Thus far I’ve been supremely fortunate to only ever had brand new cars. My parents didn’t believe in used cars on the virtue of you never know what the owner before you did to it, so it’s worth paying extra to be the first person to fart in the seats. Therefore even my very first car, which my parents lovingly purchased for me, was factory fresh. It was a testament to my parents’ sheer tenacity: raising two kids with not that high of an income, yet still able to save enough money for such a kingly gift.
Following from that ethos, when it came time to upgrade to faster car using my own money, buying used wasn’t even remotely on the radar. The car was a Subaru WRX STI, a sporting all-wheel drive performance sedan; I couldn’t risk buying a second-hand version where the previous owner might have driven it with reckless abandon, leaving my wallet to salvage the pieces.
Back then I was obsessed with buying a car new and keeping it as new as possible, a Sisyphean task in hindsight. I remember getting special cleaner and sealant just for the already super expensive paint protection film I had installed on the STI’s entire front-end, which was really stupid because that’s like getting a case for my phone and then agonize over keeping that perfect.
Indeed it’s the ignorance of youth, and it’s cost quite a bit of money. I was completely unfamiliar with the used car buying process, especially pertaining to performance cars like the Subaru. I didn’t know pre-purchase inspection was a thing; a detailed once-over of a car by a certified mechanic, informing potential buyers before plopping down hard-earned cash whether the car is a suitable sample worthy of purchase, or a neglected pile of junk best avoided. Turns out buying used isn’t akin to gambling, as what my parents had me believe, as long as I perform the proper due diligence.
However none of that factored into the car I bought after the STI, because there weren’t any used ones to be had. The 2016 Mazda MX-5 was completely redesigned from the ground up, so my only option was a fresh unit shipped from the factory in Japan. Had that not been the case I would’ve purchased a used version to save on the not unsubstantial depreciation. Case in point I bought the car for nearly $25K in late 2015, and two and a half years later I sold it for $16K. That’s quite a steep drop, a significant saving that I could’ve leveraged had the opportunity existed.
The opportunity will exist In the next car I’m going to purchase - 911 GT3, and I’m planning to maximize the depreciation savings and let the first owner take the brunt. I’m buying a used GT3 mainly because I can’t remotely afford to purchase a GT3 brand new, so slightly used 2015 models are what I’m relegated to. I shall be buying a used car for the first time, and it’s all quite exciting. Stay tuned.