Parting can be such sweet sorrow. While it’s the closure of an era, it also signifies the beginning of a new chapter, where possibilities abound. Having sold my loyal and faithful 1993 Buick Century, we have each entered a new era of life.
This terrific Buick was purchased as a six- to twelve-month proposition in January 2012. Acquired with all of 41,427 miles, she was obviously the pride and joy of the only prior owner. All maintenance records as well as the original window sticker were in the glove box and his love for it almost sprang off the page and sheet metal. How so? With oil changes every 400 to 1,000 miles, a thick coat of wax over the entire surface, even the wiper arms, and lint on the seats from the sacrificial towels told me a lot about the treatment she received..
Yet like most people, it wasn’t perfect. It still had two original tires and that fender bender in 2006 had yielded a new title with the unfortunate word “salvage” printed on it.
That certainly explains the white showing itself around the hood ornament.
Despite a few mild blemishes, this Buick was quite the visual attraction. Older gentlemen in the grocery store parking lot would ask me about her; one had a ’93 wagon with over 300,000 miles. His wagon had the same 3.3 liter V6 and three-speed automatic found in my Buick. While such a combination might seem detrimental to fuel economy, I hit 28 mpg on a trip to Chicago and 27 on a trip to Iowa City.
Life happens and the need for something different expressed itself. Placing the Buick for sale at 11:00 am on a Sunday prompted a flurry of activity; there were nine inquiries in the seven hours it was for sale plus three more in the hours after the sale. People were lined up to buy it. This was a new experience for me, and I didn’t have to budge from my asking price. Was this from craigslist? No; I had sent a single email to the local homeschool group.
The buyer was an eighteen year old male. When he pulled up to look at it, he was driving a very sad Nissan Sentra with a lot of rattles coming from the engine. He stated this Century was beyond his wildest dreams; his excitement was infectious.
So now he is happy and I am happy. While we are past the sunset of our relationship, a new chapter for each of us began that day. So long, old friend; I hope to see you around.
Good looking car. I’d’ve been tempted had I known! How could a fender bender lead to a salvage title? Must have been some fender bender!
From what I was told, the damage estimate was around $4000 in 2006, more than the value of the car at that time. Insurance wanted to total it, the owner said it was being fixed. So given this, it was fixed but retitled as salvage.
My father-in-law is currently experiencing the same thing with his ’03 Crown Victoria as the damage estimate exceeded the value of the car.
Nice clean car. This gives me a new perspective on “salvage” titles. Mentally, I associate them with hopeless wrecks that will never be quite right.
My low mileage 2002 Durango suffered $7,000 in damage in 2011. At the time, State Farm told me they were fixing cars to approximately 80% of value, so, it was fixed and there were no salvage title issues. It would not have taken much to juggle the numbers and end up with a salvage title. Fixing the Durango was the right decision, I’ve had zero post accident related problems.
Still though, it most likely carries a black mark on its Carfax, another unfortunate and probably unfair evaluation of the vehicle.
I suspect there may be some degree of variation among states on how this works due to titling laws.
You are correct, the salvage word really had me on the fence about buying it but there were zero related troubles.
You’re lucky in that the car was still owned by the original owner who had the work done. In California many of these insurance write offs are sold at auction where those running are driven into the auction tent. One gets seconds to look over the car before the auction starts. Someone in my office yesterday told me about buying a 2006 Mercedes at such an auction 6 months ago.
Only two bidders so they got a good deal you would think. Supposedly there was some fixed front fender damage. I asked if there was any frame damage such as a little crease in the unibody. Apparently when the car was aligned that was seen. She says it is definitely a car that needs two hands on the steering wheel when driving the freeway. She would never do it again and it now carries a “salvage” title. Her tips on the buying crowd gave me good insight to the buyers.
One time in the early 80’s a girl needed parts for her 73 Beetle. She gave me a blank look when I asked ‘Standard or Super Beetle?’ She had the title with her so I got the VIN and ordered the parts. She picked them up (front end parts as I recall), then returned later saying the parts are wrong. The VIN was for a 73 Super Beetle. I went and looked at the car and the front end was a 71-72 (flat instead of curved windshield) Super Beetle. I lifted up the rear seat and the VIN matched the title. I looked in the trunk and a 71 Super VIN was on the plate in the trunk. I finally lifted up the rear carpet and sure enough, it was two cars welded together. She bought it from a buy here pay here dealer. She asked if she got ripped off. Of course I told her to take it back. That Buick is a beauty, the kid got himself one sweet ride.
Well that sure is a lovely car and hope the owner takes good care of it. I’m guessing you did not buy a Focus to replace it. Did you save the license plates?
Come back in two hours for the rest of the story.
As far as plates, I still have them.
Plates stay with the owner in IL.
(in singsong voice) Not a Focusssss!
