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Hagerty
Hagerty Employee

Avoidable Contact #144: Collection, accumulation, and Miles (Collier) to go

Any student of the 18th century, as I once was, will be familiar with references to "the Great," with a capital G, meaning the aristocracy. The world of Samuel Johnson and Alexander Pope was entirely dominated by people whose inherited status or recently-earned wealth had admitted them into a different class of humanity altogether.
https://www.hagerty.com/media/opinion/avoidable-contact/avoidable-contact-144-collection-accumulatio...
32 REPLIES 32
DUB6
Racer

   Thought-provoking article, and a pretty good read, IMO.  In years past, I wanted to think of myself as a "collector" of certain things (first edition books, Coke memorabilia, historical items from the printing world, and a few other things), but I really found that all I was doing was spending a lot of money on stuff that got stashed away because it was too valuable to either use or even figure out how to display.  I mean, when all of my friends had been put through my hauling out various type drawers - which they'd maybe been subjected to already on a past visit - it became evident that I wasn't a "collector" in any sense.  I was just a hoarder and pretty much a bore.

   So I decided that I didn't want to be either a "collector" OR and "accumulator" - I just wanted to have a few things around me that I really like; that interest me; and that maybe one of my heirs will someday take home and not feel like they got stuck with a white elephant.  (That last is the most difficult, but I try to establish a memory or at least a good story of said items with my heirs so that maybe they can relate a bit to them personally when I'm gone.)  I don't give a rat's patoot anymore what some website or book tells me is something worth having.  I have stuff that is quite rare and spendy, and I have stuff that you can get at most dollar stores - and I only have them because I enjoy them.

   Let the Greats of the automotive world worry about restoring and collecting - and I'll appreciate what they do, I promise.  But as to which livery to put on a museum piece?  Hey, history gets altered all the time, and perfection is unobtainable.  Who really cares if that decal is 3" too far back on that quarter panel, or if that trim piece is too shiny because it was never polished originally?  Just admire that someone cared enough to give it a shot and get it close.

snavehtrebor
Pit Crew

So now I'm going to spend the rest of my day reminiscing about my '04 Mazda6S with the manual and 3.0. That was a great little car.
Jack_Hagerty
Gearhead

I ran One Lap of America in 2005 against someone who brought a stick-shift Mazda6 hatchback. That was a COOL car.
CardiffGiant
Pit Crew

I had an ‘05 sport wagon with a stick. Miss that one.
fueledbymetal
Advanced Driver

I’ve read and listen to multiple interviews with Mr. Collier, and his life's work is definitely one of the best possible things for the auto enthusiast between his collection & insight.
hyperv6
Collector

I never understood the hate for those who were lucky to be wealthy enough to do things we all wish we could do. I mean be thankful someone is living the dream or none of use would even have a dream.

Also these people of means often are those who preserve our history and out heritage that the rest of us can't afford to do and in the end we get to enjoy it running at the track at a historic race or museum.

The difference with a accumulation to a collection is much like a Museum to a hoarder. Collection often has history and clarity to it's purpose and is all for preservations.

An accumulation is the guy the Pickers visit that accumulates many things of varying value that has neither the time or money to restore or preserve. Often these folks are responsible for the loss of items of great intrinsic value and historic properties.

A great example is right here in Ohio a 250 GTO sat in a driveway on a trailer for years rotting as the guy would not sell it and never had the time or money to restore it. He just accumulated it.

Finally it was sold off and a collector of means got it and was able to restore it and today it is back in the world where we can enjoy it at events.

You do not have to be rich to be a Collector. A friend of mine has a number of Fiero's he has collected. They are everything from GM show cars to one of the three original Indy Pace Cars. He is not a millionaire but he has saved and preserved some cars with great heritage and is sharing them with the world at different events and even media. If not for him these cars may have been lost and or damaged beyond repair.

The truth is it is not about what you have but how you preserve, present and share what you have.

 

In place of hating these people we actually can learn much from them. Even on the lower end of the scale preservation should be learned as too many have lost much of our history for their own need just to accumulate.  

CFH
Intermediate Driver

I was wondering how many automotive journalists reference Crassus, Voltaire, and Congreve to make a point? I had to go to Wikipedia to try and determine who Crassus is/was. I am still not sure.

Anyway, it is good that we have people like Mr Collier who have the time, money, and inclination to preserve these automobiles. He not only saves the cars, but also the skills and technologies required to make them whole.
Ark-med
Detailer

I want to know whether you bought the Milan(s) as a subversive save-the-manuals-all-the-manuals statement (in the vein of brown station-wagon appreciation), or because there is something else of intrinsic merit and significance that draws you to, ahem, collect them.
Jack_Hagerty
Gearhead

I'm not that sophisticated! The truth is that the Fusion-platform cars from this era are just great to drive, and just the right size. I really like them. They make my 2014 Accord seem just a little overstuffed.
Ark-med
Detailer

I remember how chuckable a rental V6 auto Fusion of that era was.
03CobraVert
Pit Crew

Excellent piece Jack, and perfect for this publication. Yet as I was reading, a certain sadness came upon me. Let me explain.
An acquaintance of my brother-in-law owns a well established Corvette restoration shop just outside of Philadelphia. Business is good, but his clientelle is almost exclusively comprised of persons older than you and I ( I had my last birthday beginning with a 5 in 2021). His fear is that few members of the younger generation appear interested in the automobile as more than a means of transportation, even those with the financial means to collect/accumulate cars for the sole purpose of enjoying and appreciating them. And fewer still have an interest in learning the craft of fixing or restoring them. It makes for a bleak business outlook. Cars do not evoke their passion as they did and still do to us older gentlemen. I hope his fears are unwarranted, but I believe he is correct. What say you?
Jack_Hagerty
Gearhead

The accordion was once the most popular musical instrument in America. Then it was the guitar. Now it's... Ableton software?

