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Tuesday, 16 October 2018


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Cars are deeply tied to American identity, so people buy the car representing their aspirations a lot. Also they're so vastly cheaper than a fancy house that more people can show their colors that way.

Let's see; I've owned 5 cars since 1977 (and there were two quick turnovers early on caused by job switches, first I got a job that came with a company car, then moved to an engineering job in the same company that didn't come with a company car). One completely unnecessary frivolous purchase (GTI in 1986; didn't like the car I had previously very much at at all). Also owned a share of a van for a few years in the early 1980s. Only one of all those bought used (the van).

For cameras I've been in 6 systems since 1969 if you count Nikon AF separately (which maybe you shouldn't; then again several of my AF lenses wouldn't work on consumer-level AF bodies by the end, and my G lenses weren't much use on manual bodies; also I left Nikon manual-focus for Olympus and came back to Nikon AF later, so that makes it more of a transition in my head). Plus three medium-format non-system cameras and a 4x5. Plus 6 or so snapshot cameras. Plus three snapshot cameras from before 1969 (hand-me-downs or gifts, I couldn't buy my own cameras that far back).

Since I have really never "needed" a camera, I can't very well choose them by buying only what I need. I've made some modest number of thousands of dollars over 50 years, but it's never been a significant portion of my income, or even come anywhere close to paying its own costs. But I do think I've chosen my cameras to do things I'm actually doing, or at the very most optimistic to try things I think I might like doing.

To reinforce your point, take any car and look at the advertised base price for the model, the .'....from $xx,xxxx' price , then look at all the optioned up variants on the dealer's lot--in some cars the 'swing is more than 20 k in 'options'
What is more dealers rarely stock cars that don't have lots of options.
And if there is a single option that you need, chances are it is only available as part of a 'Package'
....Live in , say, Wisconsin and just want heated seats for the cold winters, you'll probably have to buy the 'Rich Corinthian Leather' too.
The profit margin on 'up-sells' is very large.

I have owned FIVE Chevy Suburban/ GMC Yukon XL's in my life.
With 4 kids and a weekend house it was always the ideal second car for us. A cross between a Pick up truck and a Van, and more practical than either for families.
Of the 5 I loved 4 of them. With the last one I made the mistake you write about, I bought a GMC Yukon XL Denali, part of the package was a 400+ HP engine. I loved it for 1 year then its 12mpg took a toll. After that all the power everything started to break, one by one.
Then it began quitting on me, --the dashboard that looked like the great white way would go black and the car would die.
I finally just got rid of it.
GM Took one of the greatest vehicles America has produced and turned it into a living room on wheels. I think I paid 70k for the privilege.
They make an Cadillac escalade version with even more stuff glued to what was once a wonderful utility vehicle. I'm told you can spend six figures for that privilege.
Now I drive a BMW X5, my wife drives a Mini convertible, and I bought a Ford 6 passenger work truck for all the gardening, building, and schlepping between houses. It doesn't have a heated steering wheel, power fold exterior mirrors, climate control etc, but gets 22MPG on the highway and hasn't broken in the two years I've had it.

Mike, I titled 40 cars in 40 years - certainly not anywhere near a record. If you grew up in Detroit in the '50's and '60's, cars ain't likely to be about the money.

I'm semi-retired now and the two vehicles we have now will have to last awhile - but but my wife and I have fond memories of running 'pavement rippers' on Woodward Avenue in the late '60's and experiencing my first brand new car (a BLM Triumph Spitfire) on Michigan's twisty back roads. With the anemic 4 cylinder engine you could drive one 10/10ths and not worry about traffic tickets. My wife learned to drive a stick in that car.

Full-sized pickups, station wagons that would hold 9 people or a load of 4x8 'sheetrock', a Renault R10 that was the oddest little car...a 1964 Pontiac that proved that it would outrun a 327 Corvette...a 1958 Thunderbird that had the automatic trans replaced with a four speed manual (my wife couldn't get the clutch to the floor)...always something new to try. It was rarely about transportation (although we did own two mini-vans when the kids were small. I try not to think about that).

But 'serious' cameras (not including the Instamatic or Swinger types)? - I've "titled" 8
since 1969. (One, a Nikon FM10 I bought thinking I'd go back to film...and gave it away along with some decent lenses shortly after. I counted that among the 8, but never shot a complete roll of film...).

9 frames-per-second just can't compete with a 13 second quarter mile. You may have a Leica takin' photos in the pits, but it's the guys drivin' the cars that get the attention of the ladies.

; - )

Best regards,


'Number anchoring' plays a large part in decision making when making purchases, due to the effect on cognitive bias.

Which is applicable to both car and camera buying.

Anyone who buys a new car deserves to pay the "stupid tax" aka known as drive it off the lot depreciation.

[Actually, the same author says you can make a mistake assuming used is better. He says people often overpay for used cars and forget to account for discounts to new ones. He gave an example of someone who paid as much for a used car as a new one cost.

