Dear Tom and Ray:
I'm 24 and about to start business school. The trouble is that I drive a '98 Ford Ranger with 110,000 miles -- not exactly a model known for being an executive's car. I've been looking around online, and I've found some great deals. I've found a '97 Porsche for less than $6,000, and an '87 Alfa Romeo for less than $4,000! This list goes on. My question: Are these great cheap cars, or money pits? — Gareth
Ray: They're money pits. The reason they're cheap is because they'll cost you a fortune to keep running. And even without the benefit of business school, I'm going to recommend that you buy one, because, as a mechanic, I know it'll be good for my business.
Tom: I'd actually encourage you to keep the Ranger. First of all, you're not an executive -- you're a student. So you don't need to impress anybody with your car. You need to impress people with your hard work, your intelligence, your judgment and your creativity.
Ray: Second, the old Ranger pickup makes a better impression than an old Porsche or Alfa. Why? Because it's a better business decision. Would you hire an executive who appears to be careful with his money, or one who wastes his money on expensive, showy accessories? Which guy would you want running your company?
(Car Talk is a nationally syndicated column by automotive experts (and brothers) Tom and Ray Magliozzi. Write to them at the Car Talk website.)