Author Topic: Car dilemma - new client facing job and thinking of downgrading car cos of MMM  (Read 13343 times)

Ferrisbueller

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Hi All

I got a new job which I'll be starting in a months time. It's a brilliant company and one of the top 3 companies in my area (financial services). The role is a senior client facing role and I can't wait to start. I'll be representing my company to some of the biggest global corporates.

The problem is my car. I have a beautiful BMW 320 coupe (no finance o/s). It's 2007 and has 55k miles on it. It is in mint condition and I look after it well and love driving it. After I started reading MMM I came to the decision to sell my Beemer for a cheap and older Toyota or Honda and invest the $10k difference.

What people think usually doesn't bother me but with this new job at a crucial point in my career ( im 44 and planning for this to be my last corporate job) I'm wondering what my colleagues and clients might think if I show up in a $6k Toyota given my senior (and high paying) role.

Simple solution is just to keep the Beemer for a year until they get to know me or maybe drive the Toyota and make some excuse about thinking of changing it and never do.

If you we're my client or my colleague and i rocked up in a $6k Toyota what would you think - honestly ?

Maybe I'm just over thinking this shit !

clarkevii

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I would think you were awesome.

I did a similar thing last year. I haven't missed the old car one bit.

Don't worry about what broke people think about you.

Joshua

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I don't think we have enough information. Are your clients going to see your car, or are you just driving it to the office? What is the pay increase you are receiving going to this new position? Usually I would say don't worry what others think, but you are in one of those industries where it matters.

Ferrisbueller

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I don't think we have enough information. Are your clients going to see your car, or are you just driving it to the office? What is the pay increase you are receiving going to this new position? Usually I would say don't worry what others think, but you are in one of those industries where it matters.

Yes Joshua, clients may see the car and might even be in it.  My pay increase is around 20k, total compensation is around 160k.

Taran Wanderer

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Keep the car, enjoy it, and put forth the successful image that your clients want to see.  Yes, you could downgrade your car and your expenses, but how does that help you on the journey to FIRE if somehow it also ends up downgrading your income?  You just took a 20K bump on the revenue side. Sit tight on the expense side for now.  Don't downgrade the car.

Syonyk

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If you're going to have clients in the car and are in financial services, I suspect a $10k savings on the car would be very short sighted and counterproductive.

I'd keep the car, and keep it in excellent mechanical and cosmetic shape.

lostamonkey

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Honestly I would think of the car as a business expense. It similar to buying a really expensive rental property that rents out for a ton of money. I would keep the car.

JAYSLOL

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Keep the BMW and trade down for a Toyota when you retire, which I'm guessing by the income won't be too far off.  I couldn't care less what my friends/family/coworkers think of what i drive, but if i had (presumably) wealthy and well-conected clients in the financial industry riding in my car i would drive a BMW too.  If it was brand-new and financed that would be very different, but 8 years old and paid off isn't that bad. 

Deano

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I have to echo the other responses-keep the car. It's paid for and it helps you professionally. And yes it shouldn't in a perfectly Mustachian world-but that's not the world we live in.

Syonyk

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Also, if you're a "car guy," figure out what you love about that one that newer ones don't have.  And, yes, style is a valid complaint.

It's a nice little thing to have on hand for when people ask why you don't upgrade.  "Yeah, the new ones are nice, but I really just don't care for XYZ."  Even if it's the headlights.  It's your $60k or whatever to spend or not, and if you prefer your current one to a newer one, that's totally valid.

Driving an old beater is generally viewed as "Because you can't afford anything newer," but if it's a well maintained, clean, tastefully modded older vehicle, very few people will ask - you obviously care about it and like driving that particular one.

lbmustache

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Keep the BMW unless you're heavily in debt or struggling some other way. It's in good condition, paid for, you enjoy it: keep it.

JAYSLOL

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Also, if you're a "car guy," figure out what you love about that one that newer ones don't have.  And, yes, style is a valid complaint.

It's a nice little thing to have on hand for when people ask why you don't upgrade.  "Yeah, the new ones are nice, but I really just don't care for XYZ."  Even if it's the headlights.  It's your $60k or whatever to spend or not, and if you prefer your current one to a newer one, that's totally valid.

Driving an old beater is generally viewed as "Because you can't afford anything newer," but if it's a well maintained, clean, tastefully modded older vehicle, very few people will ask - you obviously care about it and like driving that particular one.

Great idea!  There is always that one person who will ask why you don't want to upgrade to the "latest and greatest", and it is usually easier to offer an opinion on something subjective like the styling or electronic interface that you prefer in your current car than to explain the true reason.

russianswinga

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A 2007 3-series coupe (e92) is pretty far down the depreciation curve. As it's a 320, I'll assume you're not in the US (we only got 328 and 335 - non-turbo and turbo 6 cylinders) so your 320 is likely a 4-cylinder coupe that's fuel efficient.
You have a great german car that's relatively cheap to repair and easy to repair yourself, that's not worth a lot now, but is fairly low mileage, and is fuel efficient? AND YOU WANT TO GET RID OF IT? Are you crazy?? Drive it until there's 200,000 miles (321k KM) on the odometer, then drive it some more!


(Mine is a 2002 330ci manual coupe with 185,000 miles on the odometer and I do all my own maintenance)

« Last Edit: August 16, 2015, 01:15:57 AM by russianswinga »

Davids

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For client facing purposes, just keep the car.

fb132

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Unless your boss would fire you for selling your Beamer, I say f*ck it and do what you want, not what other broke people think. It is your life, not theirs.

Making Cookies

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Keep it. We have two well maintained older (MMM style vehicles) and friends/family seem to assume we are having some sort of financial hardship which we aren't. We're just not motivated to buy anything newer.

If your business is image oriented then keep the BMW for work. It matters.

Financial.Velociraptor

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Keep it.  I imagine at 160k in the finance industry you are quite busy.  Your time to find a buyer and a replacement are worth more than the 10k you might pull out of equity.

Taran Wanderer

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Unless your boss would fire you for selling your Beamer, I say f*ck it and do what you want, not what other broke people think. It is your life, not theirs.

I advocated above for sticking with the BMW, and I stand by that.  It's great to do what you want and say f*ck them, but when what they think factors into your compensation, then what they think is important.  Besides, an 8 year old paid-off BMW is pretty close to mustachian transportation, especially considering you can get another 150,000 miles or so out of it with regular maintenance.

fb132

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Unless your boss would fire you for selling your Beamer, I say f*ck it and do what you want, not what other broke people think. It is your life, not theirs.

I advocated above for sticking with the BMW, and I stand by that.  It's great to do what you want and say f*ck them, but when what they think factors into your compensation, then what they think is important.  Besides, an 8 year old paid-off BMW is pretty close to mustachian transportation, especially considering you can get another 150,000 miles or so out of it with regular maintenance.
But I told him to do whatever he wants, so if he wants to sell his BMW, he should, if not, well that's his choice....as long as it doesn't interfere with his job where he can potentially lose it based on his decision to sell the car, then he should simply do what he wants and not base his decision on what everyone else wants for him.

SMP

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Keep the car. From my point of view, it is a business expense.

Taran Wanderer

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Unless your boss would fire you for selling your Beamer, I say f*ck it and do what you want, not what other broke people think. It is your life, not theirs.

I advocated above for sticking with the BMW, and I stand by that.  It's great to do what you want and say f*ck them, but when what they think factors into your compensation, then what they think is important.  Besides, an 8 year old paid-off BMW is pretty close to mustachian transportation, especially considering you can get another 150,000 miles or so out of it with regular maintenance.
But I told him to do whatever he wants, so if he wants to sell his BMW, he should, if not, well that's his choice....as long as it doesn't interfere with his job where he can potentially lose it based on his decision to sell the car, then he should simply do what he wants and not base his decision on what everyone else wants for him.

Yes, I understand, and I actually like the sentiment. I actually drive a 14 year old car with 255,000 miles on it, and I do it with pride.  But when all the people responsible for my compensation and advancement drive late model cars, many European, I don't necessarily fit in their nice box. For people that I work with regularly, I hope my other qualities shine through. But if I was in a client facing job, where my vehicle says something to our customers about who I am and who our company is, I might make a different decision. Or maybe I'd just wash it and Armor All the bumpers more often...

Forcus

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You know this is one of those exceptions to the rule. 99% of the time, ditching the expensive German would be the answer. But the client exposure does matter to an extent.

The coworker question is a mixed bag. Here there are people who are very much in to status vehicles. However, it is almost impossible to tell whose new Stingray or 7 Series or giant Raptor is unless you just happen to see them. There are maybe 900 people in this building, my old one was over 5,000. It was not an issue at all. Different, maybe if you are in an office of 10. Not saying that on the surface it matters what anyone thinks but I can see situations (see exception to the rule above) where it could hurt your career even though you'd think it would be a non-issue.

