Bugatti Veyron, Elio And My Wheel Life

I read an interesting article today about the Bugatti Veyron, the most expensive production car, that had any significant volume. Don’t tell me about the $4 million Lambo they made 3 of, they’ve made hundreds of Veyrons. That a lot for a hypercar. It ended with this sentence. “The Bentley customer on average owns 8 cars. The average Bugatti customer has about 84 cars, 3 jets and one yacht.” Along with a book I’ve been reading, this sentence got me thinking.

Bugatti Veyron Thanks to Axion23 (Flickr Creative Commons)

Bugatti Veyron
Thanks to Axion23 (Flickr Creative Commons)

What is the purpose of a supercar (or 84). I’ve lusted after supercars, muscle cars, dirt bikes, Harley’s, rat rods and muscle cars since I was young. My father was a “car guy”, and really he was a race car driver, which is a special kind of car guy who loves to spend even more of his his money than the average car guy on his car and a car guy who actually drives his car hard 99% of the time (except when idling around the pits.)

Dad racing picture

Anyway, between that and the time I saw a guy who was about 5 years older than me driving his Firebird around with some attractive girls, I’ve always been attracted to cars (and girls).

I am pretty lucky and blessed as peoples lives go. I currently own a total of 5 licensed vehicles, including a Honda bobber I built mostly myself and a GSXR 600, a Monte Carlo SS Aerocoupe, a Mustang a winter beater truck, and a dirt bike, just for fun, and even some projects sitting at my parents home to be completed…. sometime. I recently had a realization of sorts that it just might be financially feasible for me to purchase some of the vehicles I had lusted after as a child. 2012 Boss Mustang? Dodge Viper? Corvette? Ferrari?

I ran into a few problems once I started down this line of thinking. One problem was the insurance, registration and maintenance on the cars I had already was a pretty significant annual cost. Another was, as I’m a big fan of “giving back” I started to contemplate if it was reasonable for me to have so much while some has so little.

Which brings me back to the question, why do we keep building more and more vehicles for ourselves? Are we trying to buy happiness? This has lead me to ask myself “What will really make me happy?” A sentence from “Deep Economy” by Bill McKibben states “volunteer work of all kinds generated ‘high levels of joy, exceeded only by dancing’. Why? The most common answers included ‘I meet people and make friends through it.’”

So are we really getting all this satisfaction from more and more cars? My personal answer seems to be a no. Which is a difficult thing to say. I have loved cars since I can remember. I even went school to design them (I’m working on diesel engines, a bit of a compromise, but still designing and engines, I’ll count it as a win).

I’ve been attending a financial club which has been telling me some things that are not novel by any means but might sound that way just because of the stories we’re fed by the media. One is “Don’t buy a car with a loan, pay cash.” What a crazy idea? I’ve bought 3 vehicles with loans since I graduated college, granted they have each been under $10000 so total, they are about equal to one $20,000 car a “normal” person would have bought, but being a car guy, I have had the urge for quantity over quality at times.

Recently I reevaluated my finances. I determined my recurring monthly and told a friend about it. After she told me my monthly recurring expenses was greater than her salary, I thought I could make a change. I’ve been living in a single apartment for 2 years. I’m hoping to move in with a roommate and cut some that expense about in half (I have already talked to a few people and believe I have plans made, but it’s not been executed yet so I have to count it as in progress still). I have also had to re-evaluate my eating habits. No doubt, the normal person would take one look at my eating habits and say “WTF”. I often eat out for lunch 5x a week and usually 2+ times a  week for diner, and not counting weekends in that even, those are free right? Wrongo-Bongo. I’ve tried to be a bit more reasonable in that and purchase food at the beginning of the week and make a lunch. That cuts the expenses in half at least. Couple that with eating out less overall and I feel I’m on a good path.

