T Nation

Value of a Sweet Ride?


#1

What is T-Nation's opinion on the value of having a sweet car? What are the benefits? What car do YOU drive? Is it important to your self-esteem to drive a nice car?

My story goes like this (Long post ahead) :

I never had a car growing up in Manhattan because we didn't need one and frankly its more of a negative than a positive in that urban environment. No parking, highest insurance rates in the US, great public transportation, etc.

Ok, ff to college. I went to a big state college out in the country and almost everyone had a car, and I basically had to mooch rides to go anywhere or else face the prospect of taking the bus or a 20-30 minute walk to go to the 7-11 or the liquor store or supermarket, whatever. I also endured dozens 4-5 hour bus rides on smelly buses to go back and forth from home and I HATED it. I really hated the lack of freedom to move around not having a car imposed on me.

However, not being a car owner myself, I snickered at friends and relatives who spent way more than they should have on cars they had to work their butt off just to pay for.

This continued into adulthood, where every financial book I read says that an expensive car is an unnecessary luxury and you're better off putting the money into IRAs or bonds etc.

So I bought a 91 Taurus and a 95 Intrepid and felt secure that I was doing the right thing financially.

FF to last spring when my Intrepid died and I started leasing a 2005 Grand Cherokee. It felt pretty good to have a brand new car, especially a shiny new black SUV. I got a BJ in it from a girl I picked up the first Saturday I owned it. I received compliments on it from people I went to HS with I hadn't seen in 13-14 yrs. Even my students thought it was a cool car.

But, I ran into a problem once I bought a condo. The mortgage, combined with a monthly cost of approx $ 950 for the Jeep ($326 lease; $200 insurance; $130 tolls; approx $300/mo gas-I have a long commute) was KILLING me financially.

SO I swapped the lease and now drive a used 98 Camry, a sound financial decision for sure. Legendary reliability and quality, 30 MPG, good resale value, etc.

But its different now. Its not the same thing walking up to my Camry than it was to my Jeep.

My friend told me that men get a lot of validation from their possessions, especially cars. He gave me an example: how would I feel if I pulled up to a club in a Mercedes 500 SL compared to my Camry? Would I feel more or less confident? Of course I'd feel more confident and cocky.

Even my mother, a hardcore Socialist, says that driving a nice car is important and that I shouldn't have gotten rid of the Jeep. She says its important for a man to have a nice car.

So now I'm wondering what do other T-people think about guys owning nice cars and how important is it? Is it a sign of weakness to get validation and confidence from a car?

It doesn't help that I live in NJ and seemingly everyone has a nice car. I live in a working class, primarily black and latino neighborhood, and my block has an M3, a Chrysler 300, a Porsche, a BMW 3 series, and a couple of new cars.

If I want a sweet car, I'd definitely have to get a 2nd job to pay for it.
I have to admit I'd love to have an M3, an Audi S4, a 350 ZX, a Chrysler 300 or Dodge Charger, etc etc.

I'll stop here and look forward for thoughts from my T-brethren.


#2

My only opinion on the matter is that if you drive a Hummer you're probably an asshole.


#3

To me, cars are transportation only. I don't think about it at all as long as it starts in the morning and the A/C and radio work. I can't see the sense in spending $20,000 more to get back and forth from points A and B.

If you have no debt and are just looking for ways to dispose of your extra money, I guess I could understand dumping money into a car. Other than that, it just doesn't make sense to me.


#4

Personally I would rather spend my money becoming wealthy as opposed to looking wealthy. I drive a Honda Civic and I will continue to drive my honda civic until it breaks, or I am on a first name basis with the tow truck driver. Being honda this should be never. Become wealthy. Don't drive a nice car. I definitely prefer my money taking me on vacations, or going into investments, or many other preferable things than transportation.


#5

If you can't afford it, or can barely afford it, don't drive it. A lot of people are really stupid when it comes to money and their future. If someone likes you because of the car you have, you don't want them as friends (everyone says it, and its true).

Some people will disagree with me. You just have to decide if being cool is worth being in bad shape financially. When your young, it might seem worth it. I have family members that were really smart and lived below their means when they were younger. They invested some, and put some in the bank. Now they have camps on mountain lakes, can buy any new car with cash they want, and have plenty "in case shit happens" money in the bank. The bottom line is, you won't regret living below your means 10 years, or even 2 years from now. Any fool with a half way decent paying job can lease or finance a nice car. If some girl is impressed by that it'd be a turnoff for me. Drive the Camry. Just my .02

Note, if you are certain you will have a job making tons of money one day-- ie. med student or studying law-- it changes things


#6

It's all about priorities. I bought a used Acura, because I the car I drove before it started to have some problems. I could've bought a nicer car, but I would've had less money to save and to spend on other things.

On the other hand, if your car is truly going to get you laid, then weigh the value of that.

And as far as your socialist mother goes: Of course she told you to keep the car. Socialists have no concept of money. Never take financial advice from a socialist.


#7

Nah, I don't think the car helped get me laid other than providing a small psychological advantage.

As far my mom, ha! You're on the money. She has always lacked financial sense. 2 PhDs and not much to show for it other than real estate, just like anyone else in the US who bought a house at least 2 yrs ago.


#8

No, my friend doesn't like me b/c of my car! I get your point though.


#9

Your post neatly summarizes what all financial advice books say.


#10

Don't take this as a slam, but if you need a nice car to get laid, how big of a loser are you?
I drive a beat up '91 Mercury Topaz that I've had for 5 years and its never prevented me from getting laid. And like above posters have said your vehicle is there to get you from point A to B. If I didnt have to travel to differant job sites in the middle of the day for work, I'd ride my bike to work everyday. Outside of work i only really use my car to go to Cosco or for a night out with my wife. And the biggest plus for driving an older car, parts are cheap for them and for some people, myself included its fun to work on your own car.


