Can buying cars be considered a form of financial investment in Malaysia?

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This topic has no doubt been explored countless times before and we would not be surprised if we managed to uncover hardcore proponents from various camps of thought. But let’s look at the question again and try to settle with an objective conclusion

Earlier this week, one of our readers stumbled upon a stack of his old car magazines. Most of these magazines were from the early 1980s, where cars were supposedly more affordable. He sent us a few screenshots of car prices from back in the day and we thought it would be a good idea to share this with our readers.

It is interesting to note that the pages from this particular magazine is from 1981; so this is a time from before the Proton Saga was available for sale, air-conditioning was optional, automatic gearboxes were a luxury, and some cars were sold in both 3-door and 5-door configurations. In fact, it was a bit of an eye opener for me, to note the number of cars which were actually locally assembled.

The images above are pretty pixellated (no thanks to WhatsApp) but we picked a few that were clear and have placed them below for easier viewing:

BMW 320 (with a.c.) — $40,937.00
BMW 528i (A) — $72,730.40
Datsun 120Y 5-sp — $13,599.02
Honda Civic 3-dr — $13,484.57
Honda Accord 4-dr (A) — $24,115.60
Honda Prelude — $26,395.60
Mazda 323 1.3 H’back 5-dr — $14,378.64
Mercedes-Benz 280SE (A) — $89,058.38
Mitsubishi Lancer 1400 (A) — $15,541,09
Mitsubishi Colt 1200 GL (3-dr) — $15,021.80
Porsche 911 SC — $117,030.20
Porsche 911 Targa — $123,547.20
Porsche 930 Turbo — $206,434.80
SAAB Turbo 4 — $73,413.50
Toyota Corolla Sedan — $14,152.04
Toyota Starlet — $13,148.20
Volkswagen Golf — $17,458.44

Just for reference sake, a double-storey terrace house in Taman Tun Dr. Ismail would have cost around ~$130,000 back in the early 1980s. Yes, roughly similar money as that fancy Porsche 911.

Today, nearly 40 years later, that same house has an asking price of ~RM1,500,000 while the (arguably) most appreciated car from the above list, the Porsche 930 Turbo, is asking ~RM650,000 more or less. Mind you, not every single car in that list has the ability to appreciate in price; factor in inflation, costs of ownership and other what-nots and most of the cars above are junk today.

Here in Malaysia, and just about everywhere else in the world, cars depreciate over time. This is fact. Granted, there are the few which go against the grain, but buying the right one is always a gamble. And in gambling, you either win or lose. Think about it — can you afford to lose?

Clearly then, on a value time-graph, few assets can pose a challenge to property as a form of financial investment. No, it is not impossible to buy a car and profit from it in the short term (remember the Audi A6 Hybrid and Volkswagen Polo GTI?), but the simple truth is you’ll need deep pockets to make it work. Any Tom, Dick and Harry knows you can make money by reselling steel Rolexes but the harsh reality is that you probably won’t be able to get your hands on one, certainly not at retail prices; unless you are an existing VIP or VVIP customer.

Did you really think the Average Joe could walk into a Pagani or Koenigsegg showroom to place an order, with no previous buying history or provenance? In this league, you’ve gotta be able to pay to play.

Look, there is no fixed formula when it comes to investing your money. No one can predict what happens tomorrow and we’re certainly not experts when it comes to the subject of hedging personal funds. All we’re saying is that you should base your purchases around your life’s needs and wants. And everyone has different priorities, at different stages in their lives.

Let’s say you’re in your thirties and are trying to decide between buying your first home or that sweet Honda S2000, only you know the answer to your ‘dilemma’ — although we would ask that you sit down and discover what your priorities are and focus on your needs over your wants.

Oh, did we also mention that a Porsche 911 Turbo today costs much more than your average house?

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About Author

From supercar spotting on the streets of Kuala Lumpur, Won has moved onto the realms of motoring journalism since 2011. He has a keen eye for automotive photography, a penchant for fast cars, and the occasional hunger for munching corners.

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