LOS ANGELES – Guy Newmark says his best friend is his Porsche 356.
Blu, the name he gave it, is no ordinary car. He has driven the classic German sports car more than 1.1 million miles since he first took hold of the keys in 1964.
At a time when new cars are in short supply and prices have skyrocketed, Newmark’s vintage Porsche is living proof that if you’re willing to pour love and money into your old car, you can keep it alive for generations.
While passing the million-mile mark puts a few treasured vehicles around the country into a particularly elite class, there are many models that have proven they’ll last 200,000 miles or more with a little TLC.
A list from iSeeCars.com, a website that rates and analyzes auto deals, shows that the Toyota Land Cruiser is tops among vehicles likely to go the distance. Some 16.3% of the go-anywhere SUV brand hurtled past at least 200,000 miles based on the analysis of 11.8 million used-car sales in 2020.
The Land Cruiser “was designed to be indestructible,” explained iSeeCars Editor Julie Blackley. “It’s used in third-world countries, made for rough terrain.”
As the Land Cruiser demonstrates, the list of longest-lasting cars isn't so much about cars as they are trucks.
Pickups and SUVs dominate the list, especially massive full-sized models that have heavy, truck-based frames. Toyota Sequoia, Chevrolet Suburban and Ford Expedition place 2, 3 and 4 respectively in the rankings.
Toyota 4Runner, another SUV, is in fifth place. The only car in the top 10 and a model slated to be axed, the Toyota Avalon, is sixth. Then, rounding out the list, is Chevrolet Tahoe, Toyota Highlander Hybrid, Toyota Tundra and GMC Yukon XL.
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Top 10 longest lasting cars
Toyota Land Cruiser
Toyota Highlander Hybrid
GMC Yukon XL
Domination by truck brands hasn’t changed much on the list for the past few years, showing that the hefty, often fuel-thirsty vehicles not only hold up to the demands of the highway but hold their value. Even the Toyota’s venerable Prius hybrid, which scored highly in a recent Consumer Reports survey of durability, only rates 26th in the iSeeCars' list.
“The cars that last the longest and rack up the highest mileage are mainly trucks and truck-based SUVs,” Blackley told USA TODAY. “These cars not only reach 200,000 miles, they are also able to be resold.”
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How 'Blu' translated to 'longevity'
But, as Newmark’s Porsche shows, many cars can live for decades with the proper care.
He said wistfully that he and the car have been through a lot together, whether it was taking his kids to soccer practice or just going out for a spin. As a result, “it is my best friend.”
He named it Blu because that’s how he thought blue is spelled in German. He said he got it wrong, it’s blau. But he stuck but the original name (and is probably good that he did since Google Translate says blau can also be construed as “drunk, high, plastered, sloshed” and a few others.)
Like any special friend, he has shown Blu the attention it deserves.
Over the years, he’s had the interior reupholstered, the engine rebuilt and more recently, new paint – Porsche's Bali Blue. To keep his Porsche in top shape, he says he drives it two or three times a week for errands like jaunts to the gym and gives it more serious exercise on LA freeways in the metropolis' South Bay to get the engine up to the proper temperature.
The 356 has been remarkably reliable for a car with its mileage, he said, except for the time it broke down on the freeway at 881,000 miles. He thought he had a flat tire, but when he climbed out and looked the tires were fine. The problem was far worse, a broken crankshaft, a critical engine component. Luckily, he was able to find a new one and had it repaired.
Blu's worst adventure, however, was being stolen. Because the car’s massive mileage had made it famous in Porsche circles, he had a lot of friends and Porsche fans on the lookout.
“When it was stolen and word got out through the nation, people were looking for Blu. Newmark said.
He feared it might go the way of other stolen classic cars – hidden away in an ocean shipping container for a trip to Asia or Europe, where thieves would have it sold.
After a reward was posted, Newmark said a woman called four days after the car disappeared. She told him that a blue car was parked out in front of her house. She didn’t know its brand, but Newmark went to take a look anyway. It was Blu. Apparently, the thieves had been unable to jump-start or hot-wire the car and it was found a short distance from where it had been stolen.
Safely back home, Newmark has racked up the miles ever since. How much farther will he go? In all probability, many more.
"it's such a joy to drive," Newmark said.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Ford, Toyota, Chevrolet top list of longest lasting cars, trucks, SUVs