runner owned by a friend that, say, wasn’t among the elite of popularity? An early Plymouth? An Eagle that actually flew instead of blew? A Nash worthy of the cash?

Feel free to discuss the the greatest improbabilities of your automotive realities.