Libertyville man celebrates car with 300,000 miles

“Medwell Brown” was born 21 years ago in a factory and quickly shipped to Lake County, where he has spent the rest of his life working for Libertyville resident Phil Brown.

And Medwell just crossed a milestone many others of his make and model will never see.

Medwell, as Phil Brown named it, is a 1990 Oldsmobile Cutlass Cruiser XL station wagon. It crossed the 300,000-mile plateau on March 12, making it twice as long as the average car life, experts say.

“It really is a good car,” Brown said. “My mechanic and I think we can get another 100,000 miles out of her.”

According to Consumer Reports, the average life expectancy of a modern vehicle is about eight years and 150,000 miles.

“If a vehicle makes it to 200,000 miles, you are riding on borrowed time and the car is paying you back,” said John Ibbotson, of the Consumer Reports Auto Test Center.

Brown said he purchased the station wagon for his wife for errands and “driving the kids around.” About two or three years later, he inherited it from his wife when the kids became older and she got a new vehicle, he said.

Every day, he drove it to and from his job as a printer, roughly 80 miles round trip from Libertyville to Downers Grove.

“When my company moved from Midlothian to Downers Grove about 10 years ago, people made the suggestion that I should get a new car,” Brown said. “But I decided it was best to let this car depreciate even more instead of purchasing a new one and letting that depreciate.”

The best part of owning a car for 21 years is a lack of a car payment for the last 17 years, he said.

“I’ve had cars and payments come and go four times over, but I continue to drive this car,” he said. “The car doesn’t require payments and just keeps going. I enjoy driving the car. I’m very proud of it.”

Brown said he religiously changes the oil at the 3,000-mile mark — or about 100 Jiffy Lube oil changes in 21 years.

He’s also had to make some repairs or other purchases to keep the vehicle going.

“I get a new paint job for it every three years,” he said. “And, I’ve had to purchase three batteries, four new sets of tires and a couple or three alternators.”

He also admitted he’s had the transmission redone, but said he believes that’s when he was given some “bad advice” and could have settled with just a service call.

“But, most importantly, I’m still on the vehicle’s original engine,” he said. “And it still runs perfectly. To me, the car is special.”

Joe Wiesenfelder, a senior editor for, said reaching 300,000 miles is an amazing feat, especially for a car from the 1990s.

“One thing that I can say is that cars that reach high mileage like that, the owners get their oil changes every 3,000 miles without fail,” he said. “They also do not drive the cars too hard. There isn’t any fast braking or jack rabbit starts. They drive gingerly and really take care of the maintenance.”

Brown, who created a Facebook page to celebrate Medwell’s longevity at, said regular maintenance is essential to extending a car’s life.

“People look at it and wonder why I’m still driving it,” he said. “But my feeling is you should stick with the one that brought you to the dance. There’s just something special about this car that I just will not give up.”

His ultimate goal would be to reach 500,000 miles on the Oldsmobile, he said, but added other factors may force him to change his mind.

“At 500,000, I think my wife would divorce me if I didn’t get rid of it,” Brown said. “But, I don’t know. It’s an extremely reliable car.”

Paul Brown has had the same Oldsmobile Cutlass station wagon for more than 300,000 miles. He hopes to keep it for another 100,000 miles. Courtesy Phil brown
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