SACO — Joe LoCicero’s 1990 Honda Accord slipped into a parking spot in front of City Hall with its engine purring, much as it did two decades ago after it rolled off the assembly line in Marysville, Ohio.
The town of Norway resident was honored with a surprise parade and given a 2012 Accord on Sunday afternoon after racking up more than 1 million miles on his trusted older model, nicknamed “True Blue” for its light-blue exterior.
LoCicero, 53, is the first person documented by the car manufacturer to have driven a Honda to the million-mile mark, according to a company spokeswoman.
“If you listen carefully, she’s getting old,” LoCicero said. “But it’s been an amazing ride.”
Known as “Million Mile Joe” through a recent advertising and web campaign, LoCicero is a master auto technician who travels throughout Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont inspecting vehicles for warranty claims and lease terms.
Honda and Darling Auto Group sponsored the parade down Main Street, which featured marching bands from Westbrook High School and Saco Middle School and varsity cheerleaders from Biddeford High School.
“Joe is a testament to what you can do if you maintain your car,” said Ron Russell, Darling’s director of operations in Bangor. “Thankfully, not many people do it or we’d be out of business.”
Russell learned of LoCicero’s impending milestone in August 2010, when the car had clocked 938,000 miles. He informed Honda’s ad agency, which set up a website, millionmilejoe.com, where he has chronicled his story. The agency chose downtown Saco to hold and film Sunday’s celebration because of its classic New England appearance.
Local teenagers made the floats and costumes featured in the parade, including an oversized odometer and pine tree air freshener. A plane flew above, trailing a banner that said: “Way To Go Joe!” Miss Maine USA Ashley Marble helped to deliver the cobalt blue 2012 Accord.
“I like it,” LoCicero said, grinning as he sat in the new car.
LoCicero bought the older Honda in 1996, when it had 74,000 miles on it. He kept it running with diligent maintenance, keeping track of every fill-up, tire rotation and oil change in a couple of dozen notebooks.
“Every car needs maintenance,” LoCicero said, recommending that drivers follow maintenance schedules, use quality parts and drive safely.
He does much of the work himself, having been an auto mechanic for 18 years before becoming a vehicle inspector.
“He’ll be out there, underneath the car, on a blanket in the middle of winter,” said Sharon LoCicero, his wife of 32 years. They have two children and two grandchildren.
Through the years, the car’s seatbelts, steering wheel and upholstery have worn out and been replaced. The fuel pump blew at 741,000 miles, drawing laughter from his kids when the car had to be towed.
“They thought it was the funniest thing that it finally broke down,” Joe LoCicero said.
He swears that the engine and transmission are original.
“I took the engine apart once to clean it for a carbon issue and put it back together,” he said.
LoCicero’s Accord has traveled about 48,000 miles per year. The average car travels 10,000 to 15,000 miles per year, said Russell, of Darling Auto Group. At that rate, it would take at least 66 years to reach
LoCicero’s 1 million mark, which equals about 40 times around the Earth.
LoCicero said he’s not sure what he’ll do with the 1990 Accord now that he has a new model, also made in Ohio. He’s tried to sell the older model to a few car dealers recently for $1 million, hoping they’d want to display it to advertise the longevity of Honda vehicles.
“A buck a mile. That’s fair,” LoCicero said. “I didn’t get any bites.”
The electronic odometer in the old Accord turned over 1 million miles Thursday. Now, it says LoCicero has driven it 75 miles.
“I’m starting all over,” he said.
Staff Writer Kelley Bouchard can be contacted at 791-6328 or at:
Correction; This story was updated at 10:40 a.m., Oct. 23, 2011, to correct the name of Miss Maine USA. It is Ashley Marble.