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Discussion > Bangernomics [with acknowledgments to the website and book]

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[acknowledgments to ]


"It's a bit like buying an old crappy car. It's starts cheap, but spends most of the time in the workshop costing you a fortune, so you didn't drive much, and your cost per driven mile is staggeringly high. It's the same with the cost of energy when you look at capital expense and operating costs with overall production."

Dec 8, 2014 at 11:49 AM jamesp

Ever since my employer gave me the choice between renewing my company car or being given the money it cost them to run a new car, I have run old crappy cars (same make, similar models) - and recorded every penny spent to compute the cost per mile. The old crappy cars win hands down in cost per mile over new cars.

Read "Bangernomics".
Dec 8, 2014 at 1:43 PM Martin A

Martin A

There have always been two modes of car ownership.

Buy new. You get the latest tech and, once past the teething troubles, better reliability. The price is high depreciation.

Buy old. The initial cost is lower, depreciation is lower but you spend more on repair and maintainance. You also have to accept the odd breakdown.

Many people buy old when young (no capital) and then buy new as finances and status improve.

I agree with you. My cars tend to be bought three or four years old and run until the next MOT pass will cost more than the value of the car. Machismo is no longer a factor, room to carry my models is. Current wheels are a 2006 Zafira bought four years ago.
Dec 8, 2014 at 1:59 PM | Entropic man


Bangernomics rules OK!!!

I run a 12 year old Honda 4x4 with 134K miles, passed last MOT fine but then needed a new clutch 2 months later and an 11 year old copy at 94K which also passed MOT fine but no further problems.

I also recognise it only works when there are new cars bought every year but also its better for someone else to pay the depreciation ;)
Dec 8, 2014 at 3:02 PM Breath of Fresh Air


Dec 8, 2014 at 4:35 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

EM - 2006? That's not a banger, it's hardly out of the showroom.

Have you had bad luck EM, or do you not bother with maintenance? My experience is that breakdowns are no more likely in old cars than new ones - subject to sensible maintenance such as replacing belts at appropriate intervals, plus frequent oil changes.

That is to say that, except for the time when I put petrol in a diesel car, I have never been unable to get home under my own power - despite having driven the equivalent of to the moon and part the way back.

I looked up some past figures. Costs recorded include insurance, fuel, maintenance, consumables, depreciation, loss of interest on capital. But not road tolls, ferry costs.

1984 Volvo 260 (2.8 litre unturbocharged. A usefully nippy car - 155 bhp. Petrol, in UK)
Bought when 10 years old, 101k miles.
25.8p/mile over 67k miles, 5 years.

1997 Volvo 940 (2.3 litre turbocharged, petrol, in UK, bought when two years old, 39k miles)
35 p/mile over 1st year
34 p/mile over 1st two years
33 p/mile over 1st three years
31 p/mile over 1st four years

1995 Volvo 940 2.4 litre diesel bought 2005. ~130k miles when bought. ~ 260k miles now.
[Current car - along with three other cars that get little use]
26 p/mile up to June 2013 (mainly in France).

In each case, fuel has been around half the total cost of running each car.

Dec 8, 2014 at 5:51 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A

Apologies in advance, this is about a female car, not sexist it just is.

My Banger is a Citroen Xantia 1.9TD, one of the last produced. It has an interesting history, I bought it "new" pre-registered as the showrooms were full of HDI models. This was due to be shipped off for auction when I had need of a replacement car. The discount against its original list price was huge. I used it for about 4/5 years and did 90K+ miles before I was forced to swap for a lower mileage car. I used it for work related trips and the company I worked for had a rule about mileage and age of cars used by employees. We used it for holidays in Europe every summer for 5 summers, and the family loved her, the most comfortable car we ever had. After I changed roles I ran an old Mk3 golf and an HDI Xantia in both cases adding about 30K before selling (giving them) to one or other of my sons.

On moving to France we brought our fairly new car with us, planning to use that for at least 10 years. My sons are all petrol-heads who are always scanning eBay for new projects. About 18 months ago they found our old Xantia in one of their trawls through the <£200 bangers. Of course they bought her and on a visit in summer 2013 we were presented with Grandad's birthday present. We had to make a special trip to the UK to bring her back to France. It is now used for local trips and fetching wood, going to the dump and so on. The only restriction being limited mileage insurance.

I get about 50mpg, after importing the only expense to pass the CT were a couple of tyres, an exhaust back box and some headlights at 90€ from a local scrap yard. the most expensive single item in getting the car into the French system was the Certificate of Conformity, ironic for a French built car.

Total mileage is now approaching 170K, and I haven't put any oil in the engine between changes at about 6K miles.

The clutch cable broke at about 90K, the suspension cylinders have been replaced at the front a couple of times and the heater fan speed controller was replaced a couple of months ago.

