I’ve lost track of how many times I have been asked this question. I can totally understand it though, as I think I first started asking myself the same question when I was about 15! I remember walking back from a friend’s house when a red Lamborghini Countach pulled up beside me, the driver opening one of its infamous scissor doors and asked me directions to somewhere or other. To be honest, the conversation was a bit of a blur as I was just in awe of what I was seeing only a couple of feet away from me.
From that moment I told myself that this is what I want. I’ve not quite made it to the level of owning a Countach quite yet and these days it’s getting harder and harder as their values continue to increase, but it’s on my list…
However, the Countach isn’t the only supercar in the world, of course. But once you’ve set your sights on the car of your dreams, then comes the difficult part – working out whether you can actually afford the thing!
So, how can I afford a supercar? You can afford a supercar by having an income that approximately matches the purchase price of the car or by having significant savings. There are no easy ways around this, you need a significant amount of money for both the deposit and then the finance payments (assuming you go down this route). Not forgetting the running costs!
How Much Do Supercars Cost?
How much a supercar costs depends on what you classify as a supercar! There are some people that might say the Tesla Model X, with its ludicrous performance mode is a supercar and considering its performance, they would have quite a good argument.
Personally, though – at least for me, a supercar is more than just numbers on a data-sheet. The 0-60 mph time is only one of the things that you need to consider. It’s got to look the part and it’s got to sound the part too!
For the purposes of this article though I have to set some numbers so let’s say the supercar that you want to buy is going to cost you $150,000. Before I start an argument, which I appreciate I may have already done – I am fully aware that you can buy a supercar, in fact, you can buy many supercars for less than this. However, you can also spend a lot more than this on one!
Also, remember that the purchase price of the exotic car you’ve chosen to buy is only one element of the journey. There are many other things to consider. I bought my Lamborghini Gallardo almost two years ago now and used a lot of advanced man-maths to come to the conclusion that I could afford it. Well, as it turned out, I could afford to buy it but I certainly chose to ignore some other aspects of ownership that cost me a significant amount of money.
What Salary Do I Need To Be On To Own A Supercar?
Assuming that you want to buy an exotic car that has a value of $150,000 then my recommendation would be that your annual salary should match the purchase price.
Again, it’s not quite as simple as this though as I have to make some assumptions. The vast majority of people who purchase supercars these days do so via finance. The people who buy outright are rare and there’s a simple reason for this. If you have $150k in savings then you can earn a fair amount by investing this. In fact – if you know what you’re doing you can earn more than the finance costs in interest – so it actually makes more financial sense to purchase it through finance that it does to buy it outright!
However, I wouldn’t recommend financing the whole lot and in fact, depending on your circumstances the financer will probably require a sizeable deposit. On a $150k vehicle, I would suggest a $50k payment towards the car.
Other Costs You Must Consider
You may want to take a look at my other article that looks at the other costs I’ve incurred for my Gallardo – check it out here (opens in a new page).
So, this is an important part of supercar ownership – the ‘other’ stuff that is going to drain your wallet – read on!
This is actually the thing that has impacted me the most. It seems I bought mine just before the whole supercar market started to drop in value. For whatever reason, the asking prices of exotics around this price point have been dropping significantly in the last two years and the car I purchased for around $145,000 is probably worth around $100,000 right now. That’s a loss of nearly $50k in just two years – ouch.
The other thing that’s been difficult to get my head around is that the more miles you put on the car, the less it is worth. Mileage has a big impact on the resale value of these cars and it’s a shame that you really need to consider whether taking it out is ‘worth it’.
I drove down to the South of France earlier in the year, which was fantastic (you can read about that here). It was a great trip but also one that added around 2,000 miles to the car. Because of these miles I added (in only about 5 days) I’ve really got to keep the mileage down for the rest of the year to a reasonable level. If you’re in a position where costs aren’t so much of a problem then this isn’t a factor but it wasn’t something I considered before I bought it.
