New Toy – Mid-Life Crisis?

Some actuaries might claim that I passed mid-life several years ago. Other people have told me that middle age is always 10 years older than one’s current age, which sounds reasonable to me. I’ve also heard that you’re only as old as you feel, which sounded like good advice until it got me busted for walking around campus feeling 18-year-olds. Regardless of which side of mid-life I’m really on, the half-century mark which arrived in May brought that common male menopausal craving to indulge myself with a new turbocharged toy.

My trusty 1989 F250 was definitely showing its age. At my level of usage (2500 miles/year), the drive train was probably good for at least another 10 years. But it was looking pretty rough, and other mechanical components needed attention. When I crawled under it to inspect a hole in the muffler, I noticed the rear shock absorbers were pretty well eaten away by corrosion. If I was going to keep it much longer, it was going to need some serious work.

On the other hand, I had a major birthday approaching which would be a good excuse to treat myself to a new toy. And if I bought a truck that month, I could save the cost of renewing the plates on the old one. It wasn’t hard to convince myself that was what I needed to do.

So I thought about features I really needed in a truck, and what would be nice but non-essential, and set some budget guidelines, and started perusing
AutoTrader listings. I quickly discovered that my budget would get me a very adequate truck, but not what I really wanted, which was the throaty roar of a turbocharged diesel engine, preferably one with fewer miles than the one I was trading in.

For the amount of hauling I do, a dlesel isn’t really necessary, because I’ll never save enough fuel to recover the cost. (I saw a rule of thumb that you need to drive a diesel 100,000 miles before the fuel savings offset the purchase cost. I’m sure that varies widely depending on fuel costs, vehicle costs, etc. But it sounded like a good ballpark estimate. And using that number, it would take me 40 years to break even on a diesel, at which point I would be way past mid-life by anybody’s standards.) But the extra lugging power is certainly nice, and I’ve been told the sound is a real chick magnet.

So, of course, I raised my budget limits and searched some more. I found a nice flashy red Chevy Duramax, and red is a classic color for midlife crisis toys. But I was trying to be a clever buyer and avoid rash impulse purchases, so I pulled the Carfax report on it and found that it had been wrecked with frame damage. Towing with a questionable frame didn’t seem like a good idea, so I kept searching.

The next serious candidate was a Dodge Cummins 2500. About the only thing wrong with it was the color (white), which didn’t seem like a good reason to pass it up. So I decided to go look at it, and if it didn’t give me any good reason not to buy it, I’d take another week to see if I could find anything better and buy the white Dodge if I couldn’t.

So I walked into the dealer, handed the salesman a copy of the ad, and said “Show me that truck.” He said “I sold it.” I said, “OK, what else you got?” And he pointed to this beautiful green F350 PowerStroke and said “There’s the truck you need.”

There’s no way a truck can stir one’s passions the way a horse can. So I suppose it wouldn’t be accurate to say I felt the same way looking at that truck as I did when I first saw Crossbo. But I did have that same sense of “I’m not leaving without it.”

So we took it for a test drive, and it just felt like the truck for me. So, after a little price negotiation, I drove it home. After a couple of months and a few hundred miles, I still love it. Rough calculations on my first tank of fuel indicate that it’s getting 50% better mileage than the thirsty 460 cubic-inch gas-guzzler in my old Ford. That sounds good, but since 50% better means 12 mpg instead of 8, it’s not quite as high as I had hoped for. I’m keeping my fingers crossed that after burning a few more tanks of fuel, I’ll get a more accurate estimate that might be a little higher, since it’s tough to get an accurate consumption figure from a single fill-up.

1 comment

  1. Hey Matt, I’ve favorited your blog so I can find my way back here to check the answer to this question:

    Have you ever served your country in the traditional sense?

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