“Rule number one is never lose money. Rule number two is never forget rule number one.”
Warren Buffett isn’t like most billionaires. Buffett is a generous philanthropist, pledging ninety-nine percent of his personal fortune to charity, and an honest-to-goodness self-made billionaire, starting as a child and turning into nine thousand dollars by his twenties (around one hundred thousand dollars adjusting for inflation), it’s no wonder he’s earned nicknames for himself like “The Oracle” and “The Sage.” It may come as no surprise that, when it comes to cars, the man swears by his Cadillacs. It may surprise you, however, that he generally rolls around in basic, off-the-line, mid-range models rather than rare limited-runs or custom-built autos. While his current set of wheels is a Cadillac XTS, it is the 2006 DTS with which he is most frequently associated.
A Billionaire To Be
Born in Omaha, Nebraska on August 30, 1930, Warren Buffett’s interest in investment was no later-life discovery. From the very start the billionaire-to-be had a deep interest in math, with the Woodrow Wilson High School yearbook of 1947, his senior year, listing Warren as a “future stockbroker.” At just seven years old Warren borrowed the book One Thousand Ways to Make $1,000 from the local library, and was already a thriving businessman before he was out of elementary school. As a child, Warren sold chewing gum, collected Coca-Cola bottles, went door to door selling magazines, and held a steady dayjob at a grocery store owned by his grandfather. By high school he was on to selling golf balls and stamps, detailing cars, and delivering newspapers. He filed his first tax return before he was even out of high school, taking a thirty five dollar deduction for his watch and bicycle, which he used to deliver papers. He and a friend pooled twenty five dollars together for a pinball machine, placing it in a barber shop, and soon branching out across multiple barber shops, eventually selling the business at a hefty profit for twelve hundred dollars.
Before Buffett was even out of high school he had already built the momentum that would carry him to billionaire status. By the time he was out of college, Warren Buffett had a small fortune to invest into further ventures. In the early 1950s, Buffett launched Buffett-Falk & Co., taking on the role of investment salesman. From there he moved from one firm to another, some in his own name, others as a hired employee. By the late 50s, Buffett operated multiple partnerships and purchased a five room home in Omaha for just over thirty thousand dollars, where he lives to this day.
To look at how Buffett turned his small fortune into an enormous fortune, he almost makes it look too simple. At one of his partnerships, Buffett put up just one hundred dollars of his own money, and asked a doctor to find ten other doctors to invest ten thousand dollars each. By 1962 he was a millionaire. From there he bought stock in Coca-Cola, and continued to boost his income with partnerships and investments. By 1990 he was a billionaire. By 2008, he was listed by Forbes as the richest man in the world. In 2011, Warren Buffett’s philanthropic donations earned him a Presidential Medal of Freedom.
While financial dealings often sound confusing to the layman, throughout Warren Buffett’s career he has earned his money through plans that almost sound too easy to actually work. Buffett’s secret seems to be that he has simply applied common sense on a vast scale, to incredible success.
Warren Buffett really has his pick of any car in the world he wants to ride in, and anyone in the world he wants to drive it. If he wanted to be carried around on his favorite recliner by a team of famous bodybuilders, who’s to stop him? Certainly, Buffett rides around in style and luxury, but his choice of Cadillac is surprisingly modest.
The Cadillac DTS was a front wheel drive model produced from 2005 to 2011. The base price: Just $41,195, or $52,847 adjusting for inflation. For the average middle-class American, you could be driving the same car as one of the world’s richest men for just one year’s salary. This seems perfectly in-character for the man who still lives in his thirty thousand dollar home in Omaha, and who has used his wealth and status to champion against income disparity.
Standard features for the car include HID headlamps and leather seating, with options including magnetic ride control, moonroof, and heated seats and steering wheel. The car boasts a powerful 4.6 liter Northstar V8 engine and comes in four door sedan and limousine models.
Warren parted with his DTS in 2015 when he upgraded to the XTS. The car sold at auction for $122,550, more than twice the purchase price, with the proceeds benefiting the Girls Club of America. The car had around twenty thousand miles on it, proving that this wasn’t just decoration for the driveway, Buffett actually drove the car on a regular basis. Buffett signed the dashboard before selling it off, making it a one-of-a-kind collector’s item. A year prior, Warren Buffett actually auctioned off a lunch for two million dollars, with the money going to San Francisco anti-poverty charity The Glide Foundation.
Warren’s modest taste in cars reflects his own philosophies on life, and his belief that personal wealth is not so much something to flaunt, but something that can be used to make the world a better place.
“Price is what you pay. Value is what you get.”