Sunk Cost Fallacy & Opportunity Cost Reality

Inspired by a 2-hour conversation with Angie.

After five-plus hours hunched over in my driveway replacing pads and rotors on Fezzik, I spent the remainder of the day in JP’s pool. Cold Pacificos. The odd splash of rye. A tree or two. America-stylee.

We got to talking about possible 4WD trips in the future and my ability to come along. I’m about as interested in hardcore rock crawling as I am in drag racing—not particularly. It’s cool to see, but I’ve no more interest in building a fast tractor than I do in building a street car with no bottom end.

Still, I love having a vehicle capable of getting me far, far beyond the reach of the unitized crossover on chromed 20s. In fact, I’d go so far as to say I’d like to reserve the option of being able to go beyond the reaches of the typical, off-the-lot, domestic pickup truck, too.

But I haven’t been camping in a full year. (MOD last year, actually.)

Fezzik hasn’t had the best of care over the last 20 years. And though I’ve always felt I could go on the odd trail run—Fezzik is more capable than I am confident—I just didn’t want to risk the likely weak link repairs likely to result from my taking my camel to task loaded with straw if you know what I mean.

  • Extended idling at different angles—burning oil the whole time.
  • Long, slow climbs in the heat—with a leaky radiator.
  • Anything remotely technical—without 4LO.
  • It just didn’t make sense. Maintenance before mods.

So I’ve sat out just about every wheeling trip offered in the last year. I didn’t want to risk V&P being stuck in the middle of nowhere with me. I didn’t want to risk them not seeing me while I spend another full weekend in the driveway hating life because I *have to* do some major, unplanned repair in order to get to work Monday.

Sunk Cost Fallacy is real. And Angie took me to task in that pool Wednesday.

If you’re unfamiliar, sunk cost fallacy is basically the false belief that throwing more money at a problem will solve the problem. “I’ve already replaced the battery, alternator, starter, oil pump, water pump, spark plugs, valve cover gaskets, brakes, bushings, exhaust, instrument cluster, HVAC controls, rear diff, fuel pump, fuel filter, and air freshener—so there’s not much left to fail.”

“I’m *this* close.”

But what if you’re not?

What if I’M not? That’s what Angie was after.

When your friends with aggro, double-locked Jeeps plan four-wheeling trips with your inability to get into 4LO or idle without overheating or fear of breaking anything at all in mind, that’s a red flag.

At this point, I’ve easily got $3000 into my $2500 truck. Which is about to have a “restored salvage” title. I’ll never get more than $5000 out of it if and when I sell it.

Sunk cost fallacy is like losing $100 to a slot machine in Vegas and thinking, “The next pull will hit.”

Am I being optimistic about Fezzik? Perhaps, but if the last 10 years and four Shitsubishis have taught me anything about myself, it’s that I’ve always been a glass-half-full kinda guy. I tend toward the optimistic end of the spectrum—I am prone to sunk cost fallacy.

But not this time. Fezzik has a brand, spankin’ new engine, built by a trusted friend who not only knows these engines inside and out, but (probably) has the only business in the world right now actively developing new products for Monteros.

The smoke cloud on I-17 en route to OXW was terrifying—but it turned out to be a simple oversight, and Fezzik was *even better* 24 hours later.

I’m fixing little shit now. Technicalities standing between me and $2500 insurance money which will basically make Fezzik a free truck. Fast-right-cheap: pick any two, right?

I’ve got the parts I need to fix the shit that’s broke. I just need to find/make time to do the work.

I want my girls to enjoy Fezzik with me. They don’t enjoy my spending all day wrenching.

Fezzik is SO CLOSE right now. I have more faith in this vehicle than any I’ve owned since Daisy.

In fact, the only reason I’ve not re-named Fezzik “Daisy II” is because, well, that would cheapen both of them.

Fezzik isn’t a one-armed bandit. My odds improve with each legitimate repair.

There will always be a potential for breakdowns. You can’t beat entropy. You can’t stop the endless march of sand—but you can dispassionately evaluate your situation and decide for yourself—sunk cost fallacy, or opportunity cost reality?

Anyway, that’s what I was thinking today.

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