By on January 27, 2012

Bing writes:

I am a financially stable 27 year old engineer living in the Bay Area, where it seems BMWs and Audis are about as pedestrian as Camrys.  I’ve been getting the car itch, but I don’t like the idea of getting an entry level luxury car like everyone else.

Almost by accident, I stumbled upon the idea of buying a early 2000s Aston Martin DB7 Vantage Volante, which can be had in the low to mid $40s.  Aside from the car being gorgeous and powerful, I get to pretend that I’m not just another boring Silicon Valley yuppie (which, believe me, I am) while not being overly flashy (it’s old enough to have a “classic car” vibe).  Financially, I would also like to think it has steadied out in depreciation, and if I sell it a few years from now, I may be able to recoup more of my investment compared to getting a much newer car.  Finally, there’s something attractive about the idea of having your dream car while you’re young, rather than waiting until you’re 65.  So the question is: is this a stupid idea?

1: Am I wrong about the depreciation?  Is this car likely to keep falling in value?  Will there be a demand for it in a few years?

2: Will this be too impractical of a car to drive on a regular basis?  I live less than 2 miles from work so the low mpg is less of an issue.  Will maintenance eat me alive?

3: Is this car too much for me to handle?  My current car is a Ford Focus (which I won on the Price is Right, incidentally) I’d be getting a Touchtronic auto, which should be relatively tame, right?

4: Should I get a normal car now and wait another few years for the DB9 (which is just stunning) to depreciate to a similar price level?  If I got the DB7 now, I may still end up secretly yearning for the DB9.

This is very unfamiliar territory here, so any thoughts and suggestions would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks!

Steve answers:

Let’s answer your questions point by point…

1: Am I wrong about the depreciation?  Is this car likely to keep falling in value? Will there be a demand for it in a few years?

Depreciation is always a big question mark. But that’s not so much of a make or break issue if you want an exotic. The real question is whether you fully understand the potential costs involved and the complete maintenance history on the vehicle.

If you don’t understand both, skip the exotic.

2: Will this be too impractical of a car to drive on a regular basis?  I live less than 2 miles from work so the low mpg is less of an issue.  Will maintenance eat me alive?

That gives me caution. Less than 2 miles means that your car is not going to fully warm up by the time you get to your business. You can make up for this by going on a nice pleasurable weekend ride. But a couple thousand small drives over four years would likely have an impact on your engine.

3: Is this car too much for me to handle?  My current car is a Ford Focus (which I won on the Price is Right, incidentally).  I’d be getting a Touchtronic auto, which should be relatively tame, right?

No, it may be a good fit for your desires. By the way, have you price about maintenance and known issues for this vehicle? The four figured price may be ‘over or under’ your expectations.

4: Should I get a normal car now and wait another few years for the DB9 (which is just stunning) to depreciate to a similar price level?  If I got the DB7 now, I may still end up secretly yearning for the DB9.

Your commute gives me a bit of pause. If you have the means or are willing to pay the premium, then go for it. But I would personally opt against driving the two miles, and just walk whenever it’s practicable.

Sajeev answers:

I literally LOL’d at the word “investment” for a 10-ish year old Aston Martin. You are not looking at this right, not by a long shot. Or, put in terms of your Focus, “The Price is Wrong!” Yes, you can make money on anything if you buy it “low” enough. And Steve did a good job explaining the pitfalls of owning an exotic vehicle. All of which makes the word “investment” a bit of a massive lie.

What Steve forgot to mention is that you’ll be a tool for owning a flashy, 100% Not A Classic, not a current body style Exotic with mediocre performance. If someone in a new V6 Mustang challenges your stunt and floss…well, you see where I’m going with this. And your snotty yuppie friends will agree, if one of them has the balls to call you out. Or say it behind your back.

That’s because you have to really like a DB7 to own it. And as the inherently cooler DB9s and V8 Vantages drop in price, so does the DB7.  This isn’t a Ford GT, it still has another good decade or so before the depreciation curve hits rock bottom. Then again, if you buy it for pennies at a police auction…

So keep the Focus if you get a DB7.  And be ready to spend a lot of money on upkeep, none of which you will get back when you sell it for the car you really want: the DB9. Or sell the Focus, get a normal sports car (cough, Corvette) and deal with the lack of prestige while owning a real performance vehicle without the excessive maintenance costs. More to the point, LS7-FTW.


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87 Comments on “New or Used: THE PRICE IS WRONG!...”

  • avatar

    You’d be better off with a 2007-2008 Jag XK for comparable money. It’s also marginally less likely to leave you stranded.

    • 0 avatar

      He’d be better off health wise and financially to just ride a bike, given a short 2 mile transit to work in California weather.

      My moralistic preaching aside, a 2 mile blip on a regular basis is going to murder any vehicle over the long term, and will be especially hard on an already fragile and idiosyncratic car such as a n early 200x DB7.

      It takes a 7 to 10 miles trip, each way, to fully warm all mechanical systems of a modern, reliable vehicle, depending on weather conditions and altitude.