I believe there will be people who want to spend money on cars until the end of time. There just won't be as many of them as there used to be. One lemonade-from-lemons way to look at it is that we have basically doubled the population of this country since the Boomers were teenagers. So we only need to reach half as many people, percentage-wise, to maintain the size of the hobby.

My opinion is that the "kids don't like cars" schtick comes from two truths. The first is that a lot of young people don't like cars, thanks to media programming. The second is that today's youth face the bleakest economic outlook in American history, relatively speaking. If you're lucky enough to find work outside the restaurant and service industry, you still have to deal with the insane modern costs of buying, insuring, operating, and storing a vehicle. If we can fix the economy, I think you'll see a lot of young people get interested in cars again.
03CobraVert
Pit Crew

I hope your right Jack, your scenario is much brighter than mine. I do think there is another truth at work here though, and that is the auto industry isn't producing passion inspiring vehicles attainable by the average middle class consumer. There are brilliant cars being made for sure, but most carry an astronomical price tag. If your not in the market for an SUV, truck, or battery operated appliance, what are your options? Who is going to make a car like the Taurus SHO, or the original Regal T-type for example? Something a cut above transportational needs but attainable. I had a 1996 Malibu SS, basically a Caprice but just a little bit cooler and only a few thousand dollars more. I guess it's the old chicken vs, egg conundrum. Did Ford stop making cars because people weren't buying them, or was it a self inflicted wound because they didn't make anything to stir the soul? I know selling to enthusiasts is a poor business plan, but there must be some middle ground, right? And the climate change movement has to be figured in to some degree too. I still want my friend's parent's 302 Capri 4 speed. What does today's youth want? Maybe the neighbor's 400 horse power Explorer
wirekat
Intermediate Driver

Always a connection with your articles and I appreciate your insight. Raised two sons that both drive VW GTI (manuals). The oldest is very familiar with Ableton and almost went completely that route. Thankfully he settled into the software industry. The youngest is a drifter and I am the the drift warranty. I do enjoy a "perfect" restoration and others collections. I have a small accumulation of Z cars and Harleys and they make me happy.
Snailish
Engineer

Totally agree on the affordability points.

I also think a marketing genius somewhere along the line needs to market cars as a cool and necessary accessory for young people again. Look at the (mostly now politically incorrect) Dodge ads from the late 60s and early 70s aimed at younger audience.

This also requires making a cool vehicle in the eyes of the younger crowd and actually having it at the dealership --and not charging top dollar for it (Focus RS outpriced most of its fanbase, etc.)
AG1962
Instructor

Thank you for another a great read, Jack. I know a collector of historic motorcycles and an accumulator of old motorcycles. The former has hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of historic bikes stashed away in his basement and barn. None ever get ridden, as he is now too frail to ride, and most of the bikes have been too valuable to risk them on the road for some time now, even when he was still riding. The accumulator is a decade younger but not esp. healthy. He nonetheless rides one of his old bikes every day. I have no space for old bikes now, so I just have a couple of newer ones. My accumulator friend rides more than I do. Maybe he has found the juste milieu sought by many 18th-century philosophes.

maximumbob
Pit Crew

Oh Jack. Absolutely the last article I’m going to read penned by you. The amount of pretentious bloviating is just staggering. 180 or so guitars? Student of the18th century? Racer extraordinaire? I’m done.
Snailish
Engineer

I think it is important to hear and consider all sorts of points of views whether we relate to the situation of the presenter or what they are stating.

Jack's work does contain sarcasm, wit and intellectually density. The personal history he has shared would probably not match the "typical Hagerty customer". I don't always know what a sentence means but the articles amuse me and usually make me think.
Jack_Hagerty
Gearhead

Wait a minute... I'm a racer extraordinaire? Would you mind calling my first wife and telling her that?
DUB6
Racer

Tell you what, Jack, I'll call your first wife and tell her that, if you'll call mine and tell her a few choice things.  I'll send you a list via private message.  Should only take you about 15-20 minutes to read off all the items... maybe less if she hangs up on ya, so read fast!  😁

