I bought my first car the day I turned 16, hours after I passed my driving test. (I was first in line when the DMV opened at 8 a.m.) I still think the $30 I spent for the Bug Eye Sprite with no first or reverse gear was “above market.”

That was 57 years ago. In the ensuing half-century or so, I have maintained a constant pattern of churn with my cars. I buy them because they interest me. I let them teach me lessons and I learn the language they speak. I meet new groups of fanatics.

I move on if they turn out not to be a good fit, or I have learned all I can, or I simply need the money to buy something else.

While my decisions have not always made the best financial sense, they have allowed me to have an “automotive sampler” of interesting cars.

Recently, my approach to collecting has changed.

There are several reasons for this. First, I’ve already owned many of the cars I have been interested in and can afford. I don’t need to buy another Big Healey or Bug Eye, Triumph TR6 or MGA. Been there, done that.

I will never buy another major project. Life is too short. And you also always come out ahead when you buy a properly restored car from a specialist. Buying a car that’s been incorrectly restored by an amateur will be a never-ending nightmare as you do everything all over again.

As I am restricted to driving automatics, my choices are fewer. I don’t see myself buying anything new for me in the near future. The SCM fleet is almost settled in.

All our needs are covered. The 1991 Alfa Romeo Spider S4 is our convertible sports car. The 1971 Mercedes 250C is our luxury family cruiser. The Land Rover Discovery is our winter car. When in service (“soon,” the shop says) the 1975 Porsche 911S Sportomatic will be our new choice for touring.

The 1971 Jaguar E-type V12 coupe has already delivered over 6,000 miles of high-speed, air-conditioned touring since we bought it in April 2020. Its spacious back hatch area offers another advantage. A new generation of mobility scooters is entering the market. Powered by lithium batteries, they weigh 20 pounds less that those with lead-acid batteries (40 vs. 60) and fold into a small package that can be checked as luggage when flying.

We plan to try fitting our new Journey So Lite S1 scooter into the Jag this week. Having an instantly accessible motorized scooter along with a 272-hp V12 engine is getting close to the best of all possible worlds for me.

Those five cars provide a nice core to the collection, with the occasional bit of spice provided by whatever my son Bradley is interested in, such as his 1982 Collector’s Edition C3 Corvette. In the next few months, he will be introduced to our pair of manual-shift Alfas, the 1965 Giulia Spider Veloce and the 1967 Duetto.

I am going to focus on using the cars we own as much as possible and improving them as we go. After all, it is only through use that we make them reliable.

So, my resolution for 2024 is to churn less and use more, enjoying the unique experiences our old cars offer it.

Of course, there is always room for one more car. What would you suggest to complete the fleet?


  1. Always enjoy your musings – all the best to you and yours for the coming New Year!

  2. Keith, there should be quite a few automatic trans Boxsters around by now…

  3. As we slowly turn into our parents, station wagons exert an undeniable draw. Even if you don’t think you need the cargo space, it is there (like an umbrella) should conditions change. And still, it’s a car, not a truck. I nominate the Ford era Jaguar X Type Mond, I mean SPORTWAGON, or, for a potential Electric project, a Volvo 1800 ES.

    Embrace your age. It is already embracing you.

  4. Kieth, I have to agree with Mr FitzSimons. We love our BMW 328xi wagon. It is a true all-rounder swallowing camping gear, gardening supplies, firewood, my road bike – with wheels on, and groceries of course, not to mention all the oversized things we’ve hauled on the roof rack. It is also low and fast and handles beautifully and I never tire of that tapered long roof styling. And yes, I have turned into my father as he was a lifelong Buick wagon man😄

  5. Hi Kieth looks like you might want to add a Veloce splitter behind the drivers side horizontal bar below the eyebrow
    I do so on my 61 giulietta normal.
    I’m using a 66 GT Veloce motor
    How far along is your rest?

  6. I’d love to see you acquire a well sorted Citroen SM… or perhaps a DS Wagon. So many cars, so little time. Wishing you all the best for ’24.

  7. I’m the Mazda guy, so adding an MX-5 ND.2 (2019 or newer with the horsepower bump) would be a nice sporting option along with your ‘91 Alfa Spider. All the sporting dynamics of classic roadsters combined with modern tech and reliability. You can find manuals as well as automatics and a strong network of enthusiast club members across the USA.

  8. Keith, I’ll be the contrarian in the crowd. For those stressless warm summer evenings of effortless driving may I suggest something truly American like a sixties Thunderbird convertible? Everybody needs to have at least one good sized American cruiser convertible in their collection. A completely different and relaxing experience from your other cars. Smooth and stylish. Relatively inexpensive and easy to maintain. The epitome of the Sinatra Era. Cue up Andy Williams and Moon River as your ease along the Willamette or Columbia.

  9. Dave Hedderly-Smith

    Keith –

    Sounds like you’re doing well. Great!

    My advice (and what I’ve gone with my last two purchases – two nice Mercedes, a 1978 300CD and a 1990 300SL-24, both with automatics as I have nerve issues in my left leg) is to let the car find you. The two Mercedes are both auction purchased, in excellent shape, and I’ve put about 3000 miles on the pair on the last year. And I only spent about $10K on the pair.

    You’ll know it’s the right car when you see it!

    Best for 2024!

  10. Keith,

    In many ways it sounds like we are living parallel lives. I too seem to be moving further away from complete restorations as well, since I don’t know if I will ever meet plans for ones I have now. For example, I have had a 77 Y82 that has been waiting for its chance for restoration for some time now, as I have focused on other cars ahead of it in line. However, with evolving lives and other projects delay’s that wait has been longer than I could have ever imagine. When I brought the car it was already a victim of sitting out in the AZ sun for 15 years, well now add another 10ish years to it. I do not even think that I am going to do the crap shoot of taking to paint at this time, but instead just apply a sealant and call it a day and the car we will be known as Burnt Chicken. Yes, I have enjoyed my 62 impala wagon on Air Ride for years and suggest for all to do the same. Like so many other have challenges crawling over the side pipes in my 69 corvette (or other entry/exit offerings for exotics) has only made me enjoy my 04 SRT 10 Ram or my 61 Buick Invicta with factory 401 (now with EFI/4l80/AC) even more. Comfort is winning as my main requirement when adding to the fleet. I will continue to enjoy your experiences as the continue to evolve. Happy New Year!

  11. Keith,

    we only have one automatic and love it. Please consider an Avanti R2 auto. Most are auto and they drive great. Fast and powerful. Comfy and easy to get in and out of with wide opening doors. And a huge truck that will almost certainly accommodate your scooter. And best of all… very inexpensive. We have used ours on several tours including Rally Nippon in Japan. It was a major hit there as nobody had ever seen one before. But get an R2 (supercharged, no a/c) rather than an R1 (a/c, no blower). Latest “real” Avanti were built December 1963.

    Have a great 2024.

  12. I have owned Porsche push rod operated Porsche’s since late 1963! Besides my two 356 cares I own two 3.2 911’s My car of choice is a Toyota pick up truck. Easy to get into, high enough to see everything and has a smooth ride with decent gas mileage. No one bothers me on the road by taking close up pictures of my cars. Even though it is small it is too big for the garage. In the Porsche business since 1962.