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The $1400 Jetta project.

28 Sep 2010  |  Tags: , , , , ,

So, I sold my car. The modified, twin-turbo’ed Volkswagen R32.

The car was really fast, but in reality I couldn’t really use it for anything and it was not much of a “winter” car. So, it sat in storage and I was forced to use Zipcar 5-6 months out of the year. Not very economical… also not even factoring the terrible gas mileage resulting from 600+HP!

The car fetched $34,100 on eBay. Even though I’d put a lot more than that into the car (including the car’s initial cost about 5 years ago) … I kind of “called it a day” and said goodbye. Done.

So, realistically… looking at my finances before now, I was spending:
$250/mo on Zipcar (+ overages + snowboarding trips in the winter … $50-$80/each), $300/mo insurance on the R32 (appraised for higher value, so higher premium), $50-150/mo on fuel whenever I could drive the R32

The two downsides to Zipcar were that, even though I was prepaying $250/mo and any unused balance would rollover up to 2-months later… I was generally spending $300-400 (sometimes more) on Zipcar time. Obviously this wasn’t a bad deal considering you’re driving brand-new cars and don’t have to pay for fuel (and it’s convenient, great for traveling in different cities/countries) ………. But that’s a huge investment considering the lack of miles I drive and that I don’t get to keep the car in the end. Money down the drain for the non-occasional driver.

So, on average … not including any maintenance to the R32… I was spending around $700/mo on car stuff. Sometimes more, sometimes less. That’s too much for someone that works from home and doesn’t commute.

Solution to all of this? Buying a 1998 Jetta GL from Craigslist for $1400.

"And so it begins."

I’ve had this car for about two-weeks now and I love it. It’s low maintenance, old, good looking but not “new” looking, and easy to work-on/maintain/drive/enjoy. It’s safe, has airbags, well built, not rusty (came from San Francisco, this is key), and has had all of its timing-belt/water-pump and other things that are required done in the past 10,000mi.

What’s not to like? It’s not a new car, but all of my friends like it and it was cheap. Perfect for the city. My plan is to make it “somewhat” nice by upgrading the wheels, stereo (which I’ve already done), and touching-up the body to look as presentable as possible. Otherwise, the car is virtually perfect as-is.

I installed the stereo myself because it was a factory fit and I’d seen so many installations in the past. Very satisfying and saved ~$100!

Wiring the new deck.

Here’s the finished installation, with iPhone cable attached. Awesome! So modern, yet a nice old car.

Just finished installing the headunit! awesome for iPhones.

My car related finances now break down to this:
$4/mo on Zipcar ($50/year minimum.. divided by 12-months is roughly $4, I keep Zipcar active for emergencies or breakdowns), ~$100/mo for decent insurance and $50/mo on premium fuel for the Jetta… even though it’s a 4-cylinder and doesn’t need Premium. Why get it then? I barely drive and can usually make a single tank last a whole month. So might as well spend the extra $2/tank and get the good stuff and use good oil/filters when doing oil-changes. All this keeps the engine healthier and adds performance… although not much.

That’s a savings of at least $500/mo, and I get to have my own car parked here at all times. Obviously there are maintenance and upgrade costs to factor in addition… but they will never exceed this allowance within my ownership’s lifespan of the car. If they did (for some extreme reason), I’d just junk the car and buy a different one! It was only $1400 :)

Part of what made this cost so exorbitant in the first place was the fact that I was paying to insure a nice car … I agree, this was stupid. However, even if you subtract that… I’m still saving money over Zipcar based on the amount of driving I do vs. the lack of miles. At least a couple hundred bucks a month.

So, after a little while, the car will have paid for itself based on my previous budget AND my Zipcar budget. Plus, I’ll have made it nice/unique using some of that saved money. I think I’ve done pretty well… we’ll see. Do I want another fast car? No way…. Been there, done that. Not worth it.

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