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Drive a great car for once in your life

Posted by John Reed on

My perspective on cars underwent a sea change when I bought my Lexus SC in 2006.
Lexus SC 430

Before that, I owned a Camaro, Mustang, Buick station wagon, Avalon, Camry. My wife had a VW bug, Audi, Granada, Oldsmobile, and two Lincolns before she got her current 2003 Lexus 430 LS.Camaro

I got compliments on my Camaro, and many more on my SC. People would stop on the street when I put the top up or down. My wife got compliments on the Lexus and on one of her Lincolns. Many of the compliments were about the mirror dashboard. The actual instruments were down below out of sight and you just saw the reflection of them in a wide mirror.

Other than my first and last cars, I was Mr. Practical, utilitarian, function is all that matters. Then, one day in 2006, my wife said, “If you don’t buy the red SC, I will. ”

That is when I discovered that a car could be fun to drive and a source of pride. For a while, I had trouble believing such a thing was in my garage and belonged to me. Every time I saw it when I was coming out of a store, I would smile at the sight of it.

I found myself putting 20,000 miles a year on my car instead of 12,000. Marty’s Lexus had been the car we used when we drove together. That instantly ended when I got my Lexus.

I found myself taking the long way back and forth on errands so I could get more time driving it. When my oldest son got married, they used it as the wedding car. My wife sometimes uses it in the local 4th of July parade to carry on president of one of her charities. My granddaughter when she was five referred to it as my “really cool car” and loved to ride in it, perhaps slight evidence that it IS a chick mobile. (Her mom is the one who posted how beautiful my forthcoming car was recently.)

In short, if you can afford a beautiful, fun-to-drive car, buy one. Life is too short. Yes, cars are for running errands and attending events and transporting groceries and Christmas trees, and all that. And, yes, you should not buy more than you can comfortably afford or so much that you are forced to stint on other necessities like a home and education.

Too many people are wisely frugal when they are young and poor, but still frugal out of mindless habit when they become older and affluent. My millionaire father-in-law’s black, unmarked-car Ford habit is the classic example of failing to enjoy life because of failing to think through how his situation had changed over the years. In a rough, indirect sense, his lifelong frugality essentially is now being transmuted into my non-frugality.

I really looked froward to my first car when I was a West Point senior. I am really looking forward to my next one.
LC 500
I never looked forward to any of the others. The SC was an impulse purchase that I had no idea what I was doing when I bought it. I am very glad I did. If you are skeptical, lease a really nice, fun car to see if you enjoy it as much as I and others have.

Starting poor does not mean you have to wear a hair shirt your whole life. 

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