You might recall that I reached 215,000 miles on the odometer of my 1993 Eclipse. That seemed rare enough. But I recently stumbled upon Drive to Five, the blog of an Acura owner who recently reached the 500,000 mile mark with his ’94 Legend coupe.
Half a million miles is enough to take you to the moon and back, then around the world a couple of times. I suppose just reaching a mileage mark isn’t all that dramatic. With enough money, you can replace or repair any part on a car. That’s how we keep airplanes flying for a half century or more: money. They’re worth enough that it makes economic sense to pour large sums into the maintenance and occasional refurbishment of the aircraft.
A few things stand out about this particular car. First, it’s still running on the original engine, transmission, and clutch. Second, the owner doesn’t baby the car; he’s driven it off-road and even used the vehicle in road races. Finally, he claims that even after half a million miles, the car doesn’t smoke or leak a drop of oil. Oh, and he averages better than 30 mpg.
Acura got wind of his web site and invited him to the company’s headquarters in Torrance to celebrate the milestone. He managed to arrive for the ceremony with 500,000.2 miles on the odometer. They awarded him some expensive parts, free maintenance until the end of 2012, and even put his car in their museum for the day.
I wonder how many hours an aircraft would have to accrue on the Hobbs meter before Boeing, Beech, Cirrus or any of the other OEMs would do the same. It’d have to be a pretty large number, because airliners already post some impressive stats. A sizeable fleet of DC-3s built in the early 1940s are still flying some 70 years later. In 2004, South African Airways retired a 747-200 built in 1971. At that time, it had accrued more than 107,000 hours of flight time.