By on June 16, 2017

Nissan Leaf Brown, Image: www.autocar.co.uk

Dan writes:

Lately I’ve been obsessed with buying a Nissan Leaf as a commuter car. That might seem like a sensible stop-and-go commuter choice for most people, but there’s a wrinkle: I already have four other cars and I don’t want to get rid of any of them — 2014 BMW X1, STR class 2012 Miata, 2011 Boxster Spyder, and a 2014 Audi TT.

I autocross the ‘verts, the X1 is my long distance and winter ride, and for reasons I can’t go into I can’t get rid of the TT.

I’ve wanted an electric car for a long time (I looked into conversions 10 years ago or so, but never did one) and the prices on used Leafs are very attractive. It might not be the most exciting car, but sometimes a person just wants to drive in meditative silence with smooth and instant throttle response without actually going very far or very fast.

So, tell me there are other people out there with five cars and I’m not being crazy for wanting to be one of them.


Sajeev answers:

Talk about preaching to the multi-car choir!  Check out what followed me home on Monday.

Sajeev's 1988 Lincoln Town Car Signature Series, Image: Sajeev Mehta

Longtime readers might remember this Town Car, somewhat freshly restored for my aunt as of this April. But it’s a bittersweet Brown Town Car: her medical issues mean she never’ll enjoy the fruits of my (and my father’s) labor. Looking at it, sitting on those brand-spankin’ new Michelins with nowhere to go, just rips me apart inside…

So here’s the point: we all have a finite time on this earth, so having multiple cars is 100-percent okay!

Provided you’re covering the basics (home, food, retirement, college tuition, etc.) this is a great hobby. Multiple cars for several tasks is both pleasurable and — dare I say it — practical. A Nissan Leaf is wonderfully roomy, comfortable and cost-effective for your joyful daily commute.

A financially secure car nut can justify damn near anything, hence I salute you for embracing the cheap and cheerful world of commuter cars. Just do your bank account a favor and (briefly) consider selling one of those roadsters. Then do your boy Sanjeev a favor and consider getting a bittersweet-brown Leaf.

[Images: Autocar.co.uk, © 2017 Sajeev Mehta/The Truth About Cars]

Send your queries to sajeev@thetruthaboutcars.com. Spare no details and ask for a speedy resolution if you’re in a hurry…but be realistic, and use your make/model specific forums instead of TTAC for more timely advice.

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59 Comments on “Piston Slap: Justification for a Multi-Car Conservatory?...”


  • avatar
    True_Blue

    Multiple cars.
    It is so choice. If you have the space, I highly recommend picking another one up.

    Weekend cars, commuting cars, winter cars… options are good.

    • 0 avatar
      dougjp

      Ah yes, space… what a catch22. Especially with the need to spend more than car cost money to get more of it, thereby leaving no money for the extra car! :(

      • 0 avatar
        True_Blue

        That’s the thing about space… you can never have enough of it. Some of my urban parking spaces were almost as much as the apartment itself. Then when I did make the move to the country, I went for the biggest shop I could find. Less than 10 years later, it’s full up.

        A life mantra… get more than what you need now, you’ll find a way to fill it.

  • avatar
    Zackman

    If you can afford it, you may own as many cars as you like. It’s strictly an individual choice. If anyone has an issue with that, have them speak to Jay Leno or Jerry Seinfeld first.

    Me? I’m retired, so our max is two cars, since I run around town some and Wifey still works.

    Still, if I could afford it, I’d sure like a fun car, either another MX5 Miata (auto tranny for Wifey) or a Camaro convertible (base model, yellow, please).

  • avatar
    duffman13

    I have a commuter, a fun car, and a family hauler, so I understand. IMO, if you have the space and money for registration/insurance is not an issue, why not?

    My only comment would be: do you really need 2 dedicated autocross cars? I could understand if you had an autocrosser, a track toy, and a top down cruiser. I see enough overlap between the Boxster, TT, and Miata that I wonder why you have all 3 though.

    • 0 avatar
      SimRacingDan

      Hey this is Dan. I completely agree – I’d like to sell the TT but there are … complexities that make that a challenging decision.

      We have tons of autocross here (every weekend day from April to the beginning of November) so there are lots of opportunities and there are 2 Porsche clubs with events, so it’s nice to have the class-fitting car. But yeah it has crossed my mind that I should sell one of them. I definitely consider it frequently.