Coming out of a grocery store yesterday, an older gentleman pulled into a parking slot near the door in an immaculate / like new top line Century wagon. Having the idea my next car would be a wagon or SUV, I was tempted to approach this gentleman and make an offer, but didn’t. It was obvious he was as caring for this wagon as the 1st owner of this Century was for his car.
It’s unfortunate the Buick 3300 was discontinued and replaced by the Chevy 3100. All in the name of fuel economy / C.A.F.E.
Well there are plusses and minus to both 3300 and 3100 V6’s. I have owned and driven both and put loads of miles on each example. The 3300 has the advantage of all cast iron design giving this engine the cult status of Slant six longevity if properly cared for. The 3100 however is a 60 degree design which means it runs smoother and quieter and because it was teamed up exclusively with the 4 speed overdrive trans axle it got better MPG and was a little quicker than the 3300 cars. Another change was a swap from the 3300’s 2.73 ratio to a 2.93 for 1994-1996 A-bodies.
But the 3100 was plagued with the infamous intake gasket failure which if left unchecked could either wipe out or brake the camshaft in two or worse wash out the rod or main bearings thus rendering the engine a large paper weight. It also had aluminum heads which if overheated one too many times tended to crack causing all sorts of weird overheating issues.
As stated I owned several examples of both engines and got 200k trouble free miles from both setups. The key is anti freeze changes and making sure you don’t overheat the engine. Both my 3300 and 3100’s needed there intake gaskets replaced when the clock reached 111k on the Buick engine and 120K on the Chevy motor. Once that was done they ran reliably thereafter. My friend’s 1996 Ciera went all the way to 150K without needing an intake and my folks 1999 Lumina 3100 lasted to 160K before needing one so proper service seems to help a lot. I personally prefer the 3100/4 speed setup for it’s smoothness and greater polish and drivability but can appreciate the 3300 for it’s long lasting durability.
I got to ride in this car in Iowa City last year. I am not really a GM guy, but this was a truly charming car. I am sure that the new owner is thrilled to have it.
Well, I didn’t get to ride in it in Iowa City last year, 🙁 but I was charmed by it nevertheless. These A-Bodies have really grown on me over the years.
Neither did I. And now I never will. 🙁
Nor will I be gracing the State of Indiana in a Passat. Mrs. Jason will be in Davenport, Iowa, for three days and is coming back later on Friday after I will have left for Auburn.
So I will be in another rental! I figure I’ll be saving around $70 to get a rental plus fuel than the cost of fuel alone for the pickup. That just paid for a hotel room for one night.
Congrats, great looking 21-year-old car, especially considering it lives in rust country!
I know you didn’t have it the entire 21 years, but I did own a 1980 Volvo 240 for the same time span in northern and central VA — 1982 to 2003. The tin worm had gotten to it by the time I sold it.
I’m working on another long-timer — a 1998 Nissan Frontier purchased in August of that year. Looks fine, and the only significant rust is on the exhaust system, still original, no holes/leaks.
Anyone read about the cherry 60s Impala on the “other site” yesterday that spent nearly all of its years in eastern Europe?
So, is it a Midwestern thing that cars get damaged titles for things that don’t seem to be worth a damaged title?
MN gave my Mazda a damaged title for hail damage. I can see one sizable ding in the hood. I’ll have to drive it ’til the wheels fall off if I want to get my money’s worth.
It’s common in many places and it does have to do with the value in many cases and the absurdly low insurance value for older cars. Back in 1997, my ’79 Malibu was run into by someone who did not look before leaving a parking lot and hit the passenger side front fender at low speed. Left a sizeable dent and crumpled the trim. And for that, IIRC about $800 damage, they wanted to total the car. Oh, and their “book value” on it was $250. No way in hell they were taking my car and giving me a check that wouldn’t buy anything…took a couple weeks of fighting with State Farm but they finally agreed to pay for the damage to be fixed. Ended up with a salvage title in the process, though, due to a large dent.
You should’ve posted a picture of the window sticker!
That crossed my mind as I was writing this. GM was wanting $17,500 for it in 1993.
Damn, $17,500 is a lot more than I would’ve guessed, especially considering how much that must be adjusted for inflation! Then again, domestic car MSRPs were so wildly unrealistic back then and loaded with dealer rebates, that I imagine the actual OTD price the buyer paid was probably more like $13-15k. Not a bad deal for a basic sedan if you don’t mind that it looks like it was built in 1978, but I’d bet a lot of original buyers considered that a plus! Count me in as one who’d like to see the window sticker.
I’ve always appreciated the A-bodies, they seem so much more mechanically durable than any other GM passenger car from their era. I remember about 10 years ago thinking there were a ton still on the road, and their numbers haven’t dwindled a lot in the years since. The W- and N-bodies from the early-90s seem to be made out of cardboard in comparison and have gone extinct.
I recall that my mother negotiated $19K or a bit more on her 93 Crown Vic LX, which I thought was pretty reasonable at the time. I suspect that the sticker was closer to 22 or 23.
