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SlickDizzy
SlickDizzy PowerDork
8/4/15 10:59 a.m.

I've been shopping for a newer vehicle to replace my E39, something with better gas mileage is the big sticking point, but I'd like something that isn't a total chore to drive. I'm mostly considering Mazda 3s, Honda Fits and the like, but it's hard not to notice that there are some nice PRHT Miatas, Genesis Coupes and even FR-S/BRZs dropping into my price range ($15k-ish). Which raises a sort of philosophical question...

I'm 25 going on 26. No kids, SWMBO isn't interested in any herself for at least another five years, I've got a decent job (AND a flexible part-time gig for when I need extra spending cash), and don't really NEED something that's the definition of practicality. For a DD-type vehicle, I figure it makes sense to tick as many boxes as possible; something fun, that's also practical, that can carry a dresser or four adults if needed, that's efficient, etc. Do I NEED any of those qualities? Not really aside from the mileage, but scenarios do come up with some frequency where they're nice to have.

While wrestling with this thought, I've heard two polar opposite views on how to proceed:

a) You're young, you don't have a bunch of kids to worry about, get the sports car and enjoy it for all it's worth; worry about being practical when you have kids, a mortgage, etc. 25 is not the age to worry about this kind of thing.

b) You're young, you have the rest of your life to climb the socioeconomic ladder and buy silly sports cars. Right now you should be focusing on what you NEED, not what you want. 25 is about the age you should start getting serious about this stuff.

I'm completely torn down the middle. What do you guys think? I'd be perfectly happy in a newer Fit or whatever, but I'd hate to look back a decade from now and think "dang, should have just bought the sports car and enjoyed it while I could." I know many of you are older and each path has been followed by a number of you, so what would you recommend?

N Sperlo
N Sperlo MegaDork
8/4/15 11:04 a.m.

A

It sounds like you're financially stable enough to have fun until you make the decision to inseminate your wife's eggs with your spawn. You'll know when you need that family car especially if wifey isn't interested for the next five years.

ultraclyde
ultraclyde UltraDork
8/4/15 11:06 a.m.

Get the sports car. Enjoy it now. When you get older, buy a more expensive sports car. I'm a firm believer that the car you drive every day should put a silly smile on your face. You'll figure out how to get the practical stuff done when it needs done, even with a sports car. I've got over 100k on a Mustang that has hauled all kinds of crap, has a hitch on it for a bike rack (or a light trailer if needs be, but haven't been there yet.) You'd be surprised how much crap you can fit in a coupe when you need to. There are always other options, too - take someone else's car for group events or just meet up. Too big to fit in the coupe? use a $400 HF utility trailer and a hitch. Too big for that? Rent a pickup from Home Depot for a day. The idea that sports cars can't be used for most daily tasks is shortsighted and just plain WRONG.

If you don't get a sports car you'll always wonder if you should have. If DO get a sportscar and it turns out to suck, they are easier to sell.

Eat dessert first. You could die any time.

t25torx
t25torx HalfDork
8/4/15 11:10 a.m.

So here's where I stand on this issue. It's your car, get what YOU want. Not what society deems you should have.

Coworkers complaining that that they can't all fit in your coupe? Tough spit. They didn't give you money to buy it.

Can't fit that giant bookshelf in your BRZ's trunk? That's what they make trailer hitches and utility trailers for.

At the end of the day buy what makes you happy. If 4 doors, great gas mileage and room for a small circus in the trunk are what matters most, then get the car that ticks those boxes. Just remember you can always sell it and move on to something else, and if you bought it at the right price, you might even make some money on the deal.

Dave
Dave New Reader
8/4/15 11:10 a.m.

No brainer - buy the sports car. Lots of time to practical later.

"I wish I had bought the practical four door saloon instead" said no one ever on their death bed.

Klayfish
Klayfish UltraDork
8/4/15 11:25 a.m.

