Keeping Up with the Jones?

I’m finally in a position in life where I can upgrade cars I’ve purchased in the past. In other words, I’m older and can afford a reasonable upgrade to a “so called” status car…BMW, MB even a PORSCHE…lower ends mind you.

However, after years of scrimping and saving, etc and usually buying used rentals cars…I don’t want to appear to be a SHOWOFF.

Therefore, what are good entry level cars, 2-3 years old that I could ease into??? Before I finally am driving my Ferrari California to the nursing home!



If you’re "keeping up with the Jones’ " you wouldn’t be showing off.
If you’re out-doing the Jones’ then maybe.
A little bit used will garner more car for the bucks.

As far as the mid life ( crisis ) satisfaction goes, I’d go with your gut impression. Please yourself and to heck with them thar Jones’.

I personally would vote for a BMW 3 series. They are supposed to be very fun to drive, and they are not too flashy.

Interesting question. A Mazda Miata or Honda S2000 would be fun, but wouldn’t too too flashy. Can you see yourself in a small two-seat convertible?

I second the 3 series vote, good cars, not too expensive, fun, relatively reliable. Just make sure it’s had its maintenance done (demand to see receipts) and keep doing it when you buy it.

I also think a small sporty car such as the Miata or S2000 would work.

Also, the VW GTI has almost all the features of the Audi, but at a lower price and without the badge.

If all you can afford is a used car, then you are not showing off in a personally meaningful way. I suggest a new Cadillac CTS or something similar that is not invisible in traffic.
With one of these, you will not feel put down when arriving at a place such as a Capital Grill or even a Bonefish Grill if you prefer.

Are you buying the car for yourself or just to impress the neighbors?

There are a number of great cars that you can buy new for yourself that will make the neighbors envious and still be affordable and be a blast to drive. The Mazda Miata (or whatever they call it these days) is one. You might even get a great deal on a Saturn Sky or a Pontiac Solstice, since both are no longer in production.

5 years ago I bought a simple, inexpensive Scion tC, which has nice styling and a sliding glass roof. My kids were impressed (my son even bought his own), my ex was pissed (she thought I was “holding out” with the money), and my neighbors all came to enquire and gossip. I still love the car, and still get an occasional enquiry.

The point is don’t buy a car based on the name. Buy it based on the fun. Forget status. If you’re having a blast with the roof open and your hair blowing in the wind people will envy you. But you won’t care. You’ll be too busy having fun.

If you really want to impress people, do some research on the the best long term investment you can make on a reliable car that can serve your needs. Use the money you save to do something like taking ballroom dance lessons. Nothing impresses people more than the European panache of being a great dancer…more than driving MB,BMW and Porsche. In general, use your money to better yourself and not your trappings.

A 2008 base level Boxter will start around $35,000 with the usual options; the Cayman will start at $40,000. If you want a more upscale model of either, you could reach $45,000 to $50,000 quickly. A base model new Corvette coupe with typical options will run you about $46,000 after the $3000 rebate. What do you think about a Corvette? It will be a lot less expensive to maintain than the Boxter or it’s coupe twin, the Cayman. Expect to pay over twice as much for the Porsches for repairs than the Corvette during the first 5 years. Also expect to pay about 30% more for maintenance even though Porsche offers free maintenance for at least one year. I think the Cayman is one of the finest cars around, and if you are willing to pay higher rates for M&R, take a closer look. I’d look at the new Corvette, too.

Take a good look at the Hyundai Genesis; you get nice styling, a load of luxuries and good reliability at a very good price.

Sort of like buying a Mercedes or Jaguar at half price!

I teach an a university where the “in” vehicles are BMW and Mercedes Benz vehicles. I make certain to drive my battered 1978 Oldsmobile Cutlass Salon to official functions and receptions at the president’s house. I like the reverse status symbol so it doesn’t appear that I am overpaid. Lt. Columbo had the right idea with his battered Puegot.
If I had the money and wanted to impress people, I would find a Studebaker Avanti. It doesn’t meet your age criteria, but I’ve always thought that these were beautifully styled automobiles.

I Vote Late Model Corvette, Also.

Along with the dip in the economy there are some really good deals on Corvettes at this time. I’m shopping them right now, myself.


I drove my daughter’s BMW 3 Series and my son’s Lexus - for me, being old and creaky, the Lexus was MUCH nicer - the seats on the Beemer are kinda tight (I’ve put on weight since I was 20 years old) whilst the Lexus is easy to get into, and has a bigger-feeling interior - both are high quality, but the Lexus is, basically, a Toyota, meaning cheaper maintenance than a Beemer (which is why you see so many BMW’s sold, after they fall out of waranty!!!).

Yeah, baby! Love those reverse status symbols! Like a Porsche, but dented and faded! Or my mom’s 1970 BMW with no seat, peace sign on the back window, and different hub caps. Of course, when I was at university, it was old Volvo’s (especially the 544 and 122) or a strange, British or French car - say a Lotus 7, a Renault R-4, a Morgan, a Citroen, or a rusty TR-3!

Not Everybody Is Impressed With A Reliable Car That “Can Serve Your Needs”. I’m Not.
Why Not Buy An Impressive Car And Take Up Tap Dancing, Scuba Diving, Or Whatever Else Floats Your Boat ?

For those of us who’ve worked and saved, it doesn’t have to be “either / or”. America is great because of the freedom of choice we have and the ability to be able to have it.


If the OP wants luxury over sporty handling, there’s no better value (IMO) than a 2-3 year old Lexus ES350, that’s for sure.

A Hyundai with Mercedes-BMW-Cadillac-Lincoln-Jaguar-Porsche like status? You have got to be kidding.

Maybe some day but not yet Hyundai!

For those of us who’ve worked and saved, it doesn’t have to be “either / or”. America is great because of the freedom of choice we have and the ability to be able to have it.

As far as cars are concerned, IMO, nothing reflects “status” like an older, meticulously maintained, impeccably clean full size American Brand auto of ANY make. Status to me means you don’t have to try impress anyone or show off any more with your car. We did that in our youth with loud mufflers and head banging music.

Now if you want a BMW or Porsche or the rumble of a Harley because of the way they perform and how you feel driving them, I can agree…and as long as you feel the same way driving down a deserted road by yourself, you’ve made the right choice.

Maybe not for status, but the 4-door Genesis just beat out the Lexus ES350 and was rated #1 in the Car and Driver I got yesterday. Pretty impressive.