MARION, IL—Local resident Don Liman, 49, is almost constantly in the process of buying, selling, or preparing to buy or sell a car, sources reported Monday.

Liman with a 1985 Corolla he is considering buying.

"That's Don for you," said Russell Flange, Liman's neighbor. "We always say old Donnie's got a one-car car lot instead of a driveway. There's a Sable wagon for sale in front of his house right now."

"It's not easy to find the exact right car," said Liman, whose search for the ideal car is now entering its 13th year. "But with a little hard work and some basic know-how, you can get yourself something great that really lasts."

Since beginning his cycle of used-car ownership in 1989, Liman has bought and subsequently sold 11 vehicles, mostly compact or midsize family models.

"Sure, you can buy new. But why bother when, if you know what you're doing, you can get a really decent used car for a couple thousand dollars?" said Liman, who has put an average of $1,800 into each of his used-car purchases before ultimately growing dissatisfied and selling the vehicles. "Once you know what to look for, you can usually get what you want for a song. Then you just fix up any little problems the car might have, and you've got a good-as-new used car that'll last you for years."

Liman's current car, a 1992 Mercury Sable station wagon, replaced his 1989 Toyota Corolla when he decided he needed "something with a little more road-hugging weight." Liman is now looking to sell the Sable to purchase a car that's "a little more nimble and with better mileage—not such a road hog."

"Take this one, here," said Liman, circling an ad in one of the many pages of used-car classifieds littering his kitchen table. "An '87 Volvo 240 DL for just $1,900 over in Carbondale. Probably some college student who doesn't need it or couldn't be bothered with the upkeep. Popular car, not much fun, weak steering boxes, tend to go through bushings a little too fast. Plus, a lot of Volvos have diesel engines, and diesel fuel is a real hassle to get at the gas station, especially around here. A lot of guys just want to trade them in for something that runs on unleaded. But, let me tell you, no car's perfect. It's probably worth giving this guy a call."

Hal Presser, editor of West-End Valu Shopper, said Liman is a familiar face around the office of the sales circular.

"Every six months or so, Don will spend a couple consecutive Thursdays in the office when the new ads come in, poring over every one of them," said Presser, who in 1999 purchased a car from Liman, a "squirrely" 1991 Volkswagen Golf that his wife drove for two years before selling it back to Liman last April. "At first, it was kind of strange. But I suppose he's probably gotten to a few cars he wouldn't have otherwise. I guess."