He Said She Said – Which Old Car Feels Right?

Last week, we mentioned that we’re having some trouble deciding on which “fun” car will get.  We can either restore the 40+-year-old yellow Mercedes Benz sedan that’s been in and out of the family for decades or we can fulfill Mr PoP’s childhood dreams and buy an early 90’s Honda (or Acura) NSX.  Either is going to be an expensive proposition, and we talked about just how expensive in our post last week. But for some background music for today’s post…take it away Janis!

While money does play some role in the decision, after looking at the numbers it’s less of a guiding factor in which car to have than it is a guide to being okay with the fact that it’ll definitely extend the road to our eventual financial independence a bit.  So coming to grips with the cost of having a “fun” car was definitely a useful exercise, but it doesn’t really help us get any closer to figuring out which fun car to get.

On that score, we both seem to change our minds quite a lot…

He Said

I’m self-aware enough to be kinda fascinated at how my mind goes back and forth on this-it seems to have a lot to do with how close we’re getting to FI. The NSX is a reward for my working career; showing to the whole world that I’m a success at my job, and have enough money left over to buy a Japanese super car. Mrs. PoP says this is vanity, and I totally agree! Because of this, when I have a great day at work, I think it’s time for an NSX.

On the other hand, Sunny would be a better car for FI-she’d be great on long road trips, camping, scuba diving and lots of other adventures we’d love to take on one day. A bright yellow benz is basically showing the world that you’re operating pretty far outside of social norms, and really don’t care much about what anybody thinks…and after a tough day at the office I’m happy to throw my cares to the wind.

So the question for me might boil down to what is more important-showing the world (and myself!) that I’ve made it, or showing the world that I don’t really give a damn what anybody thinks.


Mr. PoP, washing his imaginary NSX.

She Said

Let’s get this out of the way – the fact that we are sitting here questioning this is largely my fault. Although honestly, the word fault feels wrong. Questioning this decision before we pull the trigger and sink any more costs into Sunny has been my IDEA.

To anyone that knows us at all, this fact probably seems a bit laughable. I am not only the less spendy of the two of us, but I’m also definitely NOT someone who likes fast cars. In fact, Mr PoP blames the fact that our current car is a Miata instead of a Honda S2000 on the fact that he was the first behind the wheel of the S2000 during our test drive and drove fast enough out of the parking lot that I disliked it from the get go.

So why does it feel like I’m pushing Mr PoP to a faster (and more expensive!) car?

In the simplest terms, it’s because I want to make sure he’s happy. Mr PoP puts forth a huge amount of effort to make me happy even if he doesn’t really care (for an example, I need to look no further than our entire kitchen renovation). These efforts are definitely effective and I really do appreciate them! And while I also work hard to make him happy, no amount of coffee brownies cooked in said brand-new kitchen can really make up for all the effort he puts in all the time for my enjoyment. Pushing him to get the car HE really wants seems kindof feels like only a small step up from the least I could do. =/

About 3 or 4 years ago (before Sunny was in our lives again), Mr PoP and I made a deal that he would be able to buy an NSX and drive it for a year or two before selling it again to recoup much of the capital. It wasn’t my first choice plan for fulfilling Mr PoP’s “fast car” desires. (That plan would have entailed emulating the father of one of my childhood friends who traveled to Germany a week ahead of his family and spent the seven days prior to his family’s arrival renting a different supercar and spending the day driving without speed limits on the Autobahn.) But Mr PoP said he’d rather own a single fast car for a year on roads with speed limits than do what my friend’s father did. Hence the deal for him to “at some point for a year or two before the end of our formal working careers” own an NSX.

I don’t think I’ll ever REALLY understand these kinds of desires when it comes to cars, but what I do understand is this. Mr PoP doesn’t feel like he has a car of his own right now, which is ironic since he does 90% of the driving in our household. When we sold Mr PoP’s Jeep and dropped down to 1 car, we kept the car that (despite it being registered in his name), was originally intended to be my daily driver. So whenever Mr PoP gets asked about the adorable little Miata he is driving, he responds with, “Yeah. It’s my wife’s car.” I’m reasonably certain that response has more joke in it than serious displeasure since he does admit the Miata can be pretty fun to drive…really the best!

