How a 28 Year Old Bought an Audi R8
Since starting Exotic Car Hacks, my intention has always been to educate car buyers on how to realistically buy cars that seem unattainable, and not lose money doing so. While I love to see our community grow, nothing gives me more satisfaction than seeing members taking the knowledge they learn, and applying it to buy the car they want.
I wanted to do something a little different today and put the spotlight on a friend of mine, Alan Dang, and let him share his story on how he went from driving a Subaru to an Audi R8, thus buying his first exotic car at the age of 28.
Pejman: Tell us a little bit about yourself…
Alan: Like anyone reading this, I’m a car enthusiast just like the rest of you. Cars have just been something I’ve gravitated to since I was a child.
Videos games like Gran Turismo have certainly established my passion for cars. My dad was also a car guy too so I guess you can say it runs in the family.
Cars have always been a hobby for me, but recently it’s become more like a side business with what I’ve learned at Exotic Car Hacks.
What is your profession?
Earlier in my career I worked as an IT professional, but later pivoted towards the online marketing industry, as that was much more challenging and rewarding at the same time.
Today, I work alongside Pejman disrupting the e-learning space by providing affordable self-education for aspiring entrepreneurs through our platform Secret Entourage. I spend my efforts on establishing overall marketing strategy from all angles and channels for the brand.
I also work with a very limited number of companies and consult with them on their online marketing campaigns.
What was your first car?
My first car was a 2004 Subaru WRX.
While living in Virginia previously, I needed something sporty, winter friendly, and roomy, so no other cars fit the bill like the WRX.
I still have that car today actually. I’ve done a mild build on the car without going overboard.
However, today it rarely gets driven more than 1,000 miles a year since I have several cars now, and the WRX isn’t really practical anymore.
I will say that the WRX has been reliable beyond what I expected and has never given me a single problem in over 10 years of ownership. I really gained an appreciation for the brand.
It’s always a toss up if I should just fully build it from the ground up, or sell it since it never gets driven. It’s my first legitimate car so it holds a lot of sentimental value.
What was your first purchase using the Exotic Car Hacks method?
It’s funny to think about this because I had my eyes set on a 05/06 Mercedes C55 AMG after driving my friends. I had set a budget of $15,000 at the time and the C55 AMG was a good car for the money, and under appreciated in my book.
As my search stretched thin, I started to learn more about the strategies taught at Exotic Car Hacks, and more than doubled my price range up to $40,000, which drastically expanded my options.
To go up that much in price was a little shocking even for myself. It wasn’t that I couldn’t afford to drop $40,000, but I was raised by parents who probably never spent anywhere near that much on a car before.
It’s not really an exotic per se, but the first luxury car I purchased from what I learned at Exotic Car Hacks was a 2009 Mercedes Benz C63 AMG.
While I was visiting San Francisco one day, I casually browsed to see what cars were for sale and this C63 AMG came up on AutoTrader. It just happened to be the end of the previous owners lease and he had bought it out with intention to sell.
I had my reservations about the car, but after driving it I knew this was the car for me. It wasn’t nearly as luxurious as an E63 AMG, but it was twice the fun. The noise, the power, the torque, the brakes, the styling, all made me a fan.
Long story short, I had a local shop perform a PPI. Everything checked out clean and I was able to negotiate the car down to $34,700 in 2013, which is still a good deal by today’s standards.
Best of all, it was under warranty still, fully loaded, and in the color combo I wanted.
I ended up putting nearly 14,000 miles on that car in a year and decided it was time for me to move on since the mileage had just passed 60,000.
I ended up listing my car on a Mercedes forum and sold it to someone for $33,000 about 12 months later.
This meant I paid roughly $142 per month to drive my C63 AMG while enjoying it for 14,000 miles.
To this date, it is still my favorite car and I look forward to getting another one in the near future.
What did you get after the Mercedes Benz C63 AMG?
I tossed around the idea of trying an E92 BMW M3 to get that out of my system, but after a few test drives, I walked away pretty unimpressed with the build quality and performance.
Not many other cars interested me in the $40-$50k range so I hesitantly increased my budget into the $70,000 range. Even for me, this wasn’t an easy decision but sometimes you just have to get over the fear of the unknown.
