NOB HILL--If every reader of this blog were asked to name the most amazing thing they could think of, nobody could top this: A Chevy truck with 884,000 miles on it! Are you kidding me?
That was the rumor. So I sought out Ron Holser and found him waiting out yesterday morning's wet snowfall in the parking lot behind the Starbucks. He was sitting in the same Chevy van I had heard about.
Everybody in this part of town has seen that van--going down Silver, parked at the Midtown Fitness Center, in the parking lot behind Starbucks, floating down Central Ave. like a tin plated prairie schooner. It's the kind of vehicle that if something breaks it gets replaced by a part from the hardware store. His door, for instance, keeps itself closed with a hasp and padlock, his inside handle is a clamped set of vice-grips, and a side window seems to be held in place with some foil-backed duct tape. But I'm not making fun of that van…oh no.
Ron rolled down his window and we talked about that rumor. "I heard that your engine has over 800,000 miles on it. Is that true?"
"Yeah…actually it has 884,000 miles."
"No kidding. Tell me about it."
"It's a 1978 Chevy with a 350 cubic inch V-8. I've had it for 21 years."
I was not exactly convinced. "I also heard that GM was going to give you a new van if you got to a million miles."
Ron grinned. "Chevy is waiting to confirm that this is the original engine. You see I'm the third owner. It already had 150,000 miles on it when I got it. A previous owner may have put in a new engine. GM should be getting back to me in about three weeks."
"And are they going to give you a new truck?"
"They might. They have a "million mile" program but I'm not completely sure about the new truck."
"Okay…why is this Chevy lasting so long?"
"I change the oil often, of course. But now I think what has made the difference is I started using Pulstar spark plugs five years ago. They're made here in Albuquerque. They ignite 20,000 times hotter than a regular spark plug. 20,000 times hotter! To pass the emissions tests I used to have to rebuild my carburetor every year. Now with these plugs I haven't done a thing for the last three years. Not even an adjustment."
"Yeah. My kids call the van "Scooby-Dooby Doo."
"Well, it is something of a Mystery Machine."