What's The Combined Purchase Price Of Every Car You've Owned?

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I was thinking back to my first car the other day, as one does. It was a hand-me-down from my folks. A ratty, boxy-but-round ’94 Plymouth Acclaim that I hated back in high school. It was a POS, but you know what? It was free!


So I started thinking about how much cars have cost me in total, which prompts the question: What’s the combined purchase price of all your cars?

Imagine a garage full of every car you’ve owned, and add up what they cost. It doesn’t matter if you bought the car new or got it from a family member, a stranger on Craigslist or maybe even a car auction. Just tally them all. Maybe take a seat first, and don’t add in the cost of keeping them on the road. I’m sure if we did that, some of us would need to join a support group.

After that crappy Plymouth — it had a Chrysler pentastar and is how I came to be interested in rebadging — I bought an ’00 Jeep Cherokee Sport at a used car lot. I paid $3,800 for it. It was jacked up and had a roof rack and big tires and Mickey Thompson wheels. I loved it!

But it was loud on the highway and not very comfortable on road trips. Also, it wasn’t as efficient as I wanted, so I sold it and let an uncle talk me into buying a salvage-titled ’95 BMW 318i from Copart, an auction company that deals in all sorts of troubled vehicles. That cost me $1,200, and it ran for all of a week before it caught on fire at a Jack-in-the-Box drive-through. Back to the auction site. (I’m a slow learner.)

I bought another BMW. This time an ’01 325i. That one lasted me a few weeks before it overheated. Good thing I only paid $3,100 for it, right? Well, I bought another German car. This time, the reliable kind. I tracked down a ’04 VW Jetta TDI (5-speed manual) and bought it for $3,700. That car was awesome! I owned it for a couple of years, which seemed like a long time to me, but I couldn’t resist a BMW.

I know, I know. I’m crazy.

I felt I hadn’t gotten the chance to happily own one, and I was certain the third time was the charm. I wanted a manual car that was light and fun to drive, and it had to be red! I found my ’97 BMW 318ti and paid $3,300 for it. It’s been with me ever since. Which brings me to a grand total of $15,100. Not bad, I suppose.


I’ve learned so much and made a lot of mistakes, but it’s been fun. Now run the numbers. What’s the combined purchase price of every car you’ve owned?


geezer engineer

Geezers will obviously have higher totals. Divide by total years to normalize to annualized capital cost per year would be a more useful comparison.
Perhaps also subtracting trade/sale return of the old car, but this seems more of a bar discussion, so it needn’t be an accurate measure of lifetime depreciation costs.

I buy non-luxury run of the mill vehicles new and keep them a long time, but my first new car was 35 years ago, and I would count my wife’s car (and now eldest kid’s). So I’m way into 6 figures, but annualized per person, it’s probably 2-3 thousand dollars per year.