The luxury car, an inaccessible pleasure?

Take the plunge

The second-hand market is large (in France, an average of 6 million used cars are sold per year, 3 times more than new), and the offer also relates to very advanced cars. You should know that as soon as a car is registered, it immediately loses its status as a new vehicle and becomes de facto a used one. Incidentally, its possible CO2 penalty was paid by its first buyer. Thanks to those who spend a lot of money on affording a unique car and putting it back on the market at a price affected by an often very strong discount. Because the more expensive a car is in the beginning, the more its value will quickly and sharply decrease over time. This of course depends on the makes and models, whether the demand is sustained or not, and depending on the rarity of the vehicle. Thus, some exclusive models (for example Porsche or Ferrari) sold in a few dozen copies to select buyers may be worth more on newer used cars if offered a few months after their marketing. We are so witnessing speculation phenomena that manufacturers are trying to escape by hand-picking their customers, but there are always a few sprains. However, if we look at the majority of luxury or sports cars sold used within two to ten years or more, we see quite clearly that they lose 30 to 80% of their value.

Bentley Azure
Bentley Azure© DR

The range is wide in the production of the last thirty years. The temptation is great to buy a Mercedes SL convertible for € 20-30,000, a Jaguar XJ sedan for € 10,000-15,000 or a Ferrari for € 40-50,000. There are even Bentleys or Rolls from the 90s-2000s under € 25,000, or Chevrolet Corvettes in these prices. Ad sites, such as specialist magazines, are full of these passion cars. They are available both at professional sellers, more or less specialists and at private individuals, and we must not forget the auction sector. which can offer a “top-of-the-range” choice during their vacations, especially seizures for unpaid credit or corporate bankruptcy. Official brand networks are limited to recent apartments with solid guarantees, but at prices that are logically higher than the average market price. The difficulty, therefore, is not to find a car, but to take action, from dream to reality, and to choose a model that suits your budget and your use while adhering to a few precautionary principles.

The first step is psychologically to take the plunge, that is, to assume becoming the owner and driver of a luxury car. Many amateurs have a hard time going from contemplation to possession, thinking about the way others will look at them, fearing the reactions of their family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, customers … so many reservations that can lead to giving up or consider a discreet purchase while living hidden with his beautiful car. Luxury can also be daunting, like when you step into a grand restaurant or palace hotel without being used to it. You must therefore assume your own vision of yourself and the judgment of others by telling yourself that you deserve to have fun and that you only live once. But not everyone achieves this detachment and remains in their unfulfilled dream. There may also be questions about vehicle safety: the need for a garage, city traffic, etc. Finally, insurance and maintenance costs can also be an issue. So many “good” reasons not to leave. But if the urge is persistent and you are psychologically ready to face it, then the step has been taken.

To take action

The decision made needs to be implemented. Research is an integral part of the ultimate pleasure; she creates emotions that mix both excitement and anxiety, and when she finally ends up in “her” car, the moment is intense. In order for the dream not to become a nightmare, even if there is no zero risk, it is recommended not only to take into account the desire for a model or its price. Desire and excitement can cause you to lose sight of certain realities, which, however, should first and foremost be taken into account: the condition of the vehicle and the cost of use and maintenance.

A used vehicle has a past. The clearer it is (number of owners, places of purchase and use, mileage, maintenance, any repairs, etc.), the better we are talking about complete history or traceability. A car that has only had one owner who has carefully maintained it will always be preferable to another whose course is opaque, even if it has fewer kilometers. It is the general condition that takes precedence and the attention that is taken to the maintenance. The perverse effect of the discount on luxury cars is that they could have been bought used by people who did not have the means to maintain them, whereas a single owner who bought them new was probably treated better because of his financial means. . It is not insurmountable in one way or another, we see the first hands “washed” by e.g. excessive use of the circuit, and options treated well by their multiple owners. To ensure this, a complete maintenance file (garage invoices and updated logbook) constitutes a pledge of trust. This does not preclude a careful study, both static and dynamic, to assess the overall condition. The cleaning of the body and the interior indicates that care. Worn seats or signs of shock indicate negligence or intensive use. In addition to parasite sounds, suspicious fumes from the exhaust, guard steering or inaccurate braking are all bad signs. The condition of the tires must also be taken into account, they are often expensive on high-performance vehicles. From this point of view, purchasing from a professional secures the project, and the higher price can therefore be justified by the condition and the offered guarantee. In the case of a private purchase or at auction, the buyer has, if he is not competent himself, an interest in surrounding himself with an expert to examine the coveted vehicle and assess any costs that can be expected that can be taken into account at the negotiation.

California© Ferrari

We said, the supply is wide in France and it is therefore not necessary to look abroad except to aim for a specific and rare model. Buying a vehicle registered abroad involves risks, especially if you are not traveling to see it. It will be necessary to ensure that it is authorized in France, to pay unavoidable taxes and duties, to repatriate it and to register it. Eventually, the bill can rise rapidly without the assurance of compliance with French laws and without the possibility of recourse in the event of a problem. In France, there are professionals whose job it is to import cars, and it is preferable to entrust them with the mission, after having previously checked their reputation and their solidity: a well-established and well-established activity. Advice forums and reviewing company registration sites help select serious professionals. Their price will no doubt be higher than for an unknown representative working with a simple computer, but the transaction will bring more calm.

It is also necessary to add to the selling price and to the possible expenses the cost of the gray card, the expense of insurance, parking and annual maintenance. A service at Aston Martin, Ferrari or Bentley can easily cost several thousand euros a year. Spare parts are not cheap among the Germans, and if the vehicle is already old, ten years or more, some can be difficult to obtain. A feasibility study, via enthusiast forums or specialist magazines, provides practical information that is likely to assess the reliability and cost of use. It is therefore wise to provide an envelope to add to your initial budget to get the full benefit of your car.

Enjoying his beautiful car

In an increasingly autophobic world, driving a luxury car can be out of place. But there are still a large number of passionate amateurs who like to enjoy a beautiful rolling object while traveling for pleasure. We see it especially in the world of vintage cars. Short Sunday trips or longer trips, enjoying a car of your dreams provide a simple happiness that you can also share with your loved ones or with other enthusiasts. Communities of enthusiasts organize through clubs or dedicated events meetings that often generate lasting friendships. However, you may prefer to drive alone just to escape from your daily life. Whatever his motivation and way of living his car, it is important to enjoy it.

Walking on a beautiful department road, crossing charming villages or rolling around in alpine turns, taking the time to stop in accordance with the beauty of the place or the quality of a gourmet stop, all simple pleasures are sublimated by the pleasure of getting behind the wheel of a car that pleases the senses. The scent of precious leather, the sound of a well-tuned 8 or 12 cylinders, or the muted silence of a plush salon, the touch of a beautiful wooden steering wheel or the vision of a finely arranged carbon or aluminum, unite with the car myth and get a moment to forget the blandness of a diesel or a disinfected hybrid.

XKR© Jaguar

You do not have to be a millionaire to taste it, a few thousand euros is enough to already have access to well-preserved sedans from the 90s-2000s (BMW 7 Series, Mercedes S-Class, Audi A8, Jaguar XJ, etc.). A little more for GTs or sports convertibles from the same period (Mercedes SL, Porsche 944 or Boxster, Jaguar XK, Ford Mustang V ..). In a range of 15 to 30,000 € we have access to most luxury sedans and many racy sports cars. More is needed for completely newer cars or supercars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche 911), but compared to the starting price again, the difference is still significant.

In the end, the satisfaction of the dream is therefore available, but by assuming it, and in accordance with the above-mentioned precautions, so that the dream does not turn into a nightmare.

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