I Somehow Own 14 Cars And A Transit Bus... What Have I Done? (Winner Update)

I may have so many cars, we're turning my fun mess into a contest.

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Image: Mercedes Streeter

I recently received surprising news that two cars I haven’t even seen in over a year may soon be coming home. Their awaited return got me thinking, just how many cars do I own? Dear reader, I counted and I tell you, my mouth dropped when I realized I’m sitting on a pile of 15 cars.

Update: November 16, 2021: One of you either has some eagle eyes or are really good at estimation. I have noted the mileage of some of these cars in my posts, so I imagine some people probably went on a bit of a treasure hunt. Here’s the total mileage, rounded to the nearest thousand:

2005 Smart Fortwo - 25,000 miles.
2008 Smart Fortwo - 112,000 miles.
2012 Smart Fortwo - 157,000 miles.
2016 Smart Fortwo - 6,000 miles.
2002 Audi TT - 199,000 miles.
2004 Volkswagen Phaeton - 160,000 miles.
2004 Volkswagen Passat W8 - 166,000 miles.
2004 Volkswagen Passat TDI wagon - 200,000 miles.
2005 Volkswagen Passat TDI wagon - 234,000 miles.
2005 Volkswagen Touareg VR6 - 187,000 miles.
2006 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI - 192,000 miles.
2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen - 365,000 miles.
1991 Honda Beat - 100,000 miles.
1989 Suzuki Every - 56,000 miles.
2002 Nova Bus RTS - 384,000 miles.

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That’s 15 vehicles for a total mileage of 2,543,000 miles.

The winner of the contest is Twitter user @Giantlain with the overly specific number of 2,547,326 — a 4,326 difference.

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Congratulations! The guess is so close it’s like you’ve been staring at my odometers. Are we neighbors? Anyway, our team should reach out to you with the next steps.

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The original story continues below:

This collection will most likely be the death of me. I’m not entirely sure how I even arrived at this number. Perhaps even more surprising is how many miles my total collection has when all added up.

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It’s been just over a year since joining this lovely site, and I won’t lie to you, it’s been a dream come true. In the decade this site has stood number one on my browsers, I never imagined my name being on one of it’s prized bylines. The very people I call my coworkers today, inspired me to build my automotive dream team. That very dream team I built and wrote about for my introduction post. Things have only escalated since.

David Tracy hasn’t been holding a rusty, Jeep-branded gun to my head telling me to harbor way too many Volkswagens. No, I did this all on my own. And the fleet you’re about to see is all mine; I’m not including my motorcycles or my fiancé’s cars.

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While you’re reading, take a note of what you think the mileage is on each of my prized toys. We’re going to be holding a little contest where the person who guesses the closest to the total mileage of my collection, gets a neat prize!

[Ed. Note: This was a lot of car to get through. So, good luck on guessing that number. - LC]

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1989 Suzuki Every Turbo

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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This was the van that I attempted to import from Japan all by myself. I haven’t had a ton of seat time in it since it’s arrival, but it’s certainly one of the most ridiculous vehicles I’ve ever driven. Everything about it from the pizza cutter tires, precarious handling and big green TURBO light on the dash are all absurd and I wouldn’t have it any other way.

This one is definitely a keeper.

1991 Honda Beat

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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This was the other car I got from Japan, imported with the help of the Import Guys out of Washington State. Buying this car was easiest car purchase I’ve ever made, including Facebook Marketplace and my fiancé’s acquisition of a Toyota Prius from Carvana. If I ever have the itch to import a car again, it’ll be through the Import Guys.

That aside, it’s easily the most fun I’ve ever had in a car. Its speedometer reads in kilometers per hour, but the car is so tiny, it feels like it’s reading in miles per hour. Couple that to Honda’s superb manual transmission and that inline-three soundtrack, and you have yourself a recipe for a smile you cannot wipe off of your face. This was another car I wish I had more seat time with before the snow started falling.

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This one is also a forever car.

