Saturday, December 05, 2009

The Time-Value of Money

Earlier this week my parents sent me the original purchase contract for The Triumph. They bought it for just under $5100. It got me thinking: what could you buy with that today?

Adjusting for inflation $5100 in 1974 is equivalent to about $22000 in Dec 2009.

So off we go to Edmunds to see what comparable 2009-model car we can get for our $22000...

Mini Cooper:
A base-model Mini convertible starts at $23,900. Close enough. For that you get 2745lb car with
  • 1.4L I4 engine (114hp, 118lb-ft of torque).
  • 6-speed manual transmission
  • 28/36 mpg
  • Four-wheel ABS
  • Traction control
  • Stability control
  • Front and side air bags
  • 5-star roll-over protection
  • A power convertible top (with remote control)
  • Power windows, door locks, mirrors
  • Air conditioning
  • AM/FM radio with CD-player
(On a completely unrelated note: I saw about 25 original Minis in Redmond this morning. Clearly a club headed out for some fun. Hopefully the 27-degree temps won't cause any problems.)

Pontiac Solstice
A base Solstice is $24,275. (And given the state of Pontiac I bet if you can find a new one you can get it for alot less.) The Solstice is a 2860lb car with
  • 2.4L I4 engine (173hp, 167lb-ft)
  • 5-speed manual transmission
  • 19/25 mpg
  • 4-wheel ABS
  • Trction control
  • Stabilty control
  • Front airbags
  • 5-star roll-over protection
  • Power windows and door locks
  • No air conditioning (it's a $960 option)
  • AM/FM stereo with CD player

Mazda Miata
The Miata starts at $21,750. And that gets you a 2450lbs-reason why I have absolutely no respect for you. Why? Simple. In 1989 (when the convertible was considered nearly dead) Mazda came out with the Miata. By all accounts it was a fun, 2-seat, top-down, toy. Sounds good, right? Then they decided to market it as the "Return of the classic British Roadster". Sorry, no. It's a mass-produced toaster. So I refuse to spend any more time on it.

1974 Triumph TR6
The TR6 is a model of modern technology and innova... okay sorry, I couldn't contain that little laughing fit right there. A TR6 is 2450lbs chunk of iron. What you get is
  • 2.5l I6 engine (104hp, 140lb-ft)
  • 4-speed manual tranmission
  • About 23mpg
  • No ABS (unless it counts as ABS if the braking system doesn't generate enough pressure to lock up the rear drums)
  • Organic traction and stability control (in the form of a gas pedal and steering wheel)
  • 0-star roll-over protection. The windscreen can support about 300 lbs. In a roll-over it will surrender faster than the French.
  • No power door locks, windows, mirrors. Not even power steering.
  • No airbags.
  • No air conditioning
  • AM/FM stereo with 2 speakers strategically placed to play into the drivers right knee and the passengers left knee.

The conclusions:
  1. You can get more bang for your car-dollar today than in 1974.
  2. A Miata is a bad choice unless you're shopping for a victim the local Truck-A-Saurus. [Sunday! Sunday! Sunday!]
  3. If you own a mini you'll have lots of company in Redmond.

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