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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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TommyG
TommyG
2 months ago

Back in the summer of ’85 I found myself standing in the driveway staring at 7 vehicles only one of which could get me 15 miles to work that day (in one piece and not heavily ticketed) and I knew then & there I had a problem. Took a few years but I did get down to only 2 and the count has stayed there ever since 🙂

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago

Green light: #vehicles # available spaces on your own property

This applies to Suburbia and rural areas. Urban areas are their own thing.

Geoff Buchholz
Geoff Buchholz
2 months ago

My patient husband understands that at some point, we’ll have three vehicles; daily drivers for each of us, plus something “fun” (or if it’s still running, the 2000 Acura that’s been in my family since new). That will be more likely to happen when we have places to put them. For now, two seems like just enough.

Turbo Quattro CS
Turbo Quattro CS
2 months ago

I actually look at it the other way around. How few cars can we get by with? We’ve had long periods with 4 drivers in the family and only 2 cars, though we went to three for a few years. We did at the time live in an area with great mass transportation and bicycling routes for commuting, so that helped. Generally have had one large practical vehicle (hauling, towing, dump runs, driving through blizzards, etc) and one fun one. Those roles are currently filled by a 2017 Q7 and a 2014 428i X. Anything I’d need a pickup truck for is taken care of by the utility trailer and the Q7 spends 99% of it’s time with the second and third row seats folded down.

On the other hand, I own 7 bicycles and gave one away last fall. We also have 7 boats and my herd of guitars/basses currently stands at 11, so maybe my compulsions just lie in other areas. 🙂

Geo Metro Mike
Geo Metro Mike
2 months ago

When the EPA declares your property a super fund site.

Mr Sarcastic
Mr Sarcastic
2 months ago

Can I suggest your ideal fleet number is the number of vehicles you can corral and maintain?
Or you wanted clicks not a real answer?

Sampson Jackson
Sampson Jackson
2 months ago

My wife said the hard limit is 5. She took the kids to the grandparents house and when they returned we had 6.. and she really didn’t make a fuss. Anyway, we’re back down to 5 and that’s about as many as I can keep running with a full time career and not being wealthy. Two Suburbans was a bit redundant so I sold the 2001 to my brother and life is good.

2020 Suburban LT
2008 MazdaSpeed3 GT
2006 Mustang GT Convertible Premium
1996 Honda STEPWGN (My daily)
1991 Honda Beat

Restoring the MazdaSpeed3 to new condition right now, but all cars are in running/driving condition 🙂

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago

> She took the kids to the grandparents house and when they returned we had 6

This is why it’s important not to own two VW Rabbits.

TJ Heiser
TJ Heiser
2 months ago

We have 4 now, and that’s because I couldn’t possibly squeeze any more in the garage.
I hate parking any of them outside.
Now if I only had a heated storage facility…

Last edited 2 months ago by TJ Heiser
Loren
Loren
2 months ago

Twenty. I think. A half-dozen run.

Manuel Verissimo
Manuel Verissimo
2 months ago

I think you have too many when owning them starts becoming a chore, which depends on your income, ability to wrench and the reliability of the car.

Owning a collection of Datsun Zs and Land Cruisers is probably less work than 2 Alfas.

I also believe you should be in a position to have only one car non operable at a time. Otherwise it means you didn’t realize you’d get overwhelmed, and that’d depress me.

With my SO we have 4 cars and 1 motorcycle:
Datsun 280Z – the project car
Honda CTR FN2 – her fun daily
BMW Z4 – my fun daily
Renault Clio 2 – the workhorse/winter beater
Honda Rebel 125 – formerly her project, now the reliable bike

Apart from the S30 which is undergoing a full restoration, none of those vehicles is giving us a hard time so adding one to the stable would be doable. As long as it’s not old British or Italian steel.

Silent But Deadly
Silent But Deadly
2 months ago

We’ve got four for two drivers. And three of them are technically mine. And two of those are utes (trucks, if you prefer). And the other one is a Suzuki Vitara (Sidekick) 4 dr. It’s probably too many and the wrong combination but… still.