I was in pretty much the exact same scenario as you 15+ years ago. Married, no kids, low expenses, both had good jobs. I kind of "climbed the ladder" of sports cars as time went on...in other words I never broke the bank, but I continually traded up. Took a fair amount of wheeling and dealing...I would always search for that huge bargain, so that when I went to sell it I could get most or all of my investment back out of it. My first weekend toy was a '91 MR2 (I think that was the first one), and I worked my way through all kinds of cars over the course of several years. Wound up with a FFR Cobra, then a Viper. Those were before and shortly after my first kid was born. Then I started descending the ladder, to where I now have 3 kids and no weekend toy. To be fair, I don't have a toy right now for a bunch of reasons, most of which were logistical not financial. But even if I get one, it's likely to be a low budget one, as in old NA Miata or E36.

Do I regret it? No, not really. My wife and I had some wonderful memories and had a lot of fun with them. We never put ourselves in the poor house and now that we have kids, we'd never have the time to enjoy the things we did back then.

failboat
failboat UltraDork
8/4/15 11:40 a.m.

BTDT. Buy the sports car.

Or if you really must have something to handle more than the duties of a sports car, buy a beater pickup or something to go along with it.

Around 22 or 23 I was driving a chevy van, and I bought a miata. I have always had at least 2 cars since.

Driven5
Driven5 Dork
8/4/15 11:42 a.m.

If you're spending roughly the same amount either way, and the sports car also technically meets all of your needs, then 'A' and 'B' do not necessarily have to be mutually exclusive...Especially if SWMBO prefers driving a car that already covers some of the other occasionally desirable capabilities that the sports car is lacking, like passenger/cargo space.

Raze
Raze UltraDork
8/4/15 11:49 a.m.

Here's your first bit of grown up advice, quit being philosophical and do both

Desmond
Desmond Reader
8/4/15 12:44 p.m.

Most people spend around 12 hours a week in their car (disclaimer: completely made-up statistic). Life is too short to drive something boring. Get the sports car now. Get the sports car later. Always sportscar. Why? Because honestly, there is such a wide range of cars that meet this "criteria", that even if you are struggling financially, you can still find a way to own something at least somewhat sporty, even if it isnt "fast".

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
8/4/15 1:00 p.m.

I have no idea. All of my car choices are terrible except the minivan. Do better than I do.

szeis4cookie
szeis4cookie HalfDork
8/4/15 1:02 p.m.

30, with 2 kids (and no married without kids time to speak of). Get the sports car; once the kids you're looking at 3-5 years minimum before you'll be able to get something remotely like it, and even then a 2-seater will be right out as your DD.

Just do it.

MadScientistMatt
MadScientistMatt UberDork
8/4/15 1:04 p.m.

I vote option A. The only sorts of practicality that really would impinge on your current plans are cost and reliability (well, maybe safety, too). Nothing on your list is likely to be a reliability nightmare, and it seems as if you can afford them without compromising other plans. If you do not need cargo room or seating, I fail to see what is impractical about these cars. It's not as if you were proposing to use a Triumph Spitfire that was rewired with lamp cord and wire nuts as your DD.

GameboyRMH
GameboyRMH MegaDork
8/4/15 1:07 p.m.

Get the sports car. The Genesis Coupe and Toyobaru are hardly impractical anyway.

Mr_Clutch42
Mr_Clutch42 SuperDork
8/4/15 1:17 p.m.

I'm also in the A. option camp. You're on this site, so you're not very likely to purchase a sports car to impress everyone and their brother. I think that plenty, if not most people that buy sports cars is for that reason, or also because they are beautiful to look at, and as a result, society sees it that way. Driven5 has a great point, you don't have to break the bank to purchase a sports car, especially if it's not brand new. Another topic I want to point out is that often, people will say "I have kids, so I had to sell my sports car." That's true if you purchase the most expensive one you can afford, but if you go with something old and cheap, you can always own a sports car.

clutchsmoke
clutchsmoke Dork
8/4/15 1:23 p.m.

Get the sports car. I'm only 5 years older than you and always drove fun stuff or had a motorcycle to compliment the boring car.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
8/4/15 1:26 p.m.

Be honest- how often do you REALLY need practicality?

How many times do you have to carry stuff, or carry people, or whatever?

Of those times, why can't you rent a car or truck to do it?

My wife's first 3 cars were 4 door sedans- and I know that for cars 2 and 3, the number of times someone sat in the back seat was less than once a year. For car one, I bet it was less. Was it worth having a practical car?

While she still has a 4 door car, theoretically, it's more practical, as it's the tow vehicle.

