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?