I have a classic vehicle collection: three cars, two of which run, and 10ish motorcycles, two of which run –oh, and two bicycles, both of which ride. The other day I was trying to get the hood to latch correctly on my Lancia Appia series 2 sedan, and failing, I sat back and looked the car over –a charmingly subtle if mousy little sedan in metallic gray/green. I didn’t seek this car out – it sought me out. I happened to swing by a friends shop and a guy there mentioned he had an Appia for sale. You know how the rest goes down. It cost me an afternoon, a little money and a measure of my hopefully replenish-able serendipity.
This is a really cool little car. Yes, I have that hubcap. Anyone want to buy it? Comes with a good parts car! I’m about $8000 into the campaign…
The sun was shining a bit more aggressively than I’m used to that day, so I went into my shop to find some other screws to turn while I had a wrench in my hand and spied my Honda Trail 55. My dad called me one day; his neighbor had a really clean little old Honda for sale… you know how the rest goes down. Or maybe I should swap the rear fender on that Scrambler my friend basically gave me when he was moving out of state. At that moment I realized, I didn’t seek any of these vehicles out, they just showed up like hungry mouths to feed, and I figured I had enough chairs and soup.
How could I say no??
I started thinking about my collection, my friends and their collections and then collections in general. I wondered how many were, like mine, made up of a bunch of stuff that fell into the lap of the collector. A lot of life is lived in this default ‘whatever the universe throws at me’ way, so it makes sense a vehicle collection would follow the same rules. You happen to be born in such-and-such place, into such-and-such religion, grew up watching such-and-such sports team and your dad drove such-and-such kind of cars, so of course it’s easier to just stick with these things than go seek out something new incase it might suit you better. The more time that passes, the less likely you are separate yourself from them –forgetting even that they are the default factory settings. It’s like never having adjusted the seat in your car to see if you could be more comfortable.
The problem with the acceptance of these ‘gifts’ from the universe is they tend to distract from the path one ought be traveling, like how working a job gets in the way of developing a career or following a calling. At the time I gave in with a sigh and resigned myself to Appia/Trail 55/Scrambler ownership –I had admired each of them in one way or another over years, but not necessarily as an acquisition target. Each was realistically the next thing to come between me, and whatever I had been actively looking for at the time. I don’t mean to be gift horse mouth looking here, but I wonder if I would be happier/more contented overall if I passed on this low road stuff and ascended to the thing I’d been chasing. Maybe this is why I don’t keep stuff very long –it’s just ‘stuff’, not ‘the thing’.
I suppose the Appia could (should?) have been a Land Rover 88, the Trail 55 might be a Mitsubishi Silver Pigeon and the Scrambler a fancy dinner somewhere, but then, I might be a writer living in Rome or a famous actor. I’m not saying you should run away when your neighbor offers you that MGA coupe for $2000 that just needs a little this-and-that to be roadworthy; only that you think about the implications of accepting it if you’ve been dreaming of something else, a TR3 or ’85 Isuzu Impulse Turbo perhaps. Life is short and probably all there is –at least I’ve never found a Veglia gauge that indicates otherwise, so acquire deliberately if possible!
How many of you have collections with cars that sought you out?