The luxury car, an unattainable pleasure?

Take the plunge

The second-hand market is large (on average 6 million used cars are sold per year in France, 3 times more than new ones), and the offer also concerns very high-end cars. You should know that as soon as a car is registered, it immediately loses its status as a new vehicle and de facto becomes a used one. Incidentally, its possible CO2 penalty was paid by its first buyer. Thanks to those who spend a lot of money to afford an exceptional car and put it back on the market at a price affected by an often very strong discount. Because the more expensive a car is initially, the more its value will quickly and strongly 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. Some exclusive models (Porsche or Ferrari for example) sold in a few dozen copies to selected buyers can thus be worth more in recent used if they are offered a few months after their launch. We then witness speculation phenomena that manufacturers try 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 that are sold used within two to ten years or more, we see quite clearly that they lose 30 to 80% of their value.

Bentley Azure© DR

The range is wide in the production of the last thirty years. The temptation is then great to buy a Mercedes SL cabriolet 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. Advertising websites, such as specialist magazines, are full of these passion cars. They are found both with professional sellers, more or less specialists and with private individuals, and we must not forget the auction sector. which can offer a “top-of-the-range” choice during their vacations, especially foreclosures for unpaid credit or business bankruptcy. Official brand networks are limited to recent apartments with solid warranties, but at prices that are logically higher than the average market price. The difficulty is therefore not to find a car, but to act, from dream to reality, and to choose a model that suits your budget and your use, respecting a few principles of caution.

The first step is to psychologically take the step, that is, to assume becoming the owner and driver of a luxury car. Many amateurs find it difficult to go from contemplation to possession, thinking about the way others will see them, fearing the reactions of their family, friends, neighbors, colleagues, clients… so many caveats that can lead to giving up or consider a discreet purchase while he lives in hiding with his beautiful car. Luxury can also be intimidating, like when you walk into a grand restaurant or a palatial hotel without being used to it. You must therefore adopt 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 can also be questions about the safety of the vehicle: the need for a garage, city traffic, etc. Finally, insurance and maintenance costs can also be an issue. So many “good” reasons not to go. 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 has yet to be implemented. Research is an integral part of the final pleasure; she makes emotions that mix both excitement and apprehension, and when she finally ends up in “her” car, the moment is intense. So that the dream does not turn into 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 make you lose sight of certain realities, which, however, should be considered first and foremost: 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 miles. It is the general condition that takes precedence and the attention paid to maintenance. The perverse effect of the discount on luxury cars is that they could be bought used by people who didn’t 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 prohibitive one way or the other, we see the first hands “rinsed” by e.g. excessive use on the circuit, and options treated well by their several owners. To ensure this, a complete maintenance file (garage invoices and up-to-date log book) constitutes a pledge of trust. This does not preclude careful examination, both static and dynamic, to assess overall condition. The cleanliness of the bodywork and interior indicates that care. Worn seats or signs of impact indicate negligence or intensive use. In addition to parasitic noises, suspicious smoke from the exhausts, vague steering or imprecise 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, buying from a professional secures the project, and the higher price can therefore be justified by the condition and the warranty offered. In the case of a private purchase or at auction, the buyer, if he is not competent himself, has an interest in surrounding himself with an expert to examine the sought-after vehicle and assess any costs that can be expected, which can be taken into account in the negotiation.

California© Ferrari

We said, the range is wide in France, so there is no need to look abroad, except to aim for a specific and rare model. Buying a vehicle that is registered abroad carries 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. Ultimately, the bill can quickly rise with no assurance of compliance with French laws and no 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, having previously checked their reputation and their solidity: a well-established and well-established activity. Advice forums and review of company registration websites help to choose serious professionals. Their price will undoubtedly be higher than that of an unknown representative working with a simple computer, but the transaction will bring more peace of mind.

It is also necessary to add to the sale price and to the possible expenses the costs of the gray card, the costs 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 may be difficult to obtain. A feasibility study, via enthusiast forums or specialized magazines, provides practical information likely to assess 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.

Enjoy your 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 this especially in the world of vintage cars. Short Sunday trips or longer trips, enjoying a car of your dreams gives 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 to simply escape from your daily life. Regardless of his motivation and way of living his car, the important thing is to enjoy it.

Walking on a beautiful departmental road, crossing charming villages or rolling around alpine bends, taking the time to stop according to 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 cylinder, 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 have a moment to forget the blandness of a diesel or a disinfected hybrid.


You don’t 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 exciting sports cars. It takes more for brand new cars or supercars (Ferrari, Lamborghini, Porsche 911), but compared to the starting price when new, the difference is still significant.

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

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