      I may be mistaken, but I do not think that weekend cruises would be enough to arrest or reverse the damage that such short weekday trips to the office would do to the motor, fuel system and catalytic converter.

      • 0 avatar

        Why does the car need to be fully warmed regularly except to evaporate the fuel and moisture from the motor oil, an issue that can be taken care of with frequent time-based oil changes?

        My elderly neighbor drives an ’89 Cavalier that she’s had for at least 20 years that has seen almost nothing other than frequent low speed short trips. And this is in a Western Canadian prairie climate, where the engine would suffer the effects of frequent cold starts and minimal warm-up time far more than a California vehicle.

        To give you an idea of her driving style: Last spring, I repaired a broken vacuum line for her that was causing surging. I noticed the tires were quite dry-rotted and closer inspection revealed a 1992 DOT code on the “Petro Canada” tires. I told her that she should get new tires and that she should absolutely not drive it on the highway. I got her a couple of quotes from tire shops I use, which were under $300 total because they are 185/70R13 but she still hasn’t replaced them since she’s cheap and never exceeds 30 mph anyway. I took the car for a drive after replacing the $2 vacuum line and the engine runs fine. She has told me many times how well the car is running since the repair. I suspect it had been slowly getting worse as the tear in the vacuum line grew larger.

  • avatar

    I would say that if you have to finance it, forget it. That means you can’t afford it. But that’s just me.

    The Corvette sounds like a much better idea.

    An ’08 Jag might just be young enough to come with some sort of warranty attached.

  • avatar

    You are only young once, and having a great car at 27 is fun. Plus, when you are old you can tell stories/show pictures of the beautiful British luxury sedan you had in your youth. When you are 40 and driving a minivan it will be a nice consolation that you once had a cool car.

    However, before taking the plunge have a mechanic or better yet the dealer give the thing a very detailed inspection and estimate of what it will cost to perform scheduled maintenance for the next 4 years, plus predictable breakdown repairs from known failure items. The parts costs alone on this car will probably make your eyes water, and you can’t find substitutes at AutoZone.

    Only then will you know if it is worth it to go from free car to very expensive car. Good luck.

  • avatar

    Is this example the supercharged six or the V12? 2002 model Vantages had the V12, for example with 480 horsepower, so V6 Mustangs would not be much of a problem in any noticeable way. Certainly not in the looks department.

    What the heck, if you can afford the car, don’t let the parsimonious penny-pinchers and solid-axle Ford lovers at TTAC hold you back! Be prepared for high service bills and get the exotic car urge out of your system at a young and resilient age.

    Not everyone wants some 100K beater that will croak on to 220K for peanuts and a lot of driveway wrenching. Go for it.

  • avatar

    There is really only one applicable question – can you COMFORTABLY afford it? And not just the price of entry, but the maintenance and upkeep costs. IIRC, that vintage Aston Martin is mostly Jaguar/Ford underneath, which should keep the costs a lot more reasonable compared to something Italian. But that means it is mearly VERY expensive to run as opposed to OMG! expensive to run.

    So if you can, go for it! You only live once, and you can’t take it with you.

    But keep the Focus too, especially as it was free.

  • avatar

    If you’re going to buy an also-ran highline used car, make sure it’s a convertible. Otherwise, what’s the point?

  • avatar

    A million shades of “no” are screaming across my brain. If it were an old Ferrari I would say yes, but for some reason an older Aston DB7 volante just does not have that classic-ness to me, and you didn’t mention anything about the kind of maintenance you’ll be ready to take on. I might be biased though because to me it didn’t age too well

    If I were you I would consider the following used exotic or semiexotic options or rarer classics at 40,000 or less:

    Acura NSX
    older Ferrari (if you can handle the maintenance requirements, but I realize this is more up to personal tastes than anything
    Dodge Viper
    Toyota Supra Turbo
    BMW 8-series (ditto the Ferrari footnote)
    Porsche 911/Box/Cayman (or an older Porsche)
    Or as a Corvette alternative, even a Cadillac XLR.

    Or alternatively, save your money for awhile and consider that DB9 later on.

    • 0 avatar

      Only air-cooled rear-engined Porsches are cool. The water-cooled flat sixes have long term reliability “issues.”

    • 0 avatar

      If he wants some geek-cred to go along with an eye popping and unique car, you can’t go wrong with the Supra (TT of course) suggestion. A completely stock, well maintained ’96ish RX-7 would also fit the bill, but then the 2-mile commute and engine wear comes into play.

    • 0 avatar

      Agreed. Buying a car on its perceived, or market-wagered, depreciation value is a sucker bet. And to Car Spy Tweets smart list of alternative choices allow me to add:

      Ferrari F40
      BMW Z8
      Porsche 959
      Maserati GranTurismo
      Morgan Aero 8

      Or, if you can find a used and unabused Nissan Godzeera for a fair price, it’s worth considering as well.

  • avatar

    If you have to find logical arguments then you really don’t want to do it and you’ll kick yourself later for it.

