From the December 2000 issue of Entrepreneur

You've worked hard for your success, and you reward yourself by buying your dream car, a cherry-red Porsche. But are you making a business faux pas by indulging yourself? Sure, a Porsche always says expensive, which might let others know you're a bona fide success, but it may also tell clients and employees that you're not focused enough and are playing more than you should.

Buying a business car to reflect your image can be tricky. Images are a language that signals to others who you are. Just like your clothes, your business vehicle is a clue to your character.

"Who are you trying to impress? What label are you putting on yourself? Have that clearly in mind [when buying a new car]," advises Tom Healey, a partner at J.D. Power & Associates, an automotive research company based in Agoura Hills, California. "While a Mercedes-Benz or BMW denotes dignity, are they too [stodgy]? And do your domestic customers frown on foreign cars?"

Bright colors and neon are great for commercial vans that do double duty as rolling billboards, but if you're seeking another bank loan or need to impress venture capitalists, then a more discreet black or silver paint job on your conservative four-door sedan sends a better message. That sporty roadster may make your neighbors drool, but when it comes to business smarts, consider buying a car that projects professionalism, success and a dash of solemnity.


Jill Amadio has reported on the automotive industry for 23 years as an editor and consultant.


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