I have a problem.
Two weeks ago I bought a car. Six months ago, I bought a car. Seven months ago, I bought a car. Nine months ago, I bought a car. Ten months ago, I bought a car. A year ago, I bought a car…
You can probably see what my problem is. I’ve been acquiring and trading and selling cars for seven years now. My first car is still with me, but I’ve gone through thirteen others, none of which I’ve kept longer than about six months except for a non-running parts car. My father wasn’t very happy with that one sitting on his property for more than a year while I earned large amounts of money from it.
I still have pieces of that car all over the place.
This all started when I was fifteen and thinking about my first car. I thought about it a lot, because a car meant freedom. My father had an asphalt-gray Honda Civic that was going to be mine, until someone in a pickup crushed the poor little road-colored car.
About that same time, I discovered that an eighteen-year-old friend of mine had bought a 1999 Mustang GT. Not to be outdone, I decided my first car should be a Porsche.
I suppose you could say this started when I was two or three years old and my father gave me several dozen toy cars. My favorite among them was a white race car, which passed into oblivion before I was old enough to care about what type of car it was.
I remember it, though…it was a Porsche. Years later, when I was nine, my father gave me one of his special toy cars that he’d kept from me, a 1979 Porsche 928. I promptly scratched it despite promising to keep it perfect.
When I was in my teens, my brother collected toy Ferraris. I wanted to collect something, so I started accumulating toy Porsches. Before I trimmed down my collection I had well over a hundred.
So that’s why I had my mind set on a Porsche when I was fifteen. I did some research and discovered, to my astonishment, that some of them don’t come with five-figure price tags. My parents were understandably skeptical, but I insisted, and after the Honda was wrecked, my father said he would buy the car I wanted, and drive it until I had the money.
I got on Craigslist, found a 1987 Porsche 924S that had been posted fifteen minutes earlier, and my father bought it the next day. It was in almost perfect condition with 68,400 miles.
I lost my internship later that week because the economy resembled Jupiter’s Great Red Spot.
In the end, I managed to get another job that paid me enough to buy the 924S from my father…and buy a 1979 928 project car in the exact same color as the toy one my father gave me nine years earlier.
As they say, one car led to another, and now I’m here. You may be wondering how much it costs to own so many cars, especially Porsches. Let me explain…no, there is too much. Let me sum up.
If you sum up everything I’ve spent on cars in the last seven years, and subtract everything I’ve earned selling them, it comes out to roughly $15,400. This excludes insurance, gas, and other fluids like all the bottled water I had to buy because I didn’t plan ahead on short road trips.
That’s really not bad. That’s a cost of $183.33 per month, less than a typical payment on a financed car with a warranty.
It gets better, though. I currently have three cars, and one of them, a Porsche, is responsible for fourteen grand of that total. Partly because I love it very much and have taken good care of it for seven years, and partly because I’m addicted to upgrading it and did slightly questionable things like paying $650 for a seat (in my defense, it’s like having a leather recliner in my sports car and it’s caressed my butt for almost 40,000 miles).
In other words, take my daily driver out of the picture and I have $1,400 into a 1999 BMW and a 1980 VW Rabbit Convertible, both of which are in great shape and worth far more than that.
If I were to sell all three of my cars for their average market value right now, my total monetary loss on all cars I’ve owned would be $4,600 (subtract all the stupid licensing fees and taxes my state charges and it would be about half that). That’s only $657 a year for all the maintenance and fun upgrades on cars I drove nearly a hundred thousand miles all together.
My goal is to get that number down to zero.
Sure, if you get a really good used Toyota, keep it running for a hundred thousand miles, do all your own maintenance, and then sell it, you might be able to keep your total cost—not counting gas and insurance—under five cents a mile. You’ve also got an advantage there because you only paid licensing and taxes on one car instead of ten.
However, did you own seven Porsches, a Mazda RX-7, a convertible Rabbit, a monstrous 290-horsepower BMW, and a 4×4 Chevy pickup that nearly paid for itself by getting you to work during five days of bad winter weather and hauling home a free Porsche?
No, you didn’t, because you’re a responsible person who isn’t addicted to buying cars. I would admire your willpower for sticking with one boring Toyota for a distance greater than four trips around the earth’s equator.
Of course, you don’t get to walk out the door and decide whether you’ll drive the classic Porsche or the powerful and luxurious BMW. This is why I’m addicted.