Replaced Our Old Car, Got The Best Deal On A Volvo Sports Wagon!

by Silicon Valley Blogger on 2008-08-1422

We wanted to drive our old car to the ground….but something happened.

We’ve got a couple of cars on the older side, both having logged over 100,000 miles each. They still have a lot of life in them and are very well maintained, and this 100K milestone would’ve normally been the time to trade them for new cars. But something about the story of a guy who only owned ONE car in his lifetime rang true to me, and with cash flow tight for us over the last couple of years (and the next few years ahead), we’ve decided to reevaluate our car buying habits recently based on the many voices around the blogosphere that I’ve heard on the subject.

Our car buying plan is now as follows:

  • As much as possible, we plan to drive our cars “to death”, after reading about how much money you can save by doing this: $31,000, according to CNN Money!
  • We’ll be turning to used cars to replace the vehicles we have when the time comes.

For the most part, our cars are in fairly good shape to last a couple more years. But very recently, something unexpected happened. With a relative of mine having just moved to Singapore at the end of July, we received first dibs at his family’s estate sale.

There was something in that estate sale we just couldn’t refuse: A 2006 Volvo V50 Sports Wagon for an awesome price (because we were family, the price was further discounted from the Blue Book value). We’re your typical Japanese auto fans, so a Volvo wasn’t even in our sights. But we know a good deal when we see it. With my spouse’s car beginning to show some wear, the opportunity to replace it for an almost brand-spanking new sports wagon was highly tempting.

Because we really didn’t want to end up driving the roads this way:

old car, drive a used car
Photo by Sneezl

So even though we weren’t expecting to buy a new car anytime soon, this opportunity made us reconsider. We had to make a fairly quick decision about buying the car or the sweet offer would find its way listed on Craigslist instead. It wasn’t much of a no-brainer, following our thought process:

Pros: BUY!

  • Buy the car, it’s barely used!
  • It’s a safe model and perfect for a young family.
  • It’s in perfect condition, with the original car owners being people we know.
  • We’re getting an excellent deal given the value. The previous owners opted for top-of-the-line features (the rest of my family isn’t as frugal as I am).
  • The car is fully loaded and contains cosmetic improvements for that sporty look.
  • Even as 2nd owners, I see ourselves getting pretty good resale value.
  • It’s a roomier and much more attractive car than the one we’re thinking of replacing.


  • We’re not ready to spend money right now.
  • Say bye-bye to a good chunk of change.
  • We didn’t choose the car, it chose us.

The Decision? We took the car for a test run and just fell in love with it. So we ended up buying it. After we sell my husband’s car, we’ll only be out $12,000.

Some sample photos of the car we’ll be “inheriting”:

volvo v50 sportswagon car front, frontal view

volvo v50 sportswagon car dashboard     volvo v50 sportswagon car front seats

volvo v50 sportswagon car back

It goes to show that even if we weren’t proactively looking for a car replacement at this time, sometimes fate intervenes and changes things up. We justified our decision by asking ourselves: what’s a few years? We’ll be spending the same money (or more) for a replacement car in a few years anyway. And deals like this come once in a blue moon. Not to mention that we won’t be dealing with a middleman (dealer) and spending all that extra time and energy shopping around. For the value and minimal hassle, it was just worth spending the money today. My shopping philosophy has always been this:

Cost and price are not everything. Spend the money when it’s good value.

Even if something strikes you as expensive, it may still be a wise move to buy it if the timing is right, it offers good value and it’s a financial move you can afford (without breaking your bank or causing you to go into a spiral of debt doom).

The only one thing I regret from all this is that I will be missing my relative very much. He and his family have been part of our extended family in the Bay Area for over 20 years, and I’d much rather keep our entire family local than anything else. This just means more excuses to travel I suppose!

Image Credit: Thank you to The Family Car Web Magazine for such lovely pictures of the Volvo V50 Sportswagon.

Copyright © 2008 The Digerati Life. All Rights Reserved.

{ 18 comments… read them below or add one }

Frugal Dad August 14, 2008 at 11:39 am

My grandfather (my frugal mentor) set a great example for me on the subject of cars. He owned two vehicles in 34 years. The first (a GMC van) he drove 18 years and over 200,000 miles. The second, his “new” van, was purchased in 1990 and is still being driven by yours truly. He was having trouble getting up and down out of the thing, so he started driving my grandmother’s car after she passed away and gave me his van. It’s now eighteen (model) years old, only has one working speaker, and no heat. I drive that thing like a badge of honor!

The Volvo V50 looks nice–it looks like you guys have made a thoughtful decision, something most fail to do when they get a case of “car fever.”

