Hello, Jalopnik readers, and welcome to Letters to Doug, my weekly column wherein you send me a letter and I provide a very thoughtful, relevant response that may or may not include references to my stuffed anteater, Marvin.
If you want to participate, you can send me an e-mail at Letters2Doug@gmail.com, or send me a note on my Facebook page. Many of you seem to prefer the Facebook thing, as I’ve noticed I’m getting more and more messages there, leaving my Letters2Doug inbox relatively free to receive political solicitations from fringe presidential candidates.
Anyway: today’s letter comes to us on Facebook, where it was sent by a reader I’ve named Andrew. I’ve spaced out the letter this way because it actually came in this format: ten different Facebook messages in stream of consciousness prose, the second of which said, and I am quoting here, “Like daily.” Here, have a read:
Ok, so good idea for your Letters to Doug. I really want to drive a V12
Obviously, they are not long for this world
And I am not an oligarch, or even related to one, that I am aware of
So budget is under 30
What should I get?
Xjs is out...for obvious reasons
V12 cl600 is a strong candidate
You see, Andrew has asked, over a span of 10 Facebook messages, which V12 car he should daily drive with a budget of $30,000 or less. He then makes several suggestions, none of which are properly punctuated.
Although there are many reasons why I love this letter to Doug, I have to say that Andrew’s list of cars is number one. At first, he says that the Jaguar XJS is out “for obvious reasons,” but then moments later he says that the Mercedes CL600 is “a strong candidate,” despite the fact that both models have approximately the same durability as a ballgame pretzel wrapper.
I also like the fact that Andrew has decided that, above all else, he wants a V12. However, he provides no real reason for this, except that “they are not long for this world.” Newsflash, Andrew: decades ago, when the car first started to become popular, horse-drawn carriages weren’t long for this world. That doesn’t mean you should’ve run down to the local horse-drawn carriage dealer in order to live out your own personal version of Oregon Trail.
And then there’s Andrew’s budget: under $30,000 (or, in Andrew parlance, “under 30,” with no period at the end). In fairness to Andrew, this letter came in before I wrote my column about what it actually costs to own a used Aston Martin.
But Andrew, dear Andrew, I will say this: It’s totally fine to have a budget of “under $30,000” for a used V12-powered luxury car. Provided, of course, that you have a maintenance budget of “under $1.4 million.”
Now, let’s check out Andrew’s car suggestions. A Mercedes CL600, which will undoubtedly be on owner number 14, who is unloading it because he just discovered it has a system called “Magic Body Control” that might actually use magic to operate, given what it costs to fix. A BMW 850i, which is—at newest—a 17-year-old German car whose V12 made a whopping 322 horsepower. And the Mercedes SL65 AMG, which uses not just a V12, but a V12 with two turbochargers for added a) driving pleasure, and b) repair costs.
So what is my answer, Andrew? My answer is: Do not, under any circumstances, buy any V12-powered automobile. Yes, I understand that you want to check out a V12 to see what it’s like. But that doesn’t mean you have to spend $30,000 on an aging, unreliable one. This would be like wanting to experience large fish ownership, then rounding up a killer whale to raise in your bathtub.
Even Marvin thinks this is a bad idea, Andrew. And his brain is made of polyester.
What do I suggest instead? Well, for thirty grand you can buy an assortment of exciting automobiles, including one of my personal favorite new cars, the Ford Focus ST. You can also show your sensible side and get a used Acura RDX. My girlfriend has one of those, and it has a nice little turbocharged engine, and supple leather seats, and a great backup camera, and a good sound system, and exploding airbags that may murder her.
So anyway, there are a multitude of options that do not include buying a V12 vehicle, and you should go for one of those. And if you absolutely have to own a V12, I would strongly suggest that you instead purchase a V6, then make a drawing of six additional cylinders and place the drawing in the engine bay. The ensuing all-consuming fire will still cost you less than six months behind the wheel of a used CL600.