#11

True story: I know a doctor in Boston who knows only 2 lines: "I'm a Doctor" and "I drive a BMW". The funny thing is he's a geek and those lines are so out of touch with how he carries himself, its hilarious to see how fast the girls turn their backs on him.

He might as well say "I'm a shoe salesman" and "I drive a Saturn", he'd probably make a better impression.

Reminds me of a wealthy immigrant relative I have who goes back to his hometown in the old country every year and does nothing but brag to anyone who'll listen about all his success. His latest story is how he's building a beautiful house at the beach. (A couple of years ago it was how his company rented out Giants Stadium for a soccer match).

So I go there this past summer soon after his most recent visit, and he's seen as a laughingstock by everyone for being a pompous jackass. Nobody respects him for his great financial accomplishments and they make fun of his beach house.

I guess that's what happens when one tries to impress too much.


#12

Good post.

I see no point in driving a nice car (nicer than you can honestly afford, that is). The area I'm in, it seems like it's all about the car you drive. I'm sick of it, but I still feel like people that I care about don't really care at all. In other words...while having a nice car might earn you extra points, having an average or even below-average car won't hurt you.

So don't worry about it unless you're really insecure and you need the thrill of driving your Bimer or whatever up to a club. Shit, if you really just use your car to get laid, why the heck don't you rent one? Rent a Ferrari and drive it up to the club.

I drive a 1990 Volvo 240 which I like...it's comfortable, sturdy as hell (I got rear-ended at 20mph and the other car, a Ford Escort was TOTALED and my car wasn't scratched - no lie), and doesn't look bad at all. Sure...it doesn't get me laid, but I don't care. I can get laid with or without a car, and I really can't be bothered by the fact that some bimbo won't fuck me because of the car I drive.

So my bottom line is...if you enjoy driving a nice car and you can afford it, go for it. If you can't afford it, or you only want it to get laid, just buy a prostitute.

I swear...it's all about marketing. I just don't understand it. Ditto what the guy said about spending $20k more to get from point A to point B.

I really can't even understand why people buy new cars, it's a terrible investment compared to a good deal on second-hand.


#13

True story. I have a client who is worth about $100 million. He told me personally, "new cars are for poor people." He drives a mid 90's toyota, and said he will not get rid of it until it breaks, and then buy another older, used car.


#14

I have a new acura, I know the guy who owns the dealership. I was able to get it relatively cheap for the car that it is.

I plan on buying out the lease if it treats me as well as I treat her.

I agree with the previous posters, I see no point in driving to work in a bentley (or even a mercedes or BMW) to drive home to a shanty appartment or house.

Its all about priorities.

Of course, an RS6 would be nice. A hennessey venon 1000, would be nicer though.


#15

Buy a car you like. Whether it be a nice car or a POS. Why save money? You can't take it with you when you die! I have always owned nice cars and it is cool to get a compliment on your car when you are out driving around. I grew up with people that were really into cars though so that may be why I like to have a nice faster type car. If you have the means; get you a stallion not a nag.

  "Lift heavy"

#16

It depends... sometimes you do want the latest whatever, and have the money to spend. I too prefer used cars, but if I were more financially solvent, I would certainly think about getting a new one. I'm not wild about all the unknowns that go into purchasing a used car, mainly. Everyone tells you to have a mechanic look it over. Sure, that'll tell you if there's anything really wrong right now. But it doesn't tell you all the little things, which might be annoyances or major problems down the line. So it isn't as clear-cut a choice as it might seem, at first.

And let me reiterate what another poster said about living below your means, or at least going into debt for the right things. I'm in debt for my house, for example, but at least that's appreciating in value... cars almost never do, and they definitely don't if you drive them.


#17

If you can afford a new car and you plan to take care of it and hold onto it for a long time it can be a good investment. Used cars are sometimes sold because they're falling apart. If you get a used car that you are confident will last a long time, obviously thats financially a better deal, but don't underestimate the value of knowing the car you drive hasn't been abused and will last a long time.


#18

If you're not confident with who you are, a car isn't going to change that - at least not for very long.

Maybe at first you can convince yourself that the car is an extension of your body. But one day you might accidently develop the wisdom that your body isn't who you are either... nor your actions, nor your thoughts...

Confidence is either unconditional, or it's part of an illusion that will be destroyed.

Now, if you're talking about confidence in your car that's something else :slight_smile: It's a good thing not to fear the car breaking down!

Find yourself something with a bullet-proof powertrain, that's my only advice. And on that note, I agree with the poster who said its better to have money than to look money. Heads up - those European autos aren't as reliable as the big 3 Japanese (Honda, Toyota, Nissan) or a GM (Chevy, Olds, etc.) They also cost more for repair parts.

Good luck.


#19

People like nice cars.

But there is a thin line between a cool guy who drives a sweet ride and someone who drives a sweet ride in hopes of being thought of as cool.

Sadly, most probably fall into the latter category. I can't think of one motorcycle rider who doesn't act extra-tough for the sole reason that they did nothing more than spend their transportation dollars on a two wheeled vehicle rather than a four wheeled vehicle.

Not all motorcyclists act that way, of course - I just can't think of any who don't personally.

I like cool wheels as much as the next guy - I just think we overestimate how much status it really buys us.


#20

I just love my Titan. No validation needed, I just love the truck. It's black with chrome and hauls ass. I enjoy the hell out of it:)