Bentley Continental GT
Bentley Motors
The shockingly fast Bentley Continental GT coupe has already become a favorite in the Hamptons as well as in Malibu.
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updated 10/9/2006 3:24:48 PM ET 2006-10-09T19:24:48

It should surprise no one that Warren Buffett doesn't spend a lot of time worrying about what he drives. Last month the famously frugal billionaire investor auctioned off his personal car for charity. The auto in question was a 2001 Lincoln Town Car with the vanity license plate "THRIFTY."

The point is the 75-year-old Buffett, who took over Berkshire Hathaway in 1965 and has a personal net worth estimated at around $44 billion, can afford to buy any car he wants — heck, he could afford to buy Ford.

Yet like many seriously rich men he either doesn't have the time or the interest to drive a car that is superfast or ultra-expensive. What he wants is a safe, reliable, comfortable car that will get him to his next appointment on time. Not only are many of the most successful people, such as Buffett or Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates, usually too busy to drive themselves, they would also give their shareholders nightmares if they took to driving around in Lamborhghinis.

A boring truth

According to a survey released last month by CareerBuilder.com and Cars.com, the majority of respondents thought that the typical CEO drives a luxury vehicle on which he or she spent $70,000 or more. The reality is much different, if the survey is correct. It states that CEOs spend less than $25,000 on average for their primary car, and that only 19% of respondents drive a luxury car.

The rest of the list broke down like this: passengers cars (29% ), SUVs (24%), pickup trucks (13%), vans and minivans (9%) and sports cars (6%).

Apparently, it all comes down to the industry in which one works. Investment bankers concerned that they may have been condemned to a life of driving out to the Hamptons in a minivan can breathe a collective sigh of relief. The survey found that senior banking executives are the most likely to be seen driving luxury cars and sports cars, while health-care professionals prefer SUVs, and general contractors pickup trucks.

Making an impression

Luckily for those in corner offices who do love cars, and want to make a statement, manufacturers offer an expanding array of worthy rides for any personality type and business style.

If you're more conspicuous than the typical captain of industry, you have it made. The boom in luxury and ultra-luxury markets has brought with it a class of lavish vehicles without historical compare. Sedans with price points comfortably fixed at or around $100,000 have become regulars in the stables of lux heavies Audi, BMW, Jaguar, and Mercedes-Benz.

Symbols of power

And that's not to mention sport-oriented offerings from recognized nameplates Aston Martin, Maserati, and Porsche. If wealth and success are your means of making possible boyhood dreams of speed, a supercar from one of the handful of low-volume, exotic manufacturers from Koenigsegg to Bugatti may be in.

Of course, hulking SUVs remain top contenders as stand-ins for power and pride, despite the general rise in gas prices. Lincoln and Cadillac have just remade their flagship offerings, the Navigator and the Escalade, with more heft and bling all around. Mercedes-Benz, meanwhile, is floating its new $55,675 GL450.

Copyright © 2012 Bloomberg L.P.All rights reserved.

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