The New Car Itch

An itch you should never scratch!

First of all... Happy New Year! And welcome to 2017! I've been over-eating, over-drinking and building Lego and other assorted children's toys for nearly a week now. It's time to get back to 'adulting'.

One of the jobs I'd planned to tackle early 2017 was the enviable task of finding a suitable replacement for my aging and ailing X-Type. It's the beast from which I make my regular Drive Talk videos. ( It's probably my equal favourite car I've ever owned, alongside my old MX5, but lately it's been suffering from the ill effects of old age.

The aging X-Type

The aging X-Type

It's a bit like that ancient great uncle you have. No, he can't see or hear properly, and yes, he smells of wee a little bit, but he gives you whisky and he's got all these great stories about being in the war. You enjoy spending time in his company, despite the age-related issues.

Every time I have a minor problem with my old X-Type it makes the 'New Car Itch' grow. Lately I've been having a number of problems and the new car itch has been as bad as it's ever been! I even almost bought a BMW 520d M-Sport Saloon, even though they're stupid cars and I hate them!

The BMW 520d M Sport Saloon

The BMW 520d M Sport Saloon

The thing is, unlike your great uncle Cedric, there isn't a nursing home for old cars, where they get looked after by somebody else and you just have to turn up for the nice bits once a week. Cars don't like standing. They need to be ran, regularly.

My X-Type is now worth approximately £1000 - £5000 depending on how I sold or traded it in. To be fair £5000 is probably unrealistic. The only customer who would probably give me my £5000 would probably be somebody either very generous or very stupid. Private sale £3500 would be more realistic, even then it's probably a bit hopeful. It was a > £35,000 car new, and now it's hardly worth trading in! I almost feel like sticking it in a 20' Container for the next half century and let my son inherit it as a barn find!

Here lies the problem, when you're at the bizarre end of the car scale, where you have a car which has almost everything you could want in a car, comfort, space, performance, gadgets... But it's worth nothing - it's very hard to justify shelling out thousands to 'downgrade'.

I don't want a pacific-rim, lawnmower engine powered biscuit tin, with less horsepower than an electric pencil sharpener and an interior less luxurious than solitary confinement at Guantanamo Bay! Yes, it would be cheap. However getting your teeth knocked out by the permanently drunk, permanently angry Geordie that seems to live at the local pub is cheap. Personally I'd cough up and see the dentist instead.

The Dacia Sandero - The automotive equivalent of angry, drunk, Geordie based, 'pub brawl dentistry'.

The Dacia Sandero - The automotive equivalent of angry, drunk, Geordie based, 'pub brawl dentistry'.

Let me give you the example of the BMW 520d M Sport Saloon I nearly bought. It was being offered pre-registered, by a reputable BMW dealer. Non-metallic black with a manual box. They wanted £299 a month for it, the OTR price was discounted by nearly £10,000! To around £25,000? It seemed a LOT of car for the money. It seemed cheap! They'd actually sold out and offered me a silver with an auto box for £349 a month, which is still a good deal... However at this point I slowed down.

Is it a good deal? Yeah it's cheap for what it is, but do I actually want a 520d? I want a BMW 520d about as much as I want Herpes! Not that I spend a lot of time thinking about how much I don't want one, but if offered one - I'd be inclined to say 'No Thanks!'

Why? Well for a starter it's a saloon. I've never owned a saloon, largely because I think they are pointless and stupid. See this article:-

It's also a diesel, which seems stupid to buy at a time when the entire world is planning to ban diesel cars from cities. It's also RWD when I really like AWD. Then there's that super aggressive, almost sociopath image thing. I don't particularly like tailgating people and I don't even own a blue tooth headset! I just don't think I'm a BMW driver. Then of course there's that other reputation BMW's have:-

Of course none of this actually helps me with the 'New Car Itch'. I didn't buy it. I spent countless hours looking at lots of other cars which I don't really want to buy, and still didn't buy any. The problem is, the X-Type is actually a very good car and it's very hard to replace without spending £20,000 plus. I COULD spend the money and get an Audi S4 Avant or similar or I could swap it for a different kind of car and pay out. However I've come to the conclusion it would be a really stupid thing to do!

Why? Take the BMW. Yes I'd have 3 years of trouble-free motoring. (In a car I loathe!) however at the end of those 3 years I'd have lost £10,000 in depreciation. That's about £3333.33 a year. Now my X-Type has it's faults, but if I was budgeting £3333.33 a year for maintenance.... Well I don't know what COULD cost that much to fix. I know I can get the engine replaced for £1000, fitted and I think that's the priciest thing that can go.

Yes you can come up with all the arguments about fuel consumption and safety and not ending up with a car that's worthless, however I don't think any of the arguments stack up. There's really only three valid and reasonable arguments for swapping your car.

1. You want a different type of car - eg, something bigger, smaller, a convertible etc.

2. You hate having to send your car to the garage for repairs and can't do them yourself.

3. You have the new car itch, you have a bankload of money just sitting there, and you don't mind flushing £10,000 down the toilet over the course of 3 years.

I'll be honest I don't really like this conclusion. I really was quite keen on going 'car shopping'. However, in my heart of hearts I know I don't really want a different car. I'd just be changing for the sake of it. I don't think buying a new car can ever be a rational decision, based on economics. It boils down to one thing - you want one and you're prepared to pay for it! I will admit, I REALLY want to scratch my 'new car' itch. However it's a bit like an itchy ball-sack. Yes, it's as annoying as hell and it REALLY makes you want to scratch it, but you know it isn't a good idea and if you can hold off scratching it - it will go away eventually.

Martyn Stanley

[ICT] Irreverent Car Talk :-

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Comments (5)

  • i scratched the itch with a 5 litre v8 and it is bumfudgingly awesome. I take some of your articulated points, but this whole app is dedicated to the joy of motorcars. I am pretty sure the equivalent in any other jurisdiction would not recommend not scratching thier equivalent itches.... monogamy recommendations in playboy anyone? Glad to see you managed to move on and find your new motor :)

      4 years ago
    • Yep! I scratched my itch. Now I've got a new, less expensive itch to scratch the 'See what it's like around a track' itch. Thinking of doing an evening session at Donnington Park. I don't expect it to be fast, but I'm hoping it'll be fun!

        4 years ago
  • Alas, I have to report... I did the deal! I'm a Jaguar driver no more... Well, at least not from some time next week!

      4 years ago
  • Well, here's the thing. I pre-emptively swap it for a 2009 turbo diesel - I spend £8k for anything remotely desireable... Then 6 months down the line the new car develops a problem with the turbo and the particulate filter.... BANG! £1500 bill! That's the price of my car! You'd HAVE to pay it because your asset is worth £5-£7k still. You can't just scrap it then! This way, if my car DIES, I can replace the entire thing identical for £1500 and keep the old one as a spares mule! :P

      4 years ago
  • But when your Jaguar X-Type dies in a cloud of smoke, then methinks buying a new car would be a rational decision. Why not sell it before that sorry state erupts on you?

      4 years ago