  • avatar
    JimZ

    “Lately I’ve been obsessed with buying a Nissan Leaf”

    the first step to recovery is admitting you have a problem.

  • avatar
    bikegoesbaa

    I currently have 3 cars and a motorcycle, and previously had as many as 5/2.

    I find that my ideal number is 3 cars.
    -One daily driver
    -One fun roadster/sportscar
    -One unique old car for nice day cruising and project fiddling

    More than that and I start running out of time to drive/maintain/register them all.

    Your mileage may vary, but there’s nothing wrong with having as many cars as you want provided you can pay for and store all of them in an organized way.

    If you find your yard looking like a hillbilly snake pit with rusty heaps on blocks then reconsider your choices, but given your fleet that seems unlikely.

    If you are looking to make some room in the fleet it seems the obvious ways to accomplish that are:
    -Sell one of the convertibles. Do you need 2 autocross cars and get enough use/joy out of them both to justify doubling up on a “type”?
    -Figure out a way to offload the TT that is unsellable for top-secret reasons. Perhaps you could total it?

  • avatar
    Sky_Render

    People actually LIKE the BMW X1? I cannot fathom this.

  • avatar

    As long as one can afford it, there’s no shame in having a collection of cars. Some people collect shoes, others clothes, or baseball cards.

    Despite having only two designated parking spaces at our apartment, I have five cars. Each has a role and a purpose, and the variety makes each drive interesting. They are:
    – 2008 Chevrolet Aveo- This is actually my husband’s car, but since I do all of the upkeep, cleaning, and maintenance on it, it may as well be my car. I also drive it whenever we use it together
    -2015 Chevrolet Sonic- Our road trip car. It’s comfortable, reliable, and fuel efficient
    -1988 Daihatsu Charade- Have had this car for years. It’s mostly in the garage and goes out to car shows and the occasional weekend drive
    -1992 Ford Explorer- Don’t tell the others, but this is the favorite. It’s a Jurassic Park replica and a childhood dream. It’s used mainly for weekend drives
    -1999 Suzuki Esteem- This is the daily commuter for the 14 mile round trip to work. Bought it for $700 and it runs perfectly.

    The only downside to having a fleet like this is that there’s always a car either needing maintenance, or needs to have registration renewed…..there’s always a new expense

  • avatar
    True_Blue

    Of course, we may be the equivalent of a political echo-chamber… few gearheads will tell another gearhead “you’ve got too many cars.” I’ve got four and a truck, so who am I to pass judgement?

  • avatar
    LeMansteve

    There are days I wish I went for the house with the 3-car garage. Just got a new Mazda and I have to part ways with my BMW E46 soon. I’d rather keep it, but there just isn’t any room to park it without leaving my new car out in the elements 24/7.

  • avatar
    87 Morgan

    Dan, we must be thinking on parallel plains or something. I too have found myself looking at CL and other forums for a used Leaf. They are nearing super cheap figures and for our household a 75 miles or whatever range would work perfect for a run around, soccer practice, etc car which could also provide a hedge against future unforeseen gas price spikes. The later mostly to justify it to myself and wife as our fleet is not exactly the apex of fuel efficiency.

    The biggest concern that I have is the Leaf would need a garage space for charging and I only have three car that is filled very neatly arranged to handle a 57′ Chevy, Suburban, and Lacrosse along with the kids bikes and what not and would not want to keep the the cheap car in the garage.

    • 0 avatar
      Giskard

      You probably don’t need a space inside to charge a Leaf. I keep my i3 outside plugged in rain or shine and haven’t had any trouble the past few months. We even had a pretty strong storm earlier this week. It appears to me that the J1772 connector I charge with was designed for use out in the wet (which makes perfect sense). It would surprise me if the CHAdeMO connector on the Leaf was any different in this respect.

      More germain to the thread, I briefly had 4 cars in my fleet earlier this year:
      2015 MINI Cooper S (manual)
      2015 Ford Transit Wagon
      2015 BMW i3 Rex
      2009 Porsche Cayenne GTS (manual)

      The MINI is my primary car, though it hasn’t seen many miles since I picked up the i3. For the i3 I assumed the last 6 months of someone else’s lease so I could try an EV for the summer as I am on the Tesla Model 3 reservation list. It’ll be turned back in in September, but I’ll be replacing it with a Model 3 or i3s as soon as possible. The Transit is my tow/haul vehicle (great for road trips with friends, too).