Ferrisbueller

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Guys

Thanks to all of you for taking the time to reply.

I've decided to keep the BMW - as some said the industry I'm in DOES pay attention to things like appearance/status symbols etc. and the world is not mustachian afterall as someone else said.

Thanks again.

FB

gimp

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I agree with your decision.

Unfortunately, as a client-facing finance guy, clients are going to be judging you and your success based on the car you drive. They will see a cheap car as a failure, not a success in frugality, and will be more hesitant to trust you.

It sucks. It's pretty much the one line of business where you have to keep up with appearances.

Your car is paid for, you can drive it for a long time.

Here's some real advice: keep it squeaky clean. Wash, clay, and wax it regularly. Dress the tires. Wash the wheels. Keep the glass clean. Vacuum the interior. Treat the leather, if any; treat the plastic trim. You can do all this yourself, for an hour a month and fifteen more minutes a week, and it will make a 2007 bmw look a lot more like a 2014 bmw.

Taran Wanderer

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That's great advice.  BMW's are nice in this regard (cleaning and detailing) because they have classic and consistent lines, and subsequent generations aren't radically different from previous generations.  Sure, the changes add up over three or more generational changes, but over one our two body updates, the changes can be minor and a clean car can look new to a person who is not into cars, and can be appreciated by an aficionado.

partgypsy

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In the scheme of things, having a 160K a year job, how much is a one time 10K increase to your net worth really going to bring you closer to FIRE? Keeping and doing well in your new job is a higher priority. You can continue to look at other areas of your life that are not so "visible' for savings as well.

russianswinga

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As far as conditioning the leather, my recommendation is Leatherique. Having gone through multiple treatment products, I have yet to find one that works better. Leatherique Rejuvinator followed by Pristine Clean, twice a year, is all my BMW interior calls for (yes, you apply it in reverse of other cleaners - oil first, which pushes dirt up to the surface once you let it breathe and "sweat" on a hot day in an enclosed interior, then you "clean" up with a PH balanced cleaner)

MrsPete

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If you we're my client or my colleague and i rocked up in a $6k Toyota what would you think - honestly ?
I probably wouldn't notice. 

Guses

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Shouldn't your job be giving you a car allowance? I mean, you are required to transport clients, either they provide the car (or an allowance) or they make it explicit what you can and cant drive them in.

What if you only have a motorbike?

Was "having a car" part of the employment contract?

 

Ferrisbueller

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Hi

Yes, included in my compensation is a $1k per month car allowance which to be honest I am disinclined to spend as I have a nice car already.

FB

Syonyk

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Shouldn't your job be giving you a car allowance? I mean, you are required to transport clients, either they provide the car (or an allowance) or they make it explicit what you can and cant drive them in.

There's being reasonable, which it seems the OP is being with a well maintained decade old luxury car, and there's being a dick.  "You said I had to have a car, so I'm going to drive them around in the Redneck Ricer!!!" is being a dick.  (reference: One of my college cars, http://photos.sevarg.net/russ/RedneckRice)

If you're driving clients around, especially in what is a somewhat image sensitive industry, have a decent car.  You're fine with a low end luxury car, and at this point, you're fine with a hybrid or EV (though I wouldn't want anything with less range than about a Tesla for driving clients around).  Like it or not, that's what the industry is, and you being a dick and driving people around in a shitbox is what's commonly known as a "career limiting move."

Guses

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Shouldn't your job be giving you a car allowance? I mean, you are required to transport clients, either they provide the car (or an allowance) or they make it explicit what you can and cant drive them in.

There's being reasonable, which it seems the OP is being with a well maintained decade old luxury car, and there's being a dick.  "You said I had to have a car, so I'm going to drive them around in the Redneck Ricer!!!" is being a dick.  (reference: One of my college cars, http://photos.sevarg.net/russ/RedneckRice)

If you're driving clients around, especially in what is a somewhat image sensitive industry, have a decent car.  You're fine with a low end luxury car, and at this point, you're fine with a hybrid or EV (though I wouldn't want anything with less range than about a Tesla for driving clients around).  Like it or not, that's what the industry is, and you being a dick and driving people around in a shitbox is what's commonly known as a "career limiting move."

