How to appear rich while driving a cheap car

My friend Jerry sold his costly SUV because he needed to handle some domestic bills. Then, in place of the expensive SUV, he bought himself a not so expensive, but still quite fancy, sport car.


“Because we’re in the business of image and, when you’re in the business of image, people care about what you drive.”

Ha, this is true. The business of image does not joke around. In Nigeria, being in the business of image is another way of saying, you know your compatriots are always judging you, gauging your ostentatiousness on a scale calibrated with lousy gold.

Fellow Nigerians judge you all the time. If you’re not wearing a big agbada or driving a monumental car, like a colossal Toyota Prado, you’re not a responsible human being. No one wants to do business with you. They think you’re not successful.

And, come to think of it, they have a point. How do we know you can manage the money they’ll be giving you if you’re not already, um, stinking rich?  And how do you prove you’re rich if you’re not wearing your bank account on your sleeve? Or driving it on the road?

Don’t say you’re being frugal or smart. That’s nonsense. Deciding not to burn your money on toys that fall apart every four years will earn you zero pats on the back. You have to show the Image of Success, man! At least, drive an extravagant car.

But, in case you’re not sure if you’re in the business of image, I’ll help you. You’re in the business of image if you do any of the following:

Advertising, public relations, events management, newspaper/magazine publishing, fashion designing, real estate consulting, standup comedy.

In simpler terms, if you go to a potential client’s office to pitch something and they choose by themselves to see you off to your car, for totally unnecessary reasons, you’re in an image business.

So, in that vein, another friend of mine, Biola. She got a “fairly” used Toyota Camry— 2012 model. Red. It’s a sweet car. It’s also big. The Toyota Camry is a big ass car. The new one sells for 13m in Lagos. But Bola got the 2012, red, big ass model for N2.5m. Shipped directly from Texas.

She showed it to me. It’s clean. The AC cools. The whatdoyoucallit— the sunroof— that one works too. And there’s Bluetooth for your music and phone calls. American spec. Beautiful ride. It was truly fairly used.

And that got me thinking. Instead of putting yourself under pressure because of clients that don’t want you to be great, be like my friend Jerry. Or better still be like my friend Biola and get yourself a cheap, sensible car that tricks people into thinking you’re actually rich.

That’s why I literally typed this into Google: “Cheap cars that make you look rich.”

Boy, was I surprised!

Here are the five sweet rides I think you should consider if you want to game the system like I’m trying to do right now.

  1. 2017 Kia Soul

I like the new Kia Soul because it’s beautiful.

  1. 2017 Jeep Renegade

It’s a Jeep, bro. Since we’ve become super crazy about Jeeps— any high car is a Jeep. But this one is an original. It’s like they wrangled it from the future. (Get it?)

  1. 2017 Chevrolet Colorado

It’s a pickup truck! It says to anyone who wants to judge you: Shut the f**k up! Nobody tells me what to do! Plus, this is a mean ride, obviously.

  1. 2017 Jeep Patriot

It’s respectable. A little less dramatic than the Renegade. But I’m guessing that’s why the Renegade has that name.

  1. The Ford Escape 2010

This is Dexter Morgan’s car. You know Dexter the TV serial killer? Remember his car? This is it. But in 2013, Ford redesigned the Escape and the new models, even though they cost more, now look juvenile. Which is why you’re in luck. Go get a cheaper, solid classic for less. And look rich.

Alright, calm down. I’m not saying there are no cheaper cars than these for what we’re trying to do. You can work your way through the search engine results till you find what’ll make you happy. Also, consider used instead of brand new. And, rather than buying them here, ship them into the country yourself. You know what you want.

See you in traffic, compadre.

P.S: Car in cover image is the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider. Not as affordable as the rest but it’s a looker. 

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