On val­ues – and more

Classic Porsche - - Contents -

We need to talk about decluttering. Itʼs the new word for get­ting rid of stuff. I re­cently bought some books on the sub­ject. Iʼll give them away as presents, of course. The idea is that mod­ern life en­cour­ages us to ac­quire things be­yond the point at which they bring us plea­sure. If weʼre not care­ful, they make us un­happy. The an­swer is to get rid. Ex­pe­ri­ence the sim­plic­ity of own­ing al­most noth­ing. Lose your pos­ses­sions and find your­self.

Marie Kon­doʼs The Life-chang­ing Magic of Tidy­ing, is­nʼt about stuff­ing more items into al­ready-full cup­boards and draw­ers, itʼs about chuck­ing them and their con­tents out. Fu­mio Sasak­iʼs Goodbye Things is writ­ten by a min­i­mal­ist au­thor with a tiny num­ber of shirts, trousers and socks and, so he tells us, not much else. James Wall­manʼs book is called Stuffo­ca­tion. You get the idea.

We can all agree that old cars are fun, and come with an ir­re­duc­ible amount of clut­ter at­tached, but have some of us taken things too far? It starts with the cars them­selves.

Itʼs not un­com­mon to find fel­low en­thu­si­asts with five or more of them. Some­times they are very sim­i­lar. Do we need sev­eral cars that are more or less the same? I won­der.

Our hobby can take up se­ri­ous amounts of time, space and money. We find our­selves fill­ing in SORN dec­la­ra­tions, charg­ing up flat bat­ter­ies and pump­ing up flat tyres. Are we still hav­ing fun? The fi­nan­cial con­se­quences of col­lect­ing old cars have been hid­den by ris­ing prices. The more you ac­cu­mu­lated the more bril­liant you ap­peared to be. Now prices have stopped ris­ing, the costs may be­come clearer. Some will choose to carry on re­gard­less, and good luck to them, but oth­ers may de­cide itʼs time to draw a line.

Itʼs not just the cars, of course. If you have some old cars you prob­a­bly have some old car parts. Or a lot. You never know when that bit might come in handy. Ac­tu­ally, I do – it al­most cer­tainly wonʼt. How does your garage look these days? Is it a bit full? Hard to get in and out? A num­ber of cars end up in long-term stor­age. Itʼs re­ally no life for them. To para­phrase Kondo, when you put your garage in or­der your life will change dra­mat­i­cally.

We all have book­shelves, and pos­si­bly book­cases, full of old car books. Many havenʼt been read. Kondo says their pur­pose was to teach us that we did­nʼt need them. We re­ply that itʼs good to have them any­way. Just in case. Then there are the event tick­ets, pro­grammes and tro­phies we have tucked away some­where, or every­where.

We must­nʼt be too hard on our­selves, though. Not all of these items need to be dis­carded. They are more space- and time-ef­fi­cient than our cars and, like our cars, some of them may still, in Kon­doʼs phrase, spark joy. But do we re­ally need them all? In­clud­ing the bro­ken, the in­com­plete and the ones that arenʼt quite right? Al­most cer­tainly not. How, then, do we start decluttering?

The most ur­gent sug­ges­tion, from Fu­mio Sasaki, is to throw some­thing away right now. As he says, put this mag­a­zine down and just do it. Ideally, donʼt throw the mag­a­zine it­self away, of course. Not yet, any­way. Hone your skills on some­thing else.

Kon­doʼs method is more sys­tem­atic and or­gan­ised. Dis­card stuff one cat­e­gory at a time, she in­structs, and move quickly through the cat­e­gories. Sasaki says any­thing cov­ered in dust has to go. You can see what he means. No-one can have used it, or pos­si­bly even gone near it, for months. Ouch.

That ap­plies to some of our cars, parts, books and more. A more pos­i­tive sug­ges­tion is to take pic­tures of the things we dis­card. Let the items go and keep the im­ages and, through them, the mem­o­ries. In the dig­i­tal age, they donʼt take up any room. Sasaki doubts we will look at them again, but I am not so sure. A well-taken pic­ture can spark joy. More than once.

Some fur­ther points should be made. First, dis­card­ing stuff need­nʼt al­ways mean throw­ing it away. That does sound waste­ful, par­tic­u­larly when it might have a value to some­one else. There are in­ter­net-based auc­tion sites and other means by which we can share scarce and use­ful things with oth­ers. There is a plea­sure in help­ing fel­low en­thu­si­asts find what they have been look­ing for. We may some­times be buy­ers our­selves. Thereʼs less need for us to keep things if they are more read­ily avail­able.

Se­cond, there are times when clut­ter has a value. Itʼs re­as­sur­ing to have a full his­tory file with an old car. Itʼs nearly al­ways in­ter­est­ing, too. Well done to the own­ers who, for rea­sons best known to them­selves, have kept main­te­nance records and pic­tures. Even then, we donʼt need ev­ery re­ceipt for ev­ery tank of petrol. Itʼs quite rare, in my ex­pe­ri­ence, to come across a his­tory file that would­nʼt ben­e­fit from a lit­tle bit of decluttering, as well as the life-chang­ing magic of tidy­ing. CP


Robert Bar­rie is a clas­sic Porsche en­thu­si­ast through and through. As well as com­pet­ing in his­toric events with a va­ri­ety of early Porsches and or­gan­is­ing track days, heʼs also a pur­veyor of fine clas­sic au­to­mo­biles

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