Dumbest spending mistake was Porsche car

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Hilton CEO Chris Nassetta says selling his black Porsche 944 was the best financial decision he ever made.

That’s because buying it in the first place was his worst. He was in his 20s and fresh off a breakup when he saw the sleek model in a used car lot near his home in Arlington, Virginia. He had a third party ensure the car and the deal were legitimate, then paid $20,000 for it, taking out a loan to cover part of the cost.

“It nearly broke me,” Nassetta, 60, tells CNBC Make It. “I spent all my money on that stupid car.”

In retrospect, it was a bad decision from the start, Nassetta says: He was only making $17,000 per year at the time. Almost immediately, he had to spend an additional $2,000 on a new steering rack — and the car’s problems only got worse from there.

The Porsche was “riddled with problems I couldn’t afford,” Nassetta says.

Today, a Porsche 944 can be worth upwards of $30,000, depending on the year and condition, according to car valuation site Kelley Blue Book. But Nassetta sold his car just 18 months after buying it, and maintains it was his worst spending mistake — and the last sports car he’ll ever own.

Sports cars are both a popular purchase and a common regret. Ex-NBA star Dwyane Wade, for example, told Men’s Health in 2020 that the best financial advice he’d ever received was “to get rid of about 16 cars.”

One of those cars was a $6,000 per month Maybach that Wade said he rarely, if ever, drove. He eventually sold the entire collection, he added, keeping one Audi Q8.

Since 2007, Nassetta has driven something more practical: a four-door Lexus sedan he bought just after landing the top role at Hilton. The well-loved family car was new when Nassetta purchased it, and has stood the test of time: In the 16 years he’s owned the car, he’s put 115,000 miles on it, he estimates.

He also owns another car, a 1969 Ford Bronco. The make and model’s average cost is roughly $50,000 according to automotive lifestyle company Hagerty — but for Nassetta, the SUV’s value is more sentimental.

Nassetta’s family owns a ranch in Montana, and Nassetta had once told a nearby auto mechanic that a Bronco was his dream car. In 2020, the mechanic called Nassetta to say he’d found someone nearby with the vehicle — but it was barely running.

Together, Nassetta and the mechanic spent two years repairing the car, completing the project last May.

“We repaired every little piece of it,” Nassetta says. “What I’ve learned being at Hilton is I like building and I like projects. So doing that gave me great joy.”

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