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Changing Values: Contemplating Selling my Corvette?

I wrote the other day that I was looking at selling my Corvette to fund our future travel trailer purchase.  For those who are interested I decided to write a bit more on that decision.  Let’s give you some background to start.

Background on the Corvette

I bought my 2008 Corvette in October of 2007 as a brand new car.  Young, dumb, and with a high paying job I bought a car that required almost all of my liquid cash.  I hadn’t planned it to end up that way.

At the time one hobby I had was test driving cars.  I would go to a car dealer and test drive the latest model.  Sometimes this was because the manufacturer gave out a visa gift card in exchange for a test drive.    Other times however I would just test drive a car for the pure joy of doing so.

Anyway, one of those pure joy drives was a new Corvette.  I was instantly hooked.  I had to have one.  As per my mantra of getting good value, I sat on that desire for about 6 months.  Finally I decided to pull the trigger.  So I did my research on the best place to buy a Corvette and determined it was a large volume dealer in a different state. 

The Corvette Purchase

After much negotiation, I put in an order for a near bare bones Corvette (It had 2 inexpensive options that I really wanted but was about as cheap as you could order one at that time.)  The purchase price of the car including taxes and tags was less than the MSRP with no options, quite a feat actually.  During that time period, Corvettes were in such a demand that my local dealers wouldn’t start discussion below MSRP.  Little did I know that the great recession was just around the corner.  Had I waited another year these cars would have been languishing on the lots.  Oh, well.

A Corvette Bought with Cash, Well Somewhat..

Anyway, as noted I used basically the equivalent of all my liquid cash.  To avoid actually having risk of a cash flow problem I paid half in cash and financed the other half.    I proceeded to pay off the remaining half of the car over the next six months.  So the Corvette has been paid off since late 2008.

Actual Annual Corvette Expenses

In addition, insurance is dirt cheap on the car.  Apparently, most Corvettes are owned by old men.    As such they do not wreck as often.  Therefore my insurance has been about $300 a year in perpetuity.  Add to that there is no yearly tax assessment on cars in my state, only a $40 registration fee.  Finally, maintenance has averaged about $65 for a yearly oil change over the last 10 years.  All in the car currently costs me about $405 a year in actual expenditures.  That’s honestly a rounding error on our expenses or another person’s 3 dollar coffee for 1/3 of the days of the year.

So Why Am I Considering Selling with Such Low Costs?

So why if the car costs me the same in new money as a casual coffee addiction am I considering selling?  Well, honestly it’s because the car really costs me more than $405 a year.  You see there are a number of things not included in the average.

  1. The car is getting near a need for new tires.  This will be the first tire change for the car (these are low mileage cars after all).  That is probably $1500 out of pocket, or almost as much as I have spent on the car in the last 4 years.  The car is getting older so more maintenance of this price range is probably on the horizon.  A Corvette is a low maintenance cost car, but I still expect a balloon in yearly costs to a minimum $800 a year on average.
  2. The car as it sits is worth about $24-25,000.  The opportunity cost of that money has value.  With current risk-free interest rates in the high 3 to 4% range that means the opportunity cost of the car is at least $1000 a year.
  3. What about the cost of depreciation?  In reality each year it ages my car decreases in value. That being said given the specialty nature of the car there is typically a floor on cost.  Even a 1999 Corvette in very good condition with double my miles is a $10K car.    As such my car is depreciating but it’s a snail’s pace, probably 500 a year or less.

Does My Value from the Corvette Exceed the Cost?

Add the numbers up and my toy will likely cost me about $2,300 a year going forward.  So the question is, do I value the usage of that toy at greater than $2,300 a year?  If you had asked me in 2009 I would have given you a resounding yes.  But my world has changed in the last decade.

A Change in Answer

When I first got my car I’d do long drives to places like Michigan, Georgia, and Florida either alone or with my now wife.   Now however I have a 6 and 4 year old.  These days most of my trips are with kids in tow.  2 seats means the Corvette is not an option.  So I no longer can use the car on long trips.