I have had a hard time giving up the cars. I still have them all, although I have threatened to sell the Mustang (to myself) a few times. I just haven’t pulled the trigger yet. It sounds nice and makes me smile. I’m not advocating for complete immaterialism, although minimalism has made a lot of folks happy. I’ve been considering a quote from a priest friend “I live simply so others can simply live.” That really makes you stop and think.

So to bring it back to cars, what car is living simply? What is the complete opposite of a Bugatti Veryron? How about an Elio? This is a car that’s not designed to be a “look at me car”. It’s built on practicality. On preserving the earth. On getting 84 MPG instead of 2.3MPG for the Veyron (at 253 mph). To be fair, it likely won’t be driven that fast, or likely at all, considering the 84 other cars, and 3 jets and a yacht it’s average owner has to spend time driving. Lets be honest, if you make that much money, you likely don’t need to drive yourself around, and probably you don’t! Your body guards probably won’t let you. What if instead of measuring our success by the number of cars we have we measured it by the number of people we’ve helped? Or what if businesses didn’t measure success by how much money they made but by how much they let the people buying their products keep? Crazy?


Here’s my proposal (because I still like cars, a LOT!). Someone who’s rocking one of these 84 cars (Jay Leno maybe?), please let me borrow one, just for a year (and pay my insurance please 🙂  (or maybe about 8 months) and let me use it to find myself and influence people in a positive way. That’s My Wheel Life today. Hope you enjoyed it. And if you know someone who’s own 84 cars, please forward this to them.

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What idea most affected you out of this article?

How do you measure your own success?


What is a Kit Car?

Kit Cars – What are they?
Think of a Lego set, but for a car!
Why kit cars?
They are a car focused on performance or style. Imagine a Ferrari or Shelby Cobra for the price of a new Ford Focus!

Lets put it together!

I’ve written a few articles about buying cheaper used supercars or

newer muscle cars and I’ve told you about a few different styles of cars such as  street rods and muscle cars. But buying a car assembled by a major manufacture isn’t the only way to get a car. If you are the handy type or just want to break the mold, you can build a car yourself! Of course, building a car by yourself, from nothing is a pretty difficult task, and that’s not what I’m proposing, although that has been done also! Check it out here. If you’re not as hard-core as Ken, but still want something different you are in luck! You can build a kit car!

So what is a kit car? A kit car is a car that you purchase in pieces and assemble yourself, it’s basically like a Lego set, or buying a table from IKEA. Why would anyone want to do this you might ask? Well there are a few reasons.

1. You can get a kit car that looks and performs like a much more expensive car than it is.
2. You can build a car that never existed.
3. You can build a car that did exist but is way too rare to buy an original. (Think Shelby Cobra).

Why would a company want to design a kit car instead of a production car? There are a few reasons for that also!

1. It is (much much) cheaper for a company to design and sell a kit can than it is for Ford, or other major manufacturers. Often kit cars source a reliable engine from the major manufacturers. The body and suspension are the major contributions by the designers.

2. This is because a kit car doesn’t have to pass all the safety standards a new car does. They also aren’t held to the same standards for NVH and other considerations. That being said, that doesn’t mean that they are (all) unsafe, or harsh. Many companies put a lot of work into the kits to make them great cars.

Let’s look at the different types of kit cars available.

The first are replicas of current or older cars that you can build yourself. One example of this is the Factory Five Roadster . It is basically a recreation of a Shelby Cobra from the 1960’s. Why not just buy an original Cobra you ask?


Check Hemmings Motor news . An original Shelby Cobra is rare, and therefore expensive (think $100k+) where as a Factory Five Roadster can be assembled for $30k if you do it the right way. You also have the benefit of putting a variety of engines and upgrades suspension, electronics and just about everything else that has progressed in the automotive world in the last 50 years.

Another that is one of my favorites is a Chevrolet Cheetah kit car. What is a Chevrolet Cheetah you ask? It was a car made to beat the Shelby Cobra in it’s day. Unfortunately tragedy befell the company and only 19 (or so) were ever made. The good news is you can buy the beautiful Cheetah as a kit and put it together yourself!