      The Cayenne I bought a few years ago just for the uniqueness factor. It is the only SUV I’ve ever had and is the last of the manual transmission “premium” ones on the market (Porsche offered a manual in their V8-powered GTS between 2008 and 2010 – there were few takers). I sold it earlier this year. It was a fun ride, but ultimately didn’t tow quite as well as the Transit and wasn’t as fun to hustle around a corner as the MINI (twice the mass!).

      If I had the space and extra funds I’m sure I could easily find a home for 5+ cars. It’s nice to be able to choose from a range of different driving experiences.

      Oh, I do have a motorcycle too :)

      • 0 avatar
        87 Morgan

        Giskard, what a great idea on the I3. For whatever reason I have not ever considered taking over someones lease, especially for a short duration of 6 mos or so. My hat is off to you, a brilliant way to see if the EV lifestyle works for you without a long term financial commitment.

  • avatar
    jack4x

    6 car household here: 2 fun cars, 2 dailies, a plow/work truck, and a classic car project. Go for it if you have the space and budget, you never know what you might feel like driving when you wake up that day.

  • avatar
    zoomzoomfan

    If you have the cash and the space, go for it.

    We have three cars. 2016 Mazda6 as my daily driver/dad car, 2013 Mazda CX-5 as wife’s daily driver/mom car, and 1995 Chevrolet S10 4X4 as a spare vehicle/winter beater/etc. vehicle. I drive it when there’s snow or when severe storms and hail are forecasted and I don’t want to risk the 6 getting damaged.

    I wish I could have more. Maybe someday, when we move further into the country. But right now, even though I live in a rural area, I live in a neighborhood so there isn’t a lot of space for cars except for my 2 car attached garage (which the CX-5 and 6 are already parked in).

  • avatar
    stingray65

    What does a Leaf do that one of your others cannot? Hold 4 or 5 – so can the X1. Economical city runabout – the Miata or TT can do that pretty well. Green-eco image maker – well the fact that you own 4 other ICVs kind of kills whatever eco-credibility the Leaf might give you. Yes a used Leaf can be a good buy if you need a city commuter, but you will never save enough on electricity vs. gasoline to make up the purchase price, further depreciation, insurance, maintenance, storage costs, etc. so there is no way you can justify it economically unless you sell one or more of your current fleet.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Electrics don’t really appeal to me from an environmental or political standpoint, though one would think they should given that I’m left-of-center.

      No, for me, it’d be about driving a piece of affordable, cutting edge tech. Now, that appeals to me.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        Yep an “early adopter” of sorts learning the tech, seeing if you like it. I get that. I have built an electric bike for the same reason. I think our next second car will be electric – either a Chevy Bolt or Nissan Leaf. Our second car is our commuter car that we carpool in. It seldom needs to leave the county.

        We currently have seven cars, a vintage scooter and two motorized bicycles (one antique). I plan to shrink the fleet by a car and add a motorcycle.

    • 0 avatar
      PandaBear

      Ah, that’s an easy answer: carpool lane sticker, free charing at work.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    As long as you’re keeping the lights on and the bellies full, I say, collect away, Dan!

  • avatar
    28-Cars-Later

    Nickle and diming is an issue with multiple vehicles although it seems your budget is light years beyond mine and this is not a consideration. Have at a Leaf.

    I am curious though, was AWD *that* important a Porsche wasn’t enough and an Audi was necessary?

  • avatar
    Syke

    Five cars? Sounds normal to me. We’ve got four at the house as I speak, although only two of them are something we’d take to Cars & Coffee Richmond, and neither of them are in the automotive stratosphere like your listing.

    On top of those four cars are three motorcycles and a scooter. Which is a small collection for me – at one time I had ten before having to liquidate the collection to pay off my late wife’s medical bills.

    And this afternoon I’m taking delivery on a new Honda Gold Wing. My retirement present to myself

    At five vehicles, consider yourself vehicularly deprived.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    NO WHITEWALLS on the refreshed Town Car? SAD.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Trip to Discount Tire fixes that.

    • 0 avatar

      Aunt wanted Michelins. The only whitewall tire for this size currently on the market is a sketchy sounding Chinese tire. (you can buy at Coker, but its cheaper on Amazon)

      • 0 avatar
        FreedMike

        Blackwalls it is, then.

