Journal: Do You Actually Want A Massive Car Collection?

Do You Actually Want A Massive Car Collection?

Andrew Golseth By Andrew Golseth
March 14, 2016
37 comments

My great-grandfather, Daddy Tom, was better at being an enthusiast than I am. His logic: “You only live once, so experience all you can.” He realized his limits—maybe one or two toys, but that’s it. Buy a car you want, enjoy it for a while, and when the honeymoon phase ends, sell it and get something else!

“It’s just a car,” he’d say—and he was right. I have a hard time listening to his sound logic. Perhaps if he were still around, we’d chat over a few beers about it,  and he’d convince me my attempted automobile hoarding is foolish.

When I turned 20 years old, I pledged to never sell another car. I had turned into the gearhead that got “attached” to his cars. The thought of selling any of my vehicles to someone else was blasphemous. That was many years and even more car sales ago, but I have been fortunate enough to carry out my initial reasoning: to grow a collection.

I’ve sold plenty of cars since swearing I wouldn’t let another go, but I’ve still managed to add to the stable—albeit very slowly, over many years. I’m up to five automobiles now, and it’s wonderful.

Except: two are on the other side of the country in a friend’s barn, in varying degrees of despair awaiting restorations that will, undoubtedly, take far longer than I’d like. But between you and me, it’s a good thing my Datsun and Alfa Romeo aren’t here in California: I don’t have anywhere to park them!

The truth is, I’ve only got one garage space, I just happen to be renting my neighbor’s as well. My wife has to street park. That poor woman—I’ve got my BMW and old Toyota locked away safely—she has to take her chances with street parking. If my other jalopies were here in California, I wouldn’t know what I’d do with them.

Owning a collection, in theory, sounds like a lot of fun. If you collect them slowly over time, it’s not even the financial dilemma of initial purchasing costs—it’s everything else. Ever consider what insurance is on five vehicles? How about routine maintenance? Let’s not forget about unavoidable old-car-problems. Even if you do your own work, it still adds up. My good friend Mike was up to six cars and a motorcycle. He used to nervously laugh about how much money in fuel was evaporating in his driveway and garage as we spoke. We’d joke, “Don’t you have to do a $1,000 oil change(s) soon?”

At Cars and Coffee, our gearhead group walk around chatting until someone says, “Leno Scenario, I’d have one of those.” It’s become a thing. “Leno Scenario.” It infers, with an unlimited budget, endless garage space, and an entire crew of mechanics on call, we’d buy…just about one of everything. It’s fun to fantasize about owning such an impressive catalog, but the reality is most of us will never afford such a treat.

For me, the appeal of owning more than one vehicle has always been about diversity. The few times I only had a single car, I ungratefully began to nitpick everything. It drove me crazy, and the routine drive became mundane. Am I just hard to please? With two or more autos, I appreciate them individually for what they are, and their little nuances don’t get to me. I don’t have a dedicated daily driver. Instead, I’m fortunate enough to change it up every few days.

That said, I’ve come to a point of frustration with juggling spare parts, never ending maintenance, lack of garage space, and exhausting expenses—there’s always something that pops up. Did I mention I’m trying to restore two cars simultaneously? Foolish. I’m not complaining, I’m just trying to say: there is a limit. Every enthusiast auto-nirvana varies depending on our individual lives. I think finding that balance of number-of-cars versus enjoyment is crucial.

What kind of petrolhead are you? Do you prefer to tinker with one classic for a bit, and then move on? Do you have a dozen Alfas, but only three that are currently running? Are you collecting or are you content with that one perfect Sunday driver? Tell us in the comments!

Photography by Alessandro Bianchi, Afshin Behnia, Jeremy Heslup, Luke Wooden, Nat Twiss & Ted Gushue

Join the Conversation
Related

37
Leave a Reply

33 Comment threads
4 Thread replies
5 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
34 Comment authors
Brian SigelAntonino Barbagallosimon harperChristopher SkjævelandTom Schmidt Recent comment authors
newest oldest most voted
Brian Sigel
Brian Sigel

I’ve been a car nut my whole life. Mainly focused around German cars. I’m not sure it’s from my dad working at the Westmoreland Volkswagen factory or when my cousin gave me his 71 Volkswagen Beetle convertible when I was 17. And I still owe on that car to this day and I am now 44. About 5 years ago I bought a house that had a larger garage and I said this is going to be perfect just enough space. It’s basically a four-car garage and very carefully I can squeeze six cars into it. Within two years I… Read more »

received_1512468452121487.jpeg
22519926_715764485300919_808202638962513525_o.jpg
3852.jpeg
Antonino Barbagallo
Antonino Barbagallo

The car collection has gotten a little out of control. Including the daily drivers for a household of 3, I think I currently have 24. They are all in perfect condition. I even have my very first car, a 1978 Córdoba ,it has 26,000 miles.

C562423F-4EDB-4145-91C6-BB96FBCBAE00.jpeg
49335F39-DD03-4AB4-A37E-37CB264B9291.jpeg
40ED0A8D-5F05-406D-B4BF-C64E8C7F67CA.jpeg
simon harper

My day job is looking after a private collection and I can tell you first hand it’s a lot of work, but a great joy and privilege and for the owner of a significant collection none of the pitfalls you mention really factor.

Christopher Skjæveland

I don’t think of myself as a collector as I don’t classify our (me and my wife’s) daily drivers as worthy condenders, but the reality is that we have a total of 4 vehicles to our disposal – 2 daily drivers (an ’06 Mazda 5, an ’05 Mondeo Estate) one classic (’70 Ford Torino Brougham) and the motorbike (’77 Kawasaki KZ650). I’ve owned a few classics over time, mostly daily driving them, but I’ve never owned more then two classics simultaneously. I like the thought of it for as you say, diversity. But all the “negatives” (insurance, service and maintenance… Read more »

Tom Schmidt
Tom Schmidt

Got the car I had in college; a 1970 BMW 2002, and that’s about all the nostalgia I need. I’ve got other cars that go real fast.

Steve Crowley
Steve Crowley

I have 2 Alfas. A 68 Duetto with a GTA driveline in it and a 57 sprint that I’m putting a twinspark 2 liter in. ALFA stands for always looking for another! Can never have enough

Lochlan Denton
Lochlan Denton

I have a Morris 1300 and an FJ40 Landcruiser I am after something vintage now. I have always maintained that 3 is the magic number as you can have the greatest variation, for me that is classic, off-road and vintage, while all can still be used and enjoyed. I know people with 20 motorcycles and 8 cars (all in running condition) and it is sad because most of them gey used, there simply isn’t enough time.

Christian Volquartz
Christian Volquartz

I have a an XJL, an older boxster, and an 82 911. The 911 is in storage and the boxster and XJL have parking spaces most of the time. Next on the wish list is an 06 XKR, an 2010 Granturismo, and a 1966 Coupe Deville. I have no parking spaces for these hopeful additions and that just bothers me a whole lot. Hopefully my space will grow with my purchases is all I can say.

Alex Motola
Alex Motola

I have more than the Petrolicious average, and there is a sense that the cars “own” you. Storage is obviously a problem, but you will fill any space you have – it’s the nature of “our” beast. Everything mentioned below (oil, air pressure, batteries, cars blocked by other cars, etc.) is a problem. What’s beautiful about Leno’s Garage is that not only is each car ready to go, but you don’t have to do anything but jump in and drive! And of course, Jay can have the car “brought around” if necessary. I completely understand the logic of cutting back,… Read more »

MVScalice
MVScalice

I agree 100\%. My dad and I have 5 cars right now and I miss the days where we had 2… we don’t have a storage issue, fortunately, but I definitely resonate with the other nuances you’ve mentioned. There’s always at least one car that needs work done on it. In fact, yesterday 3 of them were out of commission so I was up until 1am cleaning the 4th car for Cars and Coffee, where I had to leave at 6:30am. Speaking of cleaning, I detail cars on the side so there’s ALWAYS a car that needs to be cleaned.… Read more »

Frank Schwartz
Frank Schwartz

So nice to see I am not the only one afflicted. And the comment about switching up cars making you appreciate each one is brilliant and spot on. I currently have 13 and for the first time I am looking at paring the list down. Admittedly, they are not all collectible and the non-collectible ones will go first. But if I am honest it is just to make room for more.

Jim Levitt
Jim Levitt

At my “high point” I think I had about 12-15 collectable cars at the same time.
All were in show condition, all ran flawlessly and ALL were easily accessible to the street.
I drove them all at least once a month, maybe more and I mean a full day, not just warmed up and around the block.
THAT was fun. If I only looked at them I considered that to be a huge waste of time and my money.

Adrian Smith
Adrian Smith

We currently have 6 cars but only 4 of interest; the other two are our daily drivers. I have two classics, an Alfa Romeo 105 coupe from 1972 and a Lancia Fulvia S1 Rallye from 1969 both are delightful to drive but are so different in their respective driving experiences. Every so often I think I might sell one but then I go out and drive her ”and have a word with myself”. I would find it hard to choose between them as they are both so wonderful each in their own way. The Lancia so delicate and sophisticated and… Read more »

Ian Holmes
Ian Holmes

I have three. My daily driver a ’98 Sonoma , which really should be better looked after. A ’76 MGB, which I love, and a ’63 Studebaker Cruiser, which is a running restoration project. Different vehicles for different situations. They are all great. But I’d still like another one, something from the ’20’s perhaps. I try not to think about the storage issues…

Juan Luis Redó
Juan Luis Redó

For me it’s not possible to enjoy and maintain in drive conditions more of 4-5 classic cars.