What about short ones?  Well, I have little free time to just go on a joy ride as I use too.  I took the car in for its 2-year inspection in November and was horrified to determine I’d put less than 1000 miles on the car in 2 years.     This is even worse when you realize I drove the car to work more this year than previously.   One of my trips early on would have put that many miles on the car in a weekend.    This means even before gas the car is costing me more than $4 a mile.    So I sat back and asked myself, is the value of having a toy car worth $4 for every mile I drive it?  The answer was probably not.

The Hassle of Upkeep

Lest you think my life is only about the finances I also took into account the hassle of finding time to take the car in for oil changes, shuffle it around my driveway and garage, and otherwise manage it.  This too has been more recently than the time I spent actually driving the car.  

Values Change Over Time

I guess what I’m saying is I found the car no longer really fit with my life and mantra of buying what I value.  You need to determine before you buy something whether it fits with your values, but values can also change with time.  You should from time to time evaluate if what you have/are maintaining still fits your values.  The Corvette does not fit my values for this stage in my life.  As such in the spring it will be time to look for a buyer.

Honestly, I’m still a car fanatic.  It’s in some ways hard to square this conclusion with that fact.  Still, I know once the kids are out of the house another sports car will darken my doorstep.  I also know for daily drivers I will continue to own spirited if family oriented cars with stick shifts.  It just wasn’t worth holding onto the one I have until my life again fit that reality.  I’ll miss that car, but it’s time to move on to more family-oriented hobbies like camping.  Which me luck on the sale.

Have you ever found a major purchase no longer fit with your values?


  1. Joe
    Joe April 8, 2019

    I think that’s a good move for now. You can always buy another sports car later. It doesn’t make sense for you right now. You can’t even take the kids out for a ride until they’re much older. safety seat and all that. I think camping is a much better family activity.
    The insurance for the Corvette is surprisingly low, though. Very nice.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance April 8, 2019

      It’s the right call, but it’s also a very emotional one.

  2. Xrayvsn
    Xrayvsn April 8, 2019

    I am surprised about such low insurance rates for a sports car like a corvette.

    You are preaching to the choir about being hooked on a car just from a test drive. I went into a Tesla dealership just to see what it was about and a week later had the order in for my car. I would do it all over again in an instant as I am still loving it 3 years later and almost 84k miles on it (I drive it everywhere and my normal commute (with dropping off daughter at school) adds about 80 miles/day).

    Good luck with the sale. It will definitely be bittersweet.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance April 8, 2019

      When I bought it a decade ago the salesman commented on how nice it was to sell it to someone under 50. Insurance rates really are primarily driven by driver demographics.

  3. Torch Red
    Torch Red April 23, 2019

    With a young, growing family, having a Corvette probably doesn’t make sense. Maybe in a few years you get back into a toy car.

    I always wanted a Corvette but it never really made sense. Then when my kids were ages 6 & 8 it was time to trade-in my 8 year old car. I decided to keep the old car when I found a local 16-year-old C5. My old car got totaled a year later and I replaced it with an economical commuter. I got two cars (a Corvette plus a commuter car) for mid 30k’s in cash; less than I probably would have spent on a new sports sedan. The C5 has a lot of character and I have fun putting 3-4k miles a year on it. Given the inexpensive purchase price and upkeep, I haven’t felt too guilty about adding some performance mods to add even more smiles per mile. Yes, it is not something we can drive as a family but my wife and I take turns driving it to work in nice weather and our boys love getting picked up after sports practice with the fun car.

    With the Corvette, I’ve tried to make ownership an experience instead of just a thing to have. I learned how to do my own fluid changes, brake jobs and mods myself. I try to do one performance event a year (HPDE or drag strip) and I attend the largest Corvette show in the world in Carlisle, PA every year. Ownership has given me the opportunity to meet other car enthusiasts and share what we have done with our cars. So this car has become my hobby but that works for me because my kids older.

    • FullTimeFinance
      FullTimeFinance April 25, 2019

      All the reasons you stated are the reason it’s a tough decision for me to make. We also attend corvettes at Carlisle most years with the kids. Also the clubs and even just the occasion of driving it mean a lot. But sometimes it just doesn’t fit with the lifestyle. Someday it probably will again.

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