Nonetheless, the more we pondered throwing money into restoring Sunny, the more I wanted to make sure that whatever car we end up with would be one where Mr PoP would gladly claim ownership and not pass it off as “his wife’s car”. And I’m not sure that’s Sunny. In fact, he’s admitted that part of the appeal to restoring Sunny to him would have been how much he thought I would enjoy it when she was all done! (Seriously, did I pick the best husband ever, or what?)

Another pro to going with the NSX would be knowing that it would probably just end up as a temporary ownership. Owning Sunny “forever” means having to figure out what to do with her if we want to make our lives more mobile for an extended period of time. If we (for example) rented our house while we hopped on a boat and tested out sailing extensively (an idea we’ve been pondering for a very long time), we’d need to pay for Sunny storage and worry about her in the meantime.  (And knowing me, I would worry…) An NSX, on the other hand, would likely be sold and the proceeds could be used to pay for that mobile sabbatical.

I could also be a bit biased against Sunny at the moment. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to conclude that Sunny’s presence on our back patio (covered in a grey cloth and COMPLETELY spoiling one of my favorite views in the house) has soured me on her a bit over the past 21 months.

But it was just the other morning when the wind had blown Sunny’s cover off her fender overnight and Mr PoP and I woke to sunshine drifting onto the back patio and landing on Sunny’s yellow paint She looked so fun and happy! We could easily imagine strapping kayaks and paddle boards to her top and having a great time.  And we both wondered if maybe Sunny was the better choice after all!


If it’s not clear, I don’t think we’re all that close to a conclusion yet. Either way, it’s going to be a fair amount of money and while we don’t believe that spending money is a requirement for happiness, we do want to take our time and deliberately spend our monies to maximize the happiness we derive from them.



10 comments to He Said She Said – Which Old Car Feels Right?

  • Levi

    Hi Pops,
    I rebuilt a 1999 Honda Prelude, they are fun cars! My rebuilt was more out of necessity, blown rings right after I bought it:( !!! I think you are doing a great job at waiting until you really know.

    Have you thought about parts being discontinued for the benz? I know there are less parts on older cars but they can become extinct which could cause for some engineering headaches. now with all the machines and software being produced one can probably get a custom (expensive) built part or aftermarket (if your plan isn’t original restoration).

    Also the A/C and heat, you are in Florida lol not sure what the benz kicks out as far as cold air, guess you could always take the Mazda on hot days :)

    My engine build (plus turbo) ran about 12k (i was young and dumb, 19). It thought me a good lesson, cars are always wayyyy more expensive to play with and you really have to want the end product. I ended selling my prelude because i needed a car that didnt sound similar to a Jet (4 inch exhaust).

    what ever you choose have fun!! either ride slow (benz) or ride sideways (nsx)!!

  • MD

    After reading your last post, I asked my friend for his comments. Not only is he a car guy, but he (finally) purchased his dream car last year; a 1995 Acura NSX. Hope it helps:

    “Well the good(?) news is that they’ve grossly overestimated costs. Unless they really overpay for a lemon, depreciation estimation is too high. My insurance is nowhere near that either. I never understand why people guestimate on insurance costs… Call your insurance agent and make them work for your dollar and get a real quote.

    They have a pretty realistic budget. I don’t forsee the original NSX getting any cheaper unless the economy really tanks again like it did 8 years ago. At worst, it’s a decently safe place to put equity while having some fun. A 996 911 Turbo also falls into this category, but I’d have a lot more set aside for ‘surprise’ repairs that you wouldn’t have with the NSX.

    Emotional reasons aside I think it’s a silly consideration. 11 times out of 10 they should buy an NSX in this situation lol. Though it might seem unlikely given my automotive resume, I’m really not a fan of sinking money into cars to never see it again. The probability of finding another old Merc in the future, if they want another, is near 100%. The probability of finding a nice -affordable- NSX is significantly less.

