Help me choose a car?

Discussion in 'General Chat' started by Renault78law, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Renault78law

    Renault78law Senior member

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    I'm in the market for a used car, and I can pay around $40k. This is a much harder decision then I thought it would be.

    My dream car is a 99 Mercedes SL500. I like that it's a two seater; I like that it's a cruiser; I like that it's luxurious; I like that it's a hard-top convertible. At my pricerange, it might have close to 50,000 miles on it. My concerns are two-fold. First, I'm scared of the cost to maintain it. On the one hand, I'm told that the engine is bullet-proof. On the other hand, purchasing a 6 year old German car seems like just asking for trouble. My other concern is that it's too flashy, especially for someone my age (26). Just like my clothes, I like nice things, but I don't want to draw attention to myself. I'm especially concerned because I'm starting a my first real job in a couple of weeks (first year associate), and I don't wanna be known as 'that superficial rich kid,' or the guy who drives a nicer car than the partner. Ok, it may be stupid that I consider these things, but I do.

    Another car I'm considering is the 02 CLK430. Newer and less miles than the above, but built at the height of Mercedes costs cutting and made the Consumer Reports 'do not buy' list. Are the problems associated with this car rumors?

    Whatever car I buy, I plan on having it for a long time, so maintainance is probably the biggest issue. I like that fact that the above cars are older models. I don't want to ever feel then need to upgrade when another model comes out...which is how I'd feel if I bought a late model 3-series or something.

    Other cars I might consider: 04 Audi S4 (though, I prefer coupes), and the 02-03 Porsche Boxter S. Comments?
     


  2. Ambulance Chaser

    Ambulance Chaser Senior member

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    My advice: buy a used Honda Accord and put the money saved toward paying back law school loans and saving toward a down payment on a house.  My former co-worker at the firm got grumblings from partners about associates being overpaid when he bought a new VW Passat . . .
     


  3. Renault78law

    Renault78law Senior member

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    thanks for confirming my suspicions. grrr...haters be hatin.
     


  4. kabert

    kabert Senior member

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    Nice options.  I think of the SL as an older men's car - -over 45 years old.  The prior CLK 430 design is one of my favorites of Mercedes -- an awesome car with a muscular design that is timeless IMO.  I hadn't heard of reliability problems-- perhaps you can buy one from a dealer and has an extended warranty?  I also think of it as a younger person's car -- I know a hot youngish litigator who just made partner at a firm (she's 33 y.o.) who's had one for about 4 years.  That gets my vote.  You can't go wrong with a Boxter either, though it (just because it's a Por-Sha) may raise an additional eyebrow or two than the CLK 430 -- of course, that all depends on your firm and what its culture is like.  Junior associates at my wife's firm drive new M3s and Cayenne Turbos; the old guard seem to drive Camry's and Buicks.....  Another possibility - a 2000 BMW M5.
     


  5. nightowl6261a

    nightowl6261a Senior member

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    I just bought this one, even though it is new and not a pre-owned vehicle, it is worth the look, Mercedes makes it in Germany on the CLK320 chasis and engine. [​IMG] Incredible vehicle I might add, I enjoy it more than the Lexus I had before it.
     


  6. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    Have you considered leasing rather than purchasing a used car? With the cars that you are considering, why not do a 3-4 year lease on a new CLK430, Boxster S, 911 or M3 and buying once you can afford something a bit nicer when the lease is over?

    I typically pay cash for my cars, because I don't like making payments on something that drops in value, but if I didn't drive too many miles in my current job, I would have leased a E55 or CLS55 and called it a day.
     


  7. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    It isn't a coupe, and it isn't European, but I think you should consider an Acura TSX. About $25k and everything is standard but the navigation system. I drive one and absolutely love it.
     


  8. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    h_s,

    The TSX is a pretty nice car but every car that Ren78 mentioned above has a V8 except for the Boxster S, I imagine a 4 banger sedan isn't exactly what he wants.
     


  9. Kai

    Kai Senior member

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    I've not driven one, but the Boxsters are supposed to be really terrific cars.

    Other cars in your price range I would consider:

    New 2005 Mustang GT

    Used Porsche 911

    Used Corvette

    If you want something that is really fun to drive, and yet is practical, for about $30k you can get a Subaru WRX STI. I just bought one, and it is a terrific car. It's ugly, but handles well, goes fast, and can haul more people and stuff than a 2 seat sports car.
     


  10. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    Good point.

    This was just my suggestion of a way to save $15k and still driving a reasonably nice car. Sort of a compromise between his desires and the suggested Accord; afterall, the TSX is a slightly nicer European Accord.
     


  11. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    Point taken.

    I stand by my suggestion to lease a late model car, then walk away and lease another one (or buy) 3-4 years down the road, that way you can get pretty much whatever you want and the costs of ownership will likely be about the same (perhaps lower, because most of the time you won't do much maintainance in the 35-40k mi of a 3 year lease, or 45-55k mi in a 4 year lease)
     


  12. Renault78law

    Renault78law Senior member

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    Thank you all for your suggestions.

