Prospective Mooney Buyers Scratch Pad On:
1) Real World Mooney Performance Specs
2) Average M20 Ownership Budget Requirements
3) Re-sale or Investment Qualities
No doubt, few GA aircraft have earned as much editorial ink in popular aviation magazines than Mooneys. Perhaps it is the secrete Walter Mittyish view many armchair pilots harbor that fast practical cross country performance is only economically available to them in the super efficient M20 design.
But for what ever reason, articles on Mooneys are not difficult to find.
It has been my experience however, that many of these (otherwise well written) articles have been penned by folks who never actually owned a Mooney, let alone used one regularly day to day the way most owners actually do in the real world.
Not that these articles error in important facts or specs, but some seem to be kind of superficial and perhaps even perpetuate common old wives tales rather then to look at the M20 design overall as a long term owner/user would experience it.
Interestingly, official FAA Stats* indicate that Mooneys are revered (kept) far longer by their owners than any other comparable single; nearly twice as long in fact.
*FAA Records Indicate ownership of M20 Mooney's average some 7.3 years VS 3.2 years for Brand P,C,& B single retracts.
Common M20 Mooney Performance Specs
Amazingly, even though they sport both 180hp and 200hp fuel injected engines, the entire fleet of vintage pre-201s (M20B,C,E, & F's) probably vary more year to year (performance wise), than model to model. Excluding the somewhat rare 180 hp long body M20D, most otherwise stock but clean pre-201's are capable of cruising @ 165/175 MPH or better at 6-7,000+ ft or more on some 8-9.3 GPH.
An earlier vintage ('77-'82+/-) M20J/201 will cruise some 10-14+ mph faster at popular cruise settings on about 8.7-9.3 GPH. The newer vintage ('84 & up) or modified M20J's are slightly faster or about 3-8 MPH better cruise on the same fuel flows.
Facts are, many older M20s have been modified to some extent and when fully modified can cruise at 185/195 MPH on less than 9 gph turning in over 20 MPG! As a rule, once leveled off at cruise, most M20's behave (perform) like they have about 250-285+ HP and perform accordingly speed wise.
Due to the basic M20 design being markedly skewed (design wise) towards higher altitudes, turbo M20K/231's gain noticeably greater performance when flown high than most other production designs. Turbo M20's can top over 210-225+ mph at normal cruise settings with 252's & TLS's being even noticeably faster yet, especially at FL altitudes where they like to be flown. In the real world, there is not all that much difference between a 270 hp TLS and a 210/220 hp M20K/252/Encore at cruise; maybe only some 10+/- MPH or so.
In fact, the M20K/252 probably holds more official NAI/FAI World Speed Records for its class than any other piston engine GA aircraft. No question as this is being written, Mooneys currently are The Fastest Piston Production Singles by a comfortable margin. In fact, it generally takes a turbine to beat their actual block to block speeds by a significant margin.
Note: For example, I personally hold two official World Speed Records in my personal modified turbo M20K/262-cj.
Speed however, doesn't by itself tell the whole Mooney performance story.
Efficiency is perhaps the true measuring stick when you look at high performance personally flown aircraft. That is; aircraft being flown by the same guy who is paying the bills...... When compared to its competitors, the average M20 usually turns in nearly twice the Miles Per Gallon (MPG) as say, Brand P, C, or even brand B's line of singles. It is not un-heard of for a M20 Mooney to get nearly 20-22 MPG or better, while the average for most others seems to hover near 10-13 MPG. Quite a difference when you consider fuel costs now days!
M20 Ownership Yearly Budget Requirements
It has been said that you can own most Mooneys for about the same yearly maintenance/operation cash flow of a Cessna 172/182 or Piper Cherokee series aircraft. Frankly, after both being in the GA business for nearly 20 years and observing how owners spend maintenance, insurance, and storage money, I wholeheartedly agree. In short, I offer the following yearly figures for the average 7.6 year ownership cycle;
$1Mil. Liability & Hull Insurance (avg.) $1,700-2,800+/-
Annual & Scheduled Maintenance Expense (avg.) $1,800-$3,500+/-
Typical Un-Scheduled Maint. (avg.) $1-1,500+/-
The ballpark figure I use is that depending on your local hangar expense, a typical previously well maintained M20 will cost approx. $5-7K a year to own prior to fuel and oil consumed. Some owners can get by on less some markedly more. This does not take into count re-furb, mod, or cockpit improvement money spent-if any.
I also don't figure loss of income expense as after all, not all of our assets supply interest income.
Even though Mooneys generally don't depreciate but appreciate-long term, I reason that personally flown aircraft ownership should be approached much like a steady state investment, but an investment who's prime advantage is that of providing a significant life reward or enrichment, as well as efficient fast transportation.
M20 Re-Sale or Investment Qualities
Again, I take issue with the folks who compare major personal assets to mutual funds, stocks, or bank certificates. While vital to most well rounded portfolio's, all such paper assets do nothing but provide return on investment. Not that interest or return is bad, it is just that usually personal capitol assets prime reason for acquisition is not interest income.
Make no mistake however, many GA aircraft can provide a true return on investment upon selling. Except for short term re-selling of brand new Mooneys, in 20 years I have never seen them depreciate on the whole.
To the contrary, the usual rate of appreciation somewhat follows the price of new Mooneys and usually betters the GA market in general. In the recent past market history, a yearly appreciation rate of typical bank passbook savings has been somewhat accurate as a general yardstick of Mooney appreciation within the marketplace. Not bad for an asset which can fly you around.
Actually upon selling, many Mooney owners report that even considering brokerage commissions etc. they actually not only recoup 100% of their initial investment but substantial interest income as well. Lately due to the somewhat wildly increasing sticker price of brand new GA aircraft, even M20's recently produced have been appreciating at near (and even sometimes greater than) bank passbook interest.
In no way can they be compared to other wildly depreciating big ticket personal assets such as motor homes and some larger personally operated boats or yachts. Longer term, we have seen even greater returns as owners who purchased their aircraft 7-15+ years ago report they can nearly double their original purchase price in today's sellers market.
Overall, the hard stats show the M20 is probably one of the safest investment bets in GA!