    On the other hand, if you say to yourself “I’ll buy it even though I know it is a PITA money pit” then you are well and truly in love and should do it.

    This from someone with an ’84 Alfa Romeo as a (semi-) daily driver (but with a backup Lexus just in case!)

  • avatar
    Educator(of teachers)Dan

    Buy what you want to buy but for crying out loud, walk when you can. That commute is so short as to be silly. By the exotic, walk to work, drive the Focus to the grocery store, and fly in the DB7 on weekends for hours at a time.

  • avatar

    If you want a fun, exotic, buy a real british car but 10 years older and keep that focus. You’ll spend just as much time wrenching on it as driving it and you’ll likely enjoy the experience. If a socket set scares you, and you don’t mind expensive repair bills, go for it. I still think the price is a bit much, but you are right: you only live once.

    Personally, I am too cheap to spend on something like that. But I would definitely hang onto that Focus for some reliable transportation. That and you can keep the miles off your new baby.

    • 0 avatar

      The Man has heated leather seats, auto-defogging side view mirrors, 300 horsepower, room for a kids car seat and still gets high 20’s for mpg. Where do I sign? Is blood okay?

  • avatar

    I would suggest a 1998 to 2006 Jaguar XK8. I would get the coupe. The convertible says “women realtor”.

    My cousin had one and it was very reliable.

    Find a low mileage one with less than 30,000 miles. They can be had for $15,000 to $26,000.

    Here is an example:

    It is not a rocketship, but it sure is one of the most beautiful cars ever made. Myself I would keep the Focus and only drive the Jag to work a few days a month. Keep it in the garage out of the sun.

  • avatar

    If you do buy the Aston, I’d hang onto the Focus as well. The two mile commute and all of the pit-falls that go along with necessities of a basic form of transportation are inappropriate to subject the Aston to. It would make a great weekend or social event type of car and you’d probably be able to qualify for collector insurance on it as well.

  • avatar

    Not the DB7! That thing will never go up in value!

    And be wary of the DB9, unless you can afford maintenance on that V12, which will be eye-watering. Car Spy has the best advice on here. That’s a great list of interesting cars in a similar price range.

    I LOVE Astons, but my guess is that you will come to hate the DB7 after a couple years of dealing with it as it falls apart. Unfortunately, Astons and most Ferraris are cars that require money well in excess of the purchase price.

  • avatar

    11 years old is a classic car vibe? I’m going to start calling my 20 year old MPV ‘vintage’.

  • avatar

    He’s 27, presumably single, and looky look, he makes around $80-90K a year! Let him learn a valuable life lesson. Buy the Aston, spend thousands on maintenance and getting paranoid about something going wrong every. single. time. he drives the car. Sell it in 2 years for a tidy loss.

    What a great story to impress his future wife!

    • 0 avatar
      Mark MacInnis

      He lives “in the bay area”, works as an engineer but wants a fussy car like an Aston-Martin. Hmmmm.

      I surmise he won’t have a future wife….perhaps a husband?

      • 0 avatar

        Yeah, good one! Maybe if he had an old Mustang then we’d all know he was super-manly, not just some troll who’s probably secretly wanting a little forbidden love himself.

      • 0 avatar

        And this comment wasn’t flagged by the editors? How does this, in any way, contribute to the discussion? The guy asked about buying an older European car (for the record, not a fan of assuming that risk…but if the guy has the means to do so, it is his money). Did it have to deteriorate into personal attacks and blatant stereotyping?

        I thought TTAC’s readers and participants were better than this…

      • 0 avatar

        I got a chuckle out of it. So I guess it contributed that to the discussion.

        Let’s try to loosen our load a little bit and have fun on the internet.

      • 0 avatar

        You don’t even know this guy and you’re questioning his manhood because he wants to drive an Aston?

        You’re out of line.

      • 0 avatar

        Come on…it’s a joke, lighten up a bit. The dude wants a stylish but slightly dynamically challenged english vert with a slushbox, what did you expect?

        Only reason some people take offensive to this type of stuff is because others keep telling them they should.

        Movin’ on.

      • 0 avatar

        The guy wants an automatic convertible, so he should “expect” to be called gay? That’s not a joke, it’s just idiotic stereotyping. No different than something racist or sexist. People are offended because it’s hateful, not because we’re supposed to.

      • 0 avatar
        Vance Torino

        Sorry about my ’70 Mustang kinsman up there!
        (My ’69 brother had a better point!)

        Speaking of which, if the young man wants a unique, classic car as a weekend toy, and the TTAC parents want a reliable, affordable vehicle with no depreciation downside…

        I suggest… Classic Mustang?

        (Loved by chicks AND dudes!)

      • 0 avatar

        As a man with a husband, I actually found the comment funny and not that offensive.

        However, some of the reactions were – since when did implying someone is gay question his manhood?

        Anyway, if you want to attract men, buy a Mustang – mine works wonders for me!

