Hello ladies and gentlemen of Jalopnik and welcome to Friday, where it’s my honor to present to you Letters to Doug, a weekly column wherein you write Doug letters, and Doug reads them at 2 a.m. while eating Cheetos in his underwear, wondering where his life went wrong.
If you want to be part of that happy ritual, you can be! Just send your car-related letter to Letters2Doug@gmail.com. And to the hilarious reader who signed me up for the Volkswagen Touareg owner forums: it didn’t work, because you have to activate your account before it goes live! In other words: you can’t even register for the Volkswagen Touareg forums without some problem.
Today’s letter comes to us from a reader in Cincinnati, Ohio, which is a small Midwestern state whose license plate is comprised of a gray-colored word scramble. I’ve named the reader Ringo, and he writes:
As much fun as #DougCar was, and while I like your V8 Vantage choice, the whole premise was for your readers to pick your car. What I want to ask is for apx. $60,000 what car would YOU have picked? I realize that you aren’t the normal $60k car customer since your intention is to pick an interesting car and write about for a year. But, let’s pretend you are a “normal” fairly successful car enthusiast who is going to buy a new or less than 2 year old vehicle and keep it for at least 5 years…is that last part a hard concept for you?
I’m basically asking what new vehicles you like in your budget range, since that was one of your big restrictions with the depreciation aspect of using a new car for the #DougCar challenge.
Ringo from Cincinnati
I’m glad you asked this question, Ringo, because when people meet me in real life, this is the question they ask me more than any other. What car would you own if you weren’t a crazy automotive writer doing crazy automotive writing about a crazy automotive car? Now Ringo is asking me this question via e-mail, and he’s giving me a $60,000 budget.
But Ringo has changed up the question a little bit. Instead of asking “What car would you get?”, he has asked “What car would you get that’s less than two years old?” This complicates matters.
So I’ll tell you, Ringo, what my answer would be: none. I have never in my life purchased a vehicle that’s less than two years old, and I don’t intend to start now. This is especially true if you give me a $60,000 budget, because any two-year-old car you’re you buying for 60 large is probably in Depreciation County, where the county seat is Financial Mistake and the largest city is Lifestyle Creep.
I am not, it should be noted, suggesting that other people should not spend sixty grand for a new automobile. I’m just saying that I, Doug DeMuro, find it difficult to justify a new car for 60 grand, when a similar used one probably exists for 40 grand, or 30. Real-life Doug isn’t as glamorous as his Aston- and Ferrari-driving life may make him seem. Real-life Doug wears sweat pants and considers Whole Foods a splurge. You should know this. You’ve seen my microphone.
Now, if you extend your question beyond vehicles that are less than two years old, I have a few answers I could give. But two stand out above all the others: I would buy a BMW 1 Series M. And I would buy a “996” Porsche 911.
The 1 Series M is easy: it’s the single greatest car I’ve ever driven. I had the chance to drive one when I worked for Porsche; I had it for one night, and I drove it through Atlanta’s many excellent back roads with my friend Andrew practically until the sun came up. It is one of the very best memories of my automotive life, and I will forever kick myself for not buying one at MSRP when I was given the opportunity through a friend. If I were employed in a “regular” job tomorrow, the first thing I would do is buy some office-appropriate clothing. The second thing I would do is buy a BMW 1 Series M. Valencia orange, please, with the navigation system.
If I couldn’t afford a 1 Series M, or if I could afford a 1 Series M and something else, I would get a “996” Porsche 911 – the scorned-by-enthusiasts, fried-egg headlights, IMS-bearing-exploding 911 manufactured from 1999 to 2005. I would not get a GT3. I would not get a Turbo. I would get a standard, naturally-aspirated, two-wheel drive model that’s already had the IMS bearing replaced, probably a Cabriolet, which is something you can now buy for around twenty grand.
The reason for this is simple: the 996 is so scorned by enthusiasts for its styling and interior design that nobody has ever paid attention to the fact that it’s actually a damn good car to drive. And drive it, I would.
I would beat the ever-loving crap out of it. I would drive it everywhere. I would drive it in every weather condition. I would drive it to every event. And then, when the wheels literally fell off, I would buy another one and do the very same thing. Because you’d have to buy three cheap 996s before you equaled the cost of its technically inferior predecessor, the vaunted 993.
Of course, I would also have my Range Rover, in which I have taken great pride over the last three years. I always keep it clean. I always wash it at the touch-free car wash, and I always pay extra to have them do the floor mats. I always carefully park it far away from other cars. Or at least, I did until a few weeks ago when I happened to find myself on Kelley Blue Book’s website, and I decided to type in my Range Rover’s details.
You know what that thing is worth? My awesome British luxury car? My pride and joy? My touch-free car wash darling? That cost me $28,000 merely 36 months ago, plus tax and a $3,900 warranty?
It’s worth eleven grand. Eleven. Thousand. Dollars. Not even enough to get you a Nissan Versa. With that number in mind, I suspect I don’t need to explain again why my $60,000 wouldn’t go to a new car.