On stashing mags, Minis and meat mincers...

8

Author: Martin PortPublished:

Obsession is a strong word, but for many of us it is the only word suitable to describe how we feel about the classics we own, drive or covet. Indeed, my wife has always said that there is more chance of me running off with another car than with another woman. Sadly I find that hard to argue against.

Example: the money hadn’t even left my account, let alone reach the soon-to-be-previous owner of the Fiat 500, yet I was already on ebay, trawling the site for parts I didn’t yet know I needed. Then came YouTube – pulling up videos of 500s drifting round dirt tracks or archive footage of them rolling out of the factory. Back on ebay again – this time looking for period brochures, then models, then workshop manuals, before looking through the cars for sale to check that I hadn’t made a big mistake.

In the olden days, or B.I. as I will call it (Before Internet), fulfilling the obsession was slightly more difficult. Magazines were the easy part. Simply walking into my local newsagent meant that I could browse each issue in detail – if there was a news story, buying guide, feature, or a cover shot (the holy grail), pertaining to my obsession at the time then I would part with cash and leave with the mag.  

If I needed a spare part and didn’t want to buy new, then whereas now I’d hop straight on ebay or put a wanted post on an owners club forum, I’d excitedly journey to the nearest specialist and dig through the car graveyard out the back of their workshop. Finding what I needed would be a bonus – simply being among the rusting hulks and imagining what they were like in their heyday was enough to give me my fix for the weekend.

Collecting brochures and models to fulfill that part of my obsession had to wait for the show season. What seemed like hours would be spent trawling through the alphabetically marked cardboard boxes of brochures on multiple stalls, just in the hope that somewhere there was an ultra-rare brochure featuring a 1971 Teal Blue with Limeflower interior Morris Traveller that looked exactly like mine. Of course, there wasn’t.

It has to be said, that the majority of stuff I end up filling the house with rarely gets a second look at. Only a handful of the best books get day-release from my bulging bookcases, and there are only so many different ways to paint a 1:18 Mini diecast before the similarity takes over, but I still spend hours at car boot sales buying crappy Land-Rover models with missing wheels and bent bumpers.

But for me, all of this is necessary. You see, I’ve always been a compulsive collector. When we bought our first house – a Victorian terrace in Reading, I filled it with three main collections. There was a fine collection of hand-propelled meat mincers. Not just any mincer – they had to be from the Spong manufacturer. Then there was a vast array of soda-water dispensers – mostly the 1970s sparkle-finish type, although this did later extend to include earlier glass examples. Finally came the vintage radio collection. The largest and oldest valve radios were arranged on shelves up the wall á la flying ducks. The walls were so old and soