I’ve said before how I love to find the good in cars that would normally be overlooked by others. How it means the world to me to restore a cars paint or improve it’s performance. Petrol heads will agree that cars have character and they evoke a lot of strong feelings of childish glee and happiness. For me it’s when you find that perfect exhaust note or absolutely terrify yourself when planting the throttle. I’ve never been in a position to buy in the top third of the market when it comes to the cars I wish to own, but that isn’t always a bad point. This is why…
In the example of the B7 Audi RS4, a mint low mileage car (20k) miles or so will still have all of the issues and flaws it left the factory with. The brittle Dynamic Ride Control (DRC) will still fail,the oil coolers will corrode then leak add the perished bushes due to lack of use and you’ve got a very expensive ownership proposition ahead. My car cost less than half of the low mileage cars ,add a couple of thousand pounds of modifications and repairs and it’s still half the price. Look at it with some form of business acumen, if you invest less money you’ve quite simply less money to lose. The margins are smaller. I spent £12,000 on my B7 saloon, it probably owed me a little over over £13,000 when I sold it and yes I made a loss, but it was negligible compared to what the low mileage values were plummeting to. One of my best friends has just bought a TTS supercharged RS4 avant exactly like I had, his has a third of the mileage of mine (60k for his) and it was a bargain at £23,000 give or take a few coppers. That sum wouldn’t have got me the best naturally aspirated B7 3 years ago when I first started my journey into “fast” cars. However if you look at it again with it being so well priced his margins for loss are borderline non-existent, due to the exclusivity of the supercharger equipped cars. Factor the way they hold value with enthusiasts it’s a smart choice.
I like to think I look at performance cars realistically in terms of an ownership proposition. I always look at it as what I’m paying per annum for the “privilege” of owning each vehicle. Obviously the more you spend the more it’s likely to cost you in the long run. Especially if you’re buying from a dealer this also depends on how long you’re planning to own it and how many miles you cover etc. I try and budget around £1000 per annum in depreciation alone for my cars, this is negligible for two reasons. The cars I own are fairly old (usually around a decade or so) I don’t usually accrue a great deal of mileage (or I buy a high mileage car anyway) and whichever flaws I find I make sure to rectify as soon as possible. Another reason for this being a big factor in why I buy cheap cars is the ongoing desire to upgrade. To experience newer faster and better cars with different feelings and soundtracks. My GT-R makes only a handful more BHP than my TTS RS4 did, yet the two cars are completely incomparable. One delivered high revs, a manual gearbox and refinement with sculpted leather buckets which cradle you with comfort even when driving somewhat voraciously. The other is a Nissan GT-R. The B5 RS4 had great theatre to it,delivering its power in only a way a monster from two decades ago could. Mountains of lag then a violent and thrilling shove, pinning you in the seat by your throat.
My latest challenge is to enjoy two years with my GT-R for under £30k total. Now that’s just modifications and the purchase price, however I’ll keep a list of all maintenance as well. See if I can keep all of it under my target figure, obviously without neglecting the car whatsoever. I don’t have issues with low mileage and great examples of cars, however I’ve never felt like I’m missing out with the cars that I buy. They look essentially the same if not better, they behave the same and when you offset the massive savings I’ve made I’m often able to modify the car substantially further.
I absolutely cannot afford to continually lose £5000 or more on every car I own. I have to be smart where I invest my funds in terms of purchasing, maintenance and modifications. Modifications are very niche and you need to choose carefully if you’re going to leave parts on or alter the appearance of your vehicle. This being said I try to be as neutral and pure as I can, whilst enjoying the benefits of my improvements. I find trawling through the classifieds or auction sites for comparable cars is always a good move. See what your car is missing or has over it’s rivals that’s appealing, what makes it unique and where does its value sit. My GT-R was the cheapest when I bought it, I’ve improved it cosmetically and given it a better exhaust system ,however all I would say this has done is made it worth what I paid. Once the car has been painted and the door corrosion has gone I feel it will be a great example despite the fact it has fairly high mileage for a GT-R. This being said I would be surprised if I lost much money on the car at the time of sale. (See above about margins, spend-less lose-less). Essentially my cars have been stepping stones, each of which leads to something better, something faster more special and higher up the food chain. There’s no danger I’ll be jumping into a Lamborghini anytime soon but maybe one day there’ll be something a cut above Godzilla.