Buying a Classic Supercar-The Emotional Parts

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…

  1. 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!
  2. 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.
  3. 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:

  1. 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.
  2. 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?
  3. 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.
  4. 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? 


19 comments to Buying a Classic Supercar-The Emotional Parts

  • Marie, short for Car Marie.
    Nicoleandmaggie recently posted..Big expenses coming up in the next few yearsMy Profile

  • I have heard similar Porsche stories, A friend just bought one and I gently asked him if he was concerned about the cost of ownership. Despite my tact, he went into defense mode: “Porsches are probably more reliable than any car on the road and cost no more to maintain than your average car!!”

    Stockholm syndrome indeed.

    That’s crazy that the dealers were hesitant about test drives. From looking at them myself, I’ve found that NSX people are a strange bunch. Maybe that extends to the dealers too…
    Carl recently posted..Ask the Readers: Are We Hypocrites?My Profile

    • mrplantingourpennies

      You can argue that the 996 porsche is a value stock. You can buy one for cheap after it’s engine has blown and then have flat 6 innovations put one in for you, and still pay less than i did for the NSX. It just wasn’t for me…even the forums weren’t as nice as

  • I’ve had similar issues with dealers in higher end cars. Seeing the issue from their side probably 90 percent of the people walking through the door probably are just looking for a test drive. I’ve considered trading in the Vette on an old Ferrari. I backed away from the idea (the 328 I like cost about the same at the time) because of the same issues you have with the Porsche. When your talking 2-3K in maintenance every 2-3 years for just routine stuff it goes from a hobby to a serious financial drain. Beyond that though, you buy what you want. One expenditure in isolation won’t kill you, its when you make it a habbit that things become a problem.

    • My parents have an Audi convertible and live that maintenance disaster. They are trying to sell it now. They’ve enjoyed the car but have had to make peace with the fact that they will not get out of it what they sunk in for maintenance. Again, it’s been a lot of fun to drive, but it definitely was a costly drive.

    • mrplantingourpennies

      Keep the ‘vette =) The first word I learned to read was “Ford,” but the corvette really is ‘murica’s sports car. Cheap to buy, easy to fix as well. Not mentioned in the article…I briefly looked at a viper as well! Didn’t go for it b/c I wanted a daily driver, and there is huge rain in FL.

  • Even though it’s totally not the choice I would make, this post makes me happy. I love that you are on your trajectory for FI but still living life. I agree that it is okay to treat yourself occasionally. Life is short, and we never know what will happen. Also, it’s awesome that you get so much gratification from your car! I enjoy my car too, but it’s likely not quite the same . . . especially since mine is an ’04 Corolla.

    • mrplantingourpennies

      Thanks Leah =)

      I think some people get a bit…cultish about FIRE.

      Somebody on 1500days was suggesting that they didn’t have $ for a NSX.

      They have a NW of 1.7M

      • yes, I hear you on cultish about FIRE! I can only read some blogs for that reason. We’ve chosen lower-paying careers we enjoy instead of FIRE, but I still like to follow some FIRE principles, as it lets us optimize our spending and really enjoy things like vacations that are a priority for us.

        In a networth of 1.7 million, if you can’t afford a luxury car, then what are you doing? Maybe it’s like Scrooge McDuck, and they go swimming in their pool full of money. We just bought a new car in (essentially) cash (took out a loan for four months to pull all the money together) with a networth somewhere around $100k (not quite sure), so it can be done. I suppose everyone has different values.
        Leah recently posted..A little sparkleMy Profile

  • Very cool buy, I sincerely hope that you have lots of fun with it and that it live up to it’s reliability. My brother also always wanted one, but for him it’s simply to expensive (especially here in the Netherlands). So he ended up with a Subaru WRX and a motorcycle, also fun :-)
    I’m still debating on getting a small sportscar like a Lotus Elise, Westfield or Superseven. Like the hardcore, lightweight, simple cars. They are also easy to maintain yourself and parts are easily available. Our networth is not nearly as good as yours, but we would end up with about the same percentage (2.8%) if we were to buy one now. Guess FI is more important at this stage so my gratification will have to wait.
    Take care!

    • mrplantingourpennies

      I love the idea of an Elise, but as a daily driver it seemed just too rough-I must be getting soft in my old age. Super 7 is a wild “car”

  • I loved my Miata, but I’m a girl. :) I used to love sports cars and I used to ride sport bikes and actually flew (and owned!) airplanes.

    I know the feeling of really wanting a unique, well engineered machine, but as I get older, I find the desire waning….
    Primal Prosperity recently posted..Why You Need a Balance Sheet for Your SoulMy Profile

  • […] =) And don’t forget your trip to Florida! If I’m done with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance by then I’ll give you my copy. I picked it up at the library book sale last month for $0.50! Mrs PoP recently posted…Buying a Classic Supercar-The Emotional Parts […]


    Miata’s are great…but men who drive them have a certain reputation =)

    I hear what you’re saying about having a unique machine! It comes and goes. For years I surpassed it…but it’s nice to own a piece of technical art too.

  • […] no desire to keep up with the Joneses, but keeping up with the PoPs is entirely different. Mr. PoP just bought an NSX, so I’m feeling the […]

  • :-) Good for you!

    I’d call it Fang. That’s because I call all my dogs Fang. This little guy looks like a pet.
    Funny about Money recently posted..STILL Blowin’My Profile