About a month ago, I bought a 2005 Ford GT. This was a tremendously nerve-wracking moment in my life, largely because I had never spent this much money before on anything — and I never, ever thought I’d spend this much on a car. But I did, and the primary reason I bought it is that I knew it wouldn’t cost me much to own.
Well, it’s been a month, and I’ve already spent $28,000 on it.
So, today, I’m going to explain how that happened, and I’m going to cover some of the costs that come from owning a car like this one. And I’m going to start with financing.
Although there’s some debate about the "right" way to do this, I generally finance my cars — exotic and otherwise. My belief is that while interest rates are low, I can usually get a better deal by financing the purchase and keeping the cash for investment or other opportunities — and while interest rates are rising, they haven’t increased to the point where I no longer agree with this. So I financed the GT.
And who, exactly, finances a car like this? I use Pentagon Federal Credit Union, which seems to have no limit for the ridiculous and bizarre automobiles they’ll finance. They financed my 1995 HUMMER, my Aston Martin, my Ferrari 360 and now this, and they always have excellent customer service and great rates. I’m not advertising for them, by the way — I’m certain they have no idea who I am. But they’re one of the few lenders I’ve found who will take on any manner of bizarre vehicles.
Then there’s insurance. A common misconception in the automotive world is that sports cars like my GT costs a ton to insure — but the truth is, insurance companies are obsessive about loss rates and determining premiums, and exotic sports cars are often a lot cheaper to insure than you think. After all, insurance companies are well aware that drivers of cars like these don’t use them very often and primarily spend time polishing them with a diaper — so loss rates are pretty low. I pay about $1,900 per year to insure my Ford GT, which is a lot — but not much when you consider its overall value. In fact, my 2012 Mercedes-Benz E63 AMG Wagon costs more to insure than my GT, even though it’s worth one-sixth as much — probably because owners of used AMG models tend to get in a lot more trouble than the rich, old people who primarily own Ford GTs.
The biggest cost so far, however, has been sales tax. My home state of California, like virtually all states, assesses a sales tax somewhere between 7 and 8 percent, depending on where you live — and that means that sales tax on a car purchased in the low-$200,000 range hovers around $15,000, plus the usual registration fees. Yes, I paid around $15,000 for a license plate, which is no small sum.
Some people who read this will ask why I didn’t do "the Montana thing" and register my car in Montana to save on sales tax, as many exotic car owners do. There are a few reasons — like, for instance, my visibility and the fact that someone would inevitably see my Montana license plate in a video, become irate and report me. But it’s more than that — I also budgeted this cost into my purchase, and regardless of my feelings on taxes, they exist, so I pay them because I’m an adult and that’s how all this works. There’s also a peace of mind that comes from knowing you aren’t dodging anything whenever a police officer pulls up behind you at a traffic light. And it helps to know I can write off the taxes, since the car is (mostly) a business expense.
Another cost that cropped up was a quick service. My GT had a couple of small issues when I got it, so I decided to address them. Finding a shop is a bit of a challenge, since I didn’t exactly want to take it to the local Ford dealership, who isn’t exactly well-versed in the art of caring for and maintaining exotic sports cars. I ended up going with a local shop called HG Autohaus north of San Diego, who did a great job with a few repairs and some small maintenance that totaled around $2,800 — including an oil change for $366, which is in line with what I’ve heard from other GT owners. My GT also needed a replacement for its fuel gauge, which had broken — a common issue on the GT — and HG Autohaus took care of that as well.
Then came the clear bra, which is a near-invisible film placed over the whole car to protect the paint. The owner of this car hadn’t gotten a clear bra installed back when he bought it new, largely because the technology at that time wasn’t so good — it was very easily detectable and never looked good on the paint. Fortunately, things have progressed since then, and I chose Boden Autohaus in Irvine, California, to install my clear bra — and they did an amazing job, to the point where it’s truly undetectable and absolutely gorgeous. The paint looks perfect, and now the car is protected from scratches and rock chips — and I can’t say enough great things about Boden’s good work. Unfortunately, the clear bra doesn’t come cheap: I had the entire car wrapped, and the cost was around $7,000.
Add it all up and, yes, I’ve spent about $28,000 so far — though the taxes ($17,000 or so) and the clear bra ($7,000) are a one-time expense that I won’t have to worry about again. Now that the car has been serviced, wrapped in paint-protecting film and registered, I can enjoy it with no concerns — and I plan to do that for many miles to come.