I find with most things, there's no one size fits all rule. You have to deal with things on a case by case basis. --Mike]

Is there something going on here ? You've recently written about car mags and supercars and about not overbuying, interwoven with posts about the Zeiss ZX1 and Tamron Opera and Zeiss Batis lenses. I don't know whether I should view it as a double standard or ironic commentary.

Cars owned from 1957 to 2018'
New =2
Used = 9

Cameras owned from 1964 to 2018.
New = 5
Used = 3

Cars in 30 years.
Used - 1
New - 2

Each new registration year in the UK, dealers preregister a bunch of cars and give them to employees as company cars, then sell them as second hand after 6-12 months.

My last car was just such a model. 9 months old, 5,000 miles up and 35% off the best discount new price I could find but as good as a new car. Ten years later it still looks it. Total cost of depreciation since I bought it has been far less than fuel, insurance and servicing.

It will last me another 10 years and 150k according to my mechanic, who asked for first refusal if I ever decided to sell it.

Our cars since 1968 (all new except when noted):

1. 68 roadrunner
2. 60 thunderbird used
3. 73 nova
4. 74 Audi fox
5. 78 BMW 530i
6. 79 volvo diesel
7. 80 MBZ diesel
8. 81 Chevy suburban
9. 82 MBZ 300d
10. 83 911 cream
11. 84 BMW 320i
12. 86 Porsche 928 gold
13. 87 911 red
14. 9x mustang
15. 9x Explorer
16. 92 MBZ 500
17. 92 911 red
18. 9x jaguar Xj8
19. 9x Tahoe
20. 9x MBZ 430 sport Black
21. 97 911 silver
22. 98 BMW 540i sport
23. 99 BMW M5
24. 99 Ferrari 550
25. 20xx BMW x5
26. 20xx explorer
27. 2005 BMW 645i
28. 20xx Prius
29. 2005 Kirkham cobra (used)
30. 2006 corvette Z06
31. 2009 BMW 335d
32. 2011 mustang boss 302
33. 20xx Prius
34. 2011 highlander
35. 2011 BMW 335d
36. 2010 Aston Martin (used demo)
37. 2014 MBZ E250 Bluetec
38. 2015 MBZ GLK250 BT
39. 2014 BMW i3
40. 2016 Porsche Cayman S
41. 2017 Porsche Carrera S

1. 64 Mustang - I know Mustang started with 65 model, however mine was one of the earliest and was different than those sold in 1965. - used
2. Mid 70's Plymouth Duster - aka green turd - used
3. Dodge Aspen station wagon (second car so I could work out of state for the summer) - aka brown turd - used
4. 85 Nissan Pulsar NX - new.
5. 89 Subaru station wagon - new (for the wife)
6. 95 Eagle Talon - new (replaced Pulsar NX)
7. 02 Jaguar X-Type - new (replaced Subaru Station Wagon)
8. 08 Subaru Impreza hatch back (replaced Talon) new only car we have now.
All of these cars had well over 100,000 miles when they were removed from my possession.

1. Brownie Box (my mom's actually acquired it after she passed)
2. Petri Hi-Lite
3. Fujica ST-801
4. Fujica ST-901
5. Fujica AZ-1 (with auto-winder)
6. Polaroid SX-70
7. Olympus XA
8. Pentax SF-1
9. Toshiba PDM (2 Mp)
10. Pentax *ist Ds
11. Pentax K10D
12. Pentax K20D
13. Pentax K-3II
Acquired after parents passing:
Nikon 35mm, Kodak folding (120 film), Speedgraphic, Calumet 4x5 monorail.

I got my first car when I was 16. Here’s my list: ( I am 56 now )

1- 1967 VW Beetle.
2- 1975 VW Beetle.
3- 1982 VW Golf.
4- 1989 VW Jetta.
5- 2001 Astra.
6- 2012 Mercedes Benz.

My hands down favorite is the Astra. Had to sell it because I moved to another continent.

I've reached 30 years of car ownership and am on my fourth car, all 1200cc or 1300cc hatchbacks. The previous one, a VW Polo, went to the scrap yard just shy of its 25th birthday. In my view a car is a utilitarian box to transport me and my stuff (and latterly my family) from A to B in relative comfort. Nothing more.

In my 20s and early 30s I spent more on motorbikes than I've spent on cars my entire life but they were far more fun. I'd do it again. Cars are boring in comparison.

This is getting obscene. Life lists are a bit that way, I guess. But Cars, as best I can recall:

in high school: '52 Ford, 49 Chevvy with Pontiac 6 engine, English Ford (kept thru college)
in Grad school and after, total of 12 years: Volvo 533 (looked like a prewar Ford sedan)
subsequently supporting two of us:
Used Dodge van roughly 1960's, 2 1971 or 72 Subarus, one sedan and one station wagon (the latter burned during dealer service)
Isuzu Trooper vintage 1980
Ford Probe vintage 1994
ugly old Toyota wagon, donation from friends
Since moving to Israel:
Mitsubishi, donation from family
Mazda 303-equivalent
Mazda Premacy minivan 5 seat
Ford Explorer 2000-vintage one year in Boston area
Mazda 5 minivan 7 seat
Hyundai i20

So that is 16 cars spread over 100 driver-years.