Tim Williams
Tim Williams

I don’t have a collection, but I do have three cars, one for me, one my wife, and ‘the keeper’, which is up in my father’s garage. All are exciting to drive. The issues are time and storage: it’s not just storing the cars, but the tools, spare rims, parts, jet wash etc. The time on the other hand has to be split between the cars and the other hobbies and competing interests, such as a summer cottage, or a boat. You can end up spending all your time on maintenance and projects, and not enough time actually driving or… Read more »

Laurie Bridger
Laurie Bridger

Storage is definitely the problem. I wish there were more affordable houses with large garages. I don’t need the house to be a mansion just because it has a large garage. Modest house with attached warehouse would be perfect. Currently up to six cars with number 7 on the way, and 3 more on the wish list. It definitely restricts the housing options. I wouldn’t change it though. I’ve still got my first car, a 2001 Jeep Wrangler with plenty of my blood sweat and tears into the modifications. I’ve still got my first sports car – a 2008 MX5… Read more »

Jeremy DeConcini
Jeremy DeConcini

I think it has to do with how much space you have. If I had the money and an airplane hangar, it would be filled with cars and bikes. When you have to start moving stuff around on the street and your neighbors give you the stink eye because of all the cars on the curb under covers, I feel like the cars are owning you instead of vice versa. So the short answer is that the garage is every bit as important as the vehicles (to me, as they say, reasonable minds may differ). So, for the curious, I… Read more »

Sunday Drivers
Sunday Drivers

The costs associated with maintaining a collection is the exact reason I’ve decided to rent out my own collection. There are just too many cars that I would love to drive and own! Hopefully I can find enough of an audience/clientele that will make the business successful and at the same time spread the love of classic motoring. All the while allowing me to purchase more cars to experience. Purchase price, transport of the car, registration, insurance,maintenance, and housing of the vehicle is not an option for many people. You can rent a high end exotic, but what if you… Read more »

rick bradner
rick bradner

Whew! What a relief, it seems that I’m pretty much an average guy…at least among you lot. -LOL I see the number five most often as I read through the comments and I only have six, so it seems I’m pretty normal. My wife will be so pleased to hear. The costs do start to add up though. Six cars at $50 a month for parking is $3600/yr. Insurance is about $1K/yr. each averaging the more modern and collector plates, and of course the 330 is 4x that. And there is maintenance which is, ahem, variable. $20K a year all… Read more »

Rod S
Rod S

LOL was just literally there checking out the latest auctions.

Brian Hart
Brian Hart

My limit always seems to have been ‘One more car than I have garage space for’.

Currently, I have to sell one of my ‘children.’

Lance Allam
Lance Allam

A lot of valid points but I am prepared to make certain sacrifices to own a dozen exiting cars and 4 motorcycles. I keep a warehouse and have the requisite insurance. It is a lifestyle choice and essential part of my life. All vehicles have to be usable for extended trips and regular use. I run two Porsches, a 1985 911 Carerra, a Panamera GTS, Two Jaguar XJ-s’ s a 3.6 and 5.3, Two Maseratis, a Merak SS and Kyalami, an Alfa Romeo 105 2000 GTV, a Puma GT, a Dodge Ram, a Mercedes Benz 300CE and A190, an Audi… Read more »

Art Harvey
Art Harvey

No, I don’t aspire to a “massive” collection – for all the reasons you give: storage, insurance, maintenance and just getting 5 cars inspected every year takes away from the time available to DRIVE them as much as they deserve to be. However, a small collection can be manageable. Having slowly, slowly nurtured myself up to a”collection” of 5 classics I can appreciate the discipline needed to select, or curate this limited number – to ensure there is enjoyment and purpose. I don’t want a massive collection, I want a meaningful one.

jekle
jekle

@ Guitar Slinger “If you’ve got more than two cars in your ‘ collection ‘ .. you’re not using them as the maker intended” Well now…that’s just pure nonsense. I currently have 5 motorcycles in the stable. And they all get ridden…probably more than most owners ride their only bike. The author above is right about storage and insurance and taxes (here in CT we have a car tax) and registration and maintenance. Maybe its true that the one with the most toys wins…but the one with the most toys also spends a lot of time and money on them…and… Read more »

Nate
Nate

I like variety. I couldn’t eat the same meal every day and in the same way I don’t want to drive the same vehicle all the time. Some days I crave a muscle car, some days a chopped up hotrod, some a simple antique sports car. I don’t own these cars as status symbols but because I found them appealing. Do they require a lot of time? Yes, but like children, I don’t consider it time wasted.

