A Practical Car Collection

When I was a kid I was totally confident I’d grow up to be wealthy and successful with an oversized garage full of exotic cars. I aspired to be the real life version of one of those cheesy 1980’s poster displays of pomp and excess. Of course, things didn’t turn out quite that way. I went to college. I got my degree. Where are my Ferraris?!

1980s car poster

Now that I’m all grown up I’m no less enthusiastic about interesting cars, but I seem to have misplaced my rose colored glasses somewhere between then and now. The range of vehicles that interest me these days is also much broader than the stable of supercars I daydreamed about as I pedaled my chrome BMX bike home from school. Truth be told though, even if I was a billionaire I probably would not blow it all on million dollar hypercars. Probably.

That’s not to say that in my ideal world I wouldn’t have a half dozen or more sets of keys at my disposal. I just need a practical car collection, preferably with something at any given time ready to go;

  • Road Racing
  • Autocrossing
  • Drifting
  • Drag Racing
  • Four Wheeling
  • Rock Crawling
  • Beach Cruising
  • Car Show Cruising
  • ???

Since, as I mentioned, I am a grown up it should go without saying that I also need a daily driver capable of comfortably getting me to the office every day, dropping the kids at school, and taking road trips with the family. Sure, there are vehicles that could pull double duty in fulfilling some of these needs, but with such varied motorsports interests you’re probably beginning to picture why I’d like a cabinet full of keys to choose from. All of that said, I am a practical man. My wife would probably go so far as to call me cheap. When it comes to paying taxes and insurance on a bunch of cars when I can only use one at a time, I’m far more down-to-earth than my 12-year-old self.

So to that end, here are some vehicles I’d like to see in my driveway IRL.

Daily Driver

A daily driver, more than anything needs to be safe, reliable, and reasonably comfortable. That doesn’t mean it needs to be boring, but if you have a long commute you probably want to consider fuel mileage. If you have kids, especially little ones in car seats you need to be able to get them in and out of the back seat easily. If you live in the South you’ll need air conditioning, and up North you’ll appreciate seat warmers. You get the picture.

I think low mileage luxury marques approaching the sweet spot of their depreciation curve represent a good value for a daily. If you’re patient and wait for the right car you can find nice, low mileage luxury cars for pennies on the dollar. I’m currently enjoying a Jaguar XJ8, but would also be quite happy in a BMW 3 or 5 series or Mercedes-Benz C or E class. Parts, repairs, and maintenance on high line vehicles are more expensive than on more pedestrian high volume vehicles, but with a little research on the specific year, make, and model you can figure out the common failures and associated costs of repair, and make an educated decision. One of the benefits of buying a used car is that other people have already learned those hard lessons, and then posted about it in an online forum.

I’m also a sucker for a station wagon and lately I’ve been stuck on the idea of used Volvo XC70 Cross Country or Subaru Forester wagon with a little lift, a set of all terrains, and some rally lights. There is some aftermarket support, and these cars can be found pretty cheap, so this is a project I might need to pursue in the near future.

Road Racer/Autocrosser/Drifter

There is a large contingent of car enthusiasts that insist, “Miata is always the answer”. For a road racer and/or autocross car, Miata is a great answer. They’re inexpensive and lightweight, they handle great right out of the box, and there is unlimited aftermarket support. Sticking with the roadster theme, I’d also rock a Toyota MR2 Spyder, Honda S2000, or Porsche Boxster S at the road course.

My bucket list of sports cars is long and some of them will stretch my theme of attainable cars, but the list includes; Lotus Espirit, Porsche 911/930 (with whale tail, please), Nissan Z, virtually any Ferrari, Corvette, Viper, etc.

Ok, time to come back down to earth. A nicely prepped BMW 3 series or Volvo S60R would work well on the road course, and could potentially also fill the daily driver spot in the garage. Oh, and someday I will build a Factory Five Cobra or Type 65 Coupe.

 

Drag Racer

My first passion for racing was drag racing. I’ve always loved the power, noise, and violence of a nasty drag car. I’ve done some drag racing, and I’ve enjoyed it, but I’ve never driven a scary fast drag car. I need that in my life. These days there are some crazy fast import cars in virtually every class of drag racing, but when I picture drag racing I still see hot rods and muscle cars. That can mean anything from a T-bucket or gasser to just about any 60s muscle car. I’ll take mine with big-n-littles and a 6-71 obstructing my vision. Bonus if it’s a station wagon.

 

Four Wheeler/Rock Crawler/Beach Cruiser

I’m not really a big truck guy, but I enjoy getting off road once in a while. I do realize there is a big difference in the mods made to a rig intended for four wheeling or mudding as opposed to rock crawling, but for the level of wheeling I’m likely to do that’s not likely to become an issue. My 4×4 will spend a lot more time on the sand at the Outer Banks than it will climbing sixty degree rock faces.

You can’t really mention 4x4s without discussing Jeeps. I think I’d go with a classic boxy Cherokee. They’re tough, cheap, plentiful, and have plenty of aftermarket parts available. I am partial to Fords, so a Bronco or Bronco II would work too. And I wouldn’t walk away from a Suzuki Samurai.

The practical voice inside my head would also like to mention that the lifted XC70 or Forester I will hopefully put together one of these days is AWD, would be a riot on dirt roads and snow days, and will probably handle 90% of the off roading I’d do just fine.

Conclusion

When it comes to cars I’m as fickle as I am practical, so all of these selections are subject to change. Like tomorrow. At this current point in time however, this is my ideal car collection. What’s yours?

By | 2017-09-13T13:14:14+00:00 November 4th, 2016|Musings|0 Comments

About the Author:

I'm a lifetime car guy with a broad interest in just about any type of self-propelled machinery, and racing. I have a soft spot for under-appreciated marques, which often gets me in trouble with oddball projects.

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