How much does an automotive journalist drive?

Before I wound up in this business, I often wondered how much journalists drove. I mean, do these people sit at desks all day and just drive some hot car home from work? Or are they out all day driving, shredding rubber and racking up speeding tickets?

I can now answer that question with ridiculous accuracy, because I’m a nerd and keep track of everything I do and drive. On average, I spent two days a week at my desk last year. The other three were days filled with driving, sitting in some sort of meeting with car companies, or, unfortunately, sitting in a plane.

I flew 140,578 miles last year on major carriers, plus another maybe 10,000 miles on small carriers and charter planes. Sadly, that makes the amount of miles I drove seem much less significant.

That number is 27,496 miles, which may be somewhere approaching triple the average person, it’s pretty low for me.

150k miles in the sky and another 27k on the ground; and yet here I am, sitting at the same desk I was a year ago: all those miles, and I haven’t actually made it anywhere. Then again, the BMW X5M that was in my driveway when the clock struck midnight on January 1, 2009 was long gone a year later. This year, it was a Mercedes CL 550. Both of those are downgrades from the 2008-2009 New Year celebration, when I was lucky enough to have a Lamborghini Gallardo LP560-4. My friend at Lamborghini arranged the car for me provided that I promised to ring in the New Year at 8000 rpm. Gee, that sucked.

(The prior year, I celebrated New Years in a Kia Spectra5. That did, in fact, suck.)

Anyway, back to the 27,496 miles. 8,079 of those were spread among my five cars. I put the most miles on the Boxster, which dragged me through 2,898 miles and right back to the same garage spot.

That leaves 19,417 miles in press cars. 229 different press cars, at an average of 85 miles per car. No dents, dings, or scratches. And no speeding tickets, praise the Lord Judge Judy.

The three cars I put the most miles on in 2010? 505 miles on a Boxster Spyder that I drove from San Francisco to Los Angeles; 488 miles on our Four Seasons BMW 535i from Ann Arbor, Michigan to a friend’s wedding in Ohio; and 480 miles on a Porsche 911 GT3 that I drove everywhere I could—and back—for absolutely no reason at all.

The least amount of miles? Two. On an automatic-transmission Cadillac CTS-V coupe that I decided wasn’t nearly as cool as the six-speed CTS-V wagon that sitting in the parking lot a mile back.

In my logbook of every car I’ve ever driven lives one particularly short entry. In the space following “Porsche 911 GT3 RS” I wrote simply:  “F**k me.”  I spelled it the real way.

The oldest car I drove was a 1933 Bugatti. I drove four cars from the 1960s (a ’66 Imperial, a ’67 Mazda Cosmo, a ’69 Triumph TR6, and a 1960-something Honda S800), two from the 1980s, and three from the 1990s.

I somehow managed to drive eleven different 3-series BMWs, eight Infiniti Ms, six Corvettes, six Jaguar XJs, five 5-series, five Ford Fiestas, and five Mustangs. And multiple other multiples. But in there are three different Bugatti Veyrons. That didn’t suck, either.

I did 178 speedometer-indicated-mph in a Porsche 911 GT3 on an Autobahn. I did 180 mph in a Ferrari 458 on a runway. And then I hit 170-something in a Bugatti Veyron that thought it was on a runway and tried to fly. Frost heaves suck at those speeds. I don’t ever want to be airborne at that speed again.

Unless I’m in a plane. Which, judging by my bulging frequent flyer accounts, seems pretty likely.

Jason Cammisa
Yeah, mo_pho, it was. Actually 2.2 times as terrifying, since it was in a $2.2-million Veyron Super Sport. :/
CZ
That's awesome you are keeping track of those stats. Many men or women would do anything to be in your shoes and to be given the opportunity to drive cools rides! Keep up the great work!
Wagonhenge
When ever you've had enough - I'll take your job off your hands in an instant!
mo_pho
Going airborne in a loaned $1mm+ vehicle at 170mph must be terrifying!

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