I (Mr. CF) have been a long time fan of cars. Having seen every episode of Top Gear at least twice and most Fifth Gear episodes at least once, I’ve visited many (international) car and car tuning shows, my love for cars seems pretty obvious.
However, my frugal side has (almost) always been able to avoid these costly mistakes (which is really what they are). We have had our fair share or (nice) cars, but I’ve always wanted a Aston Martin DB9 or V8 Vantage. Still believe these are one of the prettiest cars out there. And despite their hefty price tag (even used), they could be purchased and enjoyed by an everyday bloke with sufficient determination and perseverance.
The always very pretty Aston Martin
This will however never materialize, not only because in the Netherlands car ownership is very expensive and heavily discouraged, but primarily because it would set back our target date for financial independence by many years. This we don’t find acceptable nor do we think the joy and fun of owning such a car is worth that much extra work/time.
That being said, would it be possible to still own a fast and fun sports car in the Netherlands, without breaking the bank? My love for cars, besides Aston Martins as the pinnacle, has primarily focussed on small, light, nimble, fast and somewhat unique cars. The cocktail of these ingredients for me leads to one of the following cars:
- Lotus Elise (Mark 2)
- Lotus Exige
- Lotus/Caterham Super 7
- Westfield (looks like a Super 7)
- Ariel Atom
Based on purchase price, the Ariel Atom is simply too expensive at ~€30,000-40,000. So this is not considered an option. Also the Lotus Exige falls in this category.
The Ariel Atom or “face destroyer” when looking at Mr. Clarkson’s famous video
That leave us with the Locus Elise, which can be found for around €15,000-€30,000 and the Super 7, which can be found between about €10,000 and €25,000. Both are pretty Spartan (read: uncomfortable and small), have few/no luxuries and are real drivers cars. They are also not particularly pretty, albeit the Elise has some nice lines. They are, however, a blast to drive.
A Lotus Elise Mark 2 (left) and the old Mark 1 (Right)
Example of a Super 7, engine sizes range from 80-310 BHP in a car they ways about 500-700kg depending on specs and supplier (Lotus/Caterham). Westfield also makes similar looking models in various specs as well.
Considering the lower purchase price, let’s have a look at what the Super 7 would cost your per year, based on an all-in purchase price of €15.000:
- Depreciation: ~800/year (this is probably a slight bit conservative as most of these cars don’t lose much more of their value)
- Lost opportunity income: ~€1050/year (based on €15,000 @ 7%/year, not compounding)
- Maintenance: ~€350/year (parts only, which are generally pretty cheap as they are easy to find, the engine is just a small 4 cylinder, there are virtually no electronics and the car is relatively easy to maintain)
- Fuel: ~€300/year (based on 15km/l, 3000km/year and €1.5/l fuel costs)
- Insurance: ~€120/year (based on <5000km/year, “old timer” insurance)
- Road tax: ~€130/year
So the total overall cost per year is approximately €2750. If you look at cash flow only, the car would cost you only about €900, which would not be too bad. But to put this in perspective, your net worth would need to be about €22,750 higher (based on 4% rule) + €15,000 purchase = €37,750 to afford the car during FI.
Considering the 3000 km per year use as noted earlier, at an average of 50km/h, would give you about 60 hours of “pleasure”. This would cost you about €15/h in cash flow and, assuming 15 years of driving and residual value of €3.000, a total cost of €46/h total costs.
Is it worth that much money, you tell me, I’ve not been able to make that decision yet….but this is about as “cheap” as you can reasonably get for a fun little “exotic” sports car.