2002 Nova Bus RTS-06

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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I had to make the bus next, because it’s just such a wild juxtaposition to the previous kei cars. I bought this bus as an RV conversion project. Admittedly, I’ve made zero progress on that front, instead just driving it around like a car because it’s just too fun. Some RTS fans have been begging me to preserve it as a piece of transit history, instead of gutting it. Apparently, a lot of these are either getting scrapped or turned into motorhomes.

Either way, this is way cooler than any school bus, and I’m keeping it.

A hint for the mileage contest: this has the most miles of anything I own.

2005 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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I got this car for free in 2017 after its owner found himself unable to register it in the state of Colorado. These little first-generation Smart Fortwos are imports that squeaked by the 25 Year Import Rule, because importers went through the expensive work to federalize them. This little thing gets 50 mpg from its near kei-sized 700cc turbocharged three, and it has almost as much go-kart feeling as the Honda Beat.

Of course, you can import them, but as the previous owner found out, not all states will register them. Sound familiar?

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I’m never letting this one go!

2008 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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I bought this for $1,000 with the goal of turning it into a road-legal side-by-side of sorts. Then I took it off-road with broken springs and caused some damage. I felt bad for the little guy and shelved the off-road project. This year, it was a little road tripper, helping me pick up David Tracy’s Lexus LX 470 and taking me on my first adventure to Detroit.

This one probably isn’t a forever car, but it hasn’t worn out its welcome yet, either.

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2012 Smart Fortwo Passion Coupe

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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Ah, my second-ever car and the one that taught me that dreams can come true. A 15-year-old me made a Smart my attainable dream car, and I made it happen before I was out of my teens. I love this car so much, I named myself after Mercedes-Benz. No, really, Mercedes is my legal name. That’s worth a story on its own and I’ll definitely share it one day.

Despite this car’s meaning to me, I’ve never been that kind to it. I bang it off of the rev limiter on every drive, make it tow trailers and take it off road on the Gambler 500. But it never quits and never complains.

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You’ll have to kill me to pry this car from my hands. Oh, and it’s been on fire before, which leads us to the next car.

2016 Smart Fortwo Edition #1

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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This car was supposed to replace the 2012, but I was able to repair the fire damage to the 2012 and all of a sudden ended up with two cars.

I credit this car for putting me on the path to where I am today. Clearly, I must have thought that if I could have two cars, then three, four, five, six and on was no big deal. I took this on a sort-of Cannonball-style trip from Los Angeles to Chicago, coming close to Google’s estimated time of arrival. It’s my favorite version of my attainable dream car and I’m never letting it go.

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For a hint for the contest, this one has the lowest miles in my entire fleet.

2006 Volkswagen Touareg V10 TDI

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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Here’s a dream car I’ve long thought was unattainable. Something about Ferdinand Piëch-era Volkswagens just makes me feel warm inside. Maybe it’s the absurdity of the cars, maybe it’s an electrical fire or maybe I’m high on the smell of crayons. The Touareg V10 TDI is near the top of the heap. It’s much faster than it has any right to be, and that right pedal might as well be injecting adrenaline right into my veins. I feel like a James Bond villain driving this.

These are also notorious for hilariously high repair bills, so it won’t surprise you to hear that mine sits in climate-controlled storage where it has the least chance of failing on me. You bet it’s a forever car!

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2005 Volkswagen Touareg VR6

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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This is somehow one of the most reliable vehicles in my fleet, and these VR6-powered Touaregs were not known for their reliability. It’s funny, as I bought it as a beater or something to take on the Gambler 500. I paid $1,700 for it, and it’s crash damage. After purchasing it, I replaced the rear bumper and tires, and added a tow hitch. It’s been a reliable daily ever since, managing to tow both of my kei cars across the country and stands as the only car of mine that I’ve driven coast to coast. The largest repair was the new transmission oil pan. That’s it!

My plans are to keep it until something big breaks, then I’ll replace it with another VR6 or maybe a V8 Touareg... .