Both the sons still run project cars as well as newer ones for transporting family, usually BMW E30s which either get sold on after a bit of tarting up, or broken up for spares if beyond economic repair, and that is usually down to a lack of time. One of them is a vehicle re-finisher (paint sprayer) and is really very talented; so the cars usually look better when re-sold.

Dec 8, 2014 at 7:18 PM | Unregistered CommenterSandyS

I used to have a Company car when I worked for Austin Rover, to keep the sales figures up we had to change them every 6 months. Even taking into account the quality issues AR had (and really did have) having a new car every 6 months was a pain, you had the 1000 mile service to get done and then all the teething issues to sort out, every 1000 mile service had a to do list and after the service it was 'sorry sir we did not have the parts in stock to fix the to do list, when we get the parts we can book you in again'. That plus the muppets who filled a cooling system with plain water which then froze 2 weeks later and I said never again. Only good thing was that new car smell you get ;)

Several years later I got company cars again, went with VW's but the last one was worse than all the AR car for breakdowns, 3 in 6 months.

So back to bangernomics, downside is the fuel usage is higher but the lack of depreciation more than makes up for it. Old large luxury models are only just getting run in after 100K miles and good brands have low repair bills, check the warranty spend stats for the private warranty providers for the best models for low repair bills.

Dec 9, 2014 at 11:31 AM | Registered CommenterBreath of Fresh Air


I didn't say I agreed with the Vestas guy, but I thought what he said was revealing!

I'm a great supporter of bangernomics (mostly through necessity, but I'd probably do it anyway). Our last three cars have been Mazdas, two 323F's (1992 and 1997) and a 1994 Xedos, which have been fabulously reliable. Just the last 323 now, with 170k, which cost £500 nearly five years ago. Your comment about oil changes is spot on - my favourite example is this guy, who (being American) changes it every 3000 miles, which he seems to cover in about a fortnight...


Dec 9, 2014 at 1:28 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

"The old crappy cars win hands down in cost per mile over new cars."

And extending the life of cars that most Greens wouldn't be seen dead in is, ironically, much greener!

Has anyone worked out the whole life CO2 footprint of, say, a Nissan Leaf (including a replacement battery half way through)?

Dec 9, 2014 at 5:33 PM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Wow 1,000,000 miles in 15 years is a lot of driving.

Other factors pushing up the cost of new car motoring, in addition to depreciation, are:

- Interest payments, if you are foolish enough to buy a car you don't already have the money for. Even if you do have the money to buy it, you lose the investment income it would yield.

- Premiums for comprehensive insurance.

- Main dealer servicing costs (depending on the deal) - including oil at their prices rather than supermarket prices.

- Spares at Volvo (or other name make) prices, rather than Europart prices (for the same bit by the same maker).

Dec 9, 2014 at 6:26 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A


"a car you don't already have the money for"

IIRC, most new cars on the UK roads are bought on credit or private lease, which is really just an updated 'never-never'.

Still, at least they trickle down to us, with at least some service history and with most of the teething troubles sorted.

I remember a bumper sticker that said: "This car may be old, but it's paid for and it's in front of you". Most of the cars I've had have suffered negligible depreciation, because they only cost a few hundred to begin with!

Dec 10, 2014 at 10:57 AM | Registered Commenterjamesp

Jamesp -

I think the majority of new cars sold in the UK are fleet cars - company and govt - perhaps around 60%. The remaining purchases are private and most will be financed by loans of one sort or another.

The fleet cars are disposed of after two, three, or four years. These force down the price of used cars, with supply essentially exceeding demand. This explains how we can purchase a roadworthy car, with many tens of 000's of miles left in it, for almost nothing.

A consequence of the continual flow of fleet cars into the system is that many essentially roadworthy cars are scrapped for some minor problem - minor accident damage, needing new tyres or what have you.

I can understand the human difficulty of saving for something and the human desire to have a new Audi or BMW in the drive. All the same, in a world with so many rewarding and valuable things to do with cash, paying interest on a loan to buy a rapidly depreciating asset has to be foolishness.

Years back, when I was younger (and even more foolish) than I am now, I bought a couple of BL's products new, helping to keep Red Robbo in a job. I noticed BOFA's comment about AR buying its own cars at the rate of one per six months per company car user. When a company buys its own products to keep the sales figures good, it is a pretty sure sign of its approaching demise.

In contrast....

In around 1987, near San Jose, I saw a metallic blue 1960 Cadillac Coupe de Ville parked in the road with "$4500 OBO" in its windscreen. Except for a missing hubcap, in reasonable shape externally. With the plastic cards in my pocket, I could have gone into a bank, come out with forty $100 bills, closed the deal, driven the car to Oakland and put it in a container to arrive at Southampton two weeks later. How much would it have been worth now? Dunno, but a lot more than $4000. How much are my Austin Maxi's worth today? £0.00 (each).

Dec 10, 2014 at 2:12 PM | Registered CommenterMartin A