What is a Car Really Worth?

The other day I was called upon to admire a friend’s latest acquisition. I found myself looking at a smallish, nondescript people carrier from a mass-market manufacturer, the only talking point being the amount of kit that was attached to it. This man had picked up the options brochure and had some sort of brain explosion. I sat in the plasticky leather driving seat staring with incredulity at this pointless plethora of gadgets and gizmos sprouting from every surface.

“Er.. what did this set you back then?”

“Twenty eight grand!” he announced proudly.

Jesus wept, I thought, how could anyone throw that sort of money at a thing like this? You could buy a really nice car for that. He’s a lovely chap of course, but he really shouldn’t be allowed out on his own.

The mistake he’s made you see, is to pick the wrong car. Cars, like anything else are worth only so much. A semi in Stoke on Trent is only worth a certain price even if it’s got a helipad in the garden. Nothing wrong with say Fords, but you shouldn’t pay Audi money for one.

I have another acquaintance who sees things differently. He has never had a decent car in his life, (motorbikes are his thing actually,) and he has made it clear that he would be physically ill if a car costing more than £500 were to grace his driveway.

He believes cars are a complete waste of money and of course he’s right.

He buys a banger, drives it until it stops, bins it and then buys another. As a result he has spent a mere fraction of the money that most of us spend on motoring, (which may one reason why he has a big house.)

A Mundano 1.6 or whatever is going to fall out of bed depreciation-wise anyway, so the higher the spec the bigger the haircut you’ll take at trade in time.

I’ve never been keen on buying new anyway. I just look at how much more car I can have for my money when someone else has taken the initial hit.

However, I have to admit that that’s the only thread of commonsense that can be found in a list of my own motoring purchases.

Now I’ve never been one to throw money around unnecessarily, I can never see the point of having say, a perfectly adequate bathroom or kitchen refurbished when the old one is working fine.

However, I will admit that caution and prudence tend to take a back seat when it comes to cars. I tell people about the cunning deals I do, impressing them with my financial acumen. But in truth of course it has cost me a small fortune over the years because like most people, I tend to let my heart rule my head when it comes to cars.

I waste bucket loads of money on motors, just like my friend with the people carrier. I just do it differently that’s all.

In essence, cars are just another way of burning money but with more noise.

But what’s the alternative, if you want to get from A to B (possibly calling in at C on the way)? Some sort of practical car maybe, functional, minimalist, built to do a job and nothing more?

 But what is a practical car? Some sort of motorised rickshaw from the far east, that costs less than a bicycle perhaps, or some ghastly ecobox made from leaves and that runs on sunshine? Either way it’s not going to sell. People just don’t buy practical stuff . Who wants a practical pair of trousers for example, or a practical fishing rod or a practical mobile phone?

No, it’s back to the old motor car I’m afraid, evolving as it does to cope with the ever increasing multitude of demands that we ask of it.

Just don’t kid yourself that it’s actually worth all that cash though…