Meh, I don't agree with it "being a dick" move without some context. If the company provides no allowance and no company car, they are basically saying that they don't give 2 "F" what the employee is driving the company's clients in. For intance, take a pizza delivery company, they don't pay squat for the delivery person's car. I would not be offended to receive a pizza from someone driving a 30 year old rust bucket.   

Since the OP mentionned receiving an allowance, yes he should drive his clients in a reasonable car that is clean and well maintained.

There is a difference between driving clients in an older reasonable car and driving clients in a dirty poop mobile. The latter could be considered a "dick move".


vivophoenix

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Hi

Yes, included in my compensation is a $1k per month car allowance which to be honest I am disinclined to spend as I have a nice car already.

FB

if you are given a car allowance of $1k,  i think its fair to assume they are expecting something in that range to be used.

its fine to pocket some of the difference. but trying to use this as a profit vehicle for yourself seems like its counter-intuitive to the social contract your company is offering. so do what you want. but if you receive an extra $1k a month just for transportation and roll up in a used corolla, don't be shocked if you stop climbing the ladder.

Bearded Man

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I'd say keep it. Part of having roles like this is having a nice house and a nice car to impress and entertain with. Downsize when you are ready to retire. High income should still allow you to do this as long as you don't go overboard on other spending.

JAYSLOL

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Hi

Yes, included in my compensation is a $1k per month car allowance which to be honest I am disinclined to spend as I have a nice car already.

FB

This seals the deal, keep the car!  I wouldn't have an iPhone if my work didn't give me a phone allowance, but since they do and in return expect me to be able to be able to respond by email on the go and send in work reports throughout the day wherever i am i pretty much have to have one.  Though it is paid off and i will be upgrading as infrequently as possible. 

Ferrisbueller

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So I'm three weeks into the new job and it's great so far.

On two occasions with two different new colleagues both saw my car in the car park and said "nice car" (no sarcasm detected).

The fact that it's 8 years old and worth maybe $15k didn't register - they just saw a lovely silver BMW coupe that looks near new.

Sweet.

Syonyk

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As long as it's in good shape, an older luxury car still counts. :)

I'd love a late 70s Jag. Though those /are/ expensive anymore.

etotheix

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I've always gotten a kick out of looking at the reserved parking spots on my way in from the parking lot.  About 1/3 of them are status cars -- BMW/Tesla/MB/etc, 1/3 are newish normal cars, and 1/3 are total beaters.  One day I followed by boss's boss's boss out of the parking lot, and he was rocking an early 2000s Subaru Outback.  I figured if that's how he values his own money, he probably does a pretty good job handling the company's money.

TheGrimSqueaker

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I think you did the right thing. With a $1k car allowance a month ($12k per year), the $10k you proposed to invest would have to make $2k within a year and $12k the following year. Odds are against finding an investment that will pay off that well, that quickly and consistently.

nobodyspecial

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CEO of an obviously  successful company driving an old Volvo/Subaru looks frugal and quirky.
A sales guy working on commission driving clients in an old beater - looks like a drug habit.
 

MBot

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So I'm three weeks into the new job and it's great so far.

On two occasions with two different new colleagues both saw my car in the car park and said "nice car" (no sarcasm detected).

The fact that it's 8 years old and worth maybe $15k didn't register - they just saw a lovely silver BMW coupe that looks near new.

Sweet.

Fantastic. Glad you decided to keep the car.

Goldielocks

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CEO of an obviously  successful company driving an old Volvo/Subaru looks frugal and quirky.
A sales guy working on commission driving clients in an old beater - looks like a drug habit.

Oh, not at all,

The exec vps of my former company were told to drive or rent modest cars ( rent if they only owned flashy cars) when they went on retail store tours. You see, the grocery employees and managers would start to gripe loudly about their own pay after seeing newer model BMWs and Lexus being parked in their lots by their boss' boss.

Syonyk

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It's all about the appearance!  Always.

nobodyspecial

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The exec vps of my former company were told to drive or rent modest cars ( rent if they only owned flashy cars) when they went on retail store tours. You see, the grocery employees and managers would start to gripe loudly about their own pay after seeing newer model BMWs and Lexus being parked in their lots by their boss' boss.
A former boss ,who owned a $MM oil field services company, used to turn up to sales meetings in overalls and drive an old field truck.
When somebody commented that he couldn't negotiate a $M deal looking like that he drove to the Jaguar dealership who wouldn't let this scruffy person near a car. So waving the rolls of $100 bills under their noses he walked across to the Lexus showroom and bought one.