AdrianClarke
Instructor

If I could write with the half the wit, humour and experience that Jack does I’d be very happy indeed. Pretentious? Have you ever read any Setright? He once submitted an entire column in Latin!
hearsedriver
Detailer

great article. i too am a happy accumulator. i gather antique tools, books, a few cars and motorcycles. i get what i like, and keep it, enjoy it, drive/ride it. do i envy the rich? yes. do i appreciate the fact they are responsible for preserving history? yes.
the only people i resent are those who are either misinformed or too mentally lacking to understand that a vintage car with a modern engine is not RESTORED, and should never have that word applied to it. additionally as the author pointed out, incorrect examples of a "restoration" should not be on display in a museum setting without caveats pointing out the errors in the unit. people go to museums to see preserved history, real history, not some clowns interpretation of it. dont get me started on those people who put gun scabbards and ammo boxes on WLC Harleys! aaargh! the WLC Harley built for Canada (they ALL were) never, never, NEVER had gun scabbards and ammo boxes in Canada's hands.
Flashman
Technician

Miles Collier epitomizes noblesse oblige.
Inline8OD
Technician

Good points above, well stated, and we should be glad for souls like Miles Collier who preserve taste, quality, the genuine in any endeavor.  Haven't we enough moneyed Bozos?  Thanks for this.

Nader
Pit Crew

Car collecting, like any other hobby, falls on a spectrum. “Accumulators” are just up-jumped hoarders. Less discriminating than “collectors”.

I personally have driver condition examples of interesting cars and motorcycles across various makes and genres. I consider myself somewhere between the accumulator and collector; I consider myself an “underfunded enthusiast.”
Jack_Hagerty
Gearhead

I'm going to steal that phrase.
DUB6
Racer

And maybe get a t-shirt printed with it across the chest?  I'd buy that for a dollar!  😄

Swamibob
Technician

Yes! Heading to Tee Public right now to have one made. 🙂
Snailish
Engineer

I think you can be both collector and accumulator within the same realm following the logic of the article:

 

As a kid I accumulated some comic books, but decided that I collected 3 specific titles (1 of which as a joke). I accumulated quite a few unrelated titles. Hit high school and lost interest, but gave my younger brother the responsibility of keeping the core collection.

 

This worked out when the nostalgia bug hit me hard a decade later, my brother had done his job. I filled in the almost 15 year gap in the collection. Then I married my wife who is more into this stuff than me. So I remain a collector of 3 titles (2 of which are long out of print which I have every issue of --which sounds grand but the one title is worth basically nothing even for the whole set) and every issue of the other from 1975-present.* Meanwhile we accumulate far more titles mostly tied to my wife's interests but with no real effort or investment (i.e., the collection could be 5x more complete if the intent was there).

 

*in the comic book world the true investor-collector gets them graded and sealed up. I don't as I have always believed they should be read. At times I am tempted to sell as the 1975+ set is worth more than my 69 Mustang even though condition varies. My kids aren't old enough to read them so I wait, meanwhile the comics might be their college fund (or a paint job on my Mustang).

anatolyarutunof
Intermediate Driver

i had forgotten saying this until i was reminded 14 years ago by my late closest friend, bill pryor. it was at a monterey historics and a restored auto union was being presented in the paddock by joel finn. he spoke about getting the discarded weaving machines that wove the wire looms out of scrapyards behind the iron curtain which elated me at his dedication. then he said "this car is now exactly as it was on the nurburgring grid in 193x." i blurted out--no kidding, unthinkingly--"no it's not!" a couple people actually looked at me aghast, a rare enough occurrence that i can see their expressions to this day. i don't think anyone asked me what was incorrect; i continued "there are no swastikas on the headrest." i can't remember anything after that. maybe nothing happened.
RajahSC
Pit Crew

I have no comment on collecting/accumulating. Great article Jack! but I do have a comment regarding the first two paragraphs. As a student of history with a special appreciation for our Revolutionary War, I'm always saddened when I reflect on the state of affairs of our country at present. What an incredible dream and incredible potential our American Experiment had! Each man with a voice in how the government should be run. Each man, whether a land-owner or not, could help steer the direction of his country to provide a lasting legacy of freedom and independence from the aristocracy that has plagued mankind from the very beginning. If you actually read the Declaration of Independence, it will bring you to tears to see what we had, and summarily, lost. In the words of Mel Gibson's character in "The Patriot", "Why should I trade 1 tyrant 3000 miles away, for 3000 tyrants 1 mile away?" But that is exactly what we've done. Please don't disregard this as some Republican/Democrat drivel. Some Conservative/Liberal argument in the modern sense. No, this country had reverted back to "The Aristocracy" by the early 1800's. If you do not believe it, you are simply not aware of history both then or now. Think on this- you get EXACTLY the amount of justice that you can afford. You get EXACTLY the amount of healthcare you can afford. Your elected officials are not elected due to popularity but by how much money they can acquire to attain an office. These are just a few examples. I could go on but for the sake of brevity (I've thrown that out so already. haha) I'm just trying to make the point that we DO live under an "aristrocracy" right now. I don't think any of the founding fathers had our present society in mind. I feel they would not be pleased. Sorry if I went off-topic but Jack led in with this! lol
9lbhammer
Advanced Driver

I'm agreeing more and more with my Marxist buddies when they say it all comes down to capital vs labor. I'm not sure about their proposed solutions to the problem, but talk to me again in 20 years after I'm done fighting for scraps from my betters.