Only buy things you don’t have to tell people about
Gorilla communities have one alpha male that rules supreme (“The Naked Ape“)
To the rest of the group he basically is a god. And God help irreverents.
Hence, individuals lacking the god reverence gene would be propagationally challenged.
Humans have by and large kept the god gene since the split-off 6 million years ago. Society however has changed. Without an absolute ruler physically present, many choose to believe in some outerworldly ruler instead – God.
No serious scientist would accept phenomena that can’t be measured, since it would be impractical. Still many scientists believe in God. That’s how strong the urge to fill the void from the original alpha gorilla is.
In parallel fashion, during humanity’s formative years, a typical society could only sustain 200 people
All of those were important and very well known, essentially VIPs and celebrities. To this day a typical human being can only keep close track of 200 important people, and also make sure we fill that quota. Thus we find one supreme ruler, like an emperor or God, and 200 close friends and celebrities. Due to today’s isolated city life, combined with 24/7 celebrity coverage, celebrities can seem more important than friends and family. It’s ingenious how various rulers intuitively have exploited this trait for power or money:
The catholic church and the pope, communists outlawing religion to make room for themselves at the very top. Then there is Hollywood, American Idol and reality shows replacing the village community, enabling sales of records, clothes and other stuff. Rather than revering an inherited family car or watch, many are willing to pay through their teeth for anything with even the slightest association with an A list celebrity. Weird, really, and not just a little funny.
The Voight effect – stardom rub-off
In one episode of Seinfeld, George Costanza is excited over buying Jon Voight‘s old car. Jerry later finds out it wasn’t Angelina Jolie’s father but another Voight, namely the completely unknown John Voight, completely ruining George’s experience of driving a celebrity car.
George Costanza in a Voight car
Back in 2005, I bought a Ferrari 360 spider (convertible) from the world’s fourth greatest soccer player, Zlatan Ibrahimovich (highest paid player in Series A in 2011, During his 12 years as a professional player in Europe Zlatan won the series 10 times with six different teams. His transfer to Barcelona in 2009 was the fourth highest ever at 69m EUR. In 2013 he was ranked 4:th in the world. In 2014 he was the third highest paid soccer player with 40m USD). I, however, hardly knew who he was – and when I heard it was his car, I was more concerned whether he had taken good care of it than I was excited (Zlatan grew up in arguably the worst suburb in Sweden).
Zlatan was flattered
My friend’s promptly told me who Zlatan was and said I should ask for a souvenir. I did and soon got the answer from the dealer that Zlatan had signed a match shirt and sent by express package directly to me. The dealer also said that Zlatan actually was “a bit excited that the buyer (me) wanted his shirt and autograph and wasn’t at all bothered – rather flattered“. OK, that was an interesting turn of events. Some kind of reverse celebrity psychology. With time I still appreciated the effect the story had on other people, because it made Zlatan’s greatness rub off on me. Anyway, after this episode, I felt cheated on the shirt (it never arrived), and increasingly annoyed as the years passed by and Zlatan’s star grew ever brighter. I’m not proud of it; I felt cheated on a shirt from a person I had hardly heard about. The celebrity effect at work.
FACT: A second hand super sports car will permanently
set you back 15% per year of its cash price.
A 100 000 dollar car actually costs you
15 000 per year in petrol, insurance, price fall, maintenance etc.
Driving the Ferrari convertible added positively to my life during the three years I kept it. In short, it made me happy. The Zlatan story was, however, marginal, whereas track racing, accelerating/braking and speeding were magical – in particular in tunnels. The sound of Ferrari’s V8 going past a certain rpm in an enclosed space, combined with he rush of air (top down, always) and tunnel light flickering past like in a spaceship, was pure joy.
Doing this uncontrolled and most involuntary full 360 spin at 110 mph was one of the best experiences I had in that car:
I originally upgraded to the Ferrari, from my Porsche convertible, after seeing a beautiful Ferrari 360 cruise leisurely through Stockholm city one too many times. At the end I even started feeling slightly ashamed, “just” driving a Porsche when I could drive a Ferrari. Typical second-hander thinking. Low self-esteem. I think I had just as many happy moments and memories in the Porsche as I did in the Ferrari at five times the cost. Thus, in retrospect it was quite a lousy “upgrade”. And then I made the same mistake again – just worse:
Lunch break Lamborghini
During a lunch break with a junior colleague I walked past a Lamborghini dealer and bought a bright yellow (“Midas gialli”) Gallardo convertible. Of course I coveted it and had done for some while, but part of the decision was based on impressing my colleague and my friends. And remember, I still owned Zlatan’s Ferrari.