Once you get to the $70,000 range your options open up but are still limited. At the time in 2014, cars like the 997 Porsche 911 Turbo, Maserati GranTurismo, Dodge Viper, Aston Martin V8 Vantage, Nissan GTR, etc were all options, but none remotely interested me.
While I was browsing a Porsche forum, I came across an ad for a 2008 Mercedes Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series. The CLK63 AMG Black Series had crossed my mind before, but I didn’t think too much of it.
However, I saw opportunity for the CLK63 AMG Black Series that was in the ad. There were many clues that I learned from Exotic Car Hacks that made this car appeal to me.
For one, it had been listed for several months with very little interest and continuous price drops, which showcased the buyers intent to sell.
Second, the car was a Mercedes listed on a Porsche forum. I frequent the Mercedes forum daily and this same car never popped up. A mismatch like this is a dead giveaway of not so savvy seller.
Third, the photos in the ad looked like it was shot with a potato. The pictures didn’t do the car justice thus pushing away potential buyers.
Luckily this car was located here in Southern California so I was able to visit and see the car in person.
Silver isn’t really my favorite color, but the condition and price of the car made up for it.
It was literally in showroom condition with roughly 9,000 unmolested miles. Which meant this car was only driven on average of 1,500 miles per year. It was completely immaculate inside and out. The owner simply was too focused on business to drive the car.
With no warranty in tact, I was a bit worried, but my research showed me that the CLK63 AMG Black Series is pretty bulletproof, especially considering that it’s hand built and 1 of fewer than 400 ever made.
A PPI was done at a local performance shop that gave it a clean bill of health so it was time to lock it down. After a bit of negotiating, I was able to acquire the car for $66,000.
After a year of ownership, I put about 8,000 miles on the car for a total of 17,000 miles. I had put nearly the same amount of miles in one year as the previous owner had during his entire ownership.
I decided to list the car for sale before I hit the 20,000 mark, believing that the once you cross that threshold, the cars value would significantly drop since it was a rare car.
I took nice some nice pics with my DSLR and listed it for sale on the Mercedes forum for $71,000.
After a few tire kickers, I was able and fortunate to get a no-hassle buyer who paid me the full amount in cash.
All said and done, I was able to flip this car for a $4,000 profit. Essentially I was getting paid $333 per month to drive the CLK63 AMG Black Series for a year.
It was a fun car that had it a few annoying quirks because of the older technology. Nonetheless, it was a great experience, but didn’t deserve the title of exotic car.
Finally, tell us about your first exotic car purchase…
Once again, I was in a dilemma as to what to purchase next. None of the cars under $75,000 interested me so I started to look into the $80,000 and above range.
The Audi R8 had caught my eye for quite some time now, especially after driving one before. To me, it seemed like the perfect bridge between what I’ve had previously, to the true exotic cars in the $100,000 and up range like the Ferrari F430 or Lamborghini Gallardo.
I didn’t want an Audi R8 V10 because you could get a Gallardo for the same price. So I set my targets on a V8.
After doing all my due diligence, I started my search for the ideal car. As luck would have it, a 2009 Audi R8 from a few cities over popped up on Cars.com.
This was the exact R8 I wanted, but at a price that was a little bit on the higher side.
The car was fully loaded with a $140,000 MSRP, under warranty still, and best of all, in the color combo and 6-speed manual transmission that I wanted.
I had second thoughts about spending that kind of money on a car, and even took time to think it over.
Weeks later, I decided to say screw it and just go for it. I texted the owner and he informed me that someone was scheduled to fly in to look at the car. Unless I could come that day, it would have been gone. Immediately I drove over and put a deposit to hold the car to show that I was serious at this point.
I had an Audi shop perform a PPI for me, which gave it high remarks. There were a few minor issues that I had fixed under warranty before taking possession of the car as well. This helped bring me more re-assurance to my purchase.
I was able to negotiate down a little bit and we were able to finalize the deal making me an exotic car owner at the age of 28.
I didn’t steal the car, but I got the car I wanted, with the right specs, for a very fair price.
I still have the R8 today (it’s for sale actually), and have enjoyed it for over 6,000 miles over the last year.
The R8 has exceeded my expectations from all aspects and I share the same sentiment with many who own one when they say it’s the best everyday friendly exotic car you can buy today.