Lamborghini’s and Ferrari’s are other vehicles that are popular in this type of “build cheaper than you can buy” category.


The second type of kit car is a car that never was made. Factory Five has one of these available also. Is called the Factory Five GTM supercar. It’s a “generic” supercar being that it is low, wide and good looking. That being said, it is also a lot more ‘’cost effective” than a Ferrari or Lambo, and if you were to damage it, you know you could always rebuild it!  Here are 2 other supercar kits. The Superlite (at beginning of article) is the first, and here’s a quote from their site

“Q. How easy is it to build, really? –
A. The Superlite SLC was designed to be built in your garage, using basic hand tools.  You don’t need to do any welding, or machining, or have fancy tools.”
Sounds pretty great to me!

And here’s another supercar/racecar kit, the Ultima GTR, made in England.

And here’s a final one, the K1 Attack, made in the Czech Republic.
There is also a third type of kit car. It’s not a complete kit like the cars talked about before, but it’s a massive redesign of an existing car but also bought in kit form. Pontiac Fieros are popular cars for this as they were rear engine like many supercars. Often they get made into Lamborghini’s.

There is also this car, build from a 1990’s Ford Thunderbird.

So as you can see the kit car industry is far reaching, covering many different styles of cars. They are actually relatively affordable, if you are in the market for a performance car. There are often different levels of each kit available. Often you can buy just a body and source all the other parts yourself, such as the brakes, seats, wheels and tires. There are also kit cars that the factories will in fact build for you! There are even some that will let you help them build your car!

Here is a site with a very long list of kit car manufacturers if you are looking for something different. There is a car for everyone!

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So has this gotten your creative juices flowing? Are you rip roaring ready to get down in the garage and build your own car? Or would you rather buy a production car? Have you ever seen a kit car on the street or at a car show?

12. Modern muscle vs. classic supercar

Window shopping for cars is one of my favorite past times.
I have a diverse love of cars.
New (2012) cars often outperform, or at least equal, old (2002) “exotics” or supercars.
So for this article I’m only considering cars built basically 1998-2014

1995/6 Dodge Viper

1995/6 Dodge Viper

The Flying mile:
This article is dedicated to window shopping (or Ebay shopping). For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to assume your great uncle Alfred has died and left you $35k to buy a car. Lucky you! But sorry for your loss. 😦
My favorite place to look for a wide range of cars like this is Ebay because of it’s quick sort properties. I generally type the vehicle I want, then “Buy It now” then sort by “Lowest Price first” and that tells you the absolute bottom price you can pay for a car of that make. There are other ways to car shop, as I’ve talked about before, but this is definitely the quickest I’d say.

With $35k you could buy a LOT of different cars, but again for the sake of argument, lets say you are into american muscle cars. V8 (or V10 – Dodge Viper). What kinds of cars can you afford in the $35k price range? There are TONS of cars you can buy for that. Porsches, Toyota Supras, Skylines, Camaros, RX-7’s, Mercedes. So let’s say you are in the market for a newer American Muscle car. But do you want an “exotic” such as a classic Dodge Viper? or a more modern car like a Shelby or Boss Mustang? Let’s investigate the merits of each.

I’ve picked 3 cars below, an older (10+ years old) Dodge Viper, a 7 year old Shelby Mustang GT500 and a 2012 Boss Mustang. Seems like a pretty strange comparison of cars? Why not a New Dodge Challenger? Because I like the Mustangs, and the Viper, that’s why. Also, for the people who are extremely brand loyal I ask why? Any one engineer could end up working for any of the Big 3 (Ford, Chevrolet, Dodge) or any car manufacturer for that matter. They are all big companies and when it gets to these very fast cars everyone is on a pretty level playing field, despite what Brand Loyalists will argue. Perhaps in the future I’ll look at some more comparison. Anyway, onto the numbers.

