Contests are not what they once were. Back in the day, when you won a car, you’d get the ownership papers and the car was yours. These days I hear more contests claiming to have a car as the prize, but toward the end of the ad, or in the small print, they slip in mention that you’re getting a one year lease. If your car is on its last legs, it would be handy, but otherwise, I’m not seeing how it’s any great prize. Jeez, just give me the monetary value and I’ll be far happier.

Not everyone has a house, right? I live in an apartment and have one parking spot. If I won the use of a car for a year, where would I put it? I’d rather not pay for another spot so I could have two vehicles, one of which will always be sitting idle. Let’s not even get into the insurance.

I was reminded of this trend when I read of Volkswagen of America’s search for the highest mileage diesel in the United States. Syl Schmid of Blue Rock, Ohio came out on top with his 1986 diesel Jetta, having over 562,000 miles on the original engine, drivetrain and muffler. His prize? The use of a v10 Touareg TDI for six months.

The kicker is he’s the original owner of the Jetta and has records showing a fuel efficiency in excess of 50 miles per US gallon over the life of the vehicle. So his prize is six months use of a vehicle EPA rated to get a combined fuel economy of 20 miles per US gallon? And after paying the insurance premium on a vehicle that has a value of basically nothing, he’s expected to jump at the chance to pay premiums on a leased vehicle worth a minimum of $69,000? At least give him the damned thing.