Wednesday, August 03, 2005

What kind of car do you drive?

My Money Blog has this post about what kind of car PF/money bloggers drive. It's pretty interesting. The predominant trait seems to be to buy a car and drive it till you get your money's worth instead of upgrading to a newer model every few years. This makes a lot of sense because cars lose most of their value in the first year or two. I read somewhere that with luxury models the car can lose as much as $5,000 the moment you drive it off the lot. That got me thinking.

I drive a '05 2-door Saab 9-3 arc convertible that I got fresh from the assembly line when they first rolled out at the end of 2004. Plus, I lease. In retrospect it wasn't the smartest money move I ever made. That scrap of metal guzzles gas like it's going out of fashion. I am lucky if I can get anything over 14 mpg, ecstatic if I hit 15. But there are perks to owning a Saab too. It handles curves like a dream, I love the dual transmission and the 17" alloy wheels and the metallic color and trim. The fog lights are nice too as are the individual seat warmers. Heck the whole cold weather package is great not to mention the back seats that fold down for extra cargo space. And the computerized dash with the scrolling digital display with complete readouts of your speed, fuel consumption, air speed, inside temp, outside temp etc is just plain cool. It even tells you what song's playing in the radio and who it's by. How neat is that? I also love the integrated car phone system that you can activate by touching a button on your steering wheel (incidentally you can control the radio & CD players the same way as well without taking your hands off the steering wheel) although sadly the satellite car phone service isn't available in the US yet.

But all that's fluff really. The one thing that sets Saabs apart from a lot of luxury imports in my mind is its safety rating. The 9-3 convertible in particular has the highest NCAP safety rating and I can personally attest that it lives up to it's reputation. I should post a picture of my car right after the crash sometime. It looked like it had been run over by a bus which is exactly what had happened. The car needed $15,000 worth of parts & repairs whereas all I had were some cuts and bruises and a sprained ankle. Not bad for an accident that big.

Still, when picking a vehicle it comes down to three things - function, safety and cost. If you can get another car that performs the same functions (in my case work commute mostly with the occasional going out and trips to the grocery store) and has a high safety rating but costs less then financially that's the smart choice. Right? Except I don't think it's that simple with cars. I think cars for a lot of people can be an emotional buy. At least I know it is for me. I tend to walk into a dealership armed with three weeks of research and sheaves of paper only to look at a car and start hyperventilating. Half a second later, all my research forgotten, I am cooing in delight over the shiny trim and the power alloy wheels. I form attachments to cars the way some women form attachments to shoes. Is it any wonder that I don't make better car buying decisions?

I don't think I did so bad with the car though. I am leasing at 0% APR + I got $500 below the dealer invoice price. I don't know what the math is on that one but I am paying $8,300 less over the life of my two year lease than I would have if I had bought the car. Still, The Millionaire Next Door and that post on My Money Blog made me realize that I could be doing better.

Anyway, this post has meandered along long enough. I meant to just put up that link and then it became all about my baby (yeah that's what I call my car :) So, go check it out and let him know what kind of car you drive.


At 8/03/2005 9:17 PM, Blogger Jonathan said...

I think you're doing pretty good no matter what car you drive! The post wasn't meant to make people feel guilty about their cars, just an extension of everyone's voyeuristic side. Ok, MY voyeuristic side. I didn't know Saab's were so safe. I always thought they were the car people got to be different, like on Seinfeld. Hondas are so vanilla.

At 8/03/2005 9:24 PM, Blogger Hazzard said...

Is it just me, or are there a lot of Seattle area PF Bloggers. I think that MM from PFBlog is around here, and Jonathon from MMB too. If this keeps up, maybe we should have a PF meet up!!!


Everybody Loves Your Money

At 8/04/2005 8:59 AM, Blogger mmb said...

Thanks Jonathan. I didn't think your post was meant to make anyone feel guilty. It was pretty cool to see what cars other pf bloggers drive. I guess my sense of guilt stems from the fact that despite doing quite thorough research on the best car in my price point I eventually went with an impulse buy. I did know Saabs were safe but that wasn't my reason for buying it. ;)

I do like being different though. That's why I won't buy a beemer or a PT cruiser. They are everywhere these days.

Hazzard, I knew MM was from Seattle because he works for Microsoft but didn't know about you and Jonathan. Cool. We can start our own Seattle Millionaires Club. :)

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