This is Mr PoP’s follow-up post to Buying a Classic Supercar-The Money Parts
I’ve wanted an Acura NSX since I first read about them in 2010. Back then they were even more obscure, and, because of the financial apocalypse, were selling for as low as 25k (mine was 38k and prices still seem to be rising).
While obscure, the NSX is also unique. In 1992 it combined performance that beat Ferrari at their own game with reliability of an early 90’s Honda. The chassis was designed with the help of Cray supercomputers and the suspension was fine tuned by Aryton Senna, one of the best F1 drivers that ever lived. Honda packed technology from their F1 race cars into a 100% aluminum chassis, and achieved something that is part technology, and part art. Gordon Murray, one of the best car designers of the latter half of the century said, “To this day, the NSX is still a car that is near and dear to my heart…The NSX is a landmark car. It awoke not only a lazy Ferrari, but Porsche as well and sparked advances in usability, ergonomics, and handling.” The NSX is the favorite supercar of the person who designed your favorite supercar. If it were a band, it would be the Velvet Underground. It’s also weirdly popular in the financial independance blogosphere, with both Pete from MMM and Carl from 1500 days wanting one at different times.
Unfortunately, none of this mattered in 2010. Mrs. PoP and I were basically broke, with me either unemployed or working a minimum wage job.
“I realize, of course, it’s no shame to be poor… but it’s no great honor either.”
So I got a Jeep, Mrs. PoP got a Miata and we both started putting in long hours at work to build our net worth. In 2014 Mrs. PoP started riding her bike, we sold the jeep and I started commuting in the Miata. A Miata is like a moped-lots of fun, but you don’t want your friends to see you on one. Every time somebody would ask me if that was my red Miata I would smile say, “No, it’s my wife’s car.”
NSX vs. Porsche?
So when we made the decision that Sunny, a Mercedes Benz that had been in our family for generations, was too rusty to be restored I put all options on the table. The NSX was something that I had wanted for almost 7 years, but a friend had gotten into Porsches as well and we actually ended up driving 3 of them.
I won’t bore everybody with the details,but we were pretty underwhelmed with all but the newest generation of Porsche. If there is anybody out there looking to spend 20-40k on a cool car, here is the skinny.
Pretty cars, but…
- Holy shit these things are unreliable. We were looking at models from the years 1998 to 2006; all of which suffer from multiple well known design and manufacturing defects related to the engine. Estimated failure rates on a single of these defects (IMS Bearing) range from 2-10% over 100k miles, depending on the year. This means that in some years 1 in every 10 911 will suffer a spontaneous and catastrophic engine failure by 100k, regardless of how well you took care of the thing! And Porsche didn’t even admit there was an issue until they were sued!
- Holy shit these things are expensive to repair! If your engine does tear itself apart in a fit of tuetonic rage from any one of the manufacturing/design defects it can be between 15k and 20k to get it fixed! There are some really great companies out there (looking at you, Flat 6 Innovations!) that specialize in making these engines reliable, but it’s a shame that it is required at all.
- The seating position, manual shifter, and interior of the 97-2004 models (that’s the 996 version for you porschephiles) weren’t really that great. The seating position made you feel like you were sitting on a (very fast) skateboard, the shifters all felt worn out, and the interior was pretty low-rent. The 2005 and up model corrected the interior issue but still suffered from the design/manufacturing issues.
The Porsche owners all seemed to really love their car, but also were in deep denial about the above. It was like a version of stockholm syndrome, but with their vehicle. This actually makes certain models of porsche the value stocks of the car world; they’re probably beaten down below their actual value, and if you understand the risks they might be a good buy for somebody. In the end, the reliability issues were part of the decision to go with the NSX, but I hadn’t dreamed of having a Porsche for the last 7 years, I had wanted an NSX.
Minutes before I bought it
The buying process was interesting, partly because it was tough for me to get a test drive. Two dealers that had an NSX refused to let me drive it, both of them basically accusing me of just wanting a joy ride, or not having my loan paperwork completed(!). I know I don’t look like I’m dripping money, but I got a laugh out of it. The dealership that I eventually bought from was accustomed to having their clients spend 100k-250k on Ferraris and Porsches without even seeing them, much less going for a test drive. But after some arm twisting they let me take it for a spin and get 2 inspections done; one mechanical, and one for the body. It passed with flying colors, we agreed on a price (cash, thank you very much) and I shipped it home.
Spending 38k (plus taxes and travel costs to ship it home!) on a car isn’t something that I do lightly. Three things stick out to me about this purchase:
- It was keeping a promise I made to myself. In 2013 I promised myself that if I got a promotion I would get the NSX. Three promotions later and it was time I came through on my word.
- Delayed gratification only works if you actually get the gratification at some point. Mrs. PoP and I could keep stacking money to the moon, but what is the point unless we reward ourselves occasionally?
- It makes me feel wealthy in a way that having money in the bank didn’t. I’m still processing this one, but flexing your spending muscles after wanting something for almost a decade feels good.
- It could go up in a ball of flames tomorrow and it wouldn’t really change the trajectory of the next decade or so. I may end up working for a few months longer to justify this purchase, but 38k is only 2.8% of our current net worth. Most people have far greater percentage tied up in a vehicle that depreciates far more quickly.
Having said that, it’s a thing and will be treated as such. If it stops making me happy when I walk up to it in the parkinglot, or I get tired of people taking pictures of me driving it (not kidding, this happens) I’ll sell it to the next person who has a bucket list that includes a Japanese supercar.
So the only thing left to do is name the thing. We’re thinking about KonMari (or CarMari?) after Marie Kondo’s book on simplification but are open to suggestions!
So dear readers, what should Mr. PoP name the NSX?