The reaction from the next customer he visited - "Bloody hell, we must be paying too much!"
« Last Edit: October 18, 2015, 11:08:49 AM by nobodyspecial »

Syonyk

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That type of middle ground is where an older, well maintained luxury car comes in handy, if you're the type of person who actually likes that sort of thing.

Nobody is going to look at someone driving a clean early 2000s BMW as "Wow, you're rich!" - but at the same time, it doesn't come across as driving a ratty Metro or something.

People read into it what they want to see.

paddedhat

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CEO of an obviously  successful company driving an old Volvo/Subaru looks frugal and quirky.
A sales guy working on commission driving clients in an old beater - looks like a drug habit.

Oh, not at all,

The exec vps of my former company were told to drive or rent modest cars ( rent if they only owned flashy cars) when they went on retail store tours. You see, the grocery employees and managers would start to gripe loudly about their own pay after seeing newer model BMWs and Lexus being parked in their lots by their boss' boss.

Sorry, but you completely miss the point here, that being the target audience. Senior management touring a chain of retail stores, to meet low paid overworked employees, is the exact opposite of the OP's issue, but requires the same degree of sensitivity to potential problems. Appearances matter, and you play to your target audience.

 In the past I supervised large construction projects, in a region that prides itself for old school, frugal values.  One job was as a subcontractor for one of the largest multi-national construction managers in the world. At one point, a manager for another sub asked one of the senior guys from the multi-national to join him for coffee. They then walked out to the local guy's Focus wagon company car, when the sub then offered to pour a drink from his Thermos. It became legend in the offices of the bigger company, and not in a good way. Here was a clueless local trying to network, and a worldly project manager who fully expected to jump in to a nice four door pick-up and be taken to a local eatery, with nothing less that a good cup of coffee, a nice pastry, and an offer to buy breakfast.  Instead he is dealing with a putz offering a pour from his thermos while they lean against a car that looks like something a broke kid would be driving to a local community college. The Focus driver did a great job of convincing his target audience that he was a clueless hayseed. Truth be told, he is in fact a key player in a very competent fifty million dollar a year operation.

Doesn't matter if it's my example, the OP's decision, or the correct choice of your company's folks not showing up in $100K  cars to meet with salaried employees making $40K a year, to work sixty hour weeks, while being treated like rented mules. It's all about the right tool for the job, and as you correctly noted, impressions matter, a lot.

FatCat

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My company owns several late model luxury cars including BMWs that they use specifically to pick up clients and drive them around. Does your company have their own cars you can use for this purpose? The people here drive their own cars to work and then switch to the luxury cars when they need to impress clients.

A relative of mine worked at a company that paid to lease a new car for him yearly because they wanted to keep appearances up. Is it possible that after a year or so your company might do this? It probably isn't a good idea to bring it up now, but it might be something to bring up later. Some companies that are worried about image would rather select the car themselves and pay for it themselves just so they have control over their image.

CALL 911

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Images matter and you can't friggin win.

I work in the medical field. I know a doctor - competent, but rather unremarkable. He drives a 1992 Corolla with tape holding the headlight in and a cracked windshield. Factory paint, or what's left of it. Seriously, his car makes him look like a meth head.

I know a doctor - competent, but rather unremakable - with a shiny 2015 BMW 7 series ($140k).

I have heard comments about BOTH of them. He must suck, he drive a POS. I'll never see him! 
He must be a fraud/crook/scammer! I'll never see him, he must over charge! Have you seen his car!

It seems like the only acceptable choice for them is either a clean, older luxury car, or a pick up truck.

Perception matters (even when it shouldn't). Keeping the BMW (especially with your car allowance) is the right move. Just keep it clean.

nobodyspecial

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I work in the medical field. I know a doctor - competent, but rather unremarkable. He drives a 1992 Corolla with tape holding the headlight in and a cracked windshield. Factory paint, or what's left of it. Seriously, his car makes him look like a meth head.

I know a doctor - competent, but rather unremakable - with a shiny 2015 BMW 7 series ($140k).
The optimal car for a doctor is probably a 10year old Subaru/Volvo station wagon, spotlessly clean and flawlessly maintained with lots of National Park permits on the windshield. There should be a service that creates these and leases them to doctors.

Syonyk

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Sounds about right.

Even a 1992 Corolla would be OK, if well maintained! Don't let it fall apart.