But realistically, I think it's time to shrink smaller, since we don't tow much anymore.

I DD's a Miata every day from 1997 to 2014, and never really needed more. Get the sports car.

PS- it does not matter what you drive- all of them will be a chore at some point. DD'ing sucks.

ProDarwin
ProDarwin UberDork
8/4/15 1:30 p.m.

I'm 31. Newborn at home.

berkeley option A. 25, no kids/house/dog to worry about? Drive the cheapest hoopty you can. Bike to work. Save $ like a madman. Invest. It will pay off ten-fold or more in the long run. Would you rather have $25,000 now, or $250K later?

If only I had begun saving like I do now at 25 instead of 29...

xflowgolf
xflowgolf Dork
8/4/15 1:30 p.m.

you may "have time to climb the socioeconomic ladder" as time goes on, but so does all of lifes complications and compromises equally climb with time.

There will never be an easier time than now.

Option A. All day.

Any other "practical" consideration will fall into minority real life scenario, of which you can rent/borrow/trailer to get that once a year thing done. ...or just pay to have it delivered.

RealMiniDriver
RealMiniDriver UltraDork
8/4/15 1:30 p.m.

Sportscar.

If you must move a dresser, rent a pickup from Home Depot/Menards for $20.

TGMF
TGMF Reader
8/4/15 1:41 p.m.

I'm in my 30's now and just about to start with the whole kid deal. I bought several sports cars and sport bikes throughout my mid to late 20's, and my current 350Z just after 30. I've spent countless hours cleaning, working on and modding my fleet. I dont regret it for a second. I've had huge fun, done road trips to the tail of the dragon, done car shows and cruises, track days and all. Its been wonderful. I've owned a practical beat up old SUV of some type for winter and Home depot duty the whole time. But your priorities will change. Now that I'm married, with kids soon, I'm tossing around the idea of buying the 4 Runner I've always kinda lusted after. Still cool, but practical, and year round, and I wont have to work on it much. one insurance payment. Some day I will buy another sports car, but I suspect it will be a solid 5-10 years from now. Bottom line, buy the toy now, while it fits your lifestyle. Never know when the opportunity will end, or when it will come again.

Brett_Murphy
Brett_Murphy PowerDork
8/4/15 2:26 p.m.

Buy a fun but practical car now for under 10k- like the Mazda3 you mentioned, in hatchback form. Put $50 a week away to buy the car of your dreams in 10 years.

alfadriver
alfadriver UltimaDork
8/4/15 2:45 p.m.
Brett_Murphy wrote: Buy a fun but practical car now for under 10k- like the Mazda3 you mentioned, in hatchback form. Put $50 a week away to buy the car of your dreams in 10 years.

The problem with that is that life may be in a position to not allow one to have the car of your dreams in 10 years.

The other question of constantly saving- when is enough good enough? If he's maxing out the 401k and getting company matching now, why would it be bad to spend some money on yourself if you can get it?

When we got married, we thought of the idea of having kids, but two years later when I needed to get something different, I got a Miata. A few years after that, we decided to not have kids and a few years after that, we could not. The whole time I was able to enjoy part of a really crappy drive to work by driving a Miata.

If not now, when will it ever be a good time?

Edit- I wonder if my position is genetic. My dad's first brand new car ever was a '59 Alfa Romeo Giulietta Spider Veloce. This was 5 years after he got out of school. Got married in '63, and then sold it eventually. Still managed to get a Lotus Elan and Corvette for his awful DD. Not all the time, but for enough. Then after I went onto school he got an MR2. Rarely did he have a practical car for his drive to work.

TGMF
TGMF Reader
8/4/15 2:51 p.m.

my one catch, is funding your retirement portfolio. If you aren't at 10% or more going into a investment of some type, that should take priority over a car payment. If you can swing both, have at it. At 25, if you start now, and contribute at least 10% you should be pretty set later in life even with market fluctuations. Make no mistake, 25 IS the time you should worry about retirement. Everything else can wait a bit.

Sky_Render
Sky_Render SuperDork
8/4/15 2:53 p.m.

You only live once. Get a sports car. If you do decide to have kids, get something more practical.

Honestly, if I didn't have winters and a long commute to deal with, I'd probably be daily driving a Viper or something equally ridiculous.

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