    • 0 avatar

      These comments are full of good advice as usual. But the marital angle hasn’t been explored.

      If you are planning to get married someday, keep in mind that it is hard to find a spouse who will *completely* understand and be on board with sharing the cost of a $40,000 10-year-old car with you. Not impossible, but rare. So it may be a good idea to make this decision by yourself while you can.

      If you can really afford it and handle the maintenance, I vote yes. Most of us on this site believe in driving what makes us happy whenever possible.

  • avatar
    RI Swamp Yankee

    Remember, in 1982 a pre-emissions Plymouth Barracuda with a 426 Hemi was only 11 years old. I’d take one of those used over literally anything built in 1982, by any manufacturer. ANY. THING. So, recent classics are not out of the realm of possibility.

    That said, an ’01 Aston Martin is not a ’71 Cuda. It is a finicky exotic with dated rather than timeless lines. It needs another 10 years to mellow into cool. Only the Lincoln Mk VIII and Chrysler Concorde have managed to slip into classy head turners ahead of schedule, but they’re terrible cars.

    I would strongly recommend looking into something before ’73, and save it for rainy days or cruising on the weekends – if you live less than 2 miles to work, get your ass on a bicycle.

    It doesn’t need to be a muscle car, just a nicely restored example of pretty much anything built in the US from ’52 to ’73. It will be in the mechanic’s once every other month, but it will be cheap, as repro parts are plentiful and can be installed by any mechanic, armed only with a leatherman and a rubber mallet, in under a minute.

    I had a ’69 Caddy Fleetwood droptop I bought in the late ’90s when my dot-commie buddies were all into shiny new Porsches and Beemers. I laid out 6 grand for a nice example, and spent around $50/month on repair and maintenance. I had more people hovering over my ride in the parking lot than the veep with his Calloway ‘Vette. Sold it for about what I paid for it.

    • 0 avatar

      Concorde and Mk VIII? Classy head turners? Sir, we have very different tastes in cars. Both of those scream hooptie to me. Even in their day they always seemed awkward.

      I bet that Fleetwood was a hoot. If you’re looking to make an impression, a convertible nearing 20ft in length is a good way to go.

      • 0 avatar
        RI Swamp Yankee

        Both of those scream hooptie to me.

        Cars aren’t established as classics at a Barret-Jackson auction. Some motorhead in a bad neighborhood takes a close look at the cars he can afford to work on, picks the best looking, and goes to work. So it was when I was a kid, and all of the local motorheads were rescuing ‘Stangs, Superbirds, Goats and 442’s from used car auctions (I paid $600 for a running ’72 Mustang Grande, no lie.)

        Nowadays it’s either Donks and Boxes, which are more of a slap-to-the-face to 80’s and early ’90s Motown “muscle”, or they’re sledding Concordes, 300M’s, Rivieras and Markie Eights.

      • 0 avatar
        JAZ the Airhead

        @dts187 If you’re sticking with a definition of “classic” as “a car that is common and depreciated enough to be cheap fodder for questionable cosmetic mods” then you should expect to confuse most people. Even those folks I know who are into donks would never consider them “classy”–there is a sense of irony embedded in the aesthetic.

        The two examples you cited are no more classics for having been donked than a riced-out fifth-generation Civic was in 2001.

  • avatar
    Joshua Johnson

    This is very similar to this discussion a few months back

    The gist of that discussion and this one is: if you can afford the purchase price of the car AND maintenance/upkeep, go for it. Enjoy the car while you are young and your life is still relatively simple.

    As a Jaguar owner myself I may be a tad biased, but I second getting an XK. You get 90% of the Aston’s beauty, 75% of its exclusivity and at only 40% of the price. Ok, those percentages are entirely subjective, but you get the ideal. And if you decide to get the XKR, that truly is a rocketship with its supercharged V8.

  • avatar

    I know a 30-something Air Force pilot who runs one of these every day. It’s one of the supercharged six cylinder convertibles, and he loves it. At least in South Carolina, this car gets lots of attention, and I personally think still gorgeous. He went from a mid-80’s 911 Turbo to this, and has had less problems with the Aston Martin.

    I echo the sentiment of, if you can afford it, and can budget money for repairs if they happen, do it. When you’re old you’ll never regret that Aston Martin you owned when you were young, I promise.

  • avatar

    Chevy Volt. ‘Nuff said. Discussion over. Buy one NOW!

    • 0 avatar

      The Aston is a very attractive $40k luxury car that might pose some maintenance problems.

      The Volt is an unattractive $40k economy car that is already having maintenance problems.

      Don’t buy one, ever. ‘Nuff said.

  • avatar

    Less than two miles to work? Walk, you lazy *******! Or if time is of the essence, bicycle!

  • avatar

    Having driven around the Bay Area, I’ll say that isn’t worthy of being called ‘driving.’ Straight, congested roads, scooting from one stop light to the next, is just the worst. Don’t subject an Aston to this treatment. Get a nice poser car like an old Audi TT, maybe the convertible. Or a Subi for when you go camping in the mountains. But for driving along Camino Real, I’d stick to what works in the In-n-Out parking lot.

