The $180,000 Car that Won’t Start


They only made 503 of them. This particular 1969 Dodge Charger Daytona cost $3,993 new. The second owner, an Alabama man, bought it for $1,800 in 1974 and painted a set of flames on the front fenders for a spring bread trip to Panama City. He drove it sparingly until 2011, until he was in a wreck. The car was then put under an open shed, where it has deteriorated and rusted ever since. Today the car is worth about $180,000.

The red coupe has just 20,553 miles on its numbers-matching 440 Magnum V8, and features the rare combination of bucket seats and a console-mounted 3-speed automatic transmission. Despite its poor condition, the car will pass the auction block in Kissimmee, Florida next month at the Mecum Auction. It is expected to draw between $150,000 and $180,000. Not bad for an investment of $1,800.

The psalmist asked, “What is man, that Thou art mindful of him?” (Psalm 8:4). Max Lucado writes, in his daily devotional, “God sees us with the eyes of a Father. He sees our defects, errors, and blemishes. But He also sees our value. What did Jesus know that enabled Him to do what He did? Here’s part of the answer: He knew the value of people. He knew that each human being is a treasure. And because He did, people were not a source of stress, but a source of joy.”

The Environmental Protection Agency has calculated the value of a human life at $9.1 million. The Food and Drug Administration’s current estimate is $7.9 million. The Transportation Department puts the number at $6 million. A lung alone can bring $100,000.

But when you break it down on the periodic table, we aren’t worth so much. A corpse’s raw resources are worth about a dollar. Once the water is drained from the body, there are trace amounts of sulfur, which is the most valuable element in the human body.

So according to one perspective, man is worth $1. Other estimates take man to over $9 million. God puts the value much higher than either. When King David asked the question, “What is man that Thou art mindful of Him?” he said what most of us were thinking. What is there about me that brings value to God? Do I have value in the eyes of God? Paul said, “While we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). On our worst day, we were of such great value that God would sacrifice his only Son for us.

Lucado nails it. God sees each human being as a treasure. And because He does, people are not a source of stress, but a source of joy. The 1969 Daytona finds its value, not in its condition or how well it runs. It was created unlike most other cars. With its deteriorated condition and rusted out body, its value is not diminished; in fact, it has gone up. I have more miles on me than at any other point in my life. Every morning, it takes a few more seconds to knock off the rust so I can get out of bed. I don’t look new and I don’t drive new. Sometimes, my engine won’t start. But the One who made me still sees value in me. On my worst day, to God I am not a source of stress, but a source of joy.


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