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CNN.com readers holding on to big SUVs

  • Story Highlights
  • High gas prices not convincing all iReporters to sell SUVs
  • Some have found ways to make money on the gas guzzlers
  • Others say they wouldn't save enough money to justify new car
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By David E. Williams
CNN
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(CNN) -- iReporter James Holler is the first to admit that he drives a gas-guzzler -- in fact, he has two of them.

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Kim Davis says she gets tired of the glares she gets from Prius owners.

The Houston, Texas, businessman spends about $75 a week to fill up his 2004 Ford Expedition and another $80 on premium gas for his 2001 Jaguar XJ8.

But instead of being a drain on his wallet, the soaring price of gas has been a financial windfall.

"There's good business in it," Holler told CNN. "They're older models, but because everyone's dumping their vehicles you can't beat the price on them."

Holler paid thousands less than the cars' blue book values and also saves on insurance because they're older cars, he said.

One of his friends bought a Toyota Camry hybrid and is saving about $300 a month on gas, but has a $600 a month car payment, he said.

Holler also is making money off of the SUV glut by buying vehicles at cut rate prices and selling them to people in Central and South America, where gas is cheap and big trucks are in high demand.

"I'm snatching them up as fast as I can," he said.

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He says he just bought a pair of 2007 Ford F150s for $9,000 each and he's selling them for $18,000 each. It costs him about $2,200 to ship a vehicle out of the country, which leaves him with a tidy profit.

We asked CNN.com users why they were hanging on to their trucks, vans and SUVs in the face of record oil prices and $4 per gallon gasoline. We heard from hundreds of people, who love their big rigs, or would love to get rid of them. iReport.com: Still driving a gas guzzler?

iReporter Scott Edstrom, of Grand Ledge, Michigan, says he's pretty much stuck with his Chevrolet TrailBlazer because he's "upside down big time."

"I know what I owe on it and I know what they're going for -- significantly lower than what I owe -- so I haven't even attempted to sell it because I know I can't," Edstrom said.

The network IT analyst said gas prices have doubled since he bought the car in 2005 and that he's paying about $100 a week to fill up.

"I've run out money before I've run out of month several months in a row now," Edstrom said. "It's been a struggle to get by."

Kim Davis, a Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, software product manager, tried to sell her Land Rover Discovery two years ago, but didn't get a single offer.

Davis is glad she held onto it now, because she said she is only about $1,000 away from paying it off. She said it costs about $70-$85 to fill up.

"I make enough money to drive my car, $4 [for gasoline] isn't going to kill me per se, it's the principle that the United States doesn't have any control of prices," she said. "It seems like things are going out of control."

Davis doesn't drive it much during the week because she works from home and carpools when she has to go to office.

She'll probably trade it for a more fuel efficient SUV one day, she said, but she's not sure putting another new car on the roads is the best thing for the environment either.

"Hopefully they can convert these cars to other fuels," she said.

Cory Werner, of Austin, Texas, has taken auto recycling to an extreme. He drives a 1959 Ford panel wagon that was a Sears delivery truck in a previous life.

The 39-year-old baker said he's been fixing up old cars since he was 16.

"I've never had a car payment in my life," Werner said.

The truck gets surprisingly good gas mileage, he said. About 20 mpg on the highway and 15 mpg in town. He said Austin has a pretty good public transportation system, and he also rides his bike to work a lot.

"My gas bill a month is $140, $200 a month for gas," Werner said. "Some people's full coverage insurance is more than that."

In addition to the cost savings, Werner said he gets the enjoyment of working on old cars and the satisfaction of saving a vehicle from the junkyard.

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But there are some drawbacks, especially in the hot Texas summer.

"It's not for everyone. It doesn't have air conditioning," he said. "It's expensive to add air conditioning to an old car."

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