Saturday, September 19, 2009

Hidden Costs of Sports Car Ownership

Now that you're finally saved up enough and/or are in the financial situation where you are ready to buy your high performance sports car, what next?

There are many "hidden" costs of luxury/sports car ownership beyond the difference in purchase price.  These are real costs that any individual seriously considering a sports car should understand before purchase.  Most of what I will write below is based on my own personal experience with the vehicles I have owned, so not all may apply.

I will be comparing the ownership costs of my current daily (1996 Volvo 850 Turbo) with my old daily (2000 Porsche 911 Carrera).

  1. Insurance. The first thing that comes to mind is insurance. For the same coverage, the Porsche cost $2,300/year to insure.  As a point of comparison, the Volvo cost $400/year. That's an additional $1,900 spent a year.
  2. Maintenance.  The Volvo requires an oil change every 5,000 miles, and service around every 15,000.  Regular oil change costs around $50, with maintenance running up to $500.  For the Porsche, maintenance is required every 15,000 miles for an average price of $1,000.  That's an additional $400 spent.
  3. Tires.  Normal tires for family sedans run no more than $500 for a set, and comes with a 50,000 mile guarantee.  The Volvo runs on 16" Michelin and or Goodyear tires.  High performance sports cars usually require 18" "Z rated" tires.  I ran Michelin Pilot Sport 2 or Bridgestone Potenza RE050A.  These run $1,200 for the set, and last on average 15,000 miles.  In a year, you would have spent an additional $1,900 more.
  4. Gas. Most higher end sports cars require you to use premium, high octane gasoline.  This is because to generate more power, many of these high performance engines use very high compression ratios.  There is a risk of the gasoline detonating prematurely with a lower octane gas in these engines.  I will not include this cost but keep in mind on average premium, high octane gasoline cost $0.30/gallon more than their regular unleaded counterpart.
  5. Efficiency.  Pretty obvious, but most high performance sports cars get significantly less miles per gallon ("mpg") than econo sedans.  For example, the Volvo gets 22 mpg with mixed city/highway driving, while the Porsche got 18 mpg. 
  6. Mods.  I am not the first to admit that this is an extremely variable cost.  This cost will vary greatly depending on the individual, but the chances are an individual is more likely to mod a high performance sports can than a family sedan.  I won't put a price point comparison here but I put a total of almost $10,000 into tuning and mods on my Porsche.
Not counting the mod and gas costs, an individual would have spent $4,200/year more!  With all the variable costs added in, chances are the differiential could be much more.  If you feel like that money could be better invested/used elsewhere, you're not alone.  This is one of the key reasons why I have not bought my next car yet, and remain happy driving my "beater".

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