affordable "super" cars

April 04, 2020 /// issue no. 95

Happy Saturday! You made it.

I have spent a few evenings this week shopping for the right wall art for the kid’s room. When we moved in I had an accent wall painted Gulf Blue in hopes of putting up a framed print of a Porsche 917k. This will happen as soon as I find the right one, but it made me think about how different an experience my kids will have as car enthusiasts.

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My childhood room had a 911 Turbo, a Countach, an Atlanta Hawks poster with the starting lineup’s supercars on the court of the Omni, a BMW M1 over my bed, and of all things a SN-95 Ford Mustang convertible. These cars are still completely out of my price range, but many of the cars I gawked at in the duPont Registry seem to be within reach. Are they though?

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median income in the U.S. is just shy of $50k. We will make it an even $50k because we are supercar owners. That comes out to 39k post-tax in the state of California and we will assume you’re a dedicated enthusiast saving 10% of your take home for 10 years to getting a supercar, you somehow have a housing situation on the West Coast that works at that income-level, and that you generally make bad long-term life decisions and great short-sighted ones. What do we get with our $39k budget?

Acura NSX

Ayrton Senna approved, the Acura NSX was Honda’s every day super car. It MSRP’d at when new but eBay prices hover around $40k and below. Mid-engine and rear-wheel drive is usually a great supercar combo. While the power figures and speed of the early models might not be impressive (270/210, 5.7s 0-60, 14.0 qtr mile) by today’s standards, a WRX doesn’t have the same pizazz or balanced handling. This was a Ferrari challenger in its day and it still turns heads if that’s your thing.

Aston Martin Vantage

Maybe this isn’t a supercar, but it certainly is a superiorly priced sports car. The Aston Martin Vantage V8 and its V12 successor still look as good today as they did in 2003 when introduced to the world. The likely reason you’ll find a deal on one is the $1,500 annual service. No big deal, because we were socking away $3,900 to save up for this puppy. Sports car sound, sports car looks, sports car power, and feeling like James Bond. The last point makes this the best of the lot.

Ferrari 308

If I traded the hours I spent as a kid watching Magnum P.I. for hours of learning I might have actually made something of my life. Boring. You know what’s not boring? A mid-engined carbureted Ferrari V8 that revs to nearly 8k. Put on your favorite baseball cap, pretend you’re a private investigator in Hawaii, and cruiiiiiiise.

Alfa Romeo 4C Spider

So you’re looking for something not quite as old as the above. But you still want something unique with a little oomph. Prior to being a mandatory hermit, I gawked at an Alfa Romeo 4C in my work parking garage every morning. You can definitely get a Lotus Elise all day for sub-40 but what you’re getting is a reliable roadster with a Toyota Corolla engine. A super-ish-car needs to have a carbon-fiber tub, over 100hp per liter, and classic Italian unreliability. Way under $40k folks and no one will know it isn’t an 8C when you’re flying past them.

Sure, I almost completely ignored maintenance costs. It’s just money. We are buying happiness. And we could all use a little of that right now. Let’s join in our efforts to make personal finance bloggers cry.

Coffee time,
Steven


daily automotive addiction.