Why Don’t Exotic Car Collectors Drive Their Cars?

Some car collectors do get out and drive the cars they own, such as Jay Leno. But more often than not, the exotic cars bought by billionaires sit on display in their car collections. The only mileage they clock is the distance between the truck it’s offloaded from and the pedestal it’ll sit on. But why is that, and is it okay for such complex pieces of machinery to rarely see the asphalt?

Jay Leno's Exotic Car Collection
Jay Leno’s Car Collection Paul Harris/Getty Images

Why do collectors buy exotic cars in the first place?

Before we dive into why collectors buy cars, it’s important to discuss what they’re buying in the first place. It can vary from the fastest hypercars to vintage cruisers and everything in between. There really are no “rules” to collecting cars, they just have to be cars. It all depends on the collector’s tastes.

But it’s also important to remember that car collectors aren’t that different from toy collectors. Those original Star Wars figurines are in mint condition because they’re left in the box. Sure, the toy isn’t being played with, but if stored in the proper environment it’s not necessarily doing any harm. And the collector is enjoying it all the same, able to talk about the history of the piece and why it’s lucrative to collect in the first place.

But while toys will be fine if they’re on shelves, cars shouldn’t just sit in place. Engines were built to run, they have fluids in them that can expire, and parts that want to expand with heat. In short, letting a car sit is can actually damage it.

Is it good for cars to only be displayed?

Classic Car Collection worth an estimated £40million
Classic Car Collection Marcus Hessenberg/Barcroft Ima/Barcroft Media via Getty Images

I’m a firm believer that cars are meant to be driven, not just gawked at forever. They’re supposed to take part in events such as the Goodwood Festival of Speed. And classic cars especially are expected to be driven, or else they’ll deteriorate over time.

But the thing to remember about these billionaire collectors is that they, most likely, have hired a team of mechanics to keep the cars frozen in time. All the potential issues are quickly addressed so that, if the owner ever feels like it, they could grab the keys and take any one of them for a spin. Consider a collector’s collection to be more like a museum, where each piece of history or testament to speed is meticulously maintained. These cars are certainly healthier than a classic sitting outside in someone’s driveway.

And the low mileage of these exotic cars is often tied to their value. Take for example a limited production, or even one-of-one vehicle. If there aren’t many of that particular car, getting into an accident would be devastating and expensive. It’s no secret that driving is risky, no matter if you’re in a high-performance exotic car or a daily beater.

So keeping them tucked away is often the safest strategy. And the low mileage paired with the incredible diligence of the mechanics hired does have its perks. If the owner ever decides to sell, these cars often fetch ludicrous prices at auction.

Selling a low-mileage exotic car

A collectable Ferrari Enzo up for sale at auction
Ferrari Enzo At Auction | John Keeble/Getty Images

Depreciation exists for every car, not even billionaires can escape it. The more miles on the odometer, the less it’ll cost. But the price points of luxury exotics are often different from your average car. Obviously, the car will be worth the most within its first 5,000 miles. But according to SupercarPro, exotic car prices eventually bottom out. Most collectors aren’t after one with more than 50,000 miles, so the price gap between a 50,000-mile car and an 80,000-mile car isn’t that different.

From the outside, it does seem like these billionaires are simply showing off their worth, as if they buy cars they like at the moment because they have the coin, then leave them alone. But in truth, the low mileage is simply a bi-product of how valuable they really are.

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