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You Crashed a $3M Bugatti. Now What? (bloomberg.com)
32 points by lnguyen 16 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 62 comments

> Singh’s insurance policy covered the cost of the repairs; he declines to specify the total amount but says the incident did not increase his monthly premium.

I assume they did so only after the at-fault driver's insurance was maxed out?

If the law would hold me liable for damages to a car worth over about $100K, even if I was 100% at fault, the law is deeply unjust. At some point the act of putting an absurdly expensive car in public is negligent behavior.

> negligent behavior

You know what's much more of a negligent behavior? burning a red light. And you know what's even more valuable than a supercar? A human life.

People can and do put their cars right through houses, which cost much more than $100K. And some houses are situated in spots where people crash into them over and over, like at the end of a T where it isn't visible to a reckless or drunk driver until too late. So wouldn't your logic apply equally to such a house?

If you drive up onto the sidewalk and break both my legs, I would certainly expect you to pay more than $100k if my medical bills came to that. Or more generally, a human life is worth quite a few times more than $100k - does that make it negligent for me to go outside?

I did wonder that, the article didn't actually specify what happened to the Uber driver. Beyond the inevitable heart attack when your stupidity embeds your Honda Civic into the side of a $3m supercar.

I've noticed that as the price of a car goes up, or if its marketed as a "luxury", its complexity and difficulty of repair also goes up disproportionately; this is true also for cars far below $100K. Given things like the placement of consumable parts, it's almost as if they are deliberately designing them for anti-serviceability, so that they can charge more for servicing.

On the other hand, I have an old American car and all the major parts for it --- powertrain, suspension, brakes, etc. --- are still cheap and widely available, even after nearly 5 decades. It's very serviceable and relatively simple, yet still quite comfortable and pleasing to drive; and despite the powerful engine, probably still has better fuel economy than these supercars.

Yes these cars are deliberately designed to be expensive to service and repair. This is even the cars for some “cheaper” cars like some BMWs and Mercedeses.

>This is even the cars for some “cheaper” cars like some BMWs and Mercedeses.

I can assure you this applies to even cheaper budget brands like Fiat or Hyundai. Competition between budget brands is a race to the bottom so dealers sell them with very low margins, making most of their money on service costs. But you don't know or expect that when you're buying your budget car, you just look at the sticker price.

On my older Fiat I could easily replace the filters myself in less than a minute by undoing some clips. Not on the new models where they use a weird bolt that none of my wrenches work. But guess what, the dealer has the wrench set that works. Funny, huh?

>Given things like the placement of consumable parts, it's almost as if they are deliberately designing them for anti-serviceability, so that they can charge more for servicing.

Same applies for apple products only that supercars aren't filling the landfills like tech products are. Supercars are like a swiss watch, they'll always be repaired even when completely damaged, never thrown away.

I know this is a low-substance observation that lots of people are thinking already but why the fuck would you buy a $2MM car?

If you have $100M the car is still a lower fraction of your net worth than for most people. Also I would consider a car like that to be more like a piece of art, something you have because it's nice. Like a mansion. Nobody needs a mansion.

Also, there are diminishing returns to having a high net worth, i.e. every successive 2x increment matters less. No surprise there are goods on the market that are trying to counter this effect.

And I'm not even sure all of this is "evil". Italy wouldn't look anywhere near this nice if the rich people of the past hadn't splurged big on status symbols. Even in the United States where philanthropy is included in the portfolio of status symbols (or perhaps is even the major status symbol) you can see the positive effects. What Rockefeller did with much of his money was good and useful.

I didn't call it evil. I mean to say it's baffling. A mansion makes sense! I don't want one but see the appeal: it's extremely durable, can be handed down for generations, can potentially improve day-to-day quality of life in a number of ways. I literally don't see what a $2MM car gets you than a $500k car doesn't.

> I literally don't see what a $2MM car gets you than a $500k car doesn't.

Front line valet placement in LA/NYC/Miami. When everyone has $500k cars, you need to go higher if you want them to keep your car out front. It’s a status thing.

> I literally don't see what a $2MM car gets you than a $500k car doesn't.

$1.5MM in conspicuous consumption. The ability to burn through cash for no practical benefit is how much of our society signals success.