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2002 Audi TT Quattro

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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Another childhood dream car: the first-generation Audi TT. I’ve wanted one of these ever since driving one in Gran Turismo. I also own quite a few examples of it in my diescast collection. Driving this car was like meeting a hero and finding out they’re even cooler than expected. My TT has survived vandalism and an attempted theft, yet runs as good as ever. Easily one of my favorite $1,500 finds of all time.

I’d only get rid of this one for a better one, specifically one with the baseball glove interior.

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2012 Volkswagen Jetta TDI Sportwagen

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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This Sportwagen is nearing the better part of a half-million miles (another freebie for those of you adding up those miles), yet it looks and drives like a car with maybe 75,000 miles. And even though it received the Dieselgate fix, it still gets over 40 mpg if I’m not hard on it. I got it for dirt cheap and plan to get it as close to a million miles as possible. Admittedly, I’ve been doing a bad job at getting it to a million miles because I’ve driven it only a few thousand miles this year. It current sits parked, in need of a new dual-mass flywheel. The new one just arrived in the mail.

And another hint for this one ... it has the second-most mileage of anything in my fleet.

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2004 Volkswagen Phaeton V8

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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I bought this in the summer with an iffy cooling system that allows it to overheat. Despite being 17 years old, it’s one of the most quiet and most comfortable cars that I’ve ever driven. To say that Volkswagen overbuilt the Phaeton is an understatement. If it were not for the dated-looking systems, this could be right up there with a current luxury barge. VW’s engineers spent so much time crafting this thing that even the trunk hinges are a work of industrial art.

I have yet to fix the cooling issue since it only overheats on long trips. That’s something I seek to fix this winter.

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I’m keeping this until I get my hands on a W12.

2005 Volkswagen Passat TDI wagon

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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This wagon is a better version of my first-ever Volkswagen; a car that really kickstarted my car collecting outside of Smart Fortwos. I felt so attached to my first one, another 2005, that when I sold it I immediately regretted it. That wagon carried me through one of the worst parts in my life and never let me down. Instead, I feel that I let it down. It doesn’t hurt that it looks so good and scores 40 mpg without even trying.

This new one is a return to form and a return to a wagon I loved so dearly. I’m keeping it forever, unlike the next one.

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2004 Volkswagen Passat TDI wagon

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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I bought this wagon to fill the hole left by that first wagon. Unfortunately, things didn’t work out when I found out that it needed a little more work than I expected. Still, I liked it enough to repair it anyway. That was before it was towed last year, for reasons I cannot elaborate on right now. I fully expected it to be crushed and long gone, but apparently it’s still out there. This car may be finally coming back to me soon, but who knows what condition it’ll be in.

Either way, regardless of what condition I get it back in I will pass it on to the next person.

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2004 Volkswagen Passat W8

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter
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When I joined Jalopnik, I started a restoration on this manual transmission W8. Back then, it ran and drove so well, it was a daily driver. I replaced some of the crunched up trim and went through the arduous process of replacing the sunroof. Next was pulling out the dent and getting a matching door. But the restoration was abruptly stopped when this car was also transported to the land of tows, at the same time as that last Passat wagon. I had come to terms with this one to have been crushed as well.

Sadly, I do know that when this happened the car’s clutch was damaged. I may be getting this one back and whether or not I can fix the clutch will determine if I’ll keep it.

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That does it! I have 15 cars, most of them German. Maintaining a fleet this size is pretty difficult. As it is, I live in an apartment so a number of these cars are being stored in a mini warehouse that I’ve organized like a big game of Tetris.

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Thankfully, I’ve been really lucky with repairs. The biggest repairs my cars have needed were wear parts or the dual-mass flywheel in that Jetta TDI. But man, if that bus or that V10 Touareg ever take a dump in a big way I’m in trouble.

As for the future? I want to get down to 12 cars and the bus. I have no plans on adding to my fleet, but we’ll see what Facebook Marketplace and Craigslist have to say about that.

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Now for the really fun part. Guess the total mileage of my fleet! Drop your guess down in the comments, on our Instagram or on Twitter. The person with the closest guess gets a pretty sweet prize. It’s our way of thanking you for being a dedicated, awesome reader and in a way, enabling the couple of us to keep collecting vehicles.