For a long time, you have suspected there was a difference between affording to buy a used exotic car and affording to own a used exotic car. Today, your suspicions will be confirmed.
Here’s the situation: I recently got back from a 1,487-mile road trip in my 2007 Aston Martin V8 Vantage, where I drove from Philadelphia to Charleston, South Carolina, and back. With fresh fuel economy figures, I decided that now would be as good a time as any to update you on exactly what it has cost to own this car for the last five months.
But before I do that, a few words about my trip. It was glorious. This is mainly due to the wonderful people of Charleston, dozens of whom introduced themselves to me at cars and coffee and graciously showed me their cars.
It’s also due to the beautiful city of Charleston, which combines two of the finest things American society has to offer: southern people and northern money.
So how is the Aston on the highway? Nowhere near as bad as you might expect. A lot of people think of the Aston as a “touring car,” but that’s really more true of larger models like the DB9 and the Vanquish.
The V8 Vantage is a sports car, with sports car handling, and a sports car stick shift, and a sports car two seats, and sports car sizing. So you wouldn’t necessarily expect it to be a good long-distance cruiser in the same way you wouldn’t necessarily expect a soccer ball to be good at telling the time. But it is a good long-distance cruiser. The seats are comfortable, the ride is pleasant, the car is surprisingly quiet, and the cruise control, the stereo, and the air conditioning all worked flawlessly the whole trip.
In fact, everything has worked flawlessly for quite a while now, which brings me to my first point about the Aston’s ownership costs: it has been fairly reliable. I mean, yeah, sure, my Aston Martin CPO warranty—which cost about $3,800 extra when I bought the car five months ago—has now shelled out $5,498 in claims, after a failed thermostat ($738), a timing problem ($4,409), and a door strut replacement ($351).
But here’s the thing: every single issue this car had came in the first month of ownership, after it had spent the last seven months sitting for sale—and totally un-driven—on a dealership lot.
Since I started driving it every day and treating it like a normal car—not an objet d’art to be wiped down twice daily with a microfiber diaper—it has rewarded me with rock-solid reliability in the last five months and 5,000 miles of driving. I’m starting to think the early hiccups were a fluke, rather than the norm.
But that doesn’t mean owning it has been cheap. On my 1,487-mile trip down to Charleston and back, the Aston burned through 77.366 gallons of gasoline, which equates to 19.22 miles per gallon. In highway driving alone, the car returned 20.19 miles per gallon, topping the EPA’s estimate of 19 mpg highway, though it managed just 13.19 mpg in the city. That also beats the EPA’s estimate, which was 12 city miles per gallon, but folks… it ain’t good.
And then there’s the maintenance. Every year or 10,000 miles, you have to complete an annual service, which costs $1,400 at the Aston Martin dealer. Every three or four services, you have to do some extra stuff, bringing the cost closer to $3,000. The previous owner took care of the rear brakes, which cost him about $900, but I think I’ll soon have to do the front brakes to the tune of about $1,200. I paid $300 to mount a new front tire after I got a puncture earlier this year, while a new rear tire would’ve been closer to $400.
And then there’s the clutch. When I bought the car, it was still on its original clutch—a rarity for a 10-year-old Vantage, and especially unusual for one that spent its whole life in a city, like mine, which lived nearly a decade in Washington, D.C.
I split the cost of a replacement clutch with the dealer who sold me the car, to the tune of $4,900—or $2,450 for each of us.
Surprisingly, the only reasonable cost of all this is insurance. We have some of the highest insurance rates in the country here in Philadelphia, so I won’t throw out a number. But I will say that, for comparison’s sake, my Aston costs about as much to insure as my old Range Rover. This is because insurance is the only cost that actually decreases as the car gets older.
Everything else remains just as expensive as it was when the car was sold new. And my car was pretty damn expensive: when the first owner bought it from Miller Motorcars in Greenwich, Connecticut, on March 12, 2007, the original window sticker listed an MSRP of around $126,000.
And so, a word of advice for everyone who has e-mailed me asking if I think they should buy a $34,000 V8 Vantage with rims and a rebuilt title from a used car dealer in Florida named “EXOTIC CARZZZ”: just because you can afford to buy a used Aston Martin doesn’t mean you can afford to own one.