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I recently purchased my latest car; a loaded Saab 95, complete with 7-speaker stereo system, heated and cooled seats, multi-function sunroof and a plethora of other amenities, some of which I have yet to figure out how to operate. It is a luxury car that gets 32 miles per gallon on the highway, and it could easily be the most comfortable car I've ever owned.
I've had many automobiles in my life, and in recent years they have mostly been new cars. New cars are great, especially that new-car smell, but they come with some inherent liabilities. The cost of new cars is becoming increasingly insane, and if you own the car, you get the added multi-thousand dollar depreciation that occurs the moment you drive it out of the dealership. Insurance, maintenance costs and finance payments all contribute to making the purchase or lease of a new car an exceptionally expensive proposition.
Because of the money they just spent, people rightly give an added degree of attention to door dings, flying stones, fresh tar and messy kids. New cars also need to be run through the car wash periodically, since it doesn't seem right to own a new 2008 luxury car that has dirt on it. People might already question your fiscal intelligence when you drive an expensive new car, but they they'll think you're downright crazy if you don't keep it looking good.
All of which leads me back to my awesome little Saab, as I have none of the concerns I previously had with new cars. You see, my newly purchased Saab 95 is nearly ten years old and has over 160,000 miles on it. From a distance, it looks good, but up close, not so much. Still, despite the dings, faded paint, broken tail light and burned out LED radio display, it drives like a dream. I'm pleased to say that I purchased a luxury car for less than the price of a single semester of college tuition, carry no collision insurance and get superb gas mileage. I'm feeling pretty good about my purchase.
The best part of owing my nice new used luxury car is taking sinister joy in doing the very things I used to avoid when owning a new car. I now park in the narrowest parking spots I can find, right up close to that brand new SUV whose driver is desperately trying to avoid guys like me. I don't bother locking the car anymore because, well, no one sees any value in stealing it. I use the hood of the car as a handy workbench when it's parked in the garage, and I sometimes slam my keys against the car door just because I can.
I won't go so far as to say I will never own a new car again, but as long as this one keeps running I don't see how a new car would be an improvement over what I now have. I'm having more fun and peace of mind with my new used luxury car than I have ever had with any other car. Life is good.
- Rick Mouw is a business owner in Holland, Mich.