One of the last loads out of my old apartment. It ain’t even full.
Screenshot: Stef Schrader

I got fed up with keeping spare race car parts in a separate storage unit, so I finally moved to a new place that came with a little storage room. I am cheap to the bone, though, so I moved whatever I could lift in my car, a 2010 Mitsubishi Lancer GTS. I have to say, I’m seriously surprised at how much crap it can hold.

Fort Porsche Box, MSR-Houston 2014.
Photo: Stef Schrader

The most shocking moment was when I loaded up items from my storage unit, where I kept spare items for my race car. Normally, my paddock space at race weekends is defined by a small fort of clear plastic bins, where I divided out various spare parts into liftable, easily accessible chunks.

And there are a lot of parts. Usually, it fills up an entire F250-sized pickup bed. This time, the parts that usually Tetris themselves into a pickup bed laid neatly into my entire car. I could even see out the rear-view window, as the boxes didn’t even go over the height of the car’s big rear wing.

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If my Lancer could only tow the race car, I could—in theory—toss the couple stray boxes I usually keep at home in the car along with my spare wheels and take the entire weekend setup in the Lancer. Sadly for that, I’d still need a bigger car. But maybe not as big—I could easily get away with a smaller tow vehicle than I previously thought, so long as the adequate tow capacity was there.

People talk about needing larger vehicles “just in case,” and sure, I would have probably made fewer trips to move if I had an F350 or whatever. Bloated crossovers are America’s current obsession thanks to exactly that flawed logic. Yet if I had something larger, I’d have to spend the rest of my time with an unwieldy vehicle to drive, park, fuel and store. The Lancer is already big enough to annoy me sometimes.

The Lancer wasn’t just fine for most of the little boxes of stuff that I wasn’t going to hand over to movers. It held an absurd amount of stuff for a so-called “compact” car. It has just 12.3 cubic feet of trunk space and 93.5 cubic feet of passenger compartment space, per The Car Connection. Those stats are reasonable for a small car, but not excessive. Yet somehow I could fit everything I’d usually bring for any surprise wrenching on the 944 in that space.

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Later, a friend’s Jeep Wrangler Unlimited was roped in as back-up, as two cars can move more stuff faster than just one working alone. But most of my breakables were all moved over in my one little car. I have too much crap—full stop—so the move took around six car-loads in the Lancer, but not all of those were entirely full loads due to the number of breakable items I was hauling that can’t stack.

Here’s a suggestion: fill your car up with stuff. Boxes, wheels of cheese, stuffed animals, whatever. Just something that you can quantify. Unless you drive a microcar (and sometimes even if you have a microcar), you’ll probably be a bit shocked at what you can cram in there. Maybe—just maybe—you don’t really need a bigger car for those two times a year you go to Ikea. You’d have more fun in those 364 non-flat-pack-hauling days in something smaller, anyway.

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What my car looks like when it’s not full of stuff.
Photo: Thomas Endesfelder