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$1 million fender bender?

By Claes Bell, CFA · Bankrate.com
Saturday, July 30, 2011
Posted: 7 am ET

There are a lot of reasons for frugal folks to be wary of buying luxury cars: massive depreciation, a thirst for expensive high-octane fuel, and of course, high auto insurance premiums.

If you're wondering why people pay higher prices to insure expensive cars, look no further than a news story from Monaco, in which one multicar fender bender racked up a probable $65,000 in vehicle repair costs to over $1 million worth of luxury cars.

From Aol Autos:

Car accidents are never fun and often expensive. In certain parts of the world, accidents can push expenses into the stratosphere, and Monte Carlo has reportedly just played host to such a fender bender. A woman was driving a Bentley Azure near the Monte Carlo Casino when she doubled-down on a nearby Mercedes-Benz S-Class. That scrape led to the Azure meeting a Ferrari 430, Aston Martin Rapide and Porsche 911.

For the drooling bodyshop owners reading along, the UK's Daily Mail notes this collision involves over a million dollars worth of machinery. Total damage estimates are reportedly much more modest, however, somewhere in the neighborhood of $65,000, but judging by some of the pictures we've seen, such estimates seems laughably low.

A follow up to that story, published by Jalopnik, describes a $24,000 fender bender repair applied to a Maybach 62. Now obviously, the vast majority of Americans, including those reading this blog, don't have the obscene amounts of money required to buy those cars, and if they did, probably $24,000 isn't going to cause them financial hardship or even inconvenience.

But even more reasonably priced luxury cars carry inflated costs for parts and repairs that downmarket cars don't share. I don't have any statistics to back me up here, but I've heard enough cringe-inducing anecdotes from friends who drive luxury vehicles to know that the few hundred dollars it cost me to repair the last body damage I had on my car wouldn't get me too far with a Mercedes or Cadillac.

Because auto insurers have to bear those inflated costs for repairing luxury vehicles, they pass that cost onto drivers. And these higher insurance costs, along with oil changes costing hundreds of dollars and all the other costs discussed above, are what luxury car buyers need to prepare themselves for. If people can afford it and think they get enough enjoyment out of such a car to justify the cost, then they should go for it, but I personally don't know if repairing a 12-inch dent in a car's bodywork is the best use I can think of for $24,000.

What do you think? Are ultra-luxury cars worth the cost to own and operate?

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2 Comments
John pitha
August 01, 2011 at 8:28 am

If you own any of the cars described, you could drive them off a pier without damaging your portfolio very much