I always did like these A-bodies from the ’90s. GM made some very comfy seats for these cars.
How many miles were on it when you sold it? If it had 41K in 2012, I imagine you didn’t get it *that* much higher in 2 years, so that may explain all the attention. A 1993 model with under 100K miles is a pretty rare animal, and it’s late enough in the run of these cars that all the issues had long since been sorted out. Hopefully the kid who bought it will take good care of it!
I think the kid will take care of it. He bought it with his money and on his test drive he drove it like he was 81 instead of 18. Barring some idiot that intersects him, I think the car still has a very long life ahead of it.
“GM was wanting $17,500 for it in 1993”
Dealers had large discounts on these, which is why they were still so popular with seniors. “A Buick for a Chevy price”.
Even though we know its really a badge job, to many elders, the Buick/Olds badge made it ‘a step up’.
My 80 y/o father has a 2006 Lacrosse and doesnt like the new prices on Buicks, but also won’t get a “cheap Chevy”. No matter what i say, he wants the Buick name.
“The buyer was an eighteen year old male…He stated this Century was beyond his wildest dreams; his excitement was infectious.”
Shades of Russell and the Nash Metropolitan.
For some reason this car makes me think of the X-Files, they were usually running around in mid sized GM sedans in the first couple of seasons.
Wow that’s hard to believe a 3-speed automatic in ’93. A dinosaur of a car indeed.
No hard to believe is the fact that Toyota still offered a 4 speed automatic on a 2012 Scion XB years after everybody else started offering 5 spped autos. Toyota be partying like it is 1987.
Toyota still offers a 4 speed automatic in it’s Corolla and Yaris, under the 2014 model year. I just saw a base model Corolla the other day with one.
I am not surprised that it sold that quickly. They are highly sought after cars even now. My folks got their 1996 Century(the last year of that style) at the beginning of 1997 from Enterprise car sales( our credit union partners with Enterprise and offers instant financing for members) There were 15 1996 Centuries in various colors and equipment and 10 1996 Cutlass Cieras for sale amongst other cars. All of the A-bodies were sold with in 2 hours. They were good cars for what they were.
I can definitely appreciate the fact that this car served its purpose and reliably at that. But real, actual ‘love’ for what amounts to a transportation device is truly beyond me. Even more so is the idea of a 18 y/o being so I do remember seeing these (and their badge bretheren) in my high school and college parking lots and quite often. But even among non-enthusiasts, I got the impression that their owners saw these cars as a beggars cant be choosers type of affair. But for that purpose, you can hardly go wrong. Hope this kid gets many years out of it… An appliance it may be, sounds like its a good reliable appliance.
I went to a multi-dealer sales event in the summer of 1989 (just to get the free camera of course) and bought what turned out to be a fairly rare Century 2-door coupe “GT” for $11,500 on a $15,000 sticker. It was the only year for that GT package which consisted of suspension parts, sport steering wheel, wheels and Eagle GT tires likely left over from the discontinued T-type Century last sold in 1988. The handling on dry pavement was awesome and I loved the full width ‘Millennium Falcon’ taillight, fat turbine wheels and deep garnet red paint with burgundy and ‘mahogany’ interior. Got tons of compliments on that car. Alas, shortly after the purchase, my employer fell on hard times during the recession and we all had to take deep pay cuts or leave. I could no longer afford the 12.5% interest loan payment along with the ‘pre 25 year old with one accident’ insurance premium. I ran across the vin in my files a few months ago and ran a Carfax report out of curiosity. It appears it is still owned by the guy who bought it from me but with an accident damage notation.
I have fond memories of these A-body cars. When times got tough back in 2003 when I was laid off my good paying job it was a nice clean 1993 Olds Ciera 3300/3 speed THM 125, just as with this car, that got me through those upcoming hard times. She had 111K miles and had a rough stumble idle but went down the road well otherwise. The previous owner had just put new tires and brakes on her and she passed inspection with flying colors. The rough idle turned out to be owner neglect on the cooling system. Yes the antifreeze was as brown as mud and it wiped out the intake gasket. A simple can of carburetor cleaner was all that was needed to figure out there was a vacuum leak on the driver’s side intake gasket. I did the job myself and power flushed all the old antifreeze out and put all fresh fluid in. She ran much better but as with all 3300’s had that slight throb off idle which is a characteristic of non balance shaft 90 degree V6’s.
I put another 80K on that car and it never once let me down. It was also a series II car which meant it had power windows, locks, trunk and driver’s seat and alloy wheels which bounced off the silver blue paint really well. My job at the time was working as a copier tech so I had to drive all over creation. That Ciera got me there every time reliably and for that I won’t forget her! The funny thing is that a young kid of about 19 bought her as his first car and was thrilled to death just as in this story. He said this was the only perfect running rust free clean car he could find for under a grand that was turn key ready to go!