I currently own 11 cars. There’s our two daily drivers and the Winnebago Rialta small RV, plus the seven vintage BMWs and the Lotus Europa on my Hagerty policy that must be tucked safely in a garage. As I’ve written before, there’s room in my 31×17 shoebox-dimensioned garage to comfortably fit three cars—four over the winter if I sardine them in place—and I rent four garages in Fitchburg, Massachusetts, about an hour from my house, which has room for another eight.
If I’m working on the cars and driving them, however, as I do in warmer weather, packing them in the garage makes it difficult to enjoy them for a quick drive.
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Just finished "Resurrecting Bertha" & "Ran When Parked" --totally worth ordering. Ran When Parked is good to hand to friends that want to start up dead cars whether they care about BMW or not.
I don't have 11 cars... and have moved along two projects in the past few years as they were just too big in scope. The last car I am down too I have far more into than I would recoup and it is still in primer. It is a good sorted driver now though --which is important as I can use it. However, time to use it has been scarce even without pandemic.
People tell me I would regret it if I sell it. But my family situation now involves 2 giant car seats and it is not car-seat or long-drive family friendly at all. Significantly, there are other things I would rather have that I could use more.
Yet... it's getting close to 3 years that I haven't put it up for sale.
I bought a 1978 Datsun 280Z Black Pearl with about 6,000 miles on it. It still smelled new. It was driven for a while as a daily driver, then an occasional driver. The first refreshing was in 1987, before I moved to Oregon. The second was a full resto-mod treatment, but still using mostly Nissan parts throughout. The engine was a work of art - a 3.1 liter block from a ZX turbo, a single rail fuel injection, much machined head and other stuff to give 300 HP without a turbocharger. The body was stripped, corrosion fixed, repainted in the original one-year only color, and suspension upgraded. At the end of the process, it was simply The best car to drive I have ever owned. Better than the E-type, the 635 CSi, the C2 Corvette. Great performance, good mileage, and it fit just fine. Then came That Day. It was the end of October, and I had filled it with non-EtOH petrol and dosed it with StaBil, getting ready to store it over the coming winter. On the last pleasure drive, it hit me -- there was Nothing I could do that would make this car better than it had been for the previous three years. Sure -- I could screw around with appearance bits, but as a Car -- something to drive -- I was Done. Finished. It was at that point that I knew it had to be sold, so someone else could take it from that point onward. As I finally did. A good friend said I would be sorry and would miss it. I wasn't, and I don't. It was probably the Best Car I had or ever would own. It just didn't matter. After 39+ years of owning it, I was OK with it going to someone else. I have No idea where it is now, what has happened to it, whether it has been changed, wrecked or maintained. I don't think I care to know. 39 years of enjoyment was enough. At the moment, I am rebuilding the car I first bought in January 1/68 in Fargonordakoda, the night before I went to Viet Nam the second time. Of all the cars I have ever owned and enjoyed, and there have been some truly great ones, that's the one that has stuck foremost in my memory for over 50 years. I will have it back again, as good or better than it was. It will be my last special interest car. I don't want any others. Even If someone were to give me a different car -- doesn't matter the marque, price or value -- I'd just sell it as soon as I could be rid of it. I am now building a memory, and getting ready to age out of the car hobby. I will not leave my wife with a collection of cars that she has to deal with. "To everything, there is a season, and a time to every purpose under heaven." As it is with everything, it is so with cars. Sometimes they just have to go, and their story continue with someone else.
Same thing happens to me whenever I start prepping a car to sell. I look at all the documentation, detail it up for photos, fix niggling little annoying things for a perfect stranger that I didn't fix for myself, and then realize again why I bought it in the first place, and then decide to keep it a while longer. 😉
It's the 'psychological' or 'emotional' aspect of 'giving in' to old age that keeps me from wanting to thin out the herd/downsize the fleet. I consider myself quite fortunate to have the 'dream car' that I always wanted, so I guess it shouldn't matter if all the others go away except for a daily driver/winter beater, but it took my whole life to assemble the small stable of 3 'toy' cars that I have, and I know that once they're gone, they're gone for good, as I wouldn't spend what it would take to recreate them or find other versions.
I had a somewhat similar story. Bought a '66 MGB for $1 in college. Did a complete mechanical & suspension rebuild, but the body was too rusty. Found a '67, original BRG with NO rust at all, but a crappy later engine & trans. Swapped over all of the '66 mechanicals & suspension, and had the '67 media blasted & repainted the correct color, and installed a new interior. Kept Nigel for 22 years, and he never left me sitting. Great car. But you only get one shot at this life and there are way too many cars to try out. So I let him go, and went on to check other bucket list items, like a '72 Citroen SM. I occasionally miss him, but it's okay. 22 years was plenty. If I would have had extra storage and tons of cash I would have just kept him around.
Rob, absolutely correct about the fact that cars need to be for something.
I am a collector and I have advised everyone I know (including myself) to sit still. Pay the bills and don't sell anything. When you can, Virus rules in your State permitting, bring a mask, drive and enjoy. The Caronavirus is a very serious issue being handled very badly, and reading the hysterical Press isn't
helpful. I know about space, I'm having that problem but I want to say that there are now some excellent buying opportunities out there as well.
So to you, and all Hagerty Family, best of health, wash your hands, and wear a mask.
Looking at my records, I see that I have purchased 21 cars in the last 15 years, which is the after-kids count. There are another dozen or so that were pre-kids. I still have 4 (cars that is), which along with the wife's is 2 more than I have garage space for, so I am also playing the off-site storage game, but only in the winter. Each car that I've owned has its own set of memories, mostly good, a few not so much. Not just car memories, but the memories of what else was going on in my life at the time. The before-wife cars, the between-wives cars, the pre-kids and the post-kids, even a few during-kids.
Selling is always tough. I've spent a lot of energy prepping, only to find myself hoping that nobody calls. But they always do.
So many cars, so little time...
I used to keep a running list of cars I had owned, but sort of let it slide when I reached about 230 cars (and a handful of trucks) & 8 motorbikes. Two years ago I looked around and had seven cars in various states of repair from near concours to basket case. I'm retired now, and looking at what I was spending per month for storage, insurance, running costs, and "opportunity costs" for what is arguably a pretty eclectic (Ferrari 330 to Rochdale Olympic) group of charges struck me as being a bit unreasonable. I determined that over the following two years I would get the number down to a more reasonable three; daily driver, weekend fun, and project. The 330 was in good nick and sold in short order, as did the TR4 and a second project car. We spent another two years (bringing the total to 13!) finishing up our Multipla and that went last autumn. I now have smaller expenses, less stress, and more time to actually DRIVE the cars, which in the end is actually the point in having them.
Looking back, of all the vehicles I've had I never regretted selling one, as none were sold out of need, but only to move on to another experience. I've only ever tried to revisit a previous model twice, and neither time was as good as the first "affair".
Cherish the memories, live in the present, and plan for the next adventure -
How beautifully written. And about a model with such personality and style. I had and adored an '86, red on black. As you said, this car is not a strong curve carver but as a cruiser, it's a gem. The only reason I don't have that car today is that it saved my life in a broadside wreck. Sad as that is, I'm grateful to have had the shark experience. I have the hood emblem next to me on this desk.