And why you must have that rare, hard-to-find item
Despite having had my flu shot at the beginning of May, I still succumbed to a decent dose of the dreaded lurgy a couple of weeks later. The upside was that it gave me the opportunity to catch up on reading, while at the same time having a dung-out in the garages. Among some of the magazines I read was a back copy of a UK Classic Motorcycle magazine, and the editorial was quite interesting. It was basically saying that we shouldn’t hoard spare parts, as to do so prevents another machine somewhere from returning to the road. The editorial encouraged readers to let go of some of the stuff that they might have been hoarding for years, usually because they ‘might need that one day’. I’m sure that we have all got some parts and stuff stashed away just in case. I certainly have.
In the mid 1970s, I happened to go into an Auckland branch of what was then Ace Traders, which was in the process of becoming Motor Traders (or vice versa), and, as a result, was downsizing its stock of Zephyr parts. As I happened to be wearing a T-shirt with a Zephyr on it, the guy behind the counter asked if I wanted any. While I had actually gone in to buy a universal joint for a 1957 Dodge, I replied, “Yep! What’ve you got?” Whereupon he led me out the back of the store and showed me a huge pile of Zephyr bits and pieces for all the variants. Not being that interested in anything for the MKII, III, or IV, I selected a few items that were obviously MKI, and my selection was based on what I believed the cost was going to be, as my wallet had some marital constraints on it. The guy came back eventually and asked how I was getting along. I showed him my selection. Whereupon he said, “Nah! We’re interested in quitting the lot! We’ll give you a good deal!” So I tentatively asked what sort of money we might be looking at, as a quick calculation had me thinking in the mid-5k range, and I just did not have that kind of folding stuff at the ready. He stood over the pile muttering figures to himself, and finally gave me a total I simply couldn’t refuse. It took me four trailer loads to get it all home, as, each time I went back, they had added some more to the pile, including parts from the enginere-conditioning plant next door.
My logic in buying the lot was that I could sell off the items I did not require, and then the remainder would effectively be cost-free. A few years later, I reconditioned both engines in my MKI Zephyrs for just the cost of the machining, as I was able to supply all the parts myself. An added bonus was that Ace Traders spread the word that I was a good buyer for Zephyr parts, and thus I received additional overtures from other businesses keen to quit their stocks. My logic was that, as I intended to keep the Zephyrs for many years, maintenance would be a breeze, because, if I needed a part, I would simply go to my garage or parts shed and select the item. Interestingly, I’ve only recently run out of hub seals!
On that same line of thinking, around that same time, I acquired a MKI Zephyr convertible that had spent most of its recent life in a wrecker’s yard in Waterview. It was missing its motor and box, but I was only after the parts that were specific to the convertible. When I moved south in the late 1980s, I sold the remains of the convertible to an enthusiast in Taupo, who managed to locate all the missing items from elsewhere, and eventually restored the car to pristine condition. Clearly, there were others out there who had stashed parts away for projects that did not happen. However, collecting is a disease, and there seems to be no cure for it. If one runs out of space, one simply builds a larger garage/shed!
Another problem is that, if one buys another make/ model of car, then there is the perceived necessity to accumulate parts for that vehicle as well. Hence, the more vehicles, the more parts! I guess I never actually thought too much about that until I was at a swap meet one year, where a widow was disposing of the contents of her late husband’s garage. Boy, did we all get a serve from her! In no uncertain terms did she lament us for the problems that we might be causing our partners, or at least those left behind, who have to dispose of lifetime collections of car stuff. And, to be honest, I did feel sorry for her as she tried to sell off items that she had absolutely no idea about or of their worth.
This, and the UK article, got me thinking that it probably wouldn’t be a bad idea to take stock of the contents of our garages and sheds and move on those items that we will probably never use but that someone else might! Who knows? There may be a car or bike out there that just needs the specific part that you have been holding on to for all those years.
So, with that in mind, I have been having a good sort through my garages and sheds and have been systematically shifting stuff from one end to the other, trying to keep just the one of everything, rather than several examples of the same part. Earthquakes are very good tools for reminding you just how much stuff you don’t need to have — especially when you have to clean up after multiple shelf collapses!
In 1985, I drove the convertible from Auckland to Invercargill and back, and, in the trunk, I carried one of every part that I could, if need be, replace on the side of the road, even if that entailed replacing a piston. As it turned out, on the return trip, the pinion seal started to leak, so I replaced that in Christchurch. Once I got home, the other unused parts were returned to the shelf for another time.
Over the years, I have made quite a hole in my stockpile, but I probably haven’t made the significant inroads that I should have. It’s very hard to let go of something that you might need one day, but I’m getting there.
Remember, the old adage that goes, ‘we don’t own anything — we simply look after it for the next person’? Well, that other person might appreciate getting his/her grubby hands on it sooner rather than later. And, further, ‘he who dies with the most toys does not win’ — but he does make estate auctions very interesting for fellow collectors.
Don’t wait for another decent earthquake — have a sort-out now, while you can. Who knows? With the money you get from your sales, you may be able to buy more stuff!