It took about a month to get rid of the redundant set of wheels and focus on the Lambo. It really was an amazing machine; faster, easier to handle, 30% bigger engine, futuristic design and not least a much newer model to impress people with. The first two years were as good as with the Ferrari, but then I lost interest in driving, in track racing, and eventually in other people’s opinions and living a second-hander’s life (vicariously). Nevertheless I drove it for one more season and then put it up for sale.
This time it took more than a month. First the dealer went bankrupt, then the market for second hand Lambos crashed. It took three years to sell. The final selling price was almost 100 000 USD less than the dealer first thought I could get for it.
Thinking back, I think my best time was with my first car, a red BMW with a crappy cooler, that cost me a tenth of what the Porsche cost and close to a hundredth of the list price for the Gallardo. In terms of cost of ownership the difference was even greater. Back then I didn’t spend one second on what anybody else might think. After a 15 year round trip, I’ve finally returned to that blissful state of independence and integrity. I have finally learned my lessons regarding conspicuous consumption and living vicariously:
Focus on what makes you happy and what you think is fun
Flash and glamour have very little worth
Beautiful cars look better from the outside
The cost is ridiculous at 15% per year of the car’s cash price
Before any purchase, stop yourself if any part of the consideration is telling others about it
Super car ownership facts:
FERRARI 360 SPIDER (8.20 USD/mile or a total cost of ownership per year of 15% of the cash price)
Actual sales price, first sale around July 2003: 1 795 000 SEK (260k USD)
Price drop the first 22 months: 470 000 SEK (-26%, -68k)
Price: my second-hand price, May 17, 2005: 1 325 000 SEK (192k)
Maintenance due to track racing: 54 315 SEK (brake discs, clutch, tires etc; 7 872 USD)
Annual services, 2006, 2007, 2008: 54 350 SEK (30 500+10 500+8850; 7 877 USD)
Parking, garage 36 months: 71 000 SEK (10k)
Insurance: 75 261 SEK (11k)
Gas, petrol: 47 939 SEK (6 948 USD)
Price drop (May 17, 2008): 285 000 SEK (21,5% of what I paid for the car; -41k)
Sales price, gross: 1 095 000 SEK (based on estimated sales commission)
Sales provision: 55 000 SEK (No info, but let’s say 5% of sales price)
Sales price net: 1 040 000 SEK (I sold it on a net price basis; 150 725 USD)
Sales costs: 0 SEK (immediate sale, no extra costs)
Net, net sales price: 1 040 000 SEK (78.5% of what I paid, i.e., a 21.5% loss)
Total cash cost 2005-2008, exactly 36 months: 587 865 SEK (85 198 USD; 44,4% of what I paid for the car, or half the percentage loss compared to my Lamborghini Gallardo Spyder)
Since I drove 16 760 km (10 416 miles) my cost per 10 km was 351 SEK, or 8.2 USD per mile. About a third of what my Lamborghini cost.
LAMBORGHINI GALLARDO SPYDER (22.50 USD/mile or a total cost of ownership per year of 15% of the cash price)
Actual sales price, first sale in July 2006: 2 120 000 SEK (308k USD)
Price drop the first 18 months: 680 000 SEK (-32%)
Price: my second-hand price, April 1, 2008: 1 440 000 SEK (208 700 USD)
Maintenance due to track racing: 184 851 SEK (27k USD; clutch, brakes, tires, re-cond etc)
Service, 30 000km = 20 000 miles: 35 895 SEK (5200 USD)
Parking, garage: 66 055 SEK (9600 USD)
Insurance: 135 263 SEK (19600 USD)
Gas, petrol: 37 676 SEK (5500 USD)
Price drop (May 21, 2014): 690 000 SEK (48% of what I paid for the car)
Sales price, gross: 750 000 SEK (109 000 USD)
Sales provision: 75 000 SEK (10% of sales price)
Sales price net: 675 000 SEK
Sales costs: 45 000 SEK (garage, insurance)
Net, net sales price: 630 000 SEK (91 437 USD, 44% of what I paid, i.e., a 56% drop)
Total cash cost 2008-2014: 1 269 740 SEK (184 287 USD; 88% of what I paid for the car)
Since I drove 13 172 km (8 186 miles) my cost per 10 km was 964 SEK, or 22.5 USD per mile. Think about that the next time you se a sports car cruise by…
However, if you would have bought the car from me directly, without middle men, you would only have paid 91 437 USD in May 2014, and your price drop over a handful of years would almost certainly be less than half of that – perhaps 10k USD per year. If you have your own garage, cheap or no insurance and don’t drive on race tracks, you would only pay for gas (1/2 gallon per 10 kilometers, or 12 miles per gallon) and the occasional service and maintenance.