Let's face it. Owning a cool car is expensive but worth it.
Using popular aggregates of car ownership cost websites, we've pulled together the list of the most expensive cars to maintain that we would still strongly consider. High performance and luxury cars tend to need things like premium gas and more expensive lubricants to keep them in shape and more parts in their systems to ensure performance. Luxury cars use things like bushings made of softer materials that improve ride quality but wear out faster than the bushings in your average Civic. Then there are things like tires and the cost of servicing at a premium brand dealership. It all adds up, and as you would guess, the brands with the lower costs of ownership include Toyota, Honda, and Mitsubishi. Curiously, despite what we just said, Lexus is also up there in the low-cost of ownership ranks. On the expensive side, BMW, unsurprisingly, tops out along with Mercedes and Cadillac and then Volvo and Audi.
As the figures are measured across a ten year period, some model years turn out to be more expensive than others. Taking all of that into account, these are the most expensive on the list that we think are worth the cost. We've ignored supercars because, well, we already know the cost is going to be exorbitant.
A later model SRT Viper is a no brainer. When the Viper came out in 1992, it was crude and brutal. More of a semi-directional missile than a precise smart bomb. Over the next 20 years, it never lost its V10-powered excess and by 2013 and following its production break, it could still spit you off the road backwards but now it would be entirely your own fault. At $1,116 per year on average as a cost to own, it's one hell of a lot of performance for the money.
The Mercedes SL has been an open-topped status symbol and road munching cruiser since the 1950s. The base engine for this period was a 5.5-liter V8 making just over 380 horsepower, and it cost just over $100,000 in 2012. Now, you can pick them up for around a third of that with 50,000 miles on the clock if you're willing to swallow the average of $1,179 per year to keep it in shape.
A Ford Mustang is a surprisingly expensive to own considering it's a blue-collar hero, and the 2018 model is set to cost $11,900 over a ten year period. Plenty of people think it's worth it though, including us. The latest Mustangs are not just pony cars, they're world class sports cars and bring a lot of performance to the table for the money.
The M5 could also be on this list, but the M6 doesn't often get its due. With a shorter wheelbase and wider track, as well as a more aggressive look than the M5, in 2013 the M6 came with a monster of a twin-turbo V8 engine that made 560 horsepower and laid down a 0-60 mph time of 4.2 seconds. For an executive that likes to get out of the city on a Friday night and head to their vacation retreat for the weekend as quickly as possible, the average of $1,227 should be pocket money for a full-sized rocket.
Something from Mazda here is a surprise showing. But, given that Mazda Motor Corporation is still its own entity and independent of a larger owner, it makes sense that they may not have the purchasing power of larger companies to keep prices down. Despite only being the 15th largest automaker in the world, Mazda keeps its product line sleek and the Mazda 6 has all the chops of some of its competitors that are considered premium brands - including its responsive chassis and refined interior. For that reason, we think it's worth banking an average of $1,270 per year to keep on the road.
The Corvette is as much of a no-brainer as Dodge's Viper as a recommendation here. We're talking about power, performance, and a legitimate American icon to boot. The C6 is a drastic refinement over the C5 generation and a performance bargain on the used market right now, even if that is offset by the averaged out $1,291 per year cost ownership.
If the raw V8 power of a Corvette is a little unrefined, then the refinement of BMW's bread and butter 3 Series could be more suitable. The 4-cylinder turbo engines are surprisingly punchy and smooth although the 2.0-liter version is the one to go for. Really though, you'll want the 3.0-liter twin-scroll turbo for deliciously smooth six-cylinder power. The F30 was the start of BMW's return to form and, although the later M6 is cheaper to keep running, F30 BMWs are plentiful and affordable on the used market. Just make sure you budget for $1,560 per year cost of ownership.
Keeping things German, you could pay up to $214,000 for a Mercedes S65 AMG in 2013. The S65 comes complete with a hand built twin-turbo V12 producing a savage 621 horsepower that's wrapped in luxury and style. They're also the price of a new C Class now if you can stomach the average of $1,843 per year to run it.
If you can deal with the less than ideal noise from the flat-four turbocharged engine, the Cayman is a wonderful drivers car. The interior might be inferior to that of a 911, but the engine is in the right place, has real guts, and the transmission and chassis are close to perfection. Buy one used and you don't have to play the Porsche options inflation game or pay 911 prices. All you have to deal with is the steep average of $2,370 per year cost of ownership.
Nissan doesn't even make the top 23 of expensive brands to own, but the hardcore tarmac hunter that is the GT-R tops our list here. The GT-R is an engineering masterpiece, but a complicated one. Calling it a Playstation car is unfair but gives an idea of the level of technology on offer as well as the vicious level of power pushed out through the all-wheel-drive system. The Japanese supercar slayer is getting towards supercar money to own and maintain though. It is estimated at an average of $2,416 per year to keep on form.