Last week I asked you to pick four cars for a $500,000 collection. Your many and diverse answers can be seen below this blog.

This week I’ll tell you what my three-car collection would be, and why.

I’m not setting a price boundary for myself, as market value has nothing to do with why I chose these three.

As I reflect back on all the cars I’ve owned (and the 10 I still have), the cars that mean the most to me are the ones that have spoken in the clearest voices. At the same time, they are cars I have put thousands of miles on.

If I had to have just three cars out of the dozens I have owned, they would be a Land Rover D90 turbodiesel, a Lotus Elise and an Alfa Romeo Duetto.

The Duetto is the least extreme of these cars. Our Alfa Giulia Spider Veloce is similar in many ways, but when the 1600 Veloce engine hits 4,500 rpm it explodes in a frenzy of delightful noises. The Duetto is more calm.

But aside from those rare moments of driving in anger, the Duetto is in every way a better car for touring. It has a great heater and a spacious cockpit. It also has looks that get better every year. I peg its value at $50k–$75k.

Our D90 was a family favorite. It offered a raw, unfiltered off-road experience. With the center differential locked and the ARB front locker, you could basically go straight up a hill in compound low.

It was noisy and rough riding, but we didn’t care. Our Disco II (with manual center-diff lock linkage installed) is far more comfortable, but far less engaging. The D90 is rough, and hence a $30k rig.

The Elise stands alone among all sports cars. It is light, nimble, fast and reliable. I find it comfortable, although others don’t. I’ve put 10,000 miles on ours. The A/C is workable, the top seal well enough, and it has room for a couple of soft-sided bags in the trunk. The Toyota engine is a plus.

In a certain sense, the Elise is like a civilized, modern-era Giulia Spider Veloce. Market is $40k–$50k and rising for this one with 21,000 miles.

All three vehicles have a distinct personality, they are good at what they were born to do, and are visually intriguing. Never once when you are behind the wheel do you forget you are motoring in a purpose-built machine.

What do you think of my choices?

Next week, I’ll talk about the cars that didn’t make the cut — the ones I was excited to buy but not excited enough to keep.



  1. Hard to limit to four cars, but the selection now has some similarities and some differences…
    My 1750GTV still gives me pleasure far more than pain after 34 years. Can’t imagine life without it. The S1 Elise that we had for 10 years is still sorely missed, along with the Ferrari 365GT 2+2 we had for 18 years. Charming, characterful and made a lovely noise and you could fit three family/friends and plenty of luggage into it. Never went past a petrol/gas station either! The more modern ‘digital’ cars are just not the same as the old analogue ones and the 2+2 factor means that it was much better value and you still get into the good events with an old V12. Forth one is a bit harder to pick though. Would love a Giulietta Sprint or Spider, but also tempted by my father’s Jaguar and Austin Healey history. Love the Healey 100 BN1 that he still owns but could never convince him to buy an XK120…

  2. I get the Alfa, but the other 2 would be of no interest to me.
    My personal top 3 of cars actually owned would be the Mercedes SLK200 (of which I had 7 and now have one left from 1998 with 30,000k km on it), the Ferrari 308GTS QV (red over tan obviously and more roomy than a 355) and the Aston DB9 (my third one) from 2009 without the styling changes that affected (negatively n my eye) the original Fisker/Callum clean lines. I sometimes get the itch to get another beautiful classic such as the Lancia Monte Carlo or a Porsche 911SC, but lack of space and ever increasing prices keep my dreams in check.

  3. Interesting Keith, that of your choices out of “the dozens” of cars you’ve owned the Duetto is on the list. I’ve never owned one (only a 2000 Spider Inezione some years ago). We know the magic of the Alfa driving experience when the car is “right” (and the pain when it is not), but this is car that rarely graces covers (or back pages) of auction catalogs or “best of” lists.

  4. I like Alfa’s a lot. They are such a storied marque and have made some very interesting cars over the years. I just don’t know enough as to which one I would pick. Thanks to you, Keith, I got a crash course (so to speak) on Duetto’s a few years back, very helpful and such a nice car. So much nicer than an contemporary MG. The Landie? I am not an off roader… not much there for me. But that’s why this is a PERSONAL choice. This moves your needle and that’s all that matters.

    I like the Lotus. I was shocked how much interior space there is for such a small car. I am a big guy (6′ and large frame) and fit into an Elise with ease. I have never driven one, but they are neat. And with reliable Toyota power, seems like a nice option.