Could you be happy with just one car?

David S.
By David S. Wallens
Jun 16, 2024 | BMW, Mazda, Porsche, Miata, Z4, E36 M3, M3, 911, Mazda Miata, Porsche 911, Column | Posted in Columns | From the Nov. 2023 issue | Never miss an article

Photography Credit: David S. Wallens

How many cars do you have? Two? Three or four? Somewhere north of five, 10 or even 20?

No matter the number, the answer always seems to be the same: To achieve true happiness, just one more car is needed.

I think it’s been a common quest for many of us since that first Hot Wheels car. If we had a second one, we figured, we’d be twice as happy. And three or four? We could dream, right? 

I’ve never owned a ton of cars and, truth be told, didn’t get my first until I was in college. It was a big buy, too, spending $2000 on an ’82 Accord sedan that wore era-appropriate blue over blue and, yes, had a stick. 

At some point in life, well into my GRM days, I had the space and scratch to add a second car to the mix. Call it an occupational hazard. And then more cars followed. 

Before the pandemic, though, I started to realize something that I have repeated (both aloud and to myself) multiple times: I don’t need more cars, I need more time to enjoy the ones that we have.

What good, for example, is a cool Miata if it’s not driven because it’s blocked in? Guilty as charged, as ours, a past magazine project car, sat in the back corner of the garage for more than eight years. 

So we sent our Nissan 240SX–the very one my parents bought new back in 1991 and drove for so many years–across the Bring a Trailer auction block. 

[Nissan 240SX: One of the best sports cars–even from day 1?]


Despite some personal attachment to that one–my parents waited until my brother and I were home from school so they could surprise us–I felt relief as it drove away. 

Yes, a very cool car, but I admit, we simply weren’t using it–and I could see the car degrading due to that stagnation. I believe it went across the state to Tampa. I have yet to hear from the buyer. 

During the pandemic, we again shed a car, putting our ’75 Pontiac wagon up for bidders. We bought it from the original owners, but like our rad-era Nissan, it spent more time sitting than cruising. I could see time–and the elements–doing not good things to it. 

The buyer showed up from Indiana with an empty trailer. He handed over a stack of hundreds, loaded up the wagon, and set sail for points north at 11:50 that Saturday morning. 

Our bank closes at noon on that day. I made it there in time to make the deposit in person. Never heard from that buyer, either.

[It's hard to say goodbye (to a car)]

What happened after these two transactions? I’m now using the cars that remain. 

The Miata emerged from its auto cocoon, received some deferred maintenance, and has been a regular sight at our local autocrosses for the past two-plus years. 

The Porsche 911, no longer blocked in by the wagon, can easily be enjoyed. It now goes to events, has been on some photo shoots, and just got a clean bill of health. And the M3 has also been seeing some sunlight lately; like the rest of the group, it’s pretty much ready to go. 

But the past week with a new BMW Z4 M40i got me thinking: Could I sell those three and make a lateral move into this one? 

[Live thread: One week with a 2023 BMW Z4 M40i]

The Z4 is fast enough, comfortable enough and practical enough. It has Apple CarPlay and, like the Miata, the top goes down. The a/c delivers ice-cold refreshment, even here in Florida where the “feels like” temperature has been into three digits. 

Our test car wore a color called Thundernight Metallic, a deep, way-rad shade of purple. I love it. 

If I were to turn three into one, I’d still have a BMW, a roadster and something that turns heads. I’d also have more room in my garage, my life and my head. 

So I built my own Z4 online. The model starts at nearly $67,000, but the way I’d want it, it tops $70,000.

Then reality started to knock on the door: Either way, that’s a gigantic pile of money–several times more than I have ever spent on a vehicle. And could I live without a Miata? Or the 911? And those flares on the M3 just look so cool. How could I give up original, clean examples of those three icons? 

Really, what I probably need to do is add a track car to that mix–you know, something I could safely, reliably pound on all day. But maybe that’s a discussion for another time.

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Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/22/23 8:42 a.m.

Yes, but it wouldn't be a car. 

It would be one of those hated SUVs. Probably the one I have now. It's a very good all-around vehicle. Plenty of power. Fun to drive on a twisty road. AWD for softroading. Capable of towing 7700 pounds. Regularly returns 25-28 mpg. 

If the SCCA would let me autocross it, I'd sell the Mustang tomorrow. 


Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter)
Tom_Spangler (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
9/22/23 8:46 a.m.
Toyman! said:

Yes, but it wouldn't be a car. 

It would be one of those hated SUVs. Probably the one I have now. It's a very good all-around vehicle. Plenty of power. Fun to drive on a twisty road. AWD for softroading. Capable of towing 7700 pounds. Regularly returns 25-28 mpg. 

If the SCCA would let me autocross it, I'd sell the Mustang tomorrow. 

Yeah, my wife's Explorer ST would fit the bill if I had to have one "do it all" vehicle. Fast, practical, comfy, decent economy.

But to answer the question, no, probably not. Variety is the spice of life.

bmw88rider GRM+ Memberand UberDork
9/22/23 8:54 a.m.

If I still lived in Texas, I would say probably yes. But living here in the upper mid-west, I need a winter vehicle. I really wouldn't want to submit my fun cars to the mess that is the Nebraska winter. 

The bonus is my winter vehicle doubles as my hauler, road tripper, soft-roader, and back-up car when I'm working on something. Right now the Element is serving in that role and It's already seen a trip from FL to NE, NE to Cleveland a few times, Summer camping in the badland, and a couple MTB trips to Bentonville this year alone. I wouldn't have been able to do that with just the Miata or Mirage. 

Captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
Captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
9/22/23 8:54 a.m.

An EV cafe racer/ scrambler style motorcycle with a sidecar. 

93EXCivic MegaDork
9/22/23 9:29 a.m.

Honestly no. I don't like driving bigger cars but I need one frequently enough that I could live without one and not be annoyed.

RyanGreener (Forum Supporter)
RyanGreener (Forum Supporter) Reader
9/22/23 9:37 a.m.

Probably not. I did the whole one car thing for awhile, but with my vast array of passions/interests one car cannot do it all. Two might be do-able for me, but right now it looks like three minimum.

docwyte PowerDork
9/22/23 9:59 a.m.

Yes, it'd be an uber wagon, like a Panerama sport turismo, Mercedes E63 AMG S or Audi RS6.  However I'm happy (for now) with my combo of 200 series land cruiser for DD/winter/hauler duties and 996 Turbo for fun car.  The 996 Turbo is a forever car for me, unless I somehow get a ton of money and get buy a 997 GT3RS

gixxeropa GRM+ Memberand Reader
9/22/23 10:25 a.m.

I can definitely live with one sports car and if i decided to stop doing track events/racing I could live without a truck. But driving my daily to the track, running it hard, and driving it back home is a bit stressful. knowing I have work tomorrow and no backup vehicle to get there or even any way to get a broken car back from the track short of calling for a tow, I just wouldn't want that.

preach GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
9/22/23 10:47 a.m.


z31maniac MegaDork
9/22/23 10:52 a.m.

The fiance and I shared our '18 Mazda 3 for 18 months when we were both working from home. I got REALLY tempted to put wheels/suspension on it, but knew I'd eventually get something just for myself. 

So that is still her DD and I have the '23 BRZ as our fun car. Just need to get comfortable driving a manual again and being comfortable driving something that low to the ground so she can take it to work if she wants. 

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