Well-known for being frugal, it’s probably not surprising that Warren Buffett is not extravagant with his car purchases — although he certainly isn’t buying clunkers. There is at least one thing in his collection that he splurged on. But when you’re one of the wealthiest people in the world, the occasional lavish purchase isn’t going to break the bank. His standard car-buying habits are something anyone can strive to emulate, and his one special purchase is certainly something to be envied.
How did Warren Buffett make his money?
According to Forbes, Buffett has a net worth of $90.2 billion. He is the Chairman and CEO of the holding company Berkshire Hathaway, which owns more than 60 companies, including GEICO, Duracell, and Dairy Queen. Buffett’s father, Howard, was a stockbroker and later a U.S. Congressman representing Nebraska.
Born in 1930 and now 89 years old, Buffett started investing in the stock market when he was just 11. So he’s been investing for most of his life. He plans to give away more than 99% of his wealth. Much of that will be distributed through the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation. In 2010, Buffett also started The Giving Pledge to encourage others to donate their wealth.
What cars does Warren Buffett own?
Buffett doesn’t go for anything super fancy when it comes to his cars. When he got rid of his 2006 Cadillac DTS, he replaced it with a 2014 Cadillac XTS. The car retailed for between $44,600 and $69,095, which is pretty economical for a billionaire. Forbes reported that it was General Motors CEO Mary Barra who convinced Buffett to get the new car, even though his old one was just eight years old and had 19,000 miles. Buffett told Forbes, “She told me about 50 things that were better” about the newest Cadillacs. “By the time we got to lunch — and it’s only 5 or 6 minutes —s he sold me.”
Buffett had his daughter make the purchase for him, since he was worried that such a rich man wouldn’t get a good price. While Barra had recommended Buffett purchase the Cadillac CTS, he ended up buying the XTS on the advice of the saleswoman in the local dealership. He then donated his old Cadillac to Girls, Inc., a nonprofit working to empower and inspire girls and young women. The organization was able to auction it for $122,500.
In a BBC documentary, Buffett said he drives just 3,500 miles per year and so he doesn’t need a fancy car. This also means he feels he doesn’t need a new car very often. He drives himself to the office each day, which is a five-minute trip from his house. His daughter shared that in the past Buffett bought cars that had reduced prices, like ones that had been repaired after hail damage. She said, in a BBC documentary, “You’ve got to understand, he keeps cars until I tell him, ‘This is getting embarrassing—time for a new car.'”
Buffett generally owns American cars, although, in high school, he was a half-owner of a Rolls Royce, and he did own a Volkswagen Beetle in the 1960s for about a year. Since then, he’s mainly owned GMs or Fords.
Buffett’s big splurge
Despite being super frugal, Buffett did eventually buy himself a private jet more than twenty years ago. He got a Bombardier Challenger 600 jet. Since he’d spent so long criticizing CEOs and others who used private jets, he apparently felt a bit silly buying himself one. He acknowledged that by calling the jet “The Indefensible.” He must have loved using his jet frequently, since, after a few years, he renamed it “The Indispensable.”
Buffett thought the only defensible reason to own a private jet is for convenience. It lets him avoid connecting flights and delays and arrive easily at smaller airports. Since he travels a lot for his company, owning a jet makes his life easier. He actually loved his own plane so much that, in 1998, he had Berkshire Hathaway buy NetJets, a private jet leasing company where people own a fraction of a jet.