Luxury cars on campus turn heads

Students park their luxury cars all around campus on a daily basis.

By Janet Kim

“At least a couple times a day I see luxury cars like Audis and BMWs, but once in a while I see top-end sports cars like Ferraris and that infamous Galaxy Maserati,” Kim said.

Typically, a Maserati can be valued at $100,000 and up, and with a custom paint job the price can raise by $15,000 or more.

Michael Kwan, senior in Engineering, can be seen cruising along the streets on campus in his dark blue Maserati, with a license plate reading, “TWERK.” He said he initially chose to purchase this car simply because it is faster and more convenient than other luxury cars, such as a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, and there are four seats instead of two. Kwan said he enjoys the extra space because he likes to drive his friends around with him.

Kwan is not alone in his passion for fast and trendy cars on campus. He said he has a group of 12 friends who all have a love for luxury cars and often go driving together.

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“We have a group on an app called WeChat,” Kwan said. “Basically we use WeChat to meet up and go around places and sometimes racing at a range in Savoy.”

Kwan said there are not any specifications to join the group, but it mostly consists of close friends and friends of friends who enjoy driving and racing cars.

“It’s nice to be a part of it because it gives you people who enjoy the same thing,” he said. “Some students were already driving these kinds of cars before I joined. It keeps on adding on, so even once we graduate there are already new people to continue with what we are leaving behind.”

Kwan explained the parents of these students typically give them a budget and from there, it is their decision of what car they purchase. Kwan said he and his friends purchased their cars from bigger cities, like Chicago and Boston, because they have more options to choose from. Lee said that many of the people who are a part of this group tend to sell their cars after they graduate because many of them travel or go back to their home countries, so they no longer have the need for the car.

Johannes Lee, junior in Engineering, is not a part of this group or any like it, but he still has an impressive collection of cars in his arsenal. He currently owns four cars on campus, which include a 2014 Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4, a 2015 Range Rover Evoque, a 2014 Porsche 911 Carrera S and a 2014 Aston Martin Vanquish. The combined base price for these cars comes up to $600,000.

Lee said there are many perks to driving a luxury car.

“Cars are my hobby and driving exotic sports cars is a way of relieving stress for me,” Lee said. “My dad is also a huge car fanatic so one of the ways we bond is through cars and so he was willing to help me buy them. I actually earned over half of the money I spent on my cars through day trading stocks and doing startups.”

While it may seem that most of the students who own these luxury cars are international students, not all of them fall under that category. Kim said there is a perpetuated stereotype that all international students are really well off, and this stigma should end.

“There are a lot of international kids (who) aren’t allowed to have part time jobs due to their visa status, but I know so many hard working international students that worked very hard to get them where they are today,” she said. “It’s pretty unfair to generalize over a stereotype.”

Being an international student herself, Kim said she could relate to these stereotypes.

“International kids have to pay a higher tuition and pay for visas that are really expensive, so not a lot of people can afford all of that,” she said. “However, I know for a fact that there are a huge number of international kids that definitely have a more average financial status — like me.”

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