What the truly rich drive

User Forum Topic
Submitted by mydogsarelazy on September 27, 2006 - 9:12am

Hello Everyone,

In the spirit of continuing to provide spirited off topic forums with high entertainment value, I have a question for you all...

Have you had encounters with the truly rich, and what do they drive?

This is an offshoot of the thread on Financial Wisdom for under 30's, since I took some heat for saying that "flash" should be avoided.

Over the years, having worked in the art field, I have been acquainted with a few very wealthy folks, and have noticed their cars. My sense is that Hollywood types do go for "flash" -- for example I saw Bruce Willis in Malibu not long ago in an outrageous Yellow Ferrari -- but that the truly rich avoid showy cars.

Here are some car memories I have:

Norman Lear, in the late 70's, drove to work in a 1963 VW beetle.

Eli Broad, in the early 80's drove a ten year old Mercedes 280 SE. Nothing fancy, but well taken care of.

A friend of mine was rear ended by Rupert
Murdoch in LA a few years ago -- he was very apologetic and took care of the repair bill quickly -- and she reports he was in a Camry.

Your car sightings please...


Submitted by vegasrenter on September 27, 2006 - 9:19am.

Rich people in small Texas towns drive old Ford pickup trucks as they cruise through main street checking on all the 100-year-old commercial buildings they own.

Rich people in West Texas drive similar old Ford pickup trucks from section to section (1 section = 1 mile square) of their ranches repairing wells and cattle troughs.

For the record, they buy their blue jeans at WalMart. The only luxury item they spend money on is a nice pair of boots, which become encrusted in cow ____ within days.

I'm not kidding about this.

Submitted by sdrealtor on September 27, 2006 - 9:26am.

The nicest car my very wealthy uncle in FLA (net worth in the deep 8 figures) ever drove was a Maxima.

Submitted by masayako on September 27, 2006 - 9:44am.

My wealthy uncle owns a 1985 civic 4 doors sedan. The car is manual tranny and well maintained. He does not drive daily, only weekends.

He ride public transportation to work in the weekdays.

Well, he is from the far east where driving is not a must.

Submitted by avidsaver on September 27, 2006 - 9:47am.

Doesn't Warren Buffett just drive an ordinary Ford (model unknown)?

Submitted by heavyd on September 27, 2006 - 10:00am.

Warren Buffet generally drives (or more accurately, is driven in) a Lincoln Towncar. In fact, he just donated one to a charity that was sold on Ebay for about $70K. So nothing special there.

A family friend who founded NTAP a decade ago (think he might have been a billionaire for a few days during the height of the tech bubble) drives a Toyota Prius.

Some wealthy people just aren't "car guys". Jay Leno owns literally dozens of cars, whereas I understand Tiger Woods actually drives the Buicks he endorses, which (as a car guy) just blows my mind.

Submitted by JES on September 27, 2006 - 10:13am.

My dream is not to drive a luxury car, but to be the guy who cruises around his 10,000 acre ranch in the Wal Mart jeans driving a pickup truck. I just read the article below about John Walton who died not long ago. He was worth 18 Billion and the 7th richest person in the world, yet lived in a house in what they say is a very average neighborhood in National City. He was also a Medal of Honor and Silver Star receipant in Vietnam!


Submitted by Chrispy on September 27, 2006 - 10:21am.

The owner of the San Diego Reader takes public transportation to work. He started the Reader in his Mission Beach garage 30 years ago and now lives in Coronado. Not a well-known guy outside of San Diego, but I wanted to add a local touch and nearly everyone knows the Reader.

Submitted by an on September 27, 2006 - 10:44am.

There was an article awhile ago on I think CNN about this topic. Bottom line is, wealthy guys don't care about flaunting their money, so if they're car guys, they'll buy cars, if they're not, they don't. Just look at Bill Gates and his 37 cars garage and Jay Leno with a much more impressive collection. A car to some is just a mode of transportation while to others, it's a mode of enjoyment. I personally would eat rice and soy sauce everyday and drive a fun/nice car than eat out everyday and drive a Civic. Different strokes for different folks.

Submitted by Rudy on September 27, 2006 - 11:29am.

