Friday, April 10, 2015

Where do we get headlines like these…

Trolling around the business news sites – and, I’ll admit, the Daily Mail – looking for today’s Pink Slip topic, what to my wondering eyes did appear but this headline on Bloomberg:

The Beauty and Logic of the Million-Dollar Car

Well, how could I resist?

And if this isn’t an invitation to stroll down memory lane.

Not that I can go all that far down it, given how few cars I’ve actually owned.

There was the used ‘81 Honda Civic with the rusted out body I bought for $2K. Then there was the little Mercury Tracer hatchback I got when the Civic wheezed what little horsepower it had into the glue factory. That glue factory – actually a Lincoln-Mercury dealership on the Lynnway (one of Boston’s major car strips) - gave me $100, sight-unseen, for the Civic. When I got it into the lot, where it promptly coughed and died, they told me that if they’d actually seen the car, they wouldn’t have given me anything for it. The cost for my brand-spanking new dark-red Tracer? About $8K, as I recall.

After a couple of years chugging around in my little Tracer, I was blessedly able to go car free for a decade or so.

When I needed to get another car, in 1998, the New VW Beetle was just out.

Be still my heart.

I was so delighted to have one, I ordered one without even knowing what the color was. Did I pay $17K? $18K? Probably $18K. I did spring for the heated seats. (The color was a very nice blue.)

So someone who’s car ownership outlay, in its entirety, amounted to a whopping total of $28K  really should have nothing to say about luxury cars.

And yet here I am…

I know that people are entitled to spend their money on whatever they want to spend their money on, but seriously:

Wouldn’t you have to be seriously out of your f-ing mind to spend $1M on a car?

Let alone $3.4M for the Lykan HyperSport.

Of course, a car that can hit 240 m.p.h. is not going to be used for grocery runs or to lug the dog to the vet. And not that it’s actually on the lot of a dealership near you. But it was, apparently, the eye-popper of a ve-hic-le that started in the latest Fast and Furious movie. 

Over the past decade we’ve seen almost every automaker (that calls itself a true “luxury” brand, at least) produce a contraption with a seven-digit price tag. Sometimes they get there only by making a one-off with diamond-rimmed headlights and titanium bones, but they get there.

The brands make these cars because people buy them. The past few years have seen an explosion of royals and tycoons around the globe who buy entire fleets of Aston Martins and Lamborghinis to support their proclivities. Bloomberg has discovered more than three dozen new billionaires in the world since January alone, and more than 300 since 2012. They buy the cars in Los Angeles, in Doha, in Moscow and São Paulo and Shanghai. Some, like hotel tycoon Steve Wynn, buy them to bolster their business interests just as much as their personal life.

“The fact of the matter is there are a lot of rich people around the world, and I mean super rich—hundreds of millions of dollars to billions of dollars of net worth,” says Jack Nerad, executive market analyst for Kelley Blue Book. “When you’re talking about these types of people, a million-dollar car isn’t really much of a stretch at all.”(Source: Bloomberg)

Okay. I get it. You can afford it.

But before you fork over, say, $8M for a Maybach Exelero, wouldn’t you start to think about what else you could do if you didn’t need a bejeweled automobile?

Maybe if you have billions, the question never crosses your mind.

The Beauty and Logic of the Million-Dollar Car

Oh, I’m sure that they’re things of beauty all right. A million dollars worth of hand-crafted lux is going to have some beauty to it, even if it’s more grotesque than beautiful.

So I can see the beauty.

I must be missing something when it comes to the logic.

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