Now Cameras:
Nikon F and FTN
Leica M2
some kinda 1990s Nikon point 'N shoot (film)
Late Cambrian Hitachi and Ricoh digitals
Olympus C2000
Nikon Coolpix circa 2000 2-4 MPx (2 of them)
Olympus E1 and E3 (stolen)
Leica M8 (3 or them, one always worked) one left
Leica M9 (2) one left
Olympus EPL-5, EP-5, OM-D5.2 (2), OM-D1, 1.2
Leica M240 (2) one left
Fuji X-Pro2, X-T2
Leica M10
Leica CL
Leica SL (2)

That's 30 cameras. Cameras win. Cars are just not fun anymore.

Add to the cameras, three purchased during a slow period in digital evolution:

Fuji X-Pan II
Hasselblad 500 CM
Hasselblad SWC

and I have some lenses .

I haven't owned a car since the 80's. It's fantastic.

7 cars (34 years of driving), and 9 cameras (40 years of taking pictures). I try to buy better than adekvat and then use it well for a long time. If it wasn't for digital I would probably still be on my 4th or 5th camera. :-)

Sorry to leave you speechless Mike!

This post reminded me of a passage in my book (near publication)- the book inspired by your post a few months ago about your writing projects. Here are the two paragraphs:

"Are you old enough to remember the ads the Infiniti car brand ran when Nissan introduced it as their premier brand? A very expensive campaign was created by a famous ad agency based on “zen imagery”. In the business, it was called the “rocks and trees” campaign. They waited forever to introduce the cars in the ads. Furthermore, their proposition was that luxury was defined not by cost or prestige but how something satisfies “your inner sense of well being.” It was called “conspicuously inconspicuous consumption.” How delusional can that be? Most people buy luxury cars to impress others, so they want conspicuous cars to be really conspicuous – how many Lexuses have you seen with gold-plated logos? Maybe Infiniti thought their enormous brand emblem would do that, but it was too big, ugly and looked too much like an ornate belt buckle on a cross country trucker.

Back in the 1960s, there were a number of high performance cars based on American V-8 engines and European bodies. Most were aimed at Ferrari and all but one failed. Why? Two things were involved: it was not a Ferrari with their history of racing success and two most cost less than half as much as a Ferrari. Buyers wanted a real Ferrari and they wanted to be sure people knew how much they paid for their car so they would be impressed. Only one of these American/European hybrids succeeded, the Shelby Cobra of course, because they raced and beat Ferrari on their home turf. "

Crap. Lessee... (in order of acquisition)

1970 VW Bus Campmobile
1970 Olds Cutlass
1974 GMC Pickup
1976 Toyota Corolla (aka the Killer Corolla)
1984 Ford Pickup
1984 Audi 5000
1987 Audi 5000
1990 Jeep Cherokee
1993 Eagle Vision TSI
1994 Jeep Grand Cherokee
1996 Infinity I30
2001 Subaru Outback
1990 Toyota Hi-Lux
1973 GMC Motor Home
2005 Subaru Outback
1995 Toyota T100
2009 Ford Flex
2014 Ford Flex

These do not include my wife’s cars.

I don’t think I overbought any of them. They were all paid for and only once or twice did I find myself holding onto a car for longer than I wanted because of finances.

I still have the two Toyota trucks, the latest Flex, and the GMC Motor Home.

Cameras have been fewer, by a little. Watches, more numerous. Bicycles, fewer but still grossly abundant. Lenses are the king of all—easily well over a hundred. Unlike cars, though, I still have every one of those other items I’ve ever owned. I know, I know.

I've got a friend who is in his 40s and has owned over 140 cars. He's a brilliant mechanic and racer, he's just got a severe case of auto ADD. He's not a hoarder, he rarely ever owns more than 2 cars at a time.

Drivers licence since march 1969.

My cars.
Bought 2 new.

‘61 Opel Rekord
‘63 VW 1200
‘64 Fiat 1100
‘65 VW 1200
‘69 Citroën AK 400
‘71 Volvo 142
‘76 Renault 5 GTL
‘77 Renault 16
‘80 Opel Ascona
‘81 Opel Ascona Diesel
‘84 Suzuki Alto
‘86 Ford Escort Diesel
‘86 Opel Rekord Caravan
‘84 Mercedes 200Diesel
‘87 BMW 524 Diesel
‘91 Subaru Legacy
‘88 Honda Civic
‘90 Honda Accord
‘93 Mercedes 200
‘03 Ford Mondeo
‘09 Toyota Aygo

The camera bag I take with me is always more valuable than the car I put it in. Not to mention what I leave at home.

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