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The Going Concern Grand Prix: Let’s Talk About Your Ride

It's not often we get an advice email we haven't already answered, but lo-and-behold, here's one:

What is the coolest car an accountant could have?  Bimmer? Benz? Beetle?

Forget ballin partners who have long since disposed of a soul, I mean us grunts who do the work.  Surely our perceived lack of personality and terrible attire can be partially offset by a sweet ride, no?

My esteemed colleague Colin was originally going to take this question but since he's a kale-crunching, bike-riding hippie who takes every opportunity to berate me for the disdain of the environment I express every time I hop in my trusty little Mazda3 to go the two miles to the store, I get dibs.

On first glance, this seems like a bit of a ridiculous question. Because you're talking about accountants trying to be cool, but we'll bite.

My first task was to turn to Twitter because, let's face it, even accountants like talking about themselves. "Going Concern market research for an article: public accountants, what kind of car do you drive?" I asked every accountant on Twitter within shouting distance, expecting to hear about a ton of Honda Accords and maybe even a Yugo or two. Much to my surprise, the responses I received show that maybe I don't give you guys enough credit.

It seems you crazy kids (read: young professionals) tend toward flashier vehicles, leaving the 15-year-old Accords to the old codgers. And — according to our own "Partner Track" Sidney Kingston — that shouldn't come as a big shock. "Best cars at work are driven by interns and partners," he told me. Well duh, when you suddenly make $25 an hour fresh out of college, why not add to the debt you racked up at college by picking up a nice ride that's completely out of your league.

Let's be honest here: public accounting is not the place for people who want to stand out. If you want to drive a nice car and wear a $500 tie, you should have gotten into investment banking. No one — NO ONE — gets into accounting for the bling and bitches. Money, yes, but bling, not so much. Sure the only real reason to make partner is the money but for young professionals just starting out, how are you going to make that $55k salary stretch between school loans and a big fat car note? That's just so… un-accountant. Clients pay you because you're the one who is supposed to know how to handle money, not throw it away on an extravagant status item you barely get to enjoy because you're always working.

All that said, what exactly is the "coolest" car an accountant can have? I suppose that depends on several factors:

  1. What you define as "cool"
  2. How big of a shit you give about what others think
  3. Just how much "cool" you can afford

To me, my Mazda3 is damn near the coolest ride ever because she's fast, sexy, fun to drive, reliable and I didn't have to sell a kidney to buy her. But then again, maybe I'm not as cool as I thought I was. Good thing my #2 above has always been approximately zero to negative.

So, let's discuss. First of all, do you feel the need to drive a "cool" car? Or, like Colin, do you feel superior to all those pathetic freeway-suffering, Earth-hating monsters by owning no car at all? And second, does any of this matter? I mean really. When you die, no one is going to mention what a sick ride you had at your eulogy, is it really that important?

And if it is, what would you drive if you could drive any car?