And why you must have that rare, hard-to-find item

New Zealand Classic Car - - EDITORIAL -

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.

Parts ga­lore

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!

More parts

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!

Don’t wait

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!

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