Scott @ The Passive Dad August 14, 2008 at 6:22 pm

What a beautiful sports car! That is definitely not the old station wagon I remember spending hours driving in as a child.
I’m sure you will get years of driving enjoyment from the Volvo and can easily surpass your 100k goal for this vehicle too. I’ve never owned a Volvo, but they are beautiful looking machines.

Austin Real Estate Broker August 14, 2008 at 6:40 pm

That Volvo looks awesome! I’ve always wanted one, but a friend of mine had an S60 and said that it was nothing but trouble. I suppose there are always those particular cars out of a production run that have issues. I’d love to be able to find a car that will last that long. I’ve been pretty unlucky with cars losing most of them to serious accidents before they were ready to go. Also, as a real estate agent I need to make sure my car is totally reliable and at least somewhat presentable for my clients. Sucks, but it’s part of the job. I want to keep my Jeep Cherokee until it dies, but we’ll see how fate, my dogs, and the gas debacle treats me. 🙂


Kevin August 15, 2008 at 6:21 am

No offense, but calling that a sports car is kind of a stretch.

Joe – I too have a Jeep Cherokee (a 1998) – still can’t believe they stopped making them! – that I’m going to drive until it dies. It is a great truck, mine is at 150,000 miles and going strong. The body and interior still look great as well. Did I mention it’s been paid off for 2 1/2 years?

Silicon Valley Blogger August 15, 2008 at 9:11 am

Thanks folks, for the nice words on the car! I’d say to Kevin, no offense taken! This Volvo is no sports car, though I was using its formal name which is a “Volvo V50 Sportswagon” or is it “Sports Wagon”?

We used to have an authentic sportscar, a Nissan 300ZX but unfortunately we couldn’t fit any kid car seats in those…. 😉

The Digerati Spouse August 16, 2008 at 9:56 pm

A Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo, to be precise 🙂

Silicon Valley Blogger August 16, 2008 at 10:08 pm

Ummmm… okay, spouse. Thanks for the reminder! Good times.

marcel August 18, 2008 at 5:03 am

Although you have struck a very good deal, I think newer cars do not always age as well as older ones did. To put it simply: they don’t make ‘m like they used to. Suppliers to auto manufacturers have been squeezed to the bone, dragging down quality. Nothing is over-engineered any more due to computer optimizations. And, worst of all: these cars are made to make a good impression when new (and on the leasing companies) but they don’t do much for the person wanting to drive the wheels off. Especially the spare parts on the Volvo are costly. Bushings, bearings, injectors, throttle bodies…$$$. I know, because I drive an S60 (180,000 miles)…

I intend to buy an old Audi Coupe as my next car. In that era (’88-’92) they really focused on quality and they do age very well. The spare parts are cheap, and I don’t mind someone banging their door into mine on the parking lot 🙂

Anyway, I wish you a lot of fun with your new car.

Suz August 18, 2008 at 8:52 am

Congradulations on your new car! I’m dedicated to getting 300,000 out of my current car (it’s got over 100,000 already) but I can understand your decision completely.

bigwinner August 18, 2008 at 8:17 pm

Wow, that looks like a cool car! Even better, it’s only a couple of years old so it’s in the sweet spot where most of the price depreciation has already happened but it is still like new.

@ Digerati Spouse: The 300ZX Twin Turbo is a great car, as well as the 350Z. I can’t wait for the new Nissan Z car.

Austin Real Estate Guide August 26, 2008 at 9:58 pm

I think it makes sense to buy a car a few years early if you get a good deal. We bought our first car in about 10 years and we bought brand new. In hindsight it was probably a mistake. It would have been a better idea to get a slightly used car like you did so you don’t lose money driving it off the lot. Live and learn.

Kevin Thompson August 30, 2008 at 7:47 pm

That’s a really cool looking car. Surprised to see Volvo making something so appealing. I’ve decided to keep our car for much longer than I would have otherwise, just because the cost savings are so high.

It is important, like you point out, to shop for value, not just price.

Peter James October 3, 2008 at 3:11 am

ya that was a very used n cheap car.

GTR January 21, 2009 at 9:30 pm

@bigwinner – forget the new Z car – how about the new GTR!

Serj January 28, 2009 at 2:59 am

I agree — a volvo is a car you can rely on! I have one and it’s been great!

shelly wagar March 10, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Volvos are incredible cars, and you got a deal.

Briana February 17, 2010 at 9:21 pm

Volvo is a great car especially for families. Did you know that Volvo invented the first and the safest seat belt system in car history? Plus this is a great car!

Mark November 25, 2010 at 8:45 am

The collection of pictures is great, the first photo looks very odd, but i think it’s kind of cool to have air-conditioned cars like that, that looks so ridiculous. I really enjoyed this article.

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