The first car to consider is a 2nd generation Dodge Viper. I really love the style of this car, especially the coupe. There were approximately 10,000 Vipers made in this 6 year span. That low production,compared to 10,000 2007 Mustang GT500’s, puts the viper in the class of an exotic. Also that it was significantly more powerful than the “normal” muscle cars of the day, Camaros, Mustangs. It was in Lamborghini fast and powerful territory. What are the benefits of buying an exotic? For one exclusivity. How many will you see? From the production numbers, not many! What are the downsides of an exotic. Not as many people will be qualified to work on it and parts will be expensive. You see the Viper has taken quite a cost depreciation (for examples worth $35k vs it’s starting cost at the turn of the millennium. But there are also many selling for lots over the $35k mark. Despite being older the viper posts competitive performance numbers to the newer “common” car.

2002 Dodge Viper

2002 Dodge Viper

1996-2002 (2nd gen) Dodge Viper
Cost new: $70,000
450 Horsepower 8L Natural aspirated V10 engine
Quartermile 12.2-12.3 seconds
3420 Lbs (500lbs lighter than 2007 Mustang GT500)
Top Speed: 185 Mph

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

2007 Shelby Mustang GT500

The 2007 Mustang GT500 is the next car we will consider. Funny that it’s another snake (Viper vs Cobra).
Cobra vs. Viper

Cobra vs. Viper

It boasted 500 horsepower which puts it ahead of the older viper yet you see the quartermile time is slower. Part of this can have to do with track prep, vehicle prep, driver. You can see times vary by as much as .5 seconds on a vehicle based on those factors. You’ll see the same time slip discrepancies for a 2012 Boss below .6 seconds between different magazine tests. For reference once a vehicle goes 11.5 seconds in a quarter mile you need to install a roll cage. So for the average Joe the Viper is probably a little faster, based on the test numbers. Also the exclusivity of the Viper is a selling point. “Total production for 2007 GT500’s comes to 10,844 units with 8,150 of those being coupes and 2,694 being” – MotorAuthority. And that was only one year! same as 6 for the Viper.You will also not that the top speed of the GT500 is limited to 155 Mph this is pretty standard, unless a car is an exotic, like the Viper, but really when will you go that fast?
2007 Mustang GT500
Cost new: <$50k,000
500 HP 5.4L supercharged V8
Quartermile 12.7-12.9 seconds
3920 Lbs
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang
The last car we will consider is a 2012 Boss Mustang. This “common” car is boasting 444 hp, almost as much as the 10+ year older Viper. The Boss went on a diet compared to it’s older brother the 2007 GT500. It also lost some horsepower, but you can see from the quartermile times that they are at least equal or some places measured the Boss as faster and equal to the 10 year older Viper which is a much higher class of vehicle. Again, this is based on a lot of factors such as track prep, driver, etc. This also goes to show what 10 years of technology will do for performance when this Mustang costs about 1/2 of what the Viper did 10 years earlier and is on the same performance level. For exclusivity there were approximately 4000 2012 Boss Mustang’s built in one year. You will see that the depreciation is not near what the Viper, being 10 years old, is, only a few thousand from the MSRP of $42k to our target of around $35k. Also you get the benefit of newer technology and with that reliability. I would say that a 2012 Boss will have more readily available and cheaper parts than a 2002 Dodge Viper.
2012 Boss Mustang
Cost New:$42,000
444 HP 5.0L Naturally aspirated V8
Quartermile 12.3-12.8 Seconds
3666 LBS
Top Speed: Electronically limited to 155 Mph

2012 Boss Mustang

2012 Boss Mustang

Based on the above synopsis, which vehicles would you buy? I am torn. All will be great vehicles down the road and will get many looks from passers-by. Do you want the raw power and exclusivity of a V10 Viper or the newer reliability and equal performance of the newer Boss or Shelby. Once you get to vehicles of this performance in competition, a lot of the performance falls on the driver as these are all more car than most people are ever exposed to. So which one would you buy? What other vehicles would you consider?