Should You Buy A Cheap COE Luxury Car?

Published by on
Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649131846240 1649131846237We’ve all been there - awake on the bed, surfing our favourite used car classifieds, convincing ourselves that a used COE luxury car would be a better buy than that new econobox.

You can thank the wonders of depreciation for this. Revalidated examples of luxury cars from the late noughties can now be had for the price of a brand new economy saloon. Which begs the question really - why would you purchase a basic, bread-and-butter vehicle, when you can be driven around cocooned in yesterday’s luxury?

Famous Last Words

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649132874730 7+Series

Yesterday’s luxury - those are the key words. It’s highly likely that these cars were the pioneers in sporting the equipment that you’ll now find on the economy cars of today, so technically, you’d actually be no better off than if you bought that new compact saloon instead.

Besides, whilst the basic technology may have trickled down into the more mass market cars, chances are that the variants that automakers are now fitting to their latest vehicles are perhaps better suited and compatible with modern devices - something you’d probably not be able to guarantee with an older vehicle.

But just what are the pros and cons of actually living with these aging luxobarges?

Brand Prestige

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649133386432 1649133386431Badge snobbery is very much a thing. These cars may be a generation or two out of date, but a big German saloon will always create more of a buzz and impression on your neighbours than a barebones commuter car.

Interior Space

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649133026865 Ls460

Obviously, passenger comfort is something that is unparalleled too. A larger body shell means more space on the inside for your occupants, which is definitely a plus if you have family or friends that are slightly more generously proportioned.


Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649134361095 Sc430

Literal power. Created in an era where emissions were less critical than they are today, these vehicles will easily create more power and torque than a new daily run-about of the same financial inlay. Like that low-down grunt? You’re perhaps better off in one of these!

Though, we’d still proceed with caution, as these are afterall, (expensive) COE cars. Here are some potential pitfalls!


Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649133982736 1649133982736

Old European luxury cars are famed for being money pits. They may cost the same as your typical Japanese commuter saloon right now, but you’ll be looking at running and upkeep costs that will vastly inflate your ownership costs.

Just bear this in mind - a $300,000 car may cost $80,000 now, but it still very much is a $300,000 car come servicing time. OEM parts for these cars will still cost a pretty penny even though the cars themselves aren’t worth that much anymore.

‘Messy’ Mods

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649135181543 1649135181543

Photo Credit: Carscoops

Unlike your Japanese tuner cars, with their wider initial pool of clients, these luxury cars were out of the reach of the masses when they were new. This means less aftermarket support if something does go wrong. Then again, you are unlikely to find ‘messy’ mods on the scale of some used riced-out Japanese saloons, though being an older car, there’s every chance that one or more of its previous owners may have attempted to update the car using a slew of aftermarket parts.

With the correct expertise and parts, the end result can shave years of the vehicle. If improperly executed, you’re looking at hours of diagnostics, and perhaps thousands in rectification costs - remember, parts for these cars are still going to be expensive!

General Wear-And-Tear

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649135439073 E60

That luscious leather interior has probably seen better days. Years of use and abuse have probably caused creases, cracks, or even tears in the material. And those graphics on that infotainment screen aren't looking so pretty now too eh?

On the outside, and as with any used car, you’d expect to see some dings and scrapes. Battle scars, if you wish to term it that, it may proudly wear to show the world its vintage.

So Should You Buy That COE Luxury Car?

Editors%2 Fimages%2 F1649135495320 1649135495320

You absolutely can. But you’ll have to prepare tens of thousands of dollars in maintenance and diagnostics, as the complicated and frankly archaic precursors to modern day car technology inevitably malfunctions. Even if you lucked out, buying an example that has already been overhauled mechanically, you’d probably still have some refurbishment works that you’ll need to execute to recreate that noughties luxury. New seat coverings for example, or aftermarket interior upgrades to bring the cabin up to date.

If all you’re after is a reliable, low-cost drive, then you may wanna shun these cars. New cars come with warranties and dealership support, so you’ll drive with less worry and fork out less cash to keep your ride on the road. 

It boils down to this - do you want to look good in front of your neighbours and colleagues, or do you actually want to get to where you are going?

Download the Motorist App

The easiest and smartest way to manage your vehicle in Singapore.

Download Now

Read More: What Went On The Last Time COE Prices Were At Record Highs?

Download the Motorist App now. Designed by drivers for drivers, this all-in-one app lets you receive the latest traffic updates, gives you access to live traffic cameras, and helps you manage LTA and vehicle matters.

Did you know we have a Motorist Telegram Channel? Created exclusively for drivers and car owners in Singapore, you can get instant info about our latest promotions, articles, tips & hacks, or simply chat with the Motorist Team and fellow drivers.