        Not to cast aspersions on your Panther Love, but when I grew up, cars like that Town Car were thick on the ground, and honestly, I don’t look back on them all that fondly. We had one of these as a rental during a family vacation in ’84 or ’85 in Florida, and I remember thinking how my mom’s ’75 Mercedes 450 just blew the Town Car away.

        I think cars like this are far cooler to the generations that came after mine.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        I understand that Sajeev – if the original intention was to have it be your Aunt’s DD that’s a consideration.

        As part of your collection, I’d put whitewalls on it, brand be danged – just to have “the look.”

        My local independent tire dealer could tell me if a “sketchy sounding” brand was worth my pennies or not. Fortunately he caries everything from el cheapo to super premium.

  • avatar
    S2k Chris

    I am torn. There are days when I think 5-6 cars is the perfect number, and there are days when I think “why do I want anything other than just a Porsche 911 (plus my wife’s car)”?

    • 0 avatar
      bikegoesbaa

      “why do I want anything other than just a Porsche 911”

      In my opinion no multi-car enthusiast should be without a big cruiser sedan. It’s the perfect car to take friends out on a nice day. Or I guess a family, if you’re into that sort of thing.

      Pick the flavor as per your specific preference, I like 70’s fullsize domestics.

      A newer 911 paired with a W116 or W126 Mercedes would make for a very fun and versatile garage.

      • 0 avatar
        S2k Chris

        “I like 70’s fullsize domestics.”

        That’s pretty much the last genre of car I would ever consider. I would consider an old Rolls as a 5th or 6th car, but otherwise big sedans do nothing for me. Give me a midsized sports sedan or a CUV/SUV. Which, incidentally, I have one of each.

        • 0 avatar
          FreedMike

          Old road boats have a charm not dissimilar to that of a 60-year-old lady who still “has it.”

          Attractive and kinda repellant at the same time. Definitely entertaining to look at, though.

  • avatar
    SCE to AUX

    As a former Leaf driver, here is some brief shopping advice for a used one, since you want your experience to be the best possible:

    1. Do not expect the displayed (or advertised) range to match your round-trip commute, especially if you run the heat.

    2. Only buy a Leaf with 12 “bars” of battery capacity.

    3. Only buy a 2014 or newer. You want the ‘lizard’ battery.

    Since you don’t seem constrained by money, don’t be seduced by an ultra-cheap Leaf. Also, bear in mind that resale value will be terrible.

    • 0 avatar
      FreedMike

      Wow, you aren’t kidding about Leaf resale. I just looked them up in my area – found a certified ’15 with 15,000 miles, asking $12,000. Wow.

      Kinda wish I could run an electrical cord from my place down to the parking lot, and get it for my kid…

  • avatar
    APaGttH

    We have 5 – that’s the end of space for me, but if you can do it and have the Cheddar, you should do it. Life is too damn short.

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Only five? I have six cars and three trucks in my yard, most of which are currently operable to a greater or lesser degree.

  • avatar
    Cactuar

    You clearly have the means for it, so that’s not an issue. If your life is balanced and the car wouldn’t interfere with your other priorities then it’s fine. What I mean is: does your wife think you’re a jerk for spending all your time on cars and none with her and the kids? Then you probably lack balance and you should fix that before adding yet another car. Same goes for investments and other long term goals, you have to strike a balance and remember priorities.

  • avatar
    arach

    I like your thought.

    In fact I even BUILT an electric vehicle a few years back (still have a motor if your thinking of getting creative… haha)

    But knowing you like fun cars, I urge you to pass by the leaf and get the i3. The i3 is SO MUCH MORE FUN TO DRIVE, and its actually roomier than it looks. Depending on where you live they are only about 5k more than a leaf, but you’ll make that money up on resale.

    if your really just looking for play money (I drive a ferrari and a loaded lariat f350 and a porsche cayenne and sometimes have some “play money” where I’m trying to buy something stupid like a motorcycle or something, and friends are like, “your really passing by that one because its $5000 and you only want to spend $3000? you can afford more”). Its not always about the max you can afford but how much your willing to spend for some stupid project (aka the play money), and the 5k is a make-it-break-it for you, look for one of two other things:

    1. A zero motorcycle (lets you play with electric in a easier more performance oriented way) or
    2. Buy an imiev.

    Wait, buy an imiev? Yes, its about 5k cheaper than a leaf… there are CPOS for 5.9k right now on the imievs on CG. Its not that much crappier than a leaf, and fairly equal in function, but will let you get the cool electric thing out of your system while saving play money.

