Many car fanatics choose buy older performance models from BMW, Mercedes, Audi, Subaru, Acuras for their M Cars, AMG, S-line, STI, and Type-S high performance models. They can be had for a fraction of the cost from when they were new and still offer amazing acceleration, braking, and handling dynamics. All that cheap performance does come at a cost, which was reflected on the price of the car back when it was new. Now you have to ask yourself, “Why was I able to buy this 2008 BMW M5 with a V10 engine, and 500 horsepower for about $10,000?” The real answer would be along the lines of, you bought it for 10 grand and now you’ll have to spend about another 10 to 15 grand to make the car somewhat reliable.
The cost of high horsepower
Top of the line performance models will have more rigorous maintenance schedules than that of your average Toyota Camry or Honda Civic. After these sport models come out of warranty and there are no more free services or repairs, maintenance will start to get ignored. Expensive repairs will pile up and once the owner is tired of the expensive maintenance they will sell the car at a big discount to the next owner. Then each new owner will start by fixing some things that are wrong, but when something new breaks they will sell the car again. Finally a car that was worth $80 grand ten years ago can be purchased for under $10,000, which is a steal. Except for the thousands of dollars the car will probably need once you consider the repair costs to get the car sorted out.
Why the repairs are much more expensive.
Normal wear and tear items will have a higher maintenance cost such as suspension and brakes. Take the BMW 5 Series for example. The standard models will have smaller brake rotors and simpler brake design with single or dual piston sliding calipers. On the top of the line performance oriented M5 the brakes will have significantly larger rotors and the calipers will be Brembo style monoblocks with anywhere from 4 to 8 pistons. These brake components will be significantly more expensive than the ones from a normal BMW 5 series. On the M5 models oil changes require a special synthetic oil which has to be special ordered. They use 10w-60 synthetic, which due to being an uncommon oil weight is much more expensive than common synthetic oils due to it being rare.
Performance cars can also have special suspension components that aren’t shared with lesser models. These are designed differently to handle the extra power the engine makes. They also have wider tires to help with the traction and 0-60 mph times. Larger wider tires are more expensive to replace than smaller and narrower tires. Performance models also have special alignment specs with more aggressive camber to give the car even better handling, but also makes tires wear out faster.
Audi, Subaru, and now even Honda use factory turbo chargers to get more power out of their engines. As fun as turbos can be, there are added costs to that too. Turbos add coolant lines and radiators which add complexity and parts to repairs and maintenance. If a turbo coolant line start leaking and if you neglect to change it you run the risk of damaging the turbos or overheating your engine. On top of everything else performance models have the largest thirstiest engines that will require premium fuel to engine knocking.
Know what you are getting yourself into
Older performance cars can be had for great deals, but you really need to do your research and know what you are getting yourself into. Major maintenance services and common problems are well documented online. Also spend a little more and buy a car with a detailed maintenance history so you know your aren’t getting yourself a car that will need thousands of dollars in repairs. Lastly always invest in a pre-purchase inspection as the seller might be trying to hide a big problem the car might have. All performance comes at a cost and you have to ask yourself if you are willing to pay to play?