It is questionable whether the high costs I pay for ownership each month make any sense. But then again, I own an orange Lamborghini Gallardo – there’s hardly any sense involved, right? Also, I just can’t seem to consider moving it on – the feeling you get when you’re out on a sunny day and the feedback you get from other people make it better than any drug!
If you want to give yourself the best chance of recouping as much value as possible when it comes to selling-on, then you need to consider getting your supercar serviced by an authorized dealer each and every year. This is regardless of how much you use it!
I think the caveat to this is if you buy one that has a lot of mileage on it and is an older car. If this is the case then it may have lost most of its depreciation already so you can probably get away with getting it serviced by an independent dealer.
Of course, it depends what supercar you buy but I think it’s fair to say that on average you’re going to need to budget between $1,000 and $1,500 per year. Then, every so often you will need a ‘major’ service and for this you could be looking at more like $5,000. Pay attention to the service book when you’re looking at a car and ask when the major service is due!
Again, so many variables but depending on your age, experience, where you live and of course, what exotic you’ve chosen. You can expect to pay anything from $1,000 to $5,000 a year on insurance. Get a quote before you buy the thing!
You will already know that you aren’t going to get a lot of miles per gallon but make sure you have a feel for exactly how much. On spirited runs, it’s not unusual for me to get less than 10 mpg but then on highway cruising I can get mid-20’s.
It’s important that you factor this in as for many people buying a supercar it’s an addition to their existing cars so the fuel you spend on the exotic is on top of what you currently have to budget for each month. It might not seem a big deal but it does all add up.
A warranty on your supercar isn’t mandatory and if it’s new you will probably get one thrown in for the first few years. After that time though you need to decide whether you go down this route or not. For many supercar manufacturers, such as Ferrari, Lamborghini and Aston Martin there is quite a good independent network that can help you out when required.
However, for some of the more modern brands and I’ll use McLaren as an example, you will most likely still need to visit an authorized dealer for servicing and things are more likely to go wrong on these machines from more recent manufacturers.
A decent warrant can easily cost $5k a year so it’s sure a lot of money but when you consider how much some components cost for your exotic, if you can afford it – you do it, if you can’t – you are taking a risk.
Things go wrong with all cars, not just supercars. However, when there’s a problem with your Lambo or Aston you can bet it’s going to cost quite a bit more to get the replacement part than it would if you had a Ford!
If you are unfortunate enough to run into a problem and don’t have a warranty, then you can easily be looking at $20k/$30k in surprises. A particularly unpleasant surprise.
You need to consider this and ensure you have enough money in a fund ‘just in case’ something happens – personally, I would factor in around $5k a year for this.
How Quickly Could You Sell If You Had To?
Think about the worst-case scenario. If you lose your primary source of income could you afford to still make the finance payments on the car? Could you afford to run it?
If the answer is no then you will be looking at selling it. Easy, right? Well, no. You see, the market for supercars is obviously quite small. If you put yourself in the position of a buyer looking for a Ferrari 458 then you can see that the demographic is quite small.
Then, factor in that the buyer will want a certain color with a certain spec/age/mileage. As a seller, you’re looking for a very specific person to buy your car and that person might not exist at the time you are looking to sell!
So, if you need to shift your car quick then it’s going to cost you. Yes, you will always be able to sell it to a dealer but they are going to hit you hard in the pocket. It is not uncommon for it to take six months (sometimes more) to sell your car for anything like the price you originally wanted. Bear in mind that during this time you are still paying the finance payments/insurance etc…
Do I Actually Need A Supercar?
If you’ve already made your mind up that you’re getting a supercar then you probably won’t read this bit! I know I wouldn’t have when I was looking for one a couple of years back.
However, you don’t need to buy a supercar. But, you know that, right? You’re just ignoring the fact because you just really, really want one. Which is cool. Just count to 10 and realize that you can get something just as fast for probably a quarter of the price.
Still, that would be boring and we’re only here once!