We all cannot be like Tim Burton.
That name might not ring a bell, but over a million subscribers to his YouTube channel know him by his handle: Shmee150.
Burton is a likable fellow. Very joyful, happy, upbeat. You can see it in his videos around his fleet of special automobiles. Lately, we have been seeing Burton covering the automotive industry and its products as a part of the European new media corps. A huge step from his first videos, as he embarked on a viral life of pursuing the finest automobiles in the world.
There are only a few in the world that live the "supercar dream." Those few are the ones that buy them new. These include those who buy less expensive sports car, such as the Porsche 911, Maserati Gran Turismo, Jaguar F-Type or Chevrolet Corvette.
It is clear that sports car, supercar and hypercar customers are not like anyone else. They do not compare one from another. They either have a specific car in mind or have a history with a brand or specific model and want another. Their loyalty extended beyond the sales floor, but rather to a specific mechanic, motorsports team and brand-related apparel.
When they buy them new, they usually have them as a second or third vehicle in their possession. Which means they are not daily drivers – unless they want to drive them daily – but made for weekends or special occasions. While a daily driver can average 12,000-15,000 miles a year, these special cars would not even be driven more than half that distance annually. Similar vehicle owners in my home market – the Twin Cities – usually drive their sports/super/hyper cars when the roads are dry and smooth. That equals to an average of five months out of the year.
What happens when they are sold, traded or turned in at the end of their leases? What second-hand customers have is an opportunity for a very low mileage, well-maintained vehicle that could be sold for market value. New cars usually lose their value immediately after it is taken delivery and will experience a sharp depreciation loss within the first year of ownership. Sports cars and the like could take a lesser value drop if they are driven well below the average annual mileage and are maintained meticulously by the dealership or independent mechanic.
What prompted this rabbit hole of linking Shmee150's YouTube success (and, now he has published a book) and the sports/super/hyper car market came when I was working with a Chevrolet Corvette last week through a local dealership for one of my other outlets. Originally, I thought it would be a new Corvette Stingray that I would be working with. Wrong! It was the right generation – the C7 – but it was a 2014 Stingray. Though it was driven by dealer management, it would actually be returned to pre-owned inventory, most likely through the brand's Certified program.
The Corvette pointed to what had been mentioned so far. For a 2014 model, it only had over 10,300 miles on the odometer. It was well-maintained, even though there were some modifications made to the car – such as a de-badge of the Stingray emblems off the side and maybe a change in wheels to a wet black style. The chrome strip was missing form the grille, but it certainly looked super cool without it.
While driving it, I found that it felt like a new car. In my case, it might as well be a press car with that kind of mileage on the clock. I was able to glean and record all aspects of the Corvette as it was a 2017 or 2018 model. But, I still had to turn back to the idea that it was owned by someone else before it arrived at that particular dealership.
When it returns to sale, there is no question that someone will want to buy one. In particular, a Corvette person. It is the same with any car in its class and realm – brand and model loyalty is key for that product to continue forward. On occasion, you will find someone crossing over from another sports/super/hyper car to another. Or, someone looking for their first special car. Those occasions are not the norm in this part of the market.
The big problem I have is the nature of my work. Like Shmee150, I work in new media covering the automotive industry and its products – along with traditional print media. Unlike Shmee150, I do experience all sorts of automobiles that are more mainstream and readily available to a larger audience of consumers. With those vehicles, you can compare them to others similarly in each class. When it comes to sports cars, supercars and hypercars, you simply cannot compare them. Comparisons are considered counter-responsive when you are dealing with a highly-loyal customer base that does not believe in being conquested for another similar car.
Side note: unlike Shmee150, I am much older and not as good looking as he. I do enjoy his videos. And, yes, I am a subscriber to his channel. He does good work. Moving along…
Perhaps when one of you explores the possibility of living your "supercar dream,"" or plan on owning one of the great sports cars available – maybe a pre-owned model would suffice. One that is lightly used, well-maintained and in superb order. Just like the Corvette I drove last week…
Photo by Randy Stern