Every beautiful old building, never mind, say, the pyramids, probably represents a lot more relative wealth and suffering than any modern toy of the rich. It's implicit in the amount of hand work you can see in old stuff.

Do you need someone to actually say out loud that they would not build a pyramid like a pharoah? Meanwhile, I just want to know what the actual attraction of a two million dollar car is.

My point is that building a pyramid with thousands of laborers is not a thing you or I are considering. Nor is buying or designing a two million dollar car. These are just things that exist in the world. They might or might not appeal to your sense of aesthetics.

I'm not saying you should somehow suppress it if a $3M car makes you sick to your stomach, like you saw someone punching an orphan. It just seems arbitrary and crazy and I have a creeping horror that more and more people are like this.

Do you think that if someone enjoyed reading about the pyramids, was fascinated with them, and said "yes, I would build a pyramid like a pharoah if I could", that they ought to be sanctioned, punished, or shunned?

Do you feel that way about art too? Most of these cars are more like works of art. Sure as transportation it doesn't give you anything more, just as an original Warhol doesn't give you anything more than a print.

Do you own a house? Those come with non-trivial continuing expenses and time investment to maintain (or more expenses to have someone else manage the work.) I assume a mansion would only scale up in expenses from there. Plus taxes go up too. Perhaps that’s part of the appeal to just spend the money on a car instead. Myself, I’m not much of a car person, and am currently content to rent. Everyone values different things.

What does an $800 meal get you that a $200 meal doesn’t?

Really, probably not much? A $200 meal is already --- except I guess maybe for very high-end Japanese --- pretty much topping out the scale. The Salon at Alinea is ~$200; you can pay $100 more to go from 14 to 18 courses, but, as someone who's eaten at Alinea before, I wouldn't recommend that.

Anthony Bourdain has a whole chapter about the $800-meal phenomenon in NYC in Medium Raw, and, long story short, those people are getting rolled.

To put it in perspective, if you have $10k in your bank account, does $200 seem like that much for a car?

You buy a Bugatti simply so you can say you have one. It's a status symbol. It's an expression of power.

Is it really that much better than a Ferrari F8 with bearer bonds duct taped to the hood?

There's no accounting for taste.

Someone could steal my bonds. They can't steal the roof of my car.

If you have disposable 250k, spending $50k on a car is pretty normal. If you have disposable $100m, spending $2m on a car may not seem that big to the buyer either.

It will probably go up in value and its fun, if you have that much money, so why not?

Because it shows that you have the money to buy a $2M car.

Conspicuous consumption, no more, no less.

because you're rapt in the trap of materialism and run completely by "the devil" (selfishness)

> Aston Martin Vulcan went so far as to include a repair and maintenance clause for all customers, promising that the original technicians and engineers who built the cars would conduct any necessary work.

I guess this clause is null and void in USA?

Are you reading that as you are prevented from working on the car? I took that as a promise that they would be willing to service and repair the car with the same team that originally built the car

If so, they should have said “could” instead of “would”.

I’d be more interested in hearing how people who hit $3M cars avoid bankruptcy.

> Fast-forward five months, and Singh was reunited with the car in Italy

Still faster than some Tesla owners have had to wait for their cars to get fixed. Lengthy and complicated repairs aren't limited to $3M cars.


The solution is quite simple: If you have money to buy a 3m car you can just buy another one(i.e newer model)

And, therefore, a rule: don't buy a supercar if you can afford only one.

1. File insurance claim

2. Get your claim money

3. Premium goes up

4. Buy another one

Usually you dont own a $3m car, your LLC in Montana (no tax state) does. No need to worry about premiums, in case of a crash you use another LLC to buy and insure a new one.

To (most) people commenting and reading this, the question 'why would you pay that much money for a car' is just about context.

To much of non-first world countries, buying an iPhone Pro Max would evoke the same question. That amount of money symbolises food for a long period of time.

Unfortunately your context shifts out a lot. It becomes normalised to buy an iPhone. It becomes normalised to pay a lot of money to buy a house, and if you're lucky enough to build wealth the normality bar just keeps being raised.

And then, poof, you just bought a supercar. Or a Patek Philippe. Or whatever other expensive thing that has no real purpose beyond it's a thing that you like.

I feel the same way with private jets. But a private jet was a completely trivial sum of money for me, maybe I would. Hard to say.

