I get a lot of questions and inquiries about how you can go about buying your first exotic car. As someone who has been involved in various aspects of the supercar industry and personally owned many exotics, I try to shine as much light on the subject as I can.
The biggest piece of advice that I can offer is to get an advocate. This may be a dealer or salesperson or it could be an experienced exotic car owner who seems to be buying the types of cars that you want. If your goal is to experience a variety of these cars over a period of a few years then managing that process will involve some variables that are outside of your control. A strong dealer that can help you maximize trade values and get you aggressively priced deals based on an understanding of your ownership habits is worth thousands of dollars. This is my favorite thing to do with clients – counsel them through decisions on not only what car to buy now but how to stay in a position where they will be able to buy the other cars that they want in the future.
Due to the explosion of production in the super sports car segment around 2002-2006 there are now a lot of interesting cars at pretty much any price point. As you try to figure out which car makes sense for you, there are a few things that you will want to keep in mind.
Maintenance vs. Depreciation – older exotic cars do not depreciate significantly on a percentage basis but they can be expensive to maintain. Consult buyers guides, long term tests, and speak to your dealer about the maintenance costs that you can anticipate. Depending on the car you are typically going to be looking a $.50-2.50 per mile to maintain your supercar. I am all for searching for a cheap exotic car and then driving the wheels off of but the art comes in finding the balance between a car that is going to be prohibitively expensive to maintain and a car that is going to depreciate a lot during your ownership period.
Here is a buyers guide that I put together for a Lamborghini Gallardo. Some of the information may be a bit dated at this point but it should still be a useful resource.
Here is a useful pre-purchase inspection checklist for an exotic.
Financing – Many people will want to finance their recreational vehicle. These are the criteria that would make you a perfect candidate to finance an exotic car:
-20% down payment
–<50% increase over your previous high car credit -Amount financed < Initial mortgage balance -Amount financed < Verifiable annual income -Credit Score > 740
If you meet all of those criteria then you are a great candidate for approval. If you are a bit more marginal in a couple of them then we still have a great shot, it just may take a bit more work. Here is some more discussion of how exotic car financing works.
Here are some other articles and references that I have put together over the course of the past few years.
At the end of the day, it is important not to overthink the process. This is a recreational purchase and something that should only add to your life. Becoming overly obsessed with residual values and trade figures will only lead to you becoming disillusioned with the whole idea at some point. Being educated and having the right people in your corner can make this vice much more enjoyable and affordable.