Luxury cars: Who needs them?

Hamm offers six reasons why he will never buy a luxury car, even if he had the money to do so.

Romina Amato/Reuters/File
The 1964 Aston Martin DB5 is displayed at the Transport Museum in Luzern, Switzerland in this December 2010 file photo. Hamm writes that a pricy car would make his driving experience even less enjoyable.

A while back, I read a “wonderful” article over at Forbes entitled “Ten Reasons to Buy a Luxury Car.” Such important factors as “prestige” and “horses under the hood” were bandied about.

Personally, I didn’t really find any of the reasons to be compelling ones for buying a luxury car. Instead, here are six reasons why I’ll pretty much never buy one, even if I happened to have the large stack of money one would require. If the sticker price and the insurance weren’t enough…

1. People will assume things about me that I don’t want them to assume.
As the Forbes article clearly mentioned, there’s a certain level of “prestige” that comes from owning and driving a luxury car. People pay attention to them.

I don’t want that attention. 

For one, I don’t want people assuming that I’m rich or that I’m important. Why would I want that? Unless I were on some sort of career path where I needed to intimidate people with my wealth – and the only kind of people intimidated are ones who can’t look past it to more important things – I have no reason to impress people with my car.

As long as my car is clean, not falling apart, and functional, I’m conveying exactly what I want to convey with my car.

2. I become a more obvious target for theft.
An expensive car parked along the street is going to be a much nicer target for theft than an older and less “prestigious” car.

If you’re a thief and you’re looking to try to pop out a window and make off with some electronics or whatever else you find, are you doing to hit the BMW or are you going to hit the low-end vehicle?

Similarly, if you’re into burglarizing homes and you drive down a street looking for potential targets, are you going to run for the house with the new BMW out front or the house with the older Buick in the driveway?

These are risks I don’t want to worry about or take.

3. Depreciation is even more painful.
If you’re dropping $80,000 in a vehicle, depreciation is going to hurt. Even if the car does retain value reasonably well, you’re looking at a 50% drop instead of a 75%.

A 75% drop in a $20,000 car costs you $15,000. A 50% drop in an $80,000 car costs you $40,000. That’s $25,000 more in losses just due to owning that car.

The simple act of owning an expensive car is a larger losing proposition than owning a reasonable car.

4. I have to travel much further to get repairs done.
There are few certified repair shops who will take on luxury models anywhere near me. On the other hand, there are a lot of places for me to take my Honda Pilot.

Not only are my options limited in terms of shopping around for repair and maintenance work with a luxury car, I have to travel farther for many of those options.

That’s more time and more money down the tubes.

5. The normal behavior of children is more costly.
Like all children, my kids spill things sometimes. They make messes. They’re not trying to be destructive. They’re just kids.

If they severely damage the upholstery in my Pilot, it’s a big deal, but not prohibitively expensive. If they severely damage the leather seats in a BMW, it’s going to be a lot more costly.

I could crack down on everything they might do in the car, but that would make any and all road trips more miserable for all of us. I could simply avoid having my children in the car… but then, when would I drive it? I could just not care about it, but then the costs would be tremendous.

None of my responses to this are good responses.

6. I would be scared to breathe in it.
The final factor is that I simply wouldn’t be comfortable in it. I already drive very conservatively. A pricy car would turn me into an even more paranoid driver, making the driving experience even less enjoyable for me and potentially more dangerous for others on the road with me.

I’d be left with the choice of taking beverages or snacks in the car with me on road trips. The cost of potential damage with such choices would be greater than in an ordinary car.

My comfort level from day to day use would decline overall, even if the actual driving experience was better.

Add these all up and there’s no reason for me to ever own an expensive vehicle. It provides very little additional value in most of the areas I care about when it comes to owning and operating a car, while providing some significant drawbacks.

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