After a long, successful spring break, the SMV team has completed the carbon fiber body.  Of course, there’s still plenty to do, but the team is right on track.

Top body

Sleek, sexy carbon fiber...mmm

A couple weeks ago, I talked a bit about how it can be better for the environment to continue to drive older, fuel efficient cars rather than buy new cars, which take resources and produce carbon emissions to make.  I plan on driving my car until it peters out on me, but I’m nothing compared to these car-loving auto owners who told their stories on CNN’s iReport.

Here are a few of my favorite stories.

This guy has a self-admitted obsession with his Acura Legend Coupe.  With over 400,000 miles on it, he’s visited 40 states (including Alaska) and is still running with the original transmission and engine.  The guy even keeps a spreadsheet of all the maintenance he’s done on the car; he’ll email it to you if you don’t believe him.  Here’s a video (with swanky music) of the car turning 400k.

Here’s a Dodge Neon that has over half a million miles on it.  Its owner bought it new with a grand total of 12 miles on it; I guess you could say they’ve had a lot of time to get to know each other in the 12 years he’s had the car.  Even now, with that super high mileage on the car, the guy’s biggest fear is getting into an accident and having insurance companies refuse to fix the car because of its lack of KBB value.  The car is claimed to routinely get at least 32 mpg, which is pretty great regardless of car model.

This woman and her Ford F-150 prove that you don’t have to have a tiny car to drive it forever.  She’s got over 325,000 miles on her truck and all she’s had to do is replace the transmission at 150k and change the oil regularly.  So even if you drive a bigger car or truck, you can still suck every last drop of life out of it!

I have to put this one in here because it’s a bit unbelievable, but seems to have the proof to back it up.  Here’s a 2007 Toyota Yaris with an incredible 400,000 miles on it.  Apparently, its owner has to drive a ton for work (and trust me, to put on that many miles in four years is a huge amount of driving).  The car still has most of its original parts, although it did need a new alternator and new shoes and pads.  I don’t know how long the car will last with its owners accident-prone driving style, but that is a lot of miles!

Last but not least, let’s give some props to those fantastic Germans.  This guy (and his mom) have been driving their ’89 Mercedes Benz 300E for almost 300,000 miles.  Despite surviving a crash with a newbie driver, the car has had minimal problems and has stalled out only four times in its lifetime.

Moral of these stories: loving your car might keep it alive longer, just because it’s old/has lots of miles doesn’t mean it isn’t useful, and change your oil!  I know we’re American; we tend to like new, shiny, cool things.  We talk about that “new car smell.”  But sometimes the things we can get the most pleasure from are neither new nor especially pretty.  Take stock of what your actual needs are and decide accordingly.  And if you need help keeping your jalopy alive, talk to one of those guys from iReport!