The Fanciest Cars Little Money Can Buy : Under30CEO The Fanciest Cars Little Money Can Buy : Under30CEO
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Cheap Luxury Cars for the Entrepreneur

| September 25, 2009 | 28 Comments

So you are a young entrepreneur and you need to look experienced.  It’s time to move up in the world and let it be known you are successful.  You can’t pull up to the clients office in a Dodge Neon, just like you can’t tell people at a conference you are staying at the Econo Lodge.  If you want to be in the game you have to give the appearance you belong there.  Your business relies on your image, but you want to be sensible.  Check out these Under30CEO picks for the most affordable, classy vehicles.

Exotic: Lotus Elise

Want a car that will really turn heads? Check out the Lotus Elise.  Nobody will know it starts at under $48,000.  You will absolutely look like a dot com mogul, with or without the removable hardtop.  Although cargo room is next to none, you’ll stand out far better than anyone with a Porsche or BMW Z4.  If you are looking to make a statement do it with something exotic.

lotus-elise double red black

High Performance: Infinity G37

Looking for horsepower? You can have 327 of them for a mere $37,250.  Available in AWD you can get to the ski slopes in style.  The G37 is certainly the most bang for your buck, while it’s competitors like the C-class Mercedes and the 3 Series BMW don’t have nearly the power at this price point.  Don’t forget–the biggest factory upgrade you can purchase are the wheels, think about upgrading the 17′s to 18′s or 19′s.

infinity g37

Luxury: BMW 528

With the long classy luxury look this sedan will turn some heads. Starting at $45,000 it out does the competition at the price that includes the Cadillac DTS, Lincoln Towncar and Audi A6. The coolest part about the 528 is the fully searchable Google Maps option built into the dash. BMW has thought of everything with an available Lane Departure function, that tells you if you veer from the road if you doze off.


Sport Utility: Mercedes-Benz GLK

The new 7 speed automatic Mercedes GLK starts at $34,000.  Sitting on 19″ rims with 268 horsepower standard how could you go wrong?  Be careful adding options as this is where Mercedes makes it’s money in the luxury field.  It’s smaller size is made to look like you are driving a much larger vehicle as it’s lines imitate the Mercedes GL and Lexus LX.  The fact that you drive a Mercedes SUV says you are in the game.


Hybrid: Toyota Prius

“Tell me something I don’t know” you are thinking.  If you are going for the green look, the Prius is the only car people recognize as a hybrid.  Buying any other hybrid simply will not bring you the recognition you are looking for.  Driving Honda, Mercury or Saturn’s environmentally friendly options, people will simply think you are driving something off the Budget Rental Car lot.  The 2010 is the 3rd generation Prius and will be your best bet if you want a gas/electric car with all the bugs worked out.  Don’t forget however if you are looking for a manual transmission compact car to make the commute in the Prius is operated only by a two speed automatic.


Sports: Mini Cooper S

Built by BMW, Mini’s British roots gives your image a classy appeal.  Fantastic gas mileage and a sticker price starting at only $22,000 you can’t go wrong.  Most 6 speed sports cars will be twice the price and the turbo charged engine really accelerates nicely.  Ladies–put down the top and your girlfriends will be envious.  Guys–while it’s not super masculine, chicks dig the Mini.


Premium Vehicle: BMW 128

Want to drive a Beemer but don’t want to spend $50k+? The BMW 128 is your vehicle.  Available in 6 speed automatic or manual, with 230 horsepower this inline 6 has some serious power for a small car. Upgrade to the convertable and get pop up roll bars.  The German engineering is sure to impress any potential client who is questioning your experience level.  Be careful as you upgrade; the iPod adapter alone will cost you $400.


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Category: Startup Advice

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  • MattWilsontv

    Most of these cars are nice enough that even the base model looks like you paid a fortune. Once you start adding up the options, these cars get expensive very quickly.

    Also–as shown in the pictures, most of the cars have the premium packages. Car manufacturers rarely take stock photos of their base model.

  • Jared O'Toole

    Its fun as a young entrepreneur to make a statement. Anything you can do to look successful and important can help so much. Most people don't know you or your business even if your making big moves. So having things and acting like your important makes people take notice and want to know what your up to.

  • Chris @ Dorm Room Biz

    Another great post guys! A Lotus for $48K? Might have to rethink my next car purchase!

  • Chris Colvin

    Funny, one of the most successful and influential entrepreneurs in our city (even has a building at the university named after him and started our Entrepreneurhsip center) who is a millionaire many times over…pulled up to the buliding the other day in a 24k new Ford Focus and I remember thining…thats what makes a millionaire, the ability to defy conception of what 'should be' and put the money back into the business or investments instead of trying to buy credibility.
    Read the “Millionaire Next Door” by Stanley and see what I mean. Nice cars are nice, but true people of wealth and influence aren't impressed

  • Chris Colvin

    Jared I couldn't disagree with you more. What you are describing is the EXACT reason why so many Americans are in debt (trying to keep up with the 'Jone's) and so many businesses have cash flow problems and fail within the first 5 years. Most people that buy flashy things like expensive foreign cars, jewlery, and even houses in the nicer neighborhoods to 'appear' to have wealth and influence are the EXACT ones that dont and probably won't because they are in debt to their eyeballs.

    I laugh at people my age when I see them buying brand new cars, or bragging about a $2,500 watch and think about how much more stock I could have bought with that money and then tripled. or how I could have bought another investment property and made 40k instead over the next 3 years.

    Break out of that mindset, if you're dealing with people that this sort of stuff 'impresses' then they are probably heavily in debt themselves from trying to impress and aren't the ones that can help you with your business. You don't need to “act” like you're important because when you work hard, invest your money wisely, and grow your business people will already know…and that respect among your peers and the actual influential people is worth more than any car can do for you

  • Jared O'Toole

    O i completely agree, thats why but i think the post is titled “fanciest cars LITTLE money can by”. I think buying a new car is a dumb move also but looking important/successful is critical in the early stages.

    But I'm not just referring to tangible items i'm talking about working your blog to get a press pass to an event and then using that pass to speak with the speakers and important people. This post just happens to be about cars but looking important applies to many areas.

    I think the overall idea is you just don't want to look like your struggling. You are all ready doing great things just by trying to start a business so don't play it down.

  • MattWilsontv

    Millionaires next door are great–especially if they come from old money, I have a lot of respect for someone like Sam Walton driving his old truck around Arkansas his entire life. I'd actually like to do an article on millionaire's cars–showcase some guys driving real beaters, I think it shows a lot of humility and financial intelligence. There is no sense driving something fancy if your employees can't afford it. Also, from a negotiation standpoint, you always want to make yourself look as poor as possible–if you look like you have a lot of money people are automatically going to try to make you pay more for something.

    On the other hand, if you are a wealth manager, you can't pull up in a Taurus and think you are going to get the job. Sure they might say omg this guy is so smart with his money, but at first glance they are going to say–if this guy hasn't made any money, how's he going to make me some? People are simply attracted to the flashiness. If you are a real estate broker and you pull up in a Benz, it's going to automatically give the impression, “damn this guy is going to sell my house, he's obviously done it plenty of times before.”

    Finally, as a young entrepreneur you want to be taken seriously sometimes, so driving a fancy car will help this. If you roll up looking experience someone is much more likely to hire you. My take–have a fancy car to borrow when you need it and have a humble car to drive when you don't.

  • FinanceAnswers

    I think it basically comes down to looking professional, whatever that may mean in whatever industry you work. Obviously you would like your doctor, financial advisor, and lawyer to be driving vehicles that represent success, but what represents success? Our society has determined that the car you drive is a barometer for success, a BMW 528I successful, a Mercedes S550 very successful, a Bently Continental very, very successful. Perception is reality; if you look successful people will think you’re successful. Often times the affluent will only do businesses with other successful individuals, those to look and talk like themselves.

    So, even if you can’t afford a new vehicle, make sure your vehicle is kept clean and looking sharp. This is one thing you can control to look professional, how many dirty S600 AMG’s do you see?

  • Trace Cohen

    I go both ways on this. While I agree that looking good and looking sharp can definitely change the way that people perceive you which can be great, it also is the reason why our country is in debt – chris colvin's point. Personally I think it is the generation gap in some respect. So many of my dad's friends are beyond anything I could even imagine when it comes to wealth and yet they live very humble and modest lives. It is something that boggles my brother and I as we aren't easily impressed.

