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How Many Cars Is Too Many?

Autopian Asks Too Many Cars
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We all dream of having our own fleet of cars, but eventually, building a stable of cars can feel overwhelming. Maybe the maintenance is too much to take, maybe insurance is a heartbreaker, maybe you’re just running out of space, maybe you have other commitments in life, or maybe you just want to enjoy everything you own. Most people will find that it’s possible to own too many cars, so today we want to ask what you’d consider to be too many.

I think my realistic maximum is three cars. One for winter, one for summer, one for autocross, track days, and any gaps not filled by the others. At that point, my monthly insurance bills would add up to the payment on a new Corolla, I’d still be able to maintain a decent ratio of DIY to farm-it-out, and there’s some hope that all three will work most of the time. Having a consistently working large fleet of cars that works can be a challenge, as Jason detailed in 2022.

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Mind you, the maximum number of cars varies for everyone. Our own Mercedes has a fleet well in the double digits, and David has all manner of vehicles in his possession, some of which even run. In contrast, I know people who will only ever need or want one car in their possession at any one time.

So, how many cars is too many for you, and what makes that number too many? I’d love to read your answers, as ever, in the comments section below.

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(Photo credits: David Tracy, Jason Torchinsky)

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Fuzzyweis
Fuzzyweis
2 months ago

It’s unique to each individual/family. For the wife and I, I feel like it’s going to be 3. Right now we have 4 vehicles and 1 of them is our old Harley, which I’ve been severely lax in riding(but not on wrenching on!) And when I do get done with a ride I’m tired and sweaty and smelly, then I hop in my little Ford Ranger and cruise to the Taco Bell and it’s just so much more enjoyable.

The wife has her commuter car, and I have my commuter car. Could use to get a little more distinct commuter for each of us instead of our bland Forester and Bolt EV, but I feel like if she had a something she liked(looking at a Bronco/Wrangler), and I had something a little different for my commute(like an ev converted restomod), and we had our Ranger for going to Taco Bell, we’d be set.

Also having 3 means at least some failover in case 1 of the cars is out of commission.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago

Three is good. I’m happy with three. I could see myself getting a fourth someday, but it would be a very carefully-chosen long term project. I do still want an Italian car someday. But I have no desire to just keep amassing cars.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago

My ideal number is three. My actual number at the moment is six. Six is too much (especially living in Chicago, where storing them is not as easy as it could be) – and yet, I still find it hard to let go of them. I can only drive one at a time and I think six exceeds the point where you can reasonably give them all attention.

once upon a time I had one car – my Sentra SE-R. OK, two, but my Fiat still lived at my parents’ house in Atlanta. Then I got a G20 to have a lower-mileage everyday car to supplement the SE-R. Then the Fiat moved to MI but lived behind a coworker’s house. So I moved to Chicago with three cars.Then the G20 was replaced with an Accord. I added the 911. Then I added the Saab. Replaced Accord with JSW, then added BMW E12 to replace Saab, but I haven’t sold the Saab yet. The Fiat I will never ever get rid of, the SE-R I still can’t bring myself to even though I drive it very little. The JSW is my one modern ‘normal’ and I need one car that doesn’t need wrenching and is reliable and practical. So there I am with three cars and that leaves no 911 and no fun/inexpensive/practical old car. Realistically this will probably be my floor, unless one day in the future I combine the JSW role and the practical-fun-old-car role.

If I were starting from scratch, my three would be: 1)something modern (OBD2, airbags, <100k miles), fun and practical (holds bikes) that doesn’t require my time. 2)air-cooled 911 3)something that changes every year or two.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Theotherotter

Great collection! Keep your JSW long enough and it will fill both roles. I bought my old Ford pickup over 10 years ago when it was just an old pickup. I always a wanted a classic car as well. The funny thing is that the ‘94 F150 is now becoming a classic, so I’m hitting 2 birds with 1 300 inline 6.

Theotherotter
Theotherotter
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

I’m a keeper when it comes to cars (obviously – I’ve owned two cars for over 30 years, and I’m not even 50), but I’m not sure I can keep that one another 14 years when it hits classic-plate eligibility.

Jatco Xtronic CVT
Jatco Xtronic CVT
2 months ago

I’m at 3 currently. One shitbox I use as a daily, one reliable useful car I use when I actually have to hold other people or things, and my nice car I use for long drives or if I don’t mind spending a little extra on fuel in trade for comfort.

Mrbrown89
Mrbrown89
2 months ago

My fleet went down from 10 to 9 (RIP Chevy Volt) and I am itching to get a replacement lol

Stef Schrader
Stef Schrader
2 months ago

No.

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Stef Schrader

Hahahaha

Where is SWG when we need his input?

DaChicken
DaChicken
2 months ago

Generally, I’m going to say the proper amount is equal to or less than the number of covered/garaged parking spots. I’d grant an exception for RVs due to sheer size compared to a normal-ish residential garage.

I’m at 4 cars and 1 RV. I’ve managed to jam the 4 cars into a 3 car garage thanks to a 4-post lift and the cars being short. I do need to get rid of one car, though. Trying to get them all moved around so I can drive or work on them is annoying.

If I can find suitable cheap parking for the RV it’ll be moved. I’ll be doing a lot of work on it for the near future, though, so having it at home is a plus.

Demonpoofball
Demonpoofball
2 months ago
Reply to  DaChicken

Ooh, and imagine how many cars you can fit where the RV is! 😀 (my uncle visited with his giant one and it dwarfed our 32′ garage 😛 ). We really need a lift. The Garage/house we managed to find has a high enough ceiling where we can actually have one. We can squeeze 4 in now, with dollies on one, if there’s a hail storm coming, but a lift (aside from making repairs easier)… ooooo…

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Demonpoofball

I’ll also add, imagine how many motorcycles you can fit in the space of a car, let alone an RV! I have a secondary two car garage that currently fits one car, one short car, four motorcycles and two bicycles.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Nice thing about bicycles is they can be stored in places heavier motorized vehicles can’t. I have a collection of 10+ bikes all hanging from the garage ceiling, in the attic or in my living room (out of the weather – they’re in the backyard in warmer seasons) without impacting my motorized vehicle storage at all.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago

I’m not entirely sure how to define “car” for counting purposes at this point but I’m almost certain I have too many, so I’m waiting for another one to arrive next week so I can confirm this.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago

No matter what your magic number is, make 1 an old pickup.

Mark Tucker
Mark Tucker
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Well, yeah.

Jeff Jordan
Jeff Jordan
2 months ago

(Not my original work, although I forget where I saw this)

There are 2 mathematical formulas to consider.

Correct Number of Cars = N + 1
Where N is the Number of vehicles I have now

Correct Number of Cars = S – 1
Where S is the number of vehicles I possess that will cause a divorce

Demonpoofball
Demonpoofball
2 months ago

I grew up with 5, and was an only child who got to *borrow* one of the cars when I was able to drive, so us having 5 now just seems normal to me. Luckily me and the husband have quite similar car tastes. The 5 we have don’t even overlap, so I don’t even know what we’d drop… I adore my ’07 TSX as it’s fun and is also a most excellent travel car. The ’05 WRX is off daily driving but is more our RallyCross car now. The ’15 BRZ is the baby and the “pretty” RWD of the group (it’s the .blue). We couldn’t pass up our ’05 Turbo Baja from a friend. And we inherited a neglected ’04 Forester from a grandparent, and aside from being useful and fun on overlanding, it’s the only one that’ll take whatever gas you can find. We actually consider ourselves incredibly lucky that we managed to buy our first garage a couple years ago that also has a pretty decent house and an amazingly huge driveway so everyone fits well! (we can actually pack 4 in the garage if we use dollies).

Though, technically we have 6… a friend is giving us a GC project car as our housewarming present, he just hasn’t dropped it off yet (said friend would have to think about it to count up his cars 😀 ). And I still want a Skyline (which the husband is totally fine with for the next car… we kind of enable each other… 😛 )

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Demonpoofball

TSX’s are the best. You can’t beat a K24 and 3 pedals (auto is good too).

Demonpoofball
Demonpoofball
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

I would have LOVED the manual, but I play hockey, and at the time it was only our 2nd car (with the WRX being a manual), I had to have an auto as I randomly get injuries where I can’t use a limb… It’s a pretty amazing auto though at least. And it’s probably good we aren’t independently wealthy or I’d have had my eyes out for a first gen manual now that we’ve got another auto in our fleet 😀 (not that I’d get rid of my baby though…)

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Regular 4cyl Accords are good too.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago

I don’t know. 3-4 is probably right for me. We have 3 right now. Our ‘17 Highlander is out rock-solid do-all vehicle. My ‘06 TSX is my fun daily, and my ‘94 F150 long bed is basically a big wheel barrow. I’d would LOVE to get a roadster, but that would probably mean getting rid of my bike which I love. If we had a little more space, my wife wouldn’t care so much. All things considered, I like my little fleet.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago

I own 5 vehicles and if I am being honest with myself, only 3 of them really receive proper preventative maintenance/care, the other 2 suffer as a consequence because there are only so many hours in the day!

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Shooting Brake

That would be tough for me, too. I only have 3 cars and 1 bike, and I was neglecting my daily a little. I just hate seeing any car sit and rot. That, and I’m the opposite of a hoarder. If I haven’t used something in awhile, out it goes.

Shooting Brake
Shooting Brake
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Yeah, when I am being rationale and thinking that I need to sell a couple of the vehicles I always end up changing my mind! ◔_◔

Last edited 2 months ago by Shooting Brake
Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
2 months ago

I currently have 3, I think I could handle 4. I keep one in storage from November to April and only have 2 registered at a time. However, the Cutlass is a 77 and both the Ranger and the Jeep are from 1998. They all currently minor attention as they are all old. The Jeep is my daily but it needs new shocks and the AC doesn’t work, etc. As much as I want another old/fun car, I’m leaning toward getting something newer, possibly even with a payment! Mostly so I can tinker with/improve and reduce the wear on the other 3.

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Danger Ranger

This is a good approach. 1 rock solid newer car and 2 to 3 for fun/specific jobs you don’t have to depend heavily on.

Danger Ranger
Danger Ranger
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Although I have to admit that if I win the lottery I would probably have 30ish lol. But nothing over 30 grand.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
2 months ago

I think it’s completely subjective and person-dependent, but the general concept I would apply is that, if you go a while without driving or working on a given car, it’s time to say goodbye. A project should be in progress, and a driver should be driven. If your weekend car has sat long enough for the fuel to go bad, your winter car is untouched from spring to fall, or your project car hasn’t seen a wrench all year, you have one too many. Feng Shui applies here, everything needs to spark joy. If one has enough money and free time to regularly make use of a 50-car fleet, more power to them, but there’s a degree of diminishing returns even if those resources are plentiful.

[All information below this line is irrelevant and written on a whim]

As for me, I currently have one (if you don’t include my Wife’s CR-V), but plan on getting another 2-3 as I grow in my career and personal life. As it stands, the 986 Boxster is my year-round daily and will serve autocross duty as Summer rolls in.
Once I have somewhere to keep it, I’d like to get something properly old and weird to tinker with and go to car shows, right now my list ranges from Mazda 323 to 190E Cozzie and everything in between. If money was no object, it’d be a Lancia Fulvia.
Once I have kids, I’ll probably get something with 4 doors, LATCH system and an NHTSA something-or-other, like a current Elantra N or Integra Type S, which will be 5-10 years old by that time, and relegate the Boxster to fair weather driving.
And, if I do very well for myself between now and then, I’d like to get something cheap and capable, like an FRS or Mk7 GTI, which will be 20+ years old by then, as a dedicated track vehicle with a cage and HANS device-compatible harness.
That covers the dream 4-car garage, throw in a 250cc dual sport to scratch the off-road itch, a small all-purpose tractor if the real estate nymphs smile upon me, and that’s the whole garage.

Last edited 2 months ago by Ricardo Mercio
Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

Not a bad plan. I also highly recommend an old pickup truck.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

If I find myself modding the track car enough that it needs towing, I certainly will, that way I also shouldn’t need a tractor

Boxing Pistons
Boxing Pistons
2 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

My old Ford is basically a tractor. I actually call it my “ big wheelbarrow” or “Tallahassee” which is her actual name as she came from Florida.

Last edited 2 months ago by Boxing Pistons
Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
2 months ago
Reply to  Boxing Pistons

Nice. That’s how trucks should be tbh.

Ham On Five
Ham On Five
2 months ago

In my younger, more energetic and tolerant days, I learned that more cars than garage bays and accessible driveway lanes was too many.
I mostly only ever drove the car at the end of the driveway; too lazy to shuffle the rest.

Apparently, by those standards, my current limit would be 2.

Because I am now old and lazy, even though I have more garage and driveway lanes, I am not willing to give up the luxury of a “spare” garage bay.
So, my current limit is 1.

Much as I think I would like 2, I suspect it would make me more cranky than happy.

Dennis Birtcher
Dennis Birtcher
2 months ago

As long as one has the space to make things work, and the city isn’t breathing down your neck, go nuts I say. While I technically have the space for seven, my comfortable limit for my current location is five.

Somewhere else with a bigger garage and less need to shuffle things around, that number could go up.

Jack Beckman
Jack Beckman
2 months ago

I have 8 and that’s probably one too many. The last two were bought on impulse and because I had indoor space; not really good reasons!

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Jack Beckman

Seems like perfectly reasonable reasons to me.

06dak
06dak
2 months ago

For me (married, 3 kids 19 ~ 12) the correct answer is 3. But with a *.

Currently my wife and I each have a daily (21 Colorado Diesel and 19 CRV) and I’d like to always have a “fun” car. I sold my Z3 in August because we didn’t drive it much since it was a 2 seater. Plan is to get a Wrangler as our fun car, but there are other factors (the “*”). We also have a camper and a boat. I’ve found the boat gets rarely used as well and takes up storage space, so really that needs to go before Car 3 comes back. I also plan to get a motorcycle. I don’t count my son’s Accord as he’s in college and he’ll keep that when he graduates.

I guess really my ideal is 5 toys on wheels.

Park
Park
2 months ago

3-4 is ideal for me. Currently 2022 Outback, 2023 MDX, and 2005 Mazda Tribute. All generally for the same use case (all utility vehicles). Outback was an upgrade to the Tribute as a safer vehicle for our growing family which put the Tribute to home depot, dog, and other dirty responsibilities. MDX serves as my daily and provides just enough fun in the corners (thanks SH-AWD) to keep me sane. In an ideal world we would have a Wrangler replace the Tribute or add a BMW convertible with a 6-speed.

Arrest-me Red
Arrest-me Red
2 months ago

You can take the firearms answer, one more than you have. Then there is if it take more than 10 minutes to pick a car to bring and you need a wheel that spins and you take the keys that drop, maybe a bit more

I feel like the normal guy with 3 cars

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago

I’m probably the wrong guy to ask, as I currently have 11 registered vehicles, and five more titles to currently unoperational ones. The thing about a fleet that size is you are constantly fighting to keep ahead of it. Just think of the number of tires and batteries to keep fresh! I have a sickness however, in that I always want another vehicle.

But the correct answer to how many cars is too many, is one more than you have indoor storage space for. I realize this is just not possible for many people, but it’s my rule at least. Nothing I care about stays outside overnight, unless it’s secured at the track.

In my opinion, the bare minimum number of vehicles to own, as an enthusiast, is 5:

A daily driver. Realistically, it should be a four-door, for those times you’re called upon to drive for everyone. It should be reliable and fairly new.

A Truck. Sorry, but you need a truck. Not a F9500 King Cowboy Ultima Edition, but a generation-old truck, with scratches already and a ton of miles. So you won’t mind doing truck stuff with it, like hauling the occasional transmission.

A hobby car. It can be a track car or a cruise-in car, but it’s the toy you use when you just want to play cars.

A motorcycle. Just a plain motorcycle, call it a standard or a UJM or a cruiser, it looks like what people think of when they think “motorcycle”.

A sportbike. It’s impractical and temperamental and slightly uncomfortable, and you’ll never be as good as it is. But you need one, because sportbikes are sexy, a supermodel in a cocktail dress. I mean, just look at it!

I will also say a true Autopian should also have at least one vehicle from at least one of the following three categories:

A car from a defunct marque or which was never originally sold here, for which sourcing parts requires either a marque specialist, or buying parts from overseas (bonus points for having to learn a new language), or both. This is the kind of car that builds character, and it’s how you earn your Autopian stripes.

A scooter. Don’t let anyone fool you, scooters are awesome. Need to run to the store really quick? Key in, twist and go.

A car 70 years old or older. A car like this is an education in the state of technology and automobile construction from a time nothing like the present, and furthers your understanding of just how far the industry has come.

Feel free to have multiples of any category. I don’t judge.

Last edited 2 months ago by Matt Sexton
Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

“A car from a defunct marque or which was never originally sold here…”

We are in full agreement as long as it’s understood that’s not an exclusive or.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Mike Harrell

Either/or categories. Examples: AMC for the former, Honda Beat for the latter.

Mike Harrell
Mike Harrell
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

The problem is that I have a couple in the former category and a couple in the latter but more that are both.

Ricardo Mercio
Ricardo Mercio
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

I think it’s important to note that the “truck” category can be extremely flexible for transmission-hauling duties. Ridgeline? Truck. Dirty Jeep XJ? Truck. Civic hatch with a tarp in the trunk? Truck. The spiritual definition of a truck, for most Autopian purposes, is only limited by one’s willingness to load it up with gross things.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Ricardo Mercio

I’ll go along with that. 😉

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  Matt Sexton

Your definition of “enthusiast” sounds more like “hoarder”.

Matt Sexton
Matt Sexton
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Yes? 😀

STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
STEPHEN WALTER GOSSIN
2 months ago

I’m struggling with 13 currently. I think 10 is the magic number for this guy.

It’s not really space or monetary concerns as much as it is a time concern. The larger the fleet, the more time you need to invest and not everyone has certain amounts of free time to devote to a fleet/collection.

Camp Fire
Camp Fire
2 months ago

How many is too many? That changes from year to year, and depends on plenty of factors.

Right now we’re down to just two fairly boring cars (common models, nearly stock configuration, and an average age of 25 years). Zero vehicle projects.

And that feels like the correct amount for this season. Next year? Who knows? Maybe I’ll find a project I really like. Maybe not. But there’s certainly no quota expectation to have a minimum number of cars in the driveway. And as for the upper limit, that’s a more abstract concept. Hard to quantify. All I can really say is that happiness levels decrease if we get too close to it. Buyers beware! 😉

Always broke
Always broke
2 months ago

For me at this stage in my life it’s three, one newer reliable utilitiarin vehicle that can meet all my normal needs. One fun but low operating cost daily driver and one project.

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