We were poking around the NYT archives when we stumbled across this gem, car maintenance budgeting advice for people interested in owning a car … in 1907. Some of the advice remains the same. Other parts, like how much to pay your driver and how much to budget for repainting the car once a year — not so much.
The article, titled “Whys And Wherefores Of Income Needed To Maintain An Automobile Properly,” begins with some advice that remains true more than 100 years later:
“No one should own an automobile, some one has said, unless he is able to lay aside an endowment fund sufficiently large to provide for every emergency that may be required in its annual maintenance.”
It turns out, however, that maintaining a car used to be quite a bit more expensive than it is now.
“A rough estimate, and one which works out very well in practice, is that the annual cost is about one-half the retail price of the car,” says the Times.
They also advise paying your chauffeur at least $100 a month, and not to be cheap about it because you really want to have a driver who is also a fully qualified mechanic. Charles M. Schwab apparently paid his driver $250 a month. Do you really want to be a cheapskate, Mr. New Car Owner?
The article also contains some lovely advice about speeding:
“Judgment in driving is the secret of the life of a car,” said a tourist whose expense bill for the last three or four years reveals a very small amount for repairs. “The ratio of expense mounts up in proportion to the speed. If the man who has a car that can go forty miles an hour will be content to keep it within an average to twenty-five to thirty miles an hour, which is fast enough to automobile enjoyment, his car will last longer and his expense bill will be much less at the end of a year than will be the case if he is anxious to go the limit at every conceivable opportunity. Excess speed means harder wear upon the tires, upon the bearings, the transmission, the brakes and all operating parts. Incidentally, the reasonable driver will not be in danger of being held up the local constables and fined from $50 to $100 for over speeding.”
So keep it under 40, kids.