New Car Ownership Experience is Overrated

by Rob Schermerhorn on November 13, 2011

Frequently throughout my career I’ve received the “what do you drive?” question. Frankly for years it’s been a hooptie ’94 Civic, now with more than 200,000 miles; bought from my brother after I borrowed it and crashed it on the Kennedy Expressway in Chicago (rain, fatigue and 3/32” tire tread combo) and I’ve owned it since ’96. Folks would laugh, I guess they expected me to say “Ferrari F40″ or something else exotic… <shrug>

I purchased a new Mustang GT in ’09 and I’ve come to the conclusion that the experience of owning a new car is overrated!

2010 Mustang GT at Road America

Looking for a track car? Mustang's a good choice!

My friend Joe in San Francisco tells the story of he and his wife buying a new BMW Mini, driving out of town to take delivery of the perfectly-optioned “Mini of their dreams”, only to walk out of their hotel the next morning on the journey home to find key scratches! My version is on the day of purchasing my new 2010 Ford Mustang GT first my brother pulled too far forward into a parking curb stone, scratching the lower bumper cover and later that same evening me driving over a semi-truck tire tread that popped out from under the car I was following, cracking the rest of the same lower cover. Three months later another truck tread performed a WWF head-slam along the side of the Mustang that took two hours of buffing to eliminate the scars.

The Civic has been easy to own from a “trying to keep it pristine” perspective because I started that relationship by crashing it. On the other hand, the paint on the Mustang is the best I’ve seen this side of Ferrari (and I have a lot of experience with the red F-cars) and I’ve fretted over every scratch; spent two days cleaning, polishing and waxing last fall to get the paint back to perfect. This season we’ve picked up more scratches, too deep to polish, and two door dings, and I’m really very relieved that the paints no longer perfect. Some of the scratches are rubber marks from soft track tire marbles kicking up while driving Road America, scratches I’m happy to accumulate as those are on-track miles, the raison d’etre for my ownership.

I’ve been fortunate to work so long in the automotive and motorsport industry, driving someone else’s cars, frequently on a track, getting paid for it (rough, right? I’m not complaining, I am blessed) I knew I would have great difficulty deciding what to buy if and when the time came to purchase a new car (not just new-to-me car). Why? Because I’m so particular, have so much experience driving the good, bad and ugly in the industry; and that—combined with frugality—I knew would make the process less than fun! I’ve only purchased used cars in the past, mostly because I didn’t have the funds for new, partly because I never wanted to take the new car depreciation. Enter small business ownership and the need for a fun, track-worthy car.

Buying used (if you have the time for the search) is easier in that you must buy what’s in the best condition within your budget… done! You don’t get to choose color for example.

So what’s your story? New vs. used? The stress of trying to keep the new car pristine? Or maybe you just don’t care that much, just drive the thing and get a new one every three years, eh?

 

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