What names do you think of when you think “low cost car”? Hyundai? Ford? The Tata Nano? Back when I bought my last car, I considered all of these, but there was just something, I don’t know, missing from them.
Then I realized: Oh! they’re plain, sluggish, and overall kind of… uninspiring.
And, I also found what turned out to be, in the long run, a cheaper alternative – a rather unconventional bargain basement hooptie, in fact:
My 2007 Porsche 911.
Toyotos, Kias, and the like are lovely, but as a dedicated saver, I really can’t afford any of those money pits. Bought new, any of these models will set you back at least $400-$500/month, and I have actually paid far less for my little German supercar.
With the right purchase and ownership strategy (which may not be practical, admittedly, for everyone) I have discovered that my trusty 911 has in fact, been cheaper than many mainstream, or even economy car choices.
Below I have factored in purchase cost, estimated sale price, length of ownership, and even maintenance and repairs, to demonstrate that my little 911 has been surprisingly affordable – even, dare I say it, afFI- orderable (FI meaning Financially Independent-appropriate).
Let’s take a closer look:
|Kelly Blue Book Value||$29,000|
|Repairs and maintenance||$2000|
|Total Annual Cost (Depreciation + Repairs and Maintenance)||$4800|
*list price $80,000, purchased in 2009 for $60,000
As you can see, the Porsche has only cost me $400/month over the last 11 years of ownership. I think that you’ll find that this amount compares quite favorably with say, a lease on a standard Honda Accord or Toyota. These basic choices can top $500/month for the lease alone, not including costs to replace basics like tires, brakes, etc. Granted, I am comparing the cost of a car that is at most, three years old to one that is over a decade – but I personally would rather drive a well maintained ten year old Porsche than a 3 year old, base model Accord..
“What makes the Porsche such a screaming bargain?”, you may ask. Well, I think it comes down to just a couple of key factors:
- Value maintenance: these cars maintain their value like no other. My own 911 only depreciated about 60% in 11 years! You can really maximize this dynamic by buying a 2-3 year old model. Even bought new, the 911 only loses a modest 37% of its value in the first five years.
- Style longevity: the 911’s profile is iconic, changing minimally over the decades. After a wash, it still looks new even after 10 years+ on the road. I still get compliments on my 2007 model. I doubt that passers-by will do similar double takes for a 2017 Corolla.
And, there are other benefits that you get for your $400/month vs. the conventional Japanese, Korean, or American choices:
- Social capital: it’s a cruel fact of human nature: people, even non-shallow people, are generally impressed with a nice car. If it’s not too flashy, it intrigues them. It will get any date off on the right foot too.
- Better parking: the valets still park my old 911 upfront, whether it’s at a restaurant, event, or even the mall valet lot. Not a big deal, just awfully convenient in a valet heavy city like Los Angeles.
- The drive: the 911 is fast – damn fast. It laughs at freeway marges. It bobs and weaves through city traffic as if racking up points in a video game. It can easily do 110 mph without breaking a sweat.
Finally, the caveats:
- Gas mileage: pretty abysmal. Although my trusty 911 gets about 25-30 MPG on the highway, I think it’s closer to 10 on city streets. So if you’re commuting 40 miles/day through city streets, maybe not the best choice.
- Practicality: hope you don’t golf or travel heavy. The 911 can’t fit a set of clubs in the trunk, and only two large suitcases can be squeezed in there. Plus, it’s a two seater, so probably not the most family friendly option.
- Poor regional fit: in some parts of the country, a 911 may look flashy, thirsty, desperate. More about this whole dynamic in a different blog post. However, if this is the case in your home town, I’d look at less obvious choices like a Mercedes or BMW. They deliver many of the same benefits at a great value.
- You don’t care: to some people, the above listed benefits are drawbacks. They love rolling up to fancy restaurants in battered Hyundais. They brag about their Kia with 200,000 miles on it. But let’s face it: deep inside, most people would like to drive a hot car. And the reality is: a damn sexy auto may not be as inaccessible as you think.
Have you owned an “expensive” car that yielded a vey reasonable long run cost of ownership? Tell me about it in the comments!