Random Misfire, Maintenance and Depreciation

Ok Let’s see… Random misfire and misfire on cylinder #11 … Looks like you need the basic ignition service. When would you like to do that?

Aston Marting with a MisfireHow much you ask? Oh, about $4,000.

That was a nasty fall, can I help you up, get you some aspirin?

Well of course I can break it down. Twelve spark plugs at $40.91 each, twelve coils at $157.56 each, a manifold gasket set at $407.36, and then around $900 labor ….

How often?  Well, about every 25 or 30 thousand miles. Perhaps you should sit down again, you look faint.

What I’m trying to point out here is that it’s possible to drive a spectacular car as your secondary “real car” for the kind of people that for instance left the 3 year old ‘Benz in the driveway this morning and drove the Suburban. Keep the Suburban but trade that “high dollar”, “paying every month”, “rapidly depreciating” car for something truly interesting and live a little!

Sound expensive? Maybe we just need to rethink all the math.

That quote above was for an Aston Martin – one of the most desirable cars in the world. Most people with that sort of car put less than 5,000 miles a year on the them, so that’s an every 5 years experience. Given the miles I’ve put on 12-cylinder Astons over my many years servicing them, I’d say that’s a bargain.

Here’s some more perspective … Ferrari service schedules include a timing belt, drive belts and a similar ignition service every 20,000 miles for about $1500 more on average. So here we have an Aston Martin eating less than $1,000 per year for service (not including oil changes) and a Ferrari eating a little more than a grand per annum.

Aston Martin In The ShopOk, here comes the painful part. Even the most boring modern rain car, the Buick or BMW in your driveway, is eating more in depreciation! The Ferrari is ticking up slowly and the Aston Martin is bottomed out or losing a little for a couple more years .

So you say you wouldn’t want to park it at the groceries store for fear of a ding in the door? Are you really suggesting you wouldn’t fix a ding in your Mercedes or your Tahoe?

It’s all the same. The body shop might bump up the cost of painting the door on your Rolls a bit but not that much.

I’ll grant you that truly exciting cars are not for everybody. Seeing yourself on the road repeatedly during the day must be comforting – like lemmings swimming safely in the company of many others all the same.

And the consideration of maintenance being the same or even cheaper might not out weigh the simplicity of swimming to the nearest service centre instead of seeking out and waiting for an appointment, sometimes weeks away, at the specialist needed for an exciting car.

I know we have dogs and the need to carry auntie for an airing from the oldies home once in a while. So, a rain car is, I admit, a necessity for most of us.

But that other car … you know the one … live a little and have a dream car.

It might actually cost less than your lemming-mobile.

Robert Morey
With over 40 years in the business, Robert Morey restores and maintains British cars. His restorations have won many awards and are in collections across the U.S., England, Japan and the Bahamas. Robert is compiling a book on owning British cars as both a business and a hobby. Robert and his wife Michele live in Charleston, South Carolina.