What is the best advice you have for people looking to buy an exotic car?
a) Do your research about the car you have in mind by using resources like forums or Exotic Car Hacks. Cars change a lot more than you think during their lifecycle so make sure you truly understand what issues the car is known for and if any particular year is better than another to get the best value for your dollar.
b) Be patient, as it will take time to find the right car that checks off every requirement on the list. Sometimes passing on the first car you find is a blessing in disguise. If you’re going to spend money on a car, make sure its one you won’t regret.
c) Make sure you are in the right financial situation. Issues may and can pop up, even if a PPI checks out clean. Don’t jump into an exotic right unless you have the financial means for emergencies. You can work your way up the ladder like I did and still have a great time driving cars.
What are your favorite brands and/or cars?
I can’t say that I’m a fan of many of the newer cars. Maybe its because I consider myself old school (funny to even consider that at this age), but I think cars are becoming a lot more complicated.
I appreciate the engineering and technological advancements that manufacturers keep bringing to the table and although they’re becoming astronomically faster, sometimes I just wish newer cars were simpler or stayed true to their DNA for what worked.
Case in point being manual transmission cars now being slowly phased out.
If I had to pick brands, I overall really like Mercedes AMG, the way their cars are built, and the heritage that comes along with it. I can see myself with one in the garage for a daily driver.
While never the fastest or quickest around a track, Lamborghini continues to impress me with their cutting edge design, sound, and driving experience.
I really like Datsun/Nissans from the 70s to the mid 2000s era too. I’ll probably get a Skyline GT-R someday to fulfill my childhood dream car.
The Pagani Zonda is the modern day poster car growing up. Simply stunning craftsmanship inside and out, and the AMG V12 howls unlike any car I’ve ever heard. I wish those were road legal.
If I had to have a ‘dream garage’ of cars to hold to forever, it would have to be the 05/06 Ford GT, 08 Lamborghini Superleggera, and the 04/05 Ferrari 360 Challenge Stradale. All very different cars, but all amazing in their own right.
What’s next for you?
I’m itching to get a Lamborghini Gallardo to check off that bucket list item. Prices have hit near rock bottom at this point. I’m just waiting for the right deal on a clean 06-07 coupe in 6-speed manual before I pull the trigger.
I’m also looking for a long term project car build and have my eyes set on a 1972 Datsun 240Z. I would like to do a full resto-mod and keep this one in the family for many generations to come.
What has Exotic Car Hacks done for you?
I think the biggest thing is opening my eyes up to the possibilities of actually owning my dream car at this age.
Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would own a car like the Audi R8 at this point in my life.
If I didn’t take the first leap of faith, I’m pretty sure I would either be in the same WRX, or making an ill-advised purchase of a new car that loses 30% of its value the moment I drive off the lot.
The ability to understand the car market better, but also to look at cars as assets, instead of liabilities, is the difference in losing money or getting paid to drive nice cars.
Outside of the educational aspect of car buying, owning an exotic car has truly opened up a lot of doors for me. Other people own like cars like these for a reason, and the people you meet are some of the best personal and business connections you can meet.
What advice do you have for people reading this?
It’s not rocket science to drive or own nice cars. You just need to educate yourself and there’s no better resource on the Internet than Exotic Car Hacks. Why spend hours and hours on a dozen websites when you can find everything at one place?
Don’t get caught up with all the “Rich Kids of Instagram” or Youtube vloggers who brag about their new car purchase. Everyone has a story. Some people work for it while others don’t.
Make sure you’re financially stable and get over your fear of spending money. Make smart decisions that allow income and personal growth, so that you have a much better foundation for your future. If you follow the steps taught by Exotic Car Hacks, it’ll all work out in the end.
If a Lambo seems too out of reach, start with other cheaper cars like I did. C63s, M3s, CTS-Vs, Vipers, Z06s, etc are all great cars to begin with and are under $35,000.
Trust me when I say its more fun to drive an exotic when you’re in your 20s, rather than when you’re retired in your 60s.
I want to thank Alan for sharing his experience with me today and showing everyone that dreams can come true. It isn’t a matter of how he’s going to buy his Lamborghini now, but rather when.
If you would like to learn the exact strategies Alan used to buy three luxury and exotic car before the age of 28, I am hosting a FREE webinar that will teach you step-by-step how you can too.
Seats are limited, but you can register here for our next training class: ExoticCarHacks.com/FreeTraining