New (faux) Wealth is a sickening result of the housing bubble. My wife and I sold our home (of 12 yrs)in '05, choosing to cash out and be patient. We rented in coastal (Santander) Carlsbad, and recently moved to Solana Beach (off Cedros). The difference in cars, lifestyle and attitude is amazing. Carlsbad was full of people who, with a run up of equity believed that they had actually "earned" their new found wealth. The gorging of boob jobs, Escalades, 24" Spinner rims, "you deserve it honey" weekend Porsches, jewelery and $30,000 Harleys, lavish vacations, and everything else that comes with people who don't truly love what they do or where they live, but believe in their "genius". Their children were starting to display the same attitudes.
We were treated as second class (even though our personal wealth and income was well above most in the area, home or not), almost with pity. The arrogance was disturbing.
The atmosphere in Solana has been so refreshing, with people who have owned and loved their homes and community for many years, friendly, with a confidence in their lives. Sure, some had bought in with a flip mentatilty (417 Glencrest is a good example), but the overall atmosphere is actually human.
One other aspect of faux wealth are the kids growing up in it, believing in their "entitlement", and losing the life skills, true satisfaction and awareness that earning, hard work and patience will bring.
The burst will shock more than one generation

Submitted by heavyd on September 27, 2006 - 11:34am.

Great comment about "entitlement" in some of the up and coming communities in Coastal N. County, Rudy. I see a lot more Aston Martins and Lambos here in Carmel Valley than I ever do hanging around in La Jolla and Del Mar.

Submitted by La Jolla Renter on September 27, 2006 - 11:49am.

"the truly rich don't flaunt their money"

If I hear this stupid statement again on piggington, I may have to shoot myself.

This is a silly statement that I usually hear from a "I got a chip on my shoulder cuz I make 150k in San Diego and am very envious when someone drives by in a Ferrari" or some blue blood aristocrat who is jealous they aren't smart enough to start with nothing and make their own money.

Tiger Wood drives a Buick so he is truly rich??? Have you seen his 100 bazillion dollar Yacht.

Bill Gates doesn't flaunt his money... Why not donate his billions anonymously???

Asianautica is right, different folks for different folks...

I am over this post.

Submitted by PerryChase on September 27, 2006 - 1:39pm.

I agree with asianautica and La Jolla Renter. Rich people flaunt their wealth in different ways (cars, houses, power, women, men, museums, maids, chefs, etc...)

BTW, we don't have aristocrats in America, at least not the same as in Europe. It's good enough simply to be rich.

Submitted by speedingpullet on September 27, 2006 - 4:37pm.

Actually, most of the Landed Gentry in the UK are as poor as church mice these days. Just because you have a posh accent, a double-barrelled name and coat of arms doesn't guarantee that you are stinking rich anymore.

OK, your family might own Blenhiem Palace...but what with Estate Taxes and prohibitive maintenance costs, you have to rent the crumbing pile out to the National Trust in perpetuity.
And if the NT is feeling generous, they might allow you to rent one of your own coachhouses, or gardener's cottages for a nominal fee.

Submitted by jg on September 27, 2006 - 5:07pm.

JES, I didn't find John Walton's name on the MOH list. I think that you may have mistakenly keyed on John Walton Collier, who was awarded the MOH posthumously for Korean War service.


When John Walton passed away, I remember reading about him serving nobly in Vietnam (as a medic?), but I don't remember heroic citations attached to him.

To teach my kids the meaning of Memorial Day, we go to Fort Rosecrans on that day and read the citations posted on select MOH recipients.  Sad but edifying.

Submitted by avidsaver on September 27, 2006 - 6:09pm.

I did hear one of the Johnson & Johnson heirs (he made a documentary -- I think -- about the heirs to mega-wealth in the U.S.) mention that it was taboo in their family to ever mention money. My impression was that those who had THAT much money -- old money -- were less inclined to flaunt it. Tiger Woods wouldn't be a good example in this category.

Having said that, it seems like the conversation may have offended someone (La Jolla Renter), and I'm not sure why...

I really don't know what the truly rich do though because we don't really hang out LOL!

Submitted by avidsaver on September 27, 2006 - 6:11pm.

On another note... I do remember that the first time I read "The Millionaire Next Door," my coworker and I said, "that doesn't sound like fun!" If I had that much $$ I would want to buy more stuff (read: flaunt it more than they do)... Ok, please don't torture me for that confession -- it was a LONG time ago. But I'm still not the millionaire next door.

Submitted by PerryChase on September 27, 2006 - 7:09pm.

speedingbullet, do you think that USA or UK is more class concious? I haven't figured this out yet.

I feel that in USA, class is a function of money, whereas in UK class is more of function of birth and upbringing.

I noticed that in Europe, rich people drive older, smaller cars but they live in nicer homes, in the best neighborhoods, that have been passed down the generations. Rich Europeans would never think of moving to brand new master planned communities in the suburbs.

Rich Europeans also dress better than Americans. In my view, they have better taste when it comes to fashion and the arts.

Middle-middle and lower-middle Europeans look more ragged than their American counterparts.

Just my observations. I don't know if I'm correct.

Submitted by speedingpullet on September 27, 2006 - 7:58pm.

Interesting point, PerryChase.