    Don’t believe me? Just look at what air cooled Porsches have done in the market over the last 4-5 years. They really are out of range for even the mildly wealthy at this point. I feel bad for the average middle class dude that was saving his pennies for a 993 only to see the market soar on past his means with no return in site.”

  • Solution: Scrap Sunny, forget the NSX and go for a Tesla Model 3!

    The more I think about about cars, the more I dislike the internal combustion engine. 200+ parts, explosions, mufflers, catalytic converters, fumes, gas, oil changes… Electric is so simple. Plus, you already have the solar panels to charge it!

    If I could buy an NSX with a trashed engine and easily convert it to electric, I’d do it in a heartbeat…
    Mr. 1500 recently posted..Random Rant: Normal SucksMy Profile

    • Haha! Both options are anachronisms of the petrol era; electric cars have all kinds of benefits to the environment (emissions) and performance (100% of torque at 0RPM=OMFG!). Logically, I know this, but I just can’t get excited about the tesla/volt/etc.

      Maybe if I had grown up with electric cars I would be more interested in them…I get attached to things that I can take apart/work on/modify and just haven’t had that opportunity with an electric car.

      Maybe it’s like watches-I could wear a quartz watch with a solar face and it would be way more accurate than my mechanical Seiko…but I think I like the Seiko because I know how it works, and have to adjust it and maintain it every so often. We fall in love with machines that need our care to work correctly. Electric cars just seem to perfect to modify or maintain…they’re black boxes that aren’t designed to be understood by the lay person.
      Mr PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..He Said She Said – Which Old Car Feels Right?My Profile

  • I am still going with the NSX, or a jointly owned PoP-1500s owned car…..like you guys discussed in Omaha. On another note, I didn’t realize you had a Miata. My family had one of those “high rpm skate boards” when I was in high school and college. Loved to run around on clear nights with the top down. It also handled really well, and I only spun it once. I just wished ours had a 6th gear in the box.

    Have a great weekend guys
    Income Surfer recently posted..Why We Are Glad We Didn’t Grow Up RichMy Profile

    • Yeah, people who know cars know that the Miata is fantastic! Everybody else just knows I’m driving my wife’s car =P

      The handling is fantastic and it’s been a great car even for the 25 minute commute that I have right now. Also, you’d be amazed at the amount of construction supplies that you can fit in that car with the top down! Have a good weekend too!
      Mr PoP @ Planting Our Pennies recently posted..He Said She Said – Which Old Car Feels Right?My Profile

  • The Miata was my When I’m Rich car, when I was 17 or 18!

    It sounds a lot like, given your possible transition to travel later and the market, the NSX for a year would be the better choice. You get a year of fun out of it, you can recoup much of the cost, the level of demand stays pretty high, and it’s not a permanent situation. After that, you can always find a good solid Benz to keep!

    Despite the Miata dream, I myself don’t have any strong pull to have a fun car but I do have a husband who prioritizes my needs and wants above most things and so I can understand that feeling of wanting him to have a thing he strongly wants – that’d be my deciding factor if the money was manageable.
    Revanche @ A Gai Shan Life recently posted..How we spent a week in Hawaii for $1000My Profile

  • Heh. You think Sunny isn’t fast? Get her engine overhauled properly.

    When I drove the same model of Mercedes Benz, I imagined it was kind of a clunky beast, because it would drift forward from a stoplight at what may best be described as a stately pace. It would go from zero to 60 in…what? 10 minutes???

    But one day I was out on the open road, hauling across country toward Tucson, Arizona. A flirtatious dude came up beside me in some sport car — he thought he was quite the business. And in those days, I actually WAS quite the business. 😉

    Next thing I know, we’re dragging up the freeway. We’m already going 65 when he decides to show the little lady what he can do.

    I barely touch the gas pedal and instantly I’m flying low. He looks a little surprised as he eats the Benz’s dust. I glance down at the speedometer, and holy sh!t I’m at pushing 90. The car isn’t going anywhere near flat out — literally, I’ve hardly touched the accelerator.

    The machine is slow from a standing start, but once you’re at speed, it’s a rocket ship.

    Ahem. Of course, I don’t recommend this kind of behavior…
    Funny about Money recently posted..News of the DayMy Profile