A couple months ago, I decided to make an ‘impulse’ buy and purchased what has to be one of the most satisfying purchases I have made recently, an Aston Martin DB9. Some may call it a quarter life crisis or reckless spending and that may be true to a certain extent, but if done properly, it may not be as bad as some might make it out as. Regardless of whether or not it was indeed a ‘sound’ decision or not, I thought I’d share some takeaway points. A sort of loose guide on how to buy an ‘affordable’ supercar.
First off, let me start by saying that most cars are nothing more than a money sink. Unless you collect or flip vehicles, do not buy a car thinking that you can get any decent return on it. That being said, you will want to find a used or pre-owned car preferably towards the bottom end of it’s depreciation curve; this will vary from car to car.
So from the beginning. First off you need to determine exactly what car you want. This means make and model. On top of that you should have an idea of the specifics as well; year, body style, powerplant. Some people may recommend picking out a colour also, but realistically you can get a decent wrap to change the colour for a relatively low cost. Most importantly other than make and model will be the powerplant. Some cars have V8, V10, V12 variants and the last ting you want to do is get a car wishing it had a bit more oomph. Also the prices will vary greatly between different engines. Once you have those in your mind, then you can start looking. For those who know me well, this is where I would go off bashing certain models and give my two cents on why you should avoid certain cars. Some of the points are just plain facts and some are just opinions. Honestly though, buying a supercar is 100% personal preference. In fact, selection of any car is purely personal preference. There are only a handful of cars which are just completely unacceptable to even consider getting. But, if you’re going to drop $60k+ on a car that you want and you’re sure that you want it, no one else’s opinion should matter.
Do your research beforehand. Before you even start looking at listings, you should know the ins and outs of the car you want. This includes major maintenance issues, common problems, popular aftermarket parts and upgrades, owner reviews, how it compares to similar cars. Then once you start looking at available listings, make note of what the average prices are for the specific car in mind. This is where knowing exactly what you want plays a huge part.
A couple examples:
-A 2011 Aston Martin V12 Vantage might run around $90k while a 2011 V8 Vantage will only run in the $70k range
-A 2011 Audi R8 V10 will run around $120k while the V8 model will only set you back around $95k
The analogy of comparing apples to oranges doesn’t quite work here but it’s more of the comparing green bell peppers to red bell peppers. Once you know for certain you’ve chosen a car you want, don’t look at anything else.
Now determining exactly how much you want to spend on a car is purely personal preference. Obviously the more you are willing to pay, the easier and faster you will find a car that suits you.
Timing is huge with high end luxury/sports cars. There are the normal cycles of when people will sell their cars or trade them in for newer models, but I have noticed more so that the availability of supercars can also be dependent on market trends. This only makes sense. As the market drops, those who have just been able to afford such vehicles are more likely to let them go for something a bit more economical. Back in 2008/2009 it was not uncommon for a low mileage Lamborghini or Ferrari to drop below 100k. Low mileage, fair condition Astons and NSX’s were listed for 40k’s and 30k’s respectively. Once you’ve figured out the trends for pricing on the car you want and picked a price you feel comfortable with, all you can do is just wait. Now your price is going to have to be realistic. Hoping that you can find a Ferrari 458 Italia for under $100k is just foolish. Also to note, Kelley Blue Book Value means almost nothing for these cars. Don’t use it as a guide to setting your price. For me, it took about 6 years of researching and searching to find what I wanted.
So now that you’ve found the car you want at the price you’re comfortable with, the same things apply from buying any used car. Maintenance record, vehicle history, driving history, mileage history, etc. Chances are, if you find one that seems too good to be true, it likely is, and you’ll want to dig more to find out. Always test drive. No matter what. And, when you test drive, drive it hard. Red line the sucker, rev the engine. Put it through it’s paces. If it’s your first time driving a supercar, you’ll want to ease into it until you’re comfortable with the acceleration, cornering and braking. This isn’t your every day sedan where if something goes wrong, it might just be a couple hundred dollar fix. Repairs can and likely will run into the tens of thousands for anything that needs even minor to moderate repairs. Driving and mileage history I found the hard way can have a big impact on what to expect. Low mileage is great and all, but if a car sits around too long and especially in colder climates, the fuel system can start to have problems when the gas goes bad. More than likely, these cars will have been weekend cars, or drive it once or twice a month cars.
With the right research and patience, something that seems reserved for the elite can actually be fairly obtainable without too much damage. Keep in mind that buying the car is half the process. Maintenance, insurance and gas are costs that you’ll have to be willing to pay. Keep in mind, your average corner store gas station likely isn’t even going to touch your car, let alone do regular maintenance on it. A single oil change alone, depending on make and model, can run anywhere from a couple hundred to more than a thousand dollars, and unless you work with cars regularly I would not recommend you trying to do it by yourself. Gas is going to be premium gas and look to get around 10mpg or less for higher end models. Certain cars can squeeze out 15mpg, but if you do, you’re not really enjoying the car.
I won’t go over the formalities of actually getting the car since that should be fairly straightforward. Once you do get control of the car and take it home. Just take a moment to enjoy it. You will turn heads and attract attention, some cars more than others. You will have people pulling up beside you in civics or other pedestrian vehicles and rev their engines at you or try to race you. I don’t condone street racing, but be responsible; high profile cars are easy targets.