Sportscar buying tips
Everyone wants to drive a sportscar and owning one is even better. Or is it? Here are a handful of sportscar buying tips.
ANY SPORTSCAR WORTHY of the name will prioritise handling, fun, looks, and speed, which means that things like practicality will likely take a back seat….if there is one.
For starters, expect less storage room as there are no boxy bodies on sports cars. Forget a plush ride too, as the sportscar needs stiffer suspension for cat-like agility. It’ll also be lower to the ground, so there may be the odd scrape entering driveways, and you’re not going to get a great view of the road or scenery from your near-the-ground driving position. The turning circle is unlikely to be tight, and rear visibility is likely to be compromised – sportscars are agile only going forwards at speed – and forget towing anything and accommodating more than one passenger.
And then there are the costs: the engine will probably demand premium unleaded fuel, and it won’t be tuned for economy; insurance might be more expensive, as may servicing and other running costs; and the purchase price will be higher, as the money you pay will have gone into performance, not luxury gadgets.
Depending on the car, you might also get comments. Owning a supercar like a Ferrari means you’ll be posted on everybody’s Facebook feed whether you like it or not, and you’ll be noticed. But even less exotic cars can still get attention – often from owners of similar vehicles, or especially if the car is new to the market and you’re one of the first owners.
All this sounds like reasons to avoid a sportscar, and indeed they are because what makes a sportscar a sportscar – performance, handling, and beauty – by definition compromises practicality. We do this all the time – we only need to drink water, but we buy coffee, beer and wine. We spend extra beyond the basics everywhere, so why should cars be any different?
So I’m not going to tell you to be practical, I’m going to tell you how to handle the sportscar’s limitations.
Considerations when buying a sportscar
Seats and storage – How many people do you really need to carry? If you regularly, really need to carry more than one then you probably need a sporty version of a sedan, not a coupe or pure sportscar.
Clearance – Sportscars are lower, so if you do a lot of dirt road driving or have an awkward driveway be prepared to take them a lot slower.
Spare tyre – If you want to do a lot of rural driving then you’ll need a proper spare tyre. The purer the sportscar, the less likely it is to have a decent spare.
Expense – Sportscars are never the cheapest cars to run, so if you’re coming from a normal car then budget extra.
How much each of the above is a problem depends on how much of a sportscar you’ve bought. For instance, a track-focused Lotus Exige will be near impossible to drive every day, whereas a Golf GTi will be pretty much the same as its less-exciting brethren.
How to live with a sportscar
Everyone has their own view of practicality, and here are some ways to solve the problem.
Rent the practical car – Many times I’ve heard people say they won’t buy their dream car because their friends or family sometimes visit from afar. That’d be once, twice a year. So on those occasions just go and rent something for the duration and you can probably split the cost with them. And that one time every month or so when you need to get a load of gear from Bunnings? Rent a ute.
Rent the sportscar – Alternatively, if you’re only going to use your sportscar just a few weekends a year, you can rent them. There are numerous places to do just that, and you can take a different car every time.
But part of sportscar ownership is the fact that every drive becomes that bit more pleasurable, so you’re missing out on the overall ownership experience. There are specialist sportscar rental shops, and you can even rent a Porsche 911 from Hertz.
Buy a different sportscar – To be honest, as much as I love my Toyota 86, I’d prefer a Lotus Elise. But that’s way more expensive and way less practical. So I’ve gone with the 86, as having something is better than nothing. You too might need to compromise. Maybe you’d really like to have an 86, but you’ve got a young kid. In that case, how about a hot BMW 1, 2 or 3-Series, a Renault Megane R.S, Mercedes-AMG C43, or Ford Focus ST?
Own two cars – Instead of dropping say $70k on one beautiful car, buy a $5k beater and spend $65k on your dream car. Use the beater for errands, driving where you just don’t care, parking at the train station, ferrying people around. Use the sportscar everywhere else. This could be more expensive, but you’ll reduce mileage on your expensive sportscar with this option, and lessen the risk of damage. You might even enjoy it more on those special occasions, and resale value will be preserved.
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