Dealership haggling aside, the most stressful part about buying a car is usually figuring out how to pay for it.
Cars are expensive, usually the most expensive thing you own.
But it wasn't always like that.
Here's how cars got so pricey.
Henry Ford sold the Model T for $825 in 1908.
When Ford improved their assembly line, the cost went down to $300.
When adjusted for inflation, I'm gonna be saying that term a lot.
That's the same as going from $23,000 to $4300.
Henry Ford's assembly line made the car something pretty much anyone could afford.
Early access to transportation changed the way Americans lived, and growing industrialization meant the birth of the middle class.
Fast forward to 1950, and America is doing great.
The Post-war economic boom doubled and even tripled wages compared to 1938.
When adjusted for inflation to today's money, the median income in the US was around $52,000 a year.
In 1950, The base model F100 pickup will set you back around 1300 dollars, or about 14 thousand today.
That's a great deal for a brand-new truck, a Ford F series no less.
When we look at the F100's lifespan, we see that when adjusted for inflation, the price for a base F series truck has nearly tripled in it's 70 year history.
And it's not alone.
When compared against the Honda Civic and even a base Mercedes sedan, pretty much every model of car has seen an increase in price by about double.
Let's compare the features of a Base model 2018 Ford F150 to that of a 1948 F-1.
When new, the F-1 made 95 horsepower and that was about it.
The F-1 didn't get armrests, radio or a dome light until 1953.
The F150 has a 6 speed automatic transmission, 3.3 liter V6 with variable cam timing making 290 horsepower, independent front suspension, power steering, air conditioning and most importantly, an aux jack.
A production vehicle that had every feature present in the 2018 F150 would cost a fortune in 1948, even simple technology like power steering wouldn't be available to the public for another three years.
And that's just everyday features.
That base 2018 F150 get a decent combined 22 miles per gallon thanks to that variable cam timing.
Old flathead engines like those in the F-1, would be lucky to hit the mid teens.
Old cars were absolutely horrible on safety.
Car safety as a whole needs it's own episode but I just want to look at this IIHS video comparing the 1959 Chevy Bel Air to a 2009 Chevy Malibu.
See how the old car completely collapses in the collision?
How the roof pillars lose all integrity, and the steering column hits the dummy in the face?
That guy is dead for sure.
The Malibu on the other hand, is completely totalled, but the driver survives.
When adjusted for inflation a base Malibu cost around 25 grand, while the Bel Air would be about 22 grand.
The Bel Air is pretty sick, I won't lie, but I don't think the 3000 dollars you save is worth being bludgeoned to death by your steering wheel.
Even the most basic cars today for lower prices are a way better value.
Take the Mitsubishi Mirage, one of the cheapest cars on sale in the US.
At it's most basic, the list price is $13,395.
Even at that low of an entry fee, it has standard features that would have blown Henry Ford's mind.
It's got a touchscreen, rear view camera, and attractive chrome grille accents.
The Model T can't touch this thing.
Okay, that's great, Nolan, new cars are an awesome value compared to what my great grandpa was driving.
But I still can't afford one.
Well, neither can I.
But why not?
In 1950 the median income, when adjusted for inflation, was $52,000 per household.
Today, the median income is $59,000.
Looking at the median income next to the price of the F150 side by side from 1950 to now, the price of a pickup increased 14,069 dollars.
That outpaces the median income by a factor of two.
Going back again to 1928, buying a Model T costs 300 bucks.
So that's about 21% of your annual income going towards the purchase of a new car.
Comparing that to today, using a base, base Ford F150, it costs about 47% of your yearly haul.
But if you get a Supercrew cab, you know, a truck that could actually hold your family with, that takes nearly 60 percent.
It takes twice as much money to buy a new car as it did 60 years ago, which is fine because new cars are better.
But the problem is wages didn't keep up with the rise in prices.
Okay Nolan, just don't buy a new car then.
A used car is just as good and more affordable.
Yeah, I agree, but the problem for a lot of people is saving up a big enough chunk to buy a used car in the first place.
Instead of buying a used car outright, more and more people are signing up for long term loans.
A 74 month loan on a two year old car is not uncommon, and loans up to 96 months are getting more popular.
As of the fourth quarter of 2016, loans lasting 73 months or longer made up 31 percent of auto loans given out by Credit Unions, compared to 12 percent in 2009.
And these loans don't depreciate with the value of the vehicle, meaning by the time you're done paying it off, you've payed way more than what the already depreciated car was worth.
In most places, especially small towns, cars are an absolute necessity in our daily life.
People will take on these brutal loans because they don't have any other choice.
And with stories coming out about long term loans with interest rates of 25%, it feels wrong.
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What do you think?
Is the higher price worth it, or should manufacturers make super-cheap cars that crumble in an accident?
Follow Donut Media on Instagram @donutmedia and follow me on Instagram @nolanjsykes.
If you want to know more about Henry Ford check out this episode of WheelHouse, he was a weird guy.
And if you wanna know more about cars you can't afford regardless of median income check out this episode of Up to Speed on McLaren.