    I particularly like the M5 suggestion.  I had been considering that car for a long time, but 1) I am leaning away from purchasing a sedan 2) fear of high maintenance and 3) haters be hating (see above).  Though, one benefit of an 00 M5 over a 99 SL500 or 99 CL500 (another car I LOVE) is that you can debadge the M5, making it a less flashy, at least to the untrained eye.

    Driz,
    I think I'm going to pay cash for the car, or at least put down cash for ~3/4 (including a trade-in).  I don't know the finer points of leasing, but I assumed that since I wanted to keep this car for a while (5-7 years?) it might be more advantageous to buy.  Your thoughts?

    Anyone else have any thoughts on any of these issues?  It reminds me of the 'Who do you dress for?' thread, but in reverse.  Shouldn't I just drive whatever I like, and not worry what others think?  Or will it really adversely impact in my career?  If that's the case, maybe a used and debadged S4, M3 or C32 would be the best bet?  (though, the latter two are out of my pricerange).  I guess another, more fiscially responsible alternative would be to drive my current POS car into the ground before considering buying another...anyone vote for that?

    edit: wow, three posts in the time it took me to write this. i'm slow.
     


  13. hopkins_student

    hopkins_student Senior member

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    Bear in mind that I know nothing about the office politics of law firms, but I do know that some attorneys have weighed in on the subject of certain clothing (Kiton or Brioni) being too flashy to be starting at a new firm, and it seems that the general idea was that if you aren't good at what you do and are overly flashy, that is very bad, but it doesn't so much matter if you are good at what you do. We're all operating on the assumption that you'll probably be good at it, so I'd say it doesn't matter too much. If you ever feel like you're pressured about it too much, I'd come up with something about how the car belonged to your parents and they offered you a good deal to buy it from them when they upgraded.
     


  14. matadorpoeta

    matadorpoeta Senior member

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    go down to guadalajara or mexico city and buy a brand new alfa romeo, peugeot, or audi s3. i'm an alfa man myself. EDIT: p.s. if you like the boxster, check out the lotus elise. better performance and not so common. i still suggest an alfa spyder though. who else in l.a. will have a brand new alfa?
     


  15. drizzt3117

    drizzt3117 Senior member

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    Ren,

    Is there any specific reason you want to keep the car for that long?  With a lease, you can just get a new one when it is up, if you aren't making modifications to the car, I don't see a reason to keep it for longer.

    I just ran some numbers for leases.

    You can go to leasecompare.com to run numbers for leases, all of these are with 0 down.

    A 2005 Mercedes CLK500 will cost $650/mo for a 60 month lease (12k mi/year), $700/mo for a 48 month lease, and $785 for a 36 month lease.  For a CLK55, it will cost $850 for a 60 month lease, $935 for a 48 month lease, and $1050 for a 36 month lease.

    Let's say that you were looking at the CLK500, and wanted to keep it for 5 years (60 month lease)  This lease has a $395 up front fee, plus the first's month payment, so about $1300 due at lease signing.  If you took the $40k that you were talking about spending, and put it in a money market account at 3% interest and just used it to make payments, the following scenario would apply.

    Year 1: $7800 in total payments, $1083 in interest earned (40000+(40000-7800)*1.03)=1083
    Year 2: Starting balance $33283 $7800 in total payments, $881.49 in interest earned
    Year 3: Starting Balance $26364.49 $7800 in total payments $670.93 interest earned
    Year 4: Starting Balance $19235.42 $7800 in total payments
    $460.06 interest earned
    Year 5: Starting Balance $11895.48 $7800 in total payments $239.86 interest earned  

    Ending Balance $4335

    Therefore, your cost of ownership over the 5 years for this car would be $35665.

    Let's look at the scenario where you buy a used car for $40k.  

    Assuming that you bought a 2002 CLK430 for $41900 with 17500 miles (this is the best deal I found on Autotrader) and drove it for 60k miles, you would end up with a 2002 CLK430 with 76k mi in 5 years.  Given these circumstances, a 1999 CLK430 with 76k miles has a trade in value of about $14k, so theoretically your cost of ownership is about $28000 plus $3500 in sales tax and title fees, giving you a total cost of ownership of $31500, however, given a 5 year 60k warranty, you'll be out of it in your second year of ownership (assuming that you bought it today) and I wouldn't be surprised to see that your cost of ownership in that scenario wouldn't exceed that of the lease, never mind that you're getting a brand new (and better) car.

    Personally, I wouldn't worry so much about what other people think about what you drive to such a large degree, it might influence their perception slightly, but your job performance will be much more important and if you are doing well, you could drive a ferrari to work and they likely wouldn't bat an eye.

    As far as buy versus lease, keep in mind that a leased car has a full manufacuturer's warranty if you leased while new, and in the case of a 5 year lease, likely for the entire term of the lease. If you can deal with the mileage restriction (12k miles per year) than I would recommend it. For the types of cars that you are considering, you could also choose to purchase it after the 5 years is up, the residual value is $22128, so you could buy a car whose history you know for a good price.
     


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