Richest Americans Are Going 'Conservative' with Car Purchases


Millionaire pop stars, professional athletes, and reality TV darlings may show off their exotic luxury vehicles and souped-up SUVs in tabloids and on TV but America’s richest aren’t interested in those types of cars. The Wall Street Journal posted an article on MarketWatch identifying some of the most popular cars in the wealthiest U.S. neighborhoods.  Clue: it’s not what you think.

Some of the top cars that America’s richest are purchasing are sure to surprise you–they definitely surprised me…

They’re buying WHAT?

The American Classic: Jeep Grand Cherokee

Why it’s surprising:

According to MarketWatch, the Cherokee is extremely popular in posh beach communities.  This is an American classic, yet not what you would expect the 1% to be driving into their heated 4-car garages.  With a price tag starting at $28k, this is an extremely conservative car purchase for the uber-rich.  (The Wrangler was also popular in these communities.)

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class

Why it’s surprising:

This is the new kid on the luxury block–and it starts at only $36k.  (It’s okay if you did a double take between the name “Mercedes-Benz” and price tag “$36,000.”  Most people do–at the TV commercials, billboards…)  This sedan was created in order to lure younger buyers into becoming Mercedes-Benz-buying lifers.  However, this vehicle isn’t just attracting the younger demographic of uber-rich.  The C-Class also seems to be the “IT” “Sweet 16” birthday vehicle.  In this case, I’m not sure Mercedes will hook life-time brand buyers, but the swarms of birthday C-classes are, at least, sure to cultivate a taste for luxury in the spoiled teen population.


They’re buying WHAT?

BMW 3-Series

This BMW model is understandably popular in the U.S. because it’s entry-level, yet has that BMW je ne sais quoi.  However, I’m surprised that some of the wealthiest Americans are purchasing this vehicle over both the 6 and 7-series vehicles.  MarketWatch lists the 3-series as being most popular in the Coral Gables, Florida area–which is full of retirees.  Although a great BMW, it’s not one of the “usual suspects” when you think of retirees looking for cars that have luxury, comfort, and space.

Ford F-Series

Why it’s surprising:

It’s surprising because you picture the very wealthy in black, luxury sedans.  I know, I know, wealthy, RUGGED Americans need their vehicle too.  I’m just happy it’s an American brand.


The Usual Suspects:

The “Executive Taxi”: Mercedes-Benz E-Class

Why it isn’t surprising:

The E-class is mid-level and seems to be the “go-to” for professionals, retirees, and executives who want a solid, luxury sedan.

The Silicon Valley Home-girl: Tesla Model S

Why it isn’t surprising:

Several of the U.S.’s richest neighborhoods are located in California–specifically Silicon Valley.  It makes sense that the Californians will want the coolest electric vehicle out there.  The fact that it’s “home-grown” is probably another lure.  Too bad it doesn’t come in shades of the Californian sunset.


When one pictures the 1% as car buyers, we need to think American, entry-level luxury, and below a $71,000 price tag instead of super car exotics. What does this mean for the automotive market?  Are wealthy Americans playing to their more conservative side when purchasing a vehicle?  (Is this the recession talking or just good money sense?)  Could the wealthiest Americans be losing interest in super-luxury brands or are some of the mid-market and traditional luxury brands just “doing it better” these days?  Leave a comment–I would like to know what you think!