car

One little tan-colored Volkswagen.

A total of 22 years on the road.

More than 485,000 miles on the odometer, and there’s no sign of stopping now.

The man behind the wheel of that 1986 VW Jetta isn’t NASCAR’s Kyle Busch, but his name is the same and he drives one car — a lot.

And Busch said he’s on a mission when he’s on the road: “I’m trying to share my passion with others in trying to help them get more transportation enjoyment for their money.”

A sign fastened to the back of his car keeps track of the VW’s mileage and advertises the Web site and book Busch has devoted to his cause, “Drive the Best for the Price: How To Buy a Used Automobile, Sport-Utility Vehicle or Minivan and Save Money” (at drivethebestbook.com).

“My focus,” Busch said recently, “is (advocating for) driving the best vehicle for the amount of money you have to spend,” whether you are working on buying an economy car on a week-to-week budget or are a big spender looking to empty your pockets on a luxury SUV.

In Busch’s case, the “best” vehicle was, and still is, the VW he bought outright in 1991 for $2,600. With 82,000 miles on its odometer then, Busch — an Erie resident who now works as a mobile social-work therapist in Meadville — used the car for a job that then had him traveling throughout a seven-county region.

Those trips equated to between 500 and 800 miles of travel each week on back roads and interstate highways. With his workplace paying him for mileage, he said the car paid for itself within his first six months on that job. And eventually, he said, it returned 32 cents per mile for more than 139,000 miles — that’s $41,000 in his pocket.

Busch said he now continues to drive the car about 100 miles per day. “I can buy any new vehicle I want — Ferrari, Porsche, Mercedes, Lexus, Corvette, etc.,” he said, but “I still avoid buying new vehicles.”

And he’s made himself a nationally-recognized name in doing that.

Busch fields questions from drivers around the world on his Web site, offering general automotive insights and opinions as well as common-sense guidance on everything from the importance of regular oil changes to correct tire pressure in making sure a vehicle makes it the distance.

He’s also had his self-authored automotive articles featured by numerous media sources, including the internationally-syndicated Parent-to-Parent newspaper column; Southeastern Public Radio in Montgomery, Ala.; The Driving Force on Wheels in Detroit; and the North Palm Beach, Fla.-based Bankrate.com.

He said he’s also been featured in a Los Angeles Times transportation article; appeared as a guest on “The Elaine Smitha Show” in Olympia, Wash.; and had his book featured on Maryland Public Television’s “MotorWeek.”

Busch hopes to continue driving the VW at least until it reaches the 510,000-mile mark. After that, he said, he may try to pass it to some like-minded bargain vehicle enthusiast and pick up something for himself in the way of circa-1990 Porsche 944 or 968.

He’ll admit he’s grown attached to his ride and its character after driving it for nearly the past 17 years. “Obviously, it’s German,” he said. “It has a real mechanical feel, somewhat heavy in the steering,” and “it’s real square on the road — that’s why I like it.”

And according to him, liking it (and the price, of course) is what driving is all about.



Ryan Smith can be reached at 724-6370 or by e-mail at rsmith@meadvilletribune.com.



Learn more

For tips on how to get the best bang for your buck when buying a used vehicle, questions-and-answers, and more information about auto author and enthusiast Kyle Busch, visit his Web site at www.drivethebestbook.com.

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