Guitar Slinger
Guitar Slinger

I’ll be the voice pf descent here [ big surprise ] If you’ve got more than two cars in your ‘ collection ‘ .. you’re not using them as the maker intended .. but rather are using them in order to ; Prop up your flagging ego Prove that you can keep up with the Jones’s Show your friends and neighbors that yours is bigger than theirs Fulfill your narcissistic tendencies Maintain an unhealthy case of OCD Feeding the need to hoard Maintaining an ‘ addiction ‘ rather than a ‘ collection . In other words …. You don’t really… Read more »

Nate
Nate

Nearly every one of your comments is insulting or offensive in some way and the sheer number of them really detracts from the quality of this site.

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

Sorry, GS, you’re completely incorrect with your assessment, and needlessly insulting as well. I have come to value your comments which are sometimes insightful and almost always very entertaining. I wish you’ll give the rest of us the benefit of the doubt (since you really don’t know anything about any of us!) that we are adult enough to know what we want, and respect how we choose to indulge our shared affliction. After all, we’re not hurting anyone, are we?

As my 3 year old son would say, please be nice.

Henrique De Resende Mendonça
Henrique De Resende Mendonça

In the theory I totally agree but sometimes you can lose a buying opportunity and otherwise it’s not so easy to sell a niche car. At least in my home country, Brazil.

Rod S
Rod S

I agree with everyone here. I’ve collected a modest stable of 5, which is just about a man of reasonable means can hope to keep up with. Each is driven, each tickles a particle nerve when the fancy strikes. The AW11 MR2 is my canyon toy. The G37S is my cruiser. The Fiat Abarth is my daily. ’63 P1800 is my weekend car. And the ’74 Manta is partially restored, but gets driven the least. Can’t see myself selling anything at this point.

Nom DelaNom
Nom DelaNom

After years in remission, the bug has bitten hard and my wife and I aquired 3 vintage Jags in as many years. This year a beautiful XJ12 came my way and I looked at the spreadsheet I use to schedule repairs on the 3 we already have, factored in storage for a 4th and realized I had a choice. I could keep restoring the two oldest cats or I could get a “new” kitty for the pride but not both. I saw a possible future where I pass as an old man and they find a barn of rotting, neglected… Read more »

epieters
epieters

We are really all the same.
I can never stop buying and collecting. 3 alfa 2 etypes 2 Porsches 356 BMW baur, lancia.
But now i found a solution for my problem and a lot of my friend.
I got a big space near my office and invested in a lift.
And now i got space for about 300 cars

mackguy
mackguy

I sure run into this problem. With a total of 8 vehicles including my wife’s and my daily drivers (2014 Fiesta SE and ST respectively), The “road trip” SUV (1999 GMC Suburban), the workhorse (1990 F250 Diesel), the heirloom (heavily modified 1955 Jaguar XK-140), the motorcycle (2008 Harley Sportster), and 2 non street-legal race cars (first gen RX-7s), even basic maintenance is a challenge. When the Jag fuel pump started to leak last July it was out of service until January.. With a 2 year old in the house time is a great premium, and don’t have enough extra $$… Read more »

Frank Anigbo
Frank Anigbo

I laughed as I read this. We really are all alike! I set an artificial limit of 5 cars at any one time many years ago, not counting my daily driver. I figure that’s about as many cars I can have without the risk of ignoring any of them — that would be a crime to do. Just a crime! Five is just the right number, each car serves a different mood and need, and keeps life very interesting. So far I’ve only ever managed to reach 4 at a time although my odds of getting to #5 have just… Read more »

Darel Matthews
Darel Matthews

Ha! My wife’s ’65 Volvo is the product of Frank’s lack of space! And it’s currently crammed into my (barely) two-car garage with my TR6, garbage cans, kids bikes, a snowblower, a beer fridge, parts washer, shelves of parts I’ll never use…yadda…yadda…

Scott Smith
Scott Smith

My very good friend, who has helped foster my classic car involvement, had at one point in time 9 different cars, in various states of repair in various places, and not counting the family SUV and minivan. At home he kept a 1966 Sunbeam Tiger, a 1969 Porsche 911, and a 1970 Jaguar E-Type (the one I want to buy from him). A couple of stalled restorations included a Jaguar XK120 and a Triumph TR250. In cross-country storage at a brother-in-law’s place was an Alfa Romeo Duetto Spider. I envy him at times, but yeah, the logistics and expense of… Read more »