Keith’s Blog: How Many Cars is Enough?

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I’ve spent the morning checking with the shops caring for the various mechanically and cosmetically infirm members of the SCM fleet.

The shop that has the Amazon put the rear sport springs in the front perches, and that didn’t work out so well.

Tom Black reports that he was able to remove the Duetto‘s incredibly ugly add-on door-ding guards, and he won’t have to respray the whole car to get it looking much better.

The engine pieces for the Giulia Super are on their way back from the machine shop Bearing Service to Dan Sommers’ Veloce Motors.

And the wandering steering on the D90 200 Tdi was diagnosed as a bent steering arm. The piece has been replaced, and the rig is back in storage.

I was musing that I spend more time scooting between shops than I do actually driving my cars. So far in our 2014 Oregon driving season, I’ve put about 600 miles on the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce, another 200 on the 1958 Sprint Veloce, perhaps 200 on the Amazon, 50 on the Duetto, and none on the GTV or Giulia Super.

I was recently adding another car to my collector car policy, and I was asked, “How many miles do you think you will drive this car in a year?” “No more than 3,000,” I replied.

Then I started doing some math. If I drove all seven of my cars (five Alfas, one Volvo and one Defender) 3,000 miles each, that would be 21,000 miles of driving. Since I put about 9,000 miles a year on my modern daily driver, it seems unlikely that I will get even 25% of that number of miles on my collector cars, in total.

(This is part of the reason that insurance is so inexpensive for a collector car – the insurers know you simply won’t be putting that many miles on them.)

Then I began to wonder: If I’m really only going to average about 1,000 miles a year on each of my seven cars, why not have just two and drive them 3,500 miles apiece?

Contrast the expense of maintaining and insuring seven cars versus a single pair. Think about how much less time would be spent between shops if were only trying to keep two cars in top shape?

I admit that at this particular moment in my collecting life I’m being a total Alfa pig, and I finally have the five Alfas I have always wanted (and that are within my budget). But could I live with just two of them?

When it comes to the collection in general, do I really need both the GTV and the Amazon? Don’t they fulfill the same purpose? Each is a civilized GT car with some room in the back for the kids.

And what about having the 1967 Duetto as well as the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce? They are both Italian convertibles powered by similar 1,600 engines. Is there any logic to having them both?

A friend of mine once commented that car collecting is a lot like knitting. You’re always doing something, and you look busy. Which is exactly where I am now. I’m always getting one car or the other to or from the shop.

Right now I’m about to start prepping the GTV for the Oregon Region Porsche Club of America‘s Northwest Passage tour, while scheduling the Giulia Spider Veloce for some shop time to fix a few things that went wonkie on the Alfa Club Old Spider Tour not long ago.

I’m sure I’m not the only one to ponder this question. How many cars is enough, and how many is too many? If I could only have two cars, which would they be? How have you solved this dilemma in your collecting life?

I’m not going to think about this much while the good weather is here, but come winter, I guarantee I’ll be in the garage looking at all the hoods and trunks opening and closing and crying out for attention, and I’ll wonder if I really need all of these four-wheeled children in constant need of love, coddling and hundred-dollar bills.

 

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

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