If I could afford either a jet or a Bugatti, there isn't even a question in my mind. Not a moment's hesitation. Jet, jet, jet, jet, and more jet. Heck, even if I could afford both, I think I'd just buy two jets.

You know, for when one's in the shop.

Jets have a lot of overhead to operate, you need to keep it near an airfield, it needs pilots, maintenance, fuel, ...

A Bugatti needs a nice garage and an occasional mechanic, long term costs much less to operate or even just own than a jet.

$3 million is enough money to buy a decent used 8 seater twin engine or an L39 fighter jet and still have $2.5 million left over for thousands and thousands of hours of operations, maintenance, etc.

Hell, it would be enough to buy an F5 supersonic trainer and gun it for a few hundred hours over the ocean

Hmm, if I could afford a $3m car, jet fuel and maintenance would probably not even be on my list of relevant points.

Bizjet? No ta. I could have a lot of fun with a Folland Gnat, Hawker Hunter or L39 Albatross though. My environmental efforts would take a bit of a hit. :)

Same here. I can't see the point in an iPhone Pro Max though. Although I think even if I had $3b I'd rather have an old mark 1 mr2, or an AE86. Or a modern lotus elise.

Just don't accidentally buy a Hachi-Go

Don’t worry, Natsuki can’t tell. ;)

Would you be able to fly your own jet? Because you would be able to drive your own bugatti, immediately. No jet license, jet physical, jet training, jet regulation.

I'm sure if you can buy a jet, the cost of a pilot wouldn't be pennies comparatively. That aside, the point being made above is utility.

The difference between getting an iPhone 11 Pro Max and a $3m car is that the former can be objectively beneficial, if you're someone who uses their phone for business all day long, even a 5% improvement in how efficient you are has significant impact on how much money you make.

A super car, especially in the city, has zero benefits, and if anything it's the opposite in some cases. The only use is showing off and making yourself feel good about it. A jet on the other hand can have significant advantages and as in the iPhone example, really increase your efficiency.

"The only use is showing off and making yourself feel good about it."

Do you never buy anything for visual, tactile, or other aesthetics? Or is that what you mean by "making yourself feel good about it"?

I don't think modern Bugattis are attractive. But that's a personal opinion, like what art you like. Nothing to do with "status" or other peoples' opinions.

I have, but not at such a high cost. I guess if you have billions, 3m$ is equivalent to my 200$ statue purchase.

I have 20/15 vision and I'm sure I could pass the physical. Training and licensing doesn't seem like a big deal; there are lots of pilots and they somehow made it through.

Regulation is definitely heavier than cars — nobody makes you file a flight plan before you drive to the store — but there are tons of private pilots who seem to find it worth enduring in exchange for the fun and freedom of flight.

Besides, I can _already_ drive my own car. A faster car isn't actually much of an upgrade in capabilities.

I think most people require a license and training to drive a car and there are definitely regulations. A PPL (there's no such thing as a jet license in the US, at least) can be knocked out in a month if you're dedicated.

Um... a personal jet starts at 10x the Bugatti price and goes up from there.

Hmm, why not NetJets?

> To much of non-first world countries, buying an iPhone Pro Max would evoke the same question. That amount of money symbolises food for a long period of time.

The median yearly income in the very very poorest countries in the world is $500-1,000. So an iPhone might be 3 years of salary.

Most of these supercars are worth more than what the average American would make over 40 years.

Beyond the fact that rural environments in poorer countries don’t even have the structured economies needed to make some of these comparisons, there are orders of magnitudes differences at play here.

There might be some people who think “if I had that much disposable income why would I spend it on that?” But these aren’t iPhones. These are private jets. They are fundamentally out of reach for everyone and are immense signs of wealth.

There’s surely a bunch of engineering and cool shit to nerd out on from it, but there’s no democratization of the super car. If these companies wanted to they could mass produce and sell at 1/10th the cost. But that defeats the purpose of these cars existing.

>If these companies wanted to they could mass produce and sell at 1/10th the cost. But that defeats the purpose of these cars existing.

