If you ever listen to Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers on NPR's "Car Talk," you know they advise that the most cost-effective car you can buy is a used car. I've inadvertently followed that advice my whole life. I've never had a brand new car and I've driven almost all the cars I've owned into the proverbial ground.

Right now we have a 1985 Dodge van, which I refer to mentally as the "escape mobile," and an even tackier looking 1984 RX-7, which our friends jokingly referred to as a "rice rocket" when we bought it. Like the other Japanese cars I've been involved with, the RX-7's mechanicals work just fine, but little things, like the gas gauge, stop working, requiring us to use the trip meter to track our fuel.

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