Doad has been tossing around the question of whether we need a second car, so I not-too-seriously suggested we get a Triumph TR6. Loads of TR6s were sold in the United States, so they’re easy to find. A good-quality one runs from about $10,000 to $25,000–similar to the cheapest new car you can find–and you’re getting a guaranteed head-turner with an actual engine under the hood.
When I was younger I’d labored under the impression that classic cars were inherently expensive, so to me, the possibility of getting a trim little British convertible is hard to pass up. You boring folks are already blathering about things like “reliability” and “safety” and “working brakes,” and Doad brought those things up too. If airbags are important to you, then yes, 40-year-old roadsters are not for you.
But maybe a 10- to 15-year-old car might be more your speed. Yes, this is the car-age ghetto, too old to pass as new or even newish but too young to be classic, but that means you can finally snag those mid-range luxury cars that you always wanted but couldn’t afford. My high-school object of lust, the BMW Z3, is now less than $10,000, and that’s a car James Bond drove.
If my choices are looking a little impractical and you’re about to suggest that it might be nice to fit your husband and a bag of groceries in the car at the same time, you could get a nice new Corolla…or you could get a 10-year-old Benz or Lexus for half the price and then you’ll be prepared not only to drive your kids to school, but also to escort foreign dignitaries, should the need arise.
Since these were high-end cars when they came out, they’re generally equipped with the features that were luxuries then but are common now: Airbags, sat nav, and so on. Plus the features that were luxuries then and are still luxuries now. Hybrids aren’t new anymore, either; for those keen to get 50 mpg, a reliable second-gen Prius is easily within our price range. The only important technology that you’ll miss out on are the all-electrics.
Which raises, to me, a truly baffling question: Why do people buy new cars?
What motivates people to take out hefty loans on new cars when they could buy outright far nicer cars from a decade ago? What inspires them to spend thousands of dollars extra on this year’s model when the exact same car costs a third less if it’s a couple of years old? How do people forget that the classy car they once couldn’t afford is still classy–and now affordable? Why did anyone ever buy a new Chevy Aveo as opposed to, I don’t know, absolutely anything else?
Maybe, when someone driving that new Corolla pulls up beside me at a light and compliments me on my Triumph, I’ll ask.