-- Last Updated: Dec-27-12 7:33 PM EST --
I was referring to the expensive trailers. I figure Sports Rig trailers must be a couple thousand bucks at least, since they seem to go by the policy, "If you have to ask what it costs, you can't afford it" (in actual fact, I think Sports Rig is on the verge of going out of business, since NOBODY closes their website for several weeks just to "take inventory". Who believes a company that small has an inventory that can't be tallied by one person in a day or two? A less-cynical interpretation might be that it's such a small operation that if the boss takes a long vacation, everything comes to a halt). Anyway, I think I spent $200 (MAYBE it was as much as $250) on my roof rack, so yes, I think I could have bought racks for 8 or 10 cars ("a small fleet") for the price of a Sports Rig, but granted, I carry canoes and similar boats gunwales-down, so there are no expensive accessories. I'm thinking of replacing it this winter with one that's home-built from the ground up, which would have been the smart thing to do right from the start.
As to the mileage penalty of boats on the roof, I myself wouldn't use it to justify a trailer. A quick calculation using some rough mileage figures of my own, with and without boats, shows that at $4 per gallon, I'd need to carry boats for 110,000 miles under average conditions before recouping the cost of a Sports Rig (assuming it costs $2,000), and 50,000 miles under the worst possible conditions (high-speed driving into very strong headwinds). In any case the estimate is conservative because it's based on the unrealistic assumption that carrying boats on a trailer would not affect mileage at all. I'm not sure I'll ever reach 100,000 miles of driving with boats on the roof. However, if the price of gas goes up enough, especially if it were to force me to use a much smaller car, it would take considerably fewer miles carrying boats to recoup the cost. Therefore, it seems that for a small-car owner, a really "nice" (expensive) trailer starts to look pretty darned appealing.