    • 0 avatar

      Really? One of the best drives I’ve had in my life started just over the Golden Gate into Marin along the coast past Muir Woods in a Miata rented for the day. Lovely road (lots of curves and elevation changes), and great scenery for at least 100 miles.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes. It really isn’t the best place to take advantage of the car. You’ll be so frustrated by stoplights, that when you finally do get on Highway 17 to Santa Cruz, you’ll crash and kill yourself.

      If you want to take the plunge, there are worse things you could buy. I understand the general desire not to have the same damned 3 series and A4 as everybody else at every technology company in the valley. So widen your horizons a bit. Where do you drive? If you go to wine country, or along Rt 1., consider a much cheaper Honda S2000. It’s a spectacular car for that environment, and won’t be common. Girls will want to ride shotgun. If speed is really your game, get a Boss 302 Mustang, which should fare quite well on the depreciation end.

    • 0 avatar

      This is true for 90% of the commuting roads, but if you think there are no nice drives in the Bay Area, you should have done some exploring. Bunkie is right, some of the roads in Marin are hard to beat.

    • 0 avatar
      JAZ the Airhead

      This is not true at all. Yes, there is traffic during rush hour, just like every major metropolitan area, but it is objectively no worse than LA or DC, to name just a couple examples. If you’re spending time on the Camino Real, you’re doing it wrong.

      I ride my bikes all around the Bay Area (and the country) and there are some of the best twisties and scenery you’ll find anywhere within 50 miles of downtown SF: Highway 1 in both directions, Panoramic Drive, Grizzly Peak Road, Skyline Blvd, and the Santa Cruz highway are just a couple examples. Oh, and Laguna Seca is just an hour from Silicon Valley.

      Not to mention the motorcyclist-only enjoyment I get every morning watching the sun rise and the fog roll as I knife through traffic on the Bay Bridge. ..

  • avatar

    What Steve forgot to mention is that you’ll be a tool for owning a flashy, 100% Not A Classic, not a current body style Exotic with mediocre performance.

    Great advice, Sajeev.

    • 0 avatar

      Agree. Great advice. Unless you are just in love with this body style and would not want any other then rocking this Aston would make you the guy who carries a sony discman instead of an MP3 player just to be different.

      There’s a reason why very few use portable cd players and it’s the same reason why very few lust after a DB7. The newer stuff looks better, works better, and is far more convenient.

      Unless the DB7 is the car of your dreams, hold out until you can afford what you really want. I think your princess is in another castle.

  • avatar

    There’s no single, correct answer. It’s your decision to make and your life to live. One popular sentiment is that you’re young now, you only live once, you have plenty of time to be old and responsible, enjoy this freedom while you’re single, etc. This is all correct, and there’s not a thing wrong with that logic.

    The only mistake would be to follow that advice, or justify it to yourself, without considering the alternatives. $40,000 is worth quite a bit more to a 27-year old than a 47-year old. And when we start talking about maintenance, insurance, extra taxes, etc. we’re realistically over $50,000 for this toy.

    If you’re married in the future, if you have kids, if you’re buying a house, for example, and that extra money down means you can afford a 15-year mortgage vs a 30-year term, that can have a pretty big impact on your quality of life in the future, your freedom to take the kind of vacations you want down the road, to buy an extra toy or two, to start your own engineering-consulting business, etc.

    It’s not that we cheapskates are against spending money at all; we just want to make sure we’re getting the most possible value out of what we’ve got.

    You can probably guess what my vote is for your situation, but what I think doesn’t matter.

  • avatar
    Downtown Dan

    To echo Mr. Swamp Yankee, I’m in favor of the old-car solution here. Nothing sticks out from a pile of A4’s and 328i’s like an American ragtop, or a funky ’80s Euro-sled.

    Keep the Focus (its attendant memories of Bob Barker/Drew Carey will only grow fonder as time goes on), and get something old school.

    My personal favorites are the BMW 635CSi, and the Jaguar XJS convertible (try to get a post-1993 model with the 4.0L straight six, which is, at least anecdotally, much more reliable than the V12).

  • avatar

    If you love it, and if you can afford (AND won’t be depressed by) the potentially high maintenance costs, go for it.

    Get it while you’re young and single. If you later deem it to be a “mistake”, you sell it, and whatever you lose and have been put into it, so be it – again, as long as you can afford it and won’t be freaked out by the loss.

    Now that I’m married, with young kids, and all sorts of obligations, and not enough garage space, I still yearn for something really special, like an older 911 or something. My wife tells me to get one, but I always think I’d probably hardly ever use it (I walk/take a train to work), there’s work to be done on the house, colleges and retirement, etc etc. I’ve got two nice cars, one of which barely gets used, but not that older, mint 911 or even a 560SEC (need the room for kids). I think it’s really the big maintenance costs which scare me.