    In short, either buy the i3 where you’ll be HAPPY with the performance and the way it drives, or buy the iMiev where it’ll be so dang cheap you won’t even notice the money coming out of your pocket, and skip the leaf.

    Thats not the advice I’d give to just “anyone”, but you are a car guy with other toys, and I don’t think the leaf will be the right fit for your desires.

  • avatar
    kwong

    We’ve got 4 vehicles between 2 drivers in my house. Each car has a unique purpose and we often loan a car to friends/family:

    1) 2001 VW Golf TDI – 45mpg with moderate modification makes this a wonderful road-trip car and is easy to park in urban areas.

    2) 2006 Chevy Duramax – 18mpg, great for hauling home improvement junk, dirt, and trailers.

    3) 2007 Lexus Rx400h – 28mpg, comfy people hauler…it’s essentially a raised Camry.

    4) 2013 Fiat 500e – essentially free mpg. My wife drives it 45 miles in the HOV lane to her office where she charges it at no cost. Charge it at home for pretty much nothing; we have solar panels and a get a $90 credit each month since we buy low/sell high using a time of use rate plan. We get credited at $.44 per kWh produced and are charged $.14/kWh between 10pm-8am when we charge the car and run the 5-ton AC. We’re saving about $9 on fuel each day compared to the Lexus and about $12 on toll fees. The car was only $7,300 out the door and it’ll take about 1.5 years for it to pay for itself.

  • avatar
    thats one fast cat

    Cars are like clothes or watches: you should have one for every occasion, and as long as you have the means and it does not impact your future financial viability, why not? The key is to make sure the overlap in vehicles (after all, the function of a vehicle is to get from point a to point b) doesn’t create too big a space under the venn diagram. For instance: Porsche Boxster/Chevy Corvette – lots of area there where the function and the form are one in the same.

    That is why we have a minivan, a Suburban (for towing), a big sedan (for long adult trips), a convertible, a classic, and a hotrod. All will get you there, but like watches and clothes, it is all about the look and the feel when you arrive. Oh yeah, and the motorcycles, but that, as they say, is another story.

  • avatar
    doublechili

    One of my favorite car questions: if you had say $150,000 car money to spend, would you get one amazing car or maybe a variety of 3 cars.

    My answer would always be multi-cars. Mix up RWD/AWD/maybeFWD, high rev/torque, etc.. Drive what the conditions and/or your mood dictates at the time. Off the top of my head, and limited to new cars, I’ll take:

    Chevy SS
    Cayman
    WRX STI

  • avatar
    wumpus

    The guy with a youtube channel called “engineeringexplained” droned on and on about how this would work best for him. He wanted an off-road (or at least handle anything designated a “road” in Idaho) beast to haul stuff and a lightweight “fun” car.

    He went with a subaru crossover and a S2000.
    I would have recommended a miata (he gave the latest an absolutely glowing review) and a tough old truck (basically invert which is the “daily driver”).

    I think he’s called the S2000 his “daily” in at least one video since, but he may be still think that S2000>miata [an easy decision to make, but it makes the suby a problem in the summer].

  • avatar
    Asdf

    The Nissan Leaf is complete, utter crap, with its extremely long charging time and its extremely short range. It’s a disgrace that it was even allowed on the market.

    If you already have four cars, I suggest that you spend the money you’d consider wasting on the Leaf, on something more useful, like beer.

  • avatar
    427Cobra

    you’d think there’d be a 12-step for people like us. I’m at 3 currently, and considering making an offer on a 4th. Three is very do-able… four can be challenging (especially with a 2 car garage). I’m always on the lookout for another set of wheels… gotta have all the bases covered! Current fleet:

    daily driver: 2008 Mercury Grand Marquis LS (31k miles)
    dog/cargo hauler: 2016 Ram 2500 crew cab 6.4L hemi 4×4 (4k miles)
    weekend toy: 2004 Chevrolet Corvette Z06 (8900 miles)

    Under consideration is an ’86 Mustang GT convertible. My first Mustang was an ’86 GT ‘vert… always regret selling it… was the funnest of all the mustangs I’ve owned. I’d consider it a “project vehicle”… occasional driver for now… restomod later (bring on the Coyote swap!)


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