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635,000-Mile Ford Escort
I love stories about high-mileage vehicles. Thanks to Nancy Leasman of Long Prairie, Minn., for sharing this story.
    When Brent Lenz bought his new 1994 Ford Escort, he just wanted a dependable car to get back and forth to work at his electronics repair shop in downtown Long Prairie, Minn. What he didn’t expect was that the car would still be going strong at 635,000 miles.
    Brent paid $14,000 for the 4-door hatchback. He babied the car, and the miles added up thanks to the longer drives he often took to make repairs at peoples’ homes. He averaged about 25,000 miles per year, never missing scheduled maintenance.
    The weight of his tools in the trunk, and the fact that he often pulled a camper, added extra wear. So along the way he replaced the brakes, struts and rear springs. At 112,000 miles a valve seat let loose so he installed a rebuilt head. The car required no transmission work whatsoever until it got over 600,000 miles.
    One afternoon during the summer of 2019, Brent made a quick stop at his repair shop between calls and left the car running. An inmate who had escaped from the local jail hopped into the car and started to take off just as Brent came out and grabbed onto the door handle. The momemtum of the car spun Brent around, knocking him to the ground.
    “I was in shock, lost my breath and couldn’t even think straight,” he says. Once he pulled himself together, he called the police.
    Brent learned only 2 or 3 hrs. later what happened to his Escort. The thief drove the car through low land, gathering up willow refuse in the undercarriage, damaging the quarter panels, exhaust system, control arm on the passenger side, a rear wheel, and pushing in the front end which destroyed the bumper and cooling fan. The car was found in a community about 40 miles away, where it had been abandoned. It was considered to be a total loss. It was still drivable but limped along like an old soldier.
    Brent’s work tools, valued at over $3,000, were in the car when it was stolen and have not been recovered.
    He went online, looking for a similar vehicle, and found a 1998 Escort that was roughly the same color. It had only 87,000 miles on it with no rust, and the interior was pristine.
    Over the next months Brent spent odd moments prepping and painting the car to look like the old one. He likes to think the car has another 500,000 to go, but he still plans to get his original Escort running again so it can be his back-up car.

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3