Once my Scion bought a new car for the Atlanta police. I was driving my son home, decided at the last second to take a different route, and side-swiped a cruiser that had just headed toward a call, its siren still off. My car sustained some side-panel damage, but when it came back from the dealer it was as good as new.

Now, if I'd bought some Toyota shares along with my Scion, I'd be doing even better. They traded at about $80 then. They're now at more than $122.

And the stock has kept paying a twice-a-year dividend, even during the worst of the recession. The per-share amount has varied, from a high of $1.38 in 2008 to a low of 47 cents in 2010, but it's now back to $1.26, and the shares have a price-to-earnings ratio of nearly 20, almost twice what investors are paying for Ford ( F).

If I ever have to sell my Scion, I'll be able to get a good price. Kelley Blue Book estimates it could fetch as much as $7,000, a little less than half of what it fetched new. Edmunds estimates I could get more than $6,800 for it in a trade-in, and has one for sale at a nearby dealer for $9,000.

But I'm not selling. My youngest is currently commuting to college by subway and hates driving, but he'll have his license eventually, he'll graduate, he'll get into graduate school, and chances are that graduate school will be far away, far enough so that he'll want a car to get there-and-back in. The Scion is just about to cross the 100,000 mile mark, but it has lots of life left in it.

So keep this under your hat: It's his graduation present.

At the time of publication, the author had no investments in companies mentioned in this article.

This article is commentary by an independent contributor, separate from TheStreet's regular news coverage.
Dana Blankenhorn has been a business journalist since 1978, and a tech reporter since 1982. His specialty has been getting to the future ahead of the crowd, then leaving before success arrived. That meant covering the Internet in 1985, e-commerce in 1994, the Internet of Things in 2005, open source in 2005 and, since 2010, renewable energy. He has written for every medium from newspapers and magazines to Web sites, from books to blogs. He still seeks tomorrow from his Craftsman home in Atlanta.

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