I'm not so sure if that would be feasible. In the case of say a limited edition Hurican I don't think there is enough additional engineering cost that can justify doubling the price of a $500k car for special editions, but I'm also not sure if mass production could drop the price for a new one down to $50k. The amount of specialized equipment and expertise involved in building these things are immense: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GVjtpr6LUuE

After all, while the new c8 corvettes have near-supercar levels of performance from a numbers perspective for a $60k car, the exterior and interior quality is so far away from that of supercars and hypercars it's not even funny, and GM is still taking a loss on every 'vette sold. The companies listed in the article just make extremely bespoke and specialized vehicles, and I'm sure mass production would only cause quality control issues. Besides, there really aren't that many people that can afford such expensive toys, mid-tier luxury brands like BMW and Mercedes already have many $100k cars (AMG's and M cars) sitting on lots because of a lack of demand; It's not because people don't want them, they just can't afford them.

Also, note that unlike your regular Honda and Toyota, for many limited-production supercars, their value actually go up over time. So you could argue the 2M car is a better deal than your average family sedan.

Of course, these cars cost a fortune to insure and maintain, and they are absolutely not practical for daily use. I’m just saying the reality is more complicated.

> for many limited-production supercars, their value actually go up over time

It depends.

Daily driver cars are depreciating assets. A supercar in fantastic condition that has little / no miles is an appreciating asset. A Bugatti supercar with 150k miles doesn't really have a large market, so it's likely to take a huge loss to sell in a reasonable amount of time. It might sell faster if it is parted (sometimes rare vehicle owners will pay way over list price to get replacement parts fast so they can get their prized possession working again quickly).

The thing is, there is something about very high end sports cars -- and especially supercars -- that isn't present in most cars: the physicality of it all. Let's forget about "luxury" gizmos and gewgaws, which trickle down into everything over time in a very democratizing way. Everything has that eventually.

-- ----- -----

Do you remember the last time you saw a pre-Aventador (so Murcielago, Diablo, Countach, Miura) V12 Lamborghini hammering down a road at 40+ mph (65+ kph), and not dawdling about looking for attention? If so, you probably remember something you actually felt. In your body. A shockwave, even as a pedestrian, imparted by that V12. It's a lot more real INSIDE the car.

Drive a high-revving (8000+ rpm) mid-engine Ferrari. Once you're well into the depths of what the second camshaft profile offers, there is legitimately a frequency in which vibrations are transmitted into the chassis that will literally make your spine tingle.

Get into a motorsport-derived Porsche. The air-cooled ones have a buzz about them by lacking the insulation of water-jacketing. Though the newer ones, past 7500rpm, twist their sound into a chilling, baleful howl. All while it's telling you exactly. what's. going. on... through its freakish levels of precision and feedback. You can put any knucklehead in a modern proper 911, have them go through a corner at twice the speed they would've normally considered, and the car basically will have made it absolutely clear they can go faster still next go around.

-- ----- -----

There are other things too with materials. Where everything feels fantastic to touch and hold, and some devilish CNC work, machining and precision. Though for very high-end metal (granted, less so in the past 5 years, 10 for some brands) there is a real physicality to the driving experience that gives those cars the "soul" that other cars do not have. Some older more accessible sports and muscle cars have done it similarly well -- older Nissan GT-Rs, some Corvettes, Mitsubishi Evos, RX-7s, some particularly playful compacts and well-sorted muscle cars.

The thing is... as everything else becomes increasingly homogeneous aside from body/character lines, headlamp and grille graphics, interior themeing -- particularly on the power train front -- that is what's going to differentiate manufacturer A from B. The new Porche Taycan Turbo S reviews all laud how brilliant the engineering is, and how well it handles, and how quick it is, and the usual build quality. Well and good. Though all the journalists have admitted that it has no soul, and ergo they just can't really give a rats. "It's nice. It's fast. Buy it if you want it. Cheers." Your Tesla you're so thrilled about? You're going to eventually acclimate to that torque. Then everything will have that torque. Congratulations, that will soon be the new normal... and a very different character (and I'd say less exciting) of torque delivery than other types of cars have offered.

For most people, a "good car" is fine. Great. Focus on comfort, safety, reliability, TCO and emissions. It's the pragmatic choice, and I fault no one for it as it's the correct choice. In fact, I'm a pedestrian and public transit user well over 99% of the time! Though realize that for some of us, we like driving, and doing it in something interesting in ways that is difficult to quantify. Not commuting. Driving. At 3AM in the middle of nowhere. Having an adventure with our good friend: the machine.

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