While class distinctions are still very important in the UK (most English people can tell which class you're from, and where you were born/brought up, almost before you've finished a sentence, its that ingrained), after WWII the rise of the middle class has lead to less emphsis on it, and more on material wealth.

for instance, most people in London and the surrounding area speak, in what my mum used to call "Estuarine English", ie sort of a watered down Cockney, so its difficult to tell exactly what class younger people belong to by thier speach. I know, I'm one of them - despite growing up in the affluent middle class suburb of Putney, years of living in South East London has given me the sort of accent you'd expect from an extra on "Eastenders".

You're right in the fact that the very rich tend to be much more understated, but the stuff they have tends to be of better quality. And people tend to hang on to houses - especially in the posher areas of London - and pass them on to thier kids. This is "old" money, so they don't feel the need to show it off.

Having said that, Margaret Thatcher lives in a newish Gated Community in South London, but they certainly don't build McMansions in London, simply because there's not the land to do it.

Of course, the younger generations do like a bit of Bling!, but on the whole people are wary of too much showing off. Despite being class-ridden, there's still a strong undercurrent of Soci-alism in the UK that finds ostentatious displays of wealth tacky and in-your-face. But, then again, there's David and Victoria Beckham, so who knows...

But, I'm sure its much the same in France, too, n'est ce pas?

Submitted by lewman on September 27, 2006 - 10:06pm.

I'm not rich and chances are, unfortunately, I'll probably never reach this staus in this life. But I don't think there's anything wrong with showing it off. Afterall that's what capitalism is all about. Work hard, get rich, then play hard. Of course there're those lucky ones that inherit it but chances are they did something really good in their past lives !!!!

So my strategy is to be borne rich in my next life by doing good in this one ha ha ha ...

Submitted by bubba99 on September 28, 2006 - 4:28pm.

To those of us who are car guys, the car is not a symbol of wealth, but rather an object of affection. The sound of a Ferrari, or the handling of a Porsche on a complex road course is itself the reward. The price is just the cost of admission to the ride.

Weekend Porsches are not practical for daily drivers. Those of us who love our cars cannot park them next to a hoopdy and let the doors get dented and scratched. The car versus another investment is just a choice. The money will do me no good in 30 or 40 years, but the memories may still be there.

I don’t think I would be a good idea to trade my Porsche for acceptance by those who cannot afford, or cannot allow themselves any real treats in life.

Submitted by sdrealtor on September 28, 2006 - 5:32pm.

And that is different than a home in what way?

Submitted by an on September 28, 2006 - 5:59pm.

If you truly love your home like car guys love our cars, then there's absolutely no difference, except the fact is it's a much bigger cost of entry. It's like buying an Enzo. Aren't we all comparing buying vs renting? So buying a car or a house is the same and leasing a car is similar to renting a house. If you keep the car for more than 2-3 years, it's cheaper to buy than lease. If you buy a house, in 2-3 years, you'll spend a lot more if you bought than rent. We all need a car just like we all need a shelter. We all can live in a 2 bedroom condo/apartment just like we all can drive around Civic.

So for those who say rich people don't flaunt, I say, everybody flaunt. If they don't, they'd be living in a small condo or small house in the middle of nowhere and donate all their money to charity already. The fact is, everyone have a hobble and certain things in life bring them joy, regardless of the $ cost. So if houses bring you joy then, great. For other cars bring them joy. Not everybody buy cars to flaunt. For a car guy, we all wouldn't mind buying a $10k Toyota if it can handle like a Porsche and look as good as a Ferrari.

Submitted by PerryChase on September 28, 2006 - 6:14pm.

It's true, different strokes for different folks.

I could live in a nicer house. But I'd rather spend my money traveling around the world. I could also be saving that money or donating it to charity. Or if I worked even harder, I could buy an even greater house and spend all my time beautifying it. But then I would work to feed the real estate related industries and I wouldn't have time to kick back.

My brothers drive nice cars but I'm not interested at all in cars so I just drive the hand-me-downs. They don't charge me, so I never have car expenses. :)

Submitted by zk on September 28, 2006 - 8:58pm.

I saw Johnny Carson driving a MB 350SL convertible, green with a black top, in 1978.

I've seen a few rich guys (Jeff Dunham, some pro athletes) driving Hummers. Real Hummers, the kind you can drive over large boulders. Not H2s or H3s, where they took out all the real Hummer stuff except the ugly. If it weren't for status-conscious people, I don't think they'd sell any H2s or H3s. No more sporty or utile than your average sport utility vehicle, but a hell of a lot uglier. And yet, in the eyes of many, they elevate one's status. I don't get it. Makes you look like a dumbass to me.