    As everyone else is saying, it really depends on the person themselves. If they worked hard to make their money and living style then kudos to them, go buy that new Ferrari. I just hope that some of their wealth, fame and time are going towards some philanthropic needs.

  • Clinton Skakun

    Those Lotus looks amazing. I've always wanted a Mercedes SLK, I really want one. There's a lot of used ones for sale that are pretty cheap. Of course I don't want to spend a lot of money on a car but appearance is important.

    These is a great list Matt!:)

    Clinton Skakun

  • Ben Lang

    Wow!I guess my first car is going to have to be on of those…


    One option I'm surprised has not come up. Want to drive a new car and impress people, but don't have the money? Lease it. Great option for those looking for a new car every few years, and little monthly payment. The disadvantage, or course, you never OWN the car. However, until you are ready to buy a car you will drive for 10+ years, leasing is an attractive option

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  • MattWilsontv

    It's all marketing and what we associate certain things with. It doesn't matter how much debt you are in–your potential client will never know your financial picture. They just need to be persuaded to buy and are often blinded by the glare of your fancy watch or shiny car.

    I completely agree about keeping your car clean–what aggravates me post is someone who could get an extra $300 for their car they are selling when all they need to do is give it a $8 car wash.

  • MattWilsontv

    Trace, I'm not sure if it's a generational gap–isn't it the baby boomers who over-leveraged themselves to buy these big houses and SUV's they don't really need? All trying to keep up with the Jones? While there are no statistics and I'd hate to over generalize, I think the baby boomers are really into this lifestyle while a lot of our generation will learn from our parents mistakes.

    Unfortunately the boomers have bought their children so many high priced vehicles that maybe they'll never want to give up that luxury and drive something modest. Only time will tell.

  • MattWilsontv

    Pat, to some people it's all about the monthly payment and that makes leasing look attractive. You never get equity in the car (which are poor investments to begin with) and you can always give it back when the terms are done.

    Ever hear of Swap-a-Lease? You can take over someone else's lease pretty quickly there. Short term

  • Trace Cohen

    Yah sadly that's true that we have grown accustomed to this “lifestyle” if you will. There's really no one to point the finger besides the general public who are striving to have achieve the American Dream, which everyone is entitled too.

    It is my goal though to be able to provide my children with the same opportunities and luxuries that I have had as I feel most people share the same sentiment. Obviously things will change by the time that happens but none the less, only time will tell.

  • facebook-574960085

    Nice article, I've driven most of these. A lotus is awesome, but after a month, it gets old, and not practical in any way unless you have a second car to drive. Jaguars are cheap if you get a CPO, 2005's for under $20,000, and no one knows cause the body style is the same. I love the S-Type R. 400+ Horse Power with a Super Charger!! now that's class and power all in one. My newest toy is a Mach 1 Mustang. Bright, loud, stands out, and sooooo fun to drive!!

  • 19994Runner

    Luxury cars are not only targeted for rich people. One can buy a luxury car by staying in the budget. Lotus Elise would cost around $48000, Infinity G37 $37250, BMW 528 $45000, Mercedes Benz GLK $34000, Mini Cooper S $ 22000. BMW and Toyota Prius are other such deals that are reasonably low then the majority.

  • 19994Runner

    Luxury cars are not only targeted for rich people. One can buy a luxury car by staying in the budget. Lotus Elise would cost around $48000, Infinity G37 $37250, BMW 528 $45000, Mercedes Benz GLK $34000, Mini Cooper S $ 22000. BMW and Toyota Prius are other such deals that are reasonably low then the majority.

  • ellise 2k10

    lotus elise is the best as i am ellise xx

  • ellise 2k10

    actualy i cost alot more than $48000 #

    take that bitch

  • KOryagin Anton – K.A.


    Welcome on (find in Google):

    ( my sketches – sketches of a model E-type Jaguar – 2011 ?! )


  • boston mercedes glk

    The starting price of this GLK Mercedes is well enough for new buyers to buy this Mercedes.
    But I’ve not yet finalized to buy which Mercedes car.
    Can you please give a clear difference between the C-Class Mercedes and GLK Mercedes?

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  • Color Keyboard 1.1.5

    oh i reaaaaaaaaaly like this lotus elise because its my craze

  • Aladin Bouzerd

    Where’s the Ford Mustang? The best of the best