    When I was in my 20s (early ’90s), with no one counting on me, I often thought of buying a new one. I made decent coin, but lived in NYC, really had no need for a car, and thought I should be saving money. Here I am, 20 years later. I should have freakin bought one, and I’d probably have it all these years later, with probably 50K miles on it.

    This sounds really depressing! but it’s just a car, and I’m happy with what I have, but I do want it. But you should just go for it and enjoy it!

    Edit: I think you’ve inspired me to write in and get an opinion about keeping what I’ve got vs. getting something new!

  • avatar
    DC Bruce

    First, you gotta figure out exactly what you want. You’ve only halfway done that: you don’t want to look like every other late-20’s engineer and drive what they drive. You want to be different. Fine! Now, think about “different” in what way. You want a car that’s fast, a little crude (by modern standards) and requires some skill to drive fast without committing suicide? Think air-cooled Porsche 911 –a turbo if you are really confident. This car is not plush, but it’s visceral in a way that few modern cars are. You want that, but also something that won’t depreciate? Get a restored E-Type. Visceral, not comfortable, bad ergonomics, frightening reliability and maintenance (twin SU carburetors!) but there’s nothing prettier on the road (don’t even think about the 2+2).
    A little too hairy? You want a taste of the old Brit leather-and-wood luxury and don’t care about trying to suck the doors off V-6 Mustangs at a traffic light? Get a vintage Roller or Bentley. Don’t see too many of them tooling around!

    And, understand, any 10+ year old car is going to require a fair amount of maintenance no matter how reliable initially, how carefully driven or how carefully maintained. Robber parts — gaskets, grommets, o-rings and the like, begin to get hard or deteriorate by that point. The only question is how much the parts cost and how much the mechanic will charge to fix them. Obviously, some cars will be worse than others . . . but don’t expect anything to be like owning a 2-3 year old car, even if your vintage ride lives most of its life in a garage.

    And, BTW, nothing but your free Focus deserves to be driven two 2-mile trips a day and similar grocery errands. So, keep it.

    And consider a bicycle as your commuting vehicle — or if you want to be totally geeky — a Segway!

    And nuts to all of those people who disparage driving in the Bay area. Commuting sucks anywhere. But, for my money, its hard to beat the PCH north of the Golden Gate for a beautiful, challenging drive . . . all the way up the coast.

  • avatar

    Hey, if you’re in love with the Aston and you have to have it, then have it. You’re only in this place in your life once.

    Or, if you want to differentiate yourself with the BMW/Audi crowd in the Bay Area, AND want a car that you can actually keep without fear of bankruptcy, how ’bout a brand spankin’ new Mustang 5.0 convertible? I’d have to think not many San Fran yuppies are driving one of those babies.

    Download the soundtrack to “Bullitt,” drive it around San Francisco, and you could have your very own Steve McQueen moment. Can’t get that in an Audi.

  • avatar

    I wouldn’t buy it if anyone in your neighborhood hangs out with the OWS crowd.

    I can see people dinging and keying it because only the 1%ers can own a car like that.

  • avatar

    Normally I would say go for it, because you really need to get “nice” car ownership out of your system before you come around to realizing that all cars are rolling money pits. However, at 27 and a commute of less than two miles, you have a unique opportunity to save a ton of cash and set up your future very nicely.

    It is really difficult to set things up so that you live that close to work. Get into a serious relationship or get married and your significant other may not work in the same area as you, and you will find yourself commuting. You may need to change jobs and find nothing close to home. Eventually you may want to buy real estate. Once you own, it isn’t as easy to just move close to work every time you get a new job.

    Keep the focus and walk/bike to work. Stay disciplined and you may even get to retire early. Then consider flashy cars. I know this sounds like terribly boring advice, but just think of how great early retirement would be.

    • 0 avatar

      A kindred spirit.

    • 0 avatar


      Invest 40,000 at age 27, earn an average 10% annual return, retire at age 65 with $1,496,173.74. When you’re young, a new car literally costs you a million dollars.

      Drive the beater Escort and flash your investment portfolio. Women will find you attractive.

      • 0 avatar

        Invest 40,000 at age 27, earn an average 10% annual return

        10%? Where the hell you getting that? Romney letting you in on some of his PE deals?

        Drive the beater Escort and flash your investment portfolio. Women will find you attractive.

        Says the single guy.

      • 0 avatar

        Invest 40,000 at age 27, earn an average 4% annual return, retire at age 65 with $177,552…

        Oh wait…

        Is missing out on all the tail you’ll pull by being frugal now really worth $177,552 in 2050s money when you’re an old fart? I guess not.

  • avatar

    Save up for an early DB9, and forget about the late model DB7. The DB9 is just the much better car…and it’s prettier…and it sounds better…and it can’t be too long before early DB9s reach prices that aren’t that big of a stretch from $40K.

    Alternatively, go for an original V8 Vantage (Volante if you must). I believe the V8 in those is reasonably solid (as in, respective to what you’d expect), it has lots of style and if you buy right this is a car that probably won’t depreciate that much anymore, allowing you to spend the cash you’ll save on potential repairs and maintenance.