I think if a guy is driving around in a $250,000 Aston-Martin, he'd have to either be at least borderline rich or have his priorities completely out of whack. I've seen a few of those around. The most beautiful cars in the world, if you ask me.

I'm a little bit of a car guy (damn I miss my '67 GTO convertible), but I can't see spending much of the money from the sale of my house on one. Sure, I could buy an Aston-Martin or a Ferrari. But then I'd be a dumbass. I admit that with my windfall I decided to buy a V8 4Runner instead of the previously planned 4 Cyl Camry (nothing will make you feel less like a car guy than driving a 4 Cyl Camry). But that's all I bought, and even that made me feel a tad careless with my money.

Submitted by LookoutBelow on September 29, 2006 - 9:00am.

The "Truly Rich" dont drive...They are driven. The "wealthy" drive pretty subdued whips most of the time. The "Noveau Riche" drive all the flash and blingmobiles....Purple Lambo's, Screaming Yellow Ferarri's...etc. Sometimes really wealthy people do drive flash-mobiles too, depends on their M.O. Some very rich people WANT and must have the attention that goes with the Yellow Ferarri. 

And then there's guy's like me, I generally dont car what anybody really thinks, I drive a new black Escalade with the big wheels. I put up with the occaisional "Stink Eye" I get from the electric car toyota Prius/john kerry bumper sticker types at red lights, everytime I see one of those, it reminds me to thank them for me being able to burn up their fair share of gas that they wont be needing...LOL......The "Slade" handles about 10 times better than my previous Denali and contains at least a whole forest of "Plastic colored faux wood"

I imagine an entire South American PLASTIC rain forest was demolished just for my dash board. As it should be. I also love the smell of leather.

 I am a car guy. Proud of it too. I know what a fun experience driving a well designed, superior performance automobile is like and truly enjoy it, much like some of my other friends enjoy dining and blowing a ton of money on "over the top dinners" at fancy restaruants.

Memories of lifes experiences are all you get to take with you to your deathbed. Dont ever fool yourselves into thinking otherwise.

I would feel horrible if I drove a 4 cyl. Camry and died with 4-1/2 million in the bank. I wont have to worry about that though, Iam going to run out of money, idea's, Pro V1 golf balls, surf wax, gasoline, cigarettes, vision and viagra all at the same time in about 35 years or so if all goes according to plan. LOL !!! Life is not that serious for me, Iam trying to enjoy myself now, this country is doomed and we have a 7 billion person problem in the world...I see no easy way out. So ? Enjoy the ride Amigo's


Submitted by LookoutBelow on September 29, 2006 - 9:12am.

I may have to take up some more dangerous activities however, last month my doctor informs me Iam in great shape. I Dont want to screw up my finances/experiences ratio......LOL !!!!

Maybe I'll get into auto racing ? That would be a hell of an experience, its expensive and it can be mucho dangerous too.  Perfect.

What Iam saying is this: Do what makes YOU happy, to hell with appearences, as long as its not hurting anyone and its not illegal, go for it.

Extra points are given for "experiencing" this gift of life.  Regrets are the first sign of a failing grade in "Life 101" 


Submitted by zk on September 29, 2006 - 4:34pm.

"Do what makes YOU happy, to hell with appearences, as long as its not hurting anyone and its not illegal, go for it.

I totally concur with that.

"I would feel horrible if I drove a 4 cyl. Camry and died with 4-1/2 million in the bank."

If I had anywhere near 4 1/2 million in the bank, I wouldn't think of driving a 4cyl camry. Or a V8 4Runner. Or a 'Slade for that matter. So many to choose from, but I think I'd drive an Aston Martin V12 Vanquish. Just looking at that car is a feast. But, with a 5-year-old and a wife to think about, and being upper middle class, I can't have everything, and I figure I'll settle for the Toyota and save our money for our eventual new house and more piano and skating lessons and vacations.

If I were super rich, I'd have about a hundred cars. Lots of '60s muscle cars, lots of supercars, a race car or two and assorted others.

What would you all drive?

Submitted by an on September 29, 2006 - 5:08pm.

As a car guy, if I have millions to spend, I'd definitely get a R34 GT-R, Supra TT, NSX-T, MR-2 Spyder and the new 335i as daily driver. Of course, those will be modded to my heart content so even a Vanquish would feel slow after I done modding these cars. But that's just my dream. Reality, I'll probably be driving my G35 for the next 10-15 years and who knows what nice cars will be out by then.

Submitted by bubble_contagion on September 29, 2006 - 6:19pm.

The truly rich don't drive. They are driven.

Submitted by an on September 29, 2006 - 7:24pm.

Bill Gate must not be truly rich then since he probably has more car than most. 37 car garage to start at his main house. He take his Porsche to the track and salt flat periodically.

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