Danny Zabolotny
Danny Zabolotny
2 months ago

More than 1 is too many at this point, because I’m extremely poor.

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
2 months ago

I’d love to see a map of where all the commenters with 5+ vehicles live. Like, I live in Toronto – I can’t fathom having space for 5 vehicles even if I wanted them!

Anyway the limit is 2 drivers, 2 cars + 2 motorcycles here. More than that and paying $120/month in insurance to drive something a couple times in that month seems like a poor use of money to me.

Fix It Again Tony
Fix It Again Tony
2 months ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

I have 10 acres in California so I can fit in as many as I can buy.

Last edited 2 months ago by Fix It Again Tony
Sampson Jackson
Sampson Jackson
2 months ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

Had 6. Downsized to 5. Austin Texas. No HOA 🙂

Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
Bongo Friendee Harvey Park
2 months ago
Reply to  Scone Muncher

Doesn’t Thomas live in Toronto?

Scone Muncher
Scone Muncher
2 months ago
Reply to  Thomas Hundal

Maybe this will out me as a filthy casual by Autopian standards but I (currently) draw the line at storing a vehicle off-site. Mayyyyybe if I could store it less than a 5 minute walk away…I should ask my neighbour how they feel about me using their driveway, they’re never home anyway…

And any friend with a condo parking space in Toronto that’s not renting it out for sweet sweet cash…well they have more money than me, that’s for sure.

JShaawbaru
JShaawbaru
2 months ago

For me, 6 is too many, but I have 6 anyway, and at one point had 9. The “too many” threshold comes down to annual registration costs and space. I also can’t justify having more than 2 or 3 cars on “normal” insurance, so with 2 vehicles on collector’s insurance, I feel like I’m throwing money away to have more than 4 or 5 vehicles insured at any one time, since I can’t drive them all at once.
It also depends on purpose though, if the cars don’t overlap in their main purpose, maybe I can justify going over my limit, but honestly sometimes I wish I could go back to having 2 or 3 cars. At this point I feel like that’s impossible though, since I have 2 “forever” cars, and neither would be a practical daily driver.

Right now it’s justified by:
Prius – fuel efficient daily driver/long distance car
Saabaru – winter beater/rally car
Miata – nice weather top-down car that makes supercharger noises
Alto Works – nice-ish weather car for small road trips and errands that makes turbo noises
Silverado – bike/kayak/other stuff hauler, and tow rig
335d – was going to be winter car but is too low, bought because I wanted a diesel again, but actually has no niche purpose

Even the Alto and Miata overlap quite a bit, but there is no way I’m ever going to find another rust-free NA Miata for $1300, and also don’t really want to buy and install another supercharger kit, so I’m not letting go of it.

Sampson Jackson
Sampson Jackson
2 months ago
Reply to  JShaawbaru

That’s a great collection. I’ve got a kei car but I do need a miata obviously

Family Mechanic
Family Mechanic
2 months ago

No such thing as too many – only too little time and money (and sometimes gumption). I have three “cars” and four motorcycles. They all serve a different purpose.

Boulevard_Yachtsman
Boulevard_Yachtsman
2 months ago

My current fleet:

2012 Volt: The “good” car – available to wife or myself about any time to go any where. Also, the perfect hedge on fuel costs if we have a tight month.
1994 Cadillac Brougham: The other “good” car. Mainly used for road trips and cars-and-coffee . Hagerty worked with me to come up with a special policy on this one.
2014 Spark: The crap-weather/winter beater. Cheap. Has a great heater, necessary for those days when the good cars are clean and waxed, not to mention a sponge for salty seasons. Will probably end up as the daughter’s car when she doesn’t want to (or can’t) drive her Corvette.
1995 Ford Escort: Wife’s beater/work/around-town car. She prefers this to the Volt for visibility reasons.
2003 Trailblazer: Project. Wife also wanted a beater with more ground-clearance. Still out on the back slab. Maybe this year it will finally be road-worthy.
1999 Ford F-250: Truck with a tommy gate for landlord/truck stuff (if I’m being honest, the desire for more garage space is what drives my rental-property hobby).
2000 Ford E-150: Was a parts chaser, now falling to neglect, but runs and is still “inflated-and-plated”.
2000 XK8, 1982 XJ6, 1988 VW Fox, 1971 Sedan deVille, 1966 Chevy Biscayne: These mostly satisfy my old-car-ADD – something for most any mood and occasion. Plus, always something to wrench on.
1987 Corvette: daughter’s car who is just shy of getting her license, so it’s in my name.
1954 Ford F-100, 1987 XJ6, 1968 Coupe deVille, 1969 Sedan deVille, 1984 Mercury Grand Marquis: Parts cars and various projects I may or may not ever get to.