    • 0 avatar

      I didn’t even address the particular car choice in my earlier post because we all like different things. But I never found the DB7 all that special (now, years later, they’re actually a little more appealing to me), and the DB9 is far prettier and nicer.

      For me, nothing tops the original V8/Vantage Coupes (and Volante just because it looks good, but I’m not a convertible guy). But prices on these look like they’ve really been climbing in recent years. I don’t think $40K will get you anything great, in terms of condition and low miles. I think really good ones are $75K and up, and Volantes can be well over $100K. Maintenance on these must be insane, but damn, they are achingly beautiful.

  • avatar

    If you have to ask, you’re out of your depth. Does a 40k Aston from the Ford years really do it for you? There used to be many Ferrari Mondials out there for less than 25k, but do you really want something like that? None of these cars appreciate for any reason. They don’t have a following of fanatics like some cars do. Chances are, if you’re not a fanatic, you don’t want something this expensive as a status symbol. It will be your financial ruin.
    And if you’re looking for something to differentiate you from all the other Bay Area startup yuppies I can’t help you. Let me guess, you’re a Rails programmer. That’s not really engineering IMO.

  • avatar
    A Caving Ape

    Well, I’d start by buying a bicycle.

    The car is gonna be a toy. 40K is a lot for a toy. How much fun could you have with that much money otherwise and still have enough leftover for a fun car? I’d give that one some serious thought.

  • avatar
    Damon Romano

    If the Focus has treated you well, and you really love the front end of the DB9, you could just wait a few months a get the 2013 Ford Fusion.

  • avatar

    I want to know about winning the Focus – did you get pick a car from local inventory? Did you get the actual car that was on stage? Does CBS just give you a check for the MSRP? Do you get a video of your day on the show? Seriously I’ve always wondered how these transactions go down. I know you have to pay the tax, tag and title fees… but seriously you WON A CAR ON TEEVEE! how cool is that?

  • avatar

    A few points:

    If this person lives only 2 miles from work, why do they own a car?

    Not putting miles on a car will kill it. I sold my rock solid 528i to my Mom when it was six years old. She then drove it a half mile twice a day to the bus stop to go to work. It promptly started to suffer from serous mechanical problems which she then blamed me for.

    A more serious cool car alternative would be, say, a XK120, fully and freshly restored, for 50 cents on the dollar.

  • avatar

    I agree on the bicycle idea – you can spend a bundle on a bike too.

  • avatar

    Keep the Focus as a daily commuter. If you’re looking for a weekend cruiser that doesn’t blend in with the other “yuppie-mobiles”, why not a Corvette or Mustang? Those can be maintained and repaired much more affordably than an Aston, and there are a LOT more online resources.

    I’ll throw another choice out there: the Lexus SC430. A very luxurious and unique weekend cruiser, and coilovers and aftermarket wheels will transform it from a “chick car” into a “chick magnet”!

    (There is of course also the older SC300/400 that works with plenty of Supra goodies.)

  • avatar

    The DB7 looked pretty in its day, but it was basically a terrible car. That was not the golden era of Aston Martin by any means. Underneath that skin is a 1975 Jaguar XJ-S. Do you really want to pay $40K for that? The previous gen Jag XK has the same problem, it’s also a 1975 Jaguar underneath, and it has a 1975 driving position and 1975 handling.

    The aluminum ’07+ XK is a totally different animal. It looks modern, and unlike a tired old Aston, nobody except serious Jag fans will know you don’t have a brand new car. That’s what I’d buy. 911s are for lawyers, and the Lexus SC430 (aside from being awful) is for middle-aged real estate agents. *Female* middle-aged real estate agents. NOBODY looks at an SC and thinks chick magnet.

    Supras and RX-7s, really? Are you guys serious? Aside form those cars being a hundred years old, they will have been “2 Fast, 2 Furioused” beyond all recognition. Yo dawg its pushin 600hp! Yo dawg, the turbo just blew.

    The Corvette, unless you’ve got gold chains around your neck and own a mattress warehouse, just says “I’m compensating!!!!” It’s a mid life crisis car. Nobody needs a Corvette at age 27. As much as I don’t like Mustangs, that at least makes a bit more sense.

    Get a slightly used Jag XK, or maybe a BMW 6 series if you like the looks. The SL is a bit too business major.

  • avatar

    That is stupid. An old Aston will kill itself. If you really want to be cool, get a Mercedes Gl450. It is big, powerful and awesome.

  • avatar

    @mitchw: take a look at the photos accompanying any of Alex Dykes’ reviews…there are some nice roads for some commuters.

  • avatar

    Well, we’ve proven once again that passions run deep around here when it comes to interesting cars. I laughed when I read about someone wanting a DB7, only because it’s so similar to an XK8 so as not to justify the extra cost. The DB9 makes more sense from that point of view. I’m also not afraid to swing a wrench, so I’ll take my chances on the older higher-mileage car to save on the purchase price provided much of the work needed at that point has already been done. But that’s me.

    When I was the same age in 1992, I happened upon a black-on-black 1986 MR2 with 16,000 miles. I’d still take that car over a DB7 but good luck finding a mint MkI MR2 with no rust these days. I tried.

    That one sacrificed itself six years and 162K miles later protecting me from a kid in daddy’s Ferrari F355 who thought he could just jump into traffic from the Northern State Parkway’s super-short on-ramps.

    I agree with everyone who said you really have to be passionate about that particular car to justify your purchase to yourself. Because there’s no point trying to justify it to anyone else.

    My advantage was that I had a world-class performance car (at least in terms of handling) that was basically a Corolla with its drivetrain in back. Cheap pain-free motoring. Which is what an S2000 would give you. But it’s not an Aston. You have to decide whether that means enough to you.

    Whatever you do, do NOT convince yourself you have to spend 40 grand to get the satisfaction you’re looking for. You don’t.

  • avatar

    Let me rephrase that question:
    “I am a 27 year old single engineer. How much puzzy will I get with a 10 year old Aston Martin DB7?”

    Not a whole lot. The number of women who recognizes the Aston Martin brand name is statistically insignificant. The ones who do do so from memorizing trashy rap songs- be prepared to be named ‘Baby-daddy #1’ in a future law suit.
    May I recommend a used BMW M3 convertible for that noble purpose?

  • avatar

    blah blah blah boring economic advice and self-projection “you’ll have a wife and kids one day think about your retirement.”


    DB7’s are cool but garbage.

    Get an NSX.

    If you want a fast brit that costs an arm and a leg to maintain, how about a V8 twin turbo Esprit?

    -Young guy who WISHES he had a lotta money to blow on a car like that. It’s what I’d do.

  • avatar

    Just lease something for the $40,000 if you want to blow the money looking cool while still young. It will give you much less headaches, and $40+K over 2-3 years gets you into some quite “cool” new cars.

    Unless you, as an engineer, enjoy futzing with old Astons, of course.

    Who in their right mind would drive 2 miles during rush hour in the Bay Area? If you really are too crippled to walk or ride a bicycle, get a wheelchair.

  • avatar

    Wait a few years for the DB9 Carbon Black. You KNOW it’s what you really want.

  • avatar

    Q: “You’ll be using this Aston Martin DB5 with modifications. Now pay attention please. Windscreen bulletproof…as are the side and rear windows. Revolving numberplates naturally, valid all countries.”

    Bond: “Anything else?”

    Q: “Well I won’t keep keep you for more than an hour or so if you give me your undivided attention. We’ve installed some rather interesting modifications…you see this arm here? Now open the top and inside are your defense mechanism controls – smoke screen, oil slick, rear bulletproof screen and left and right front wing machine guns.” “Now this one I’m particularly keen about. You see the gearlever here? Now if you take the top off, you’ll find a little red button…whatever you do, don’t touch it!”

    Bond: Yeah? why not?

    Q: “Because you’ll release this section of the roof and engage and then fire the passenger ejector seat…whoosh!”

    Bond: “Ejector seat? You’re joking!”

    Q: “I never joke about my work double-oh-seven.”

  • avatar

    That gives me caution. Less than 2 miles means that your car is not going to fully warm up by the time you get to your business. You can make up for this by going on a nice pleasurable weekend ride. But a couple thousand small drives over four years would likely have an impact on your engine.

    Are these engines prone to sludge? If so, four month oil change intervals regardless of mileage should keep the oil good. If not sludge-prone, I’d go six.

    Or is there some other reason that this routine would be exceptionally hard on that particular engine?

  • avatar

    The DB7’s interior door lock/handle is straight out of a first-gen Miata – enough said. Ever since the DB7 came out that has bothered me and pretty much sums up the car – mediocrity surrounded by a beautiful body.

    Go drive the DB7 back to back with say a C350 or 335 and the modern cars will feel much better to drive and sportier too. Cars have improved exponentially since the days of the DB7.

    I have actually driven a DB9 twice (on two different “supercar tour” type driving events which I highly recommend BTW) and was completely underwhelmed. I’ve owned/driven many German cars over the years, and the DB9 was just a complete disappointment. Horrible tranny, sloppy body control & handling, just uninspiring in general. I much prefer a Boxster or 911 or any AMG or M car.

    Nobody has mentioned an Elise – the perfect “different” car if it appeal to you and drives like no other.

  • avatar

    Re: DB7 – It all depends what you are looking for in an exotic. I couldn’t agree less with “Wrong at Any Price”. I own a pristine DB7 with less than 5,000 miles. It is stylish, it performs well, it is sleeker and more elegant than the DB9 and it doesn’t scream “look at me, I’m cool”. It has a “classic” feel and it is certainly a head turner. In fact, it probably is the best value in today’s used sport car market. As far as maintenance, it’s like anything else – you need to keep vehicles such as this in shape or else they can “get away” from you. It goes for the DB9, as well. //JG

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