Let’s see… 18 total which feels just about right. And since I’m completely out of garage space, 19 would be too many. Well, maybe 20… or 21. I’ll let you know after I’ve added a couple more.

Freelivin2713
Freelivin2713
2 months ago

No such thing…never enough…if I had a junkyard or field full of thousands of vehicles, I would be happy!!!

Clear_prop
Clear_prop
2 months ago

I currently have 3, the newest being 20 years old, and they’re all shitboxes. My 28 yo shitbox just failed smog and has a blown head gasket, so I’m waiting on authorization to junk it for a sweet $1k. If I’d junked it before smog check was due, the air quality district would have paid me $1200 to get it off the road.

I’m thinking of what fun car to add to fleet now that I’m freeing up a parking space. Miata isn’t the answer since I barely fit in one. So taking suggestions for slightly bigger fun cars.

Codfangler
Codfangler
2 months ago

Twice, in my 50s I woke up and realized that I had two cars and two motorcycles in a small two-car garage. Since I commuted by subway, these vehicles did not get the use that they needed. Each time I thinned out the herd. Now that I am married, we have never had more than three vehicles for the two of us. It sounds boring, but the decrease in expense, effort, and time gives me more time to travel and enjoy the vehicles we have.

Mr. Frick
Mr. Frick
2 months ago

Five is optimum. My wife and I both have dailies. We have an older pick-up for hauling materials and gardening. I have a small economy car for my business and a toy for fun. The rule for me is they have to fully functioning. Our newest car is eight. My plan is to keep them as long as possible. It would suit me fine if I never have to buy another. I’m done with projects and just want to enjoy what we have.

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
2 months ago

For me, 2 cars is too many as I only need 1 car and only have parking for one car… though I could squeeze in two cars, but they would both need to be small and it would be tight.

Holly Birge
Holly Birge
2 months ago

3 is one too many for me due to parking. I live in a condo building and have to rent any additional spaces I use.

Hoonicus
Hoonicus
2 months ago

If you need to replace tires due to dry-rot rather than wear, you have too many.

Max Headbolts
Max Headbolts
2 months ago

As a single driver household, keeping two vehicles maintained and running turned out to be too much, so I sold my Wrangler. I’d like a fun car and a reasonable daily driver, but my free time limits my wrenching time, so it’ll just be one for now. My boys might be interested in wrenching in a few years, so having a family project car may become a thing then, but as it sits now wrenching on a car is time away from my kids. Already enough of that with work and chores.

Paul B
Paul B
2 months ago

The formula for a typical North American suburban family with both parents needing to drive to work:

x=number of drivers in house – 1

xmin = 2

xmax = number of places in driveway.

TDI_FTW
TDI_FTW
2 months ago
Reply to  Paul B

xmax should be maximum number of parking places in driveway/curb in front of house.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  TDI_FTW

Permanent street parking isn’t a proper solution.

TDI_FTW
TDI_FTW
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

Sometimes you run out of spaces before you run out of drivers once the kids start driving.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  TDI_FTW

Do they really each need to have their own cars?

TDI_FTW
TDI_FTW
2 months ago
Reply to  Cheap Bastard

need probably not, but this is about what is too many not what is the bare minimum.

Cheap Bastard
Cheap Bastard
2 months ago
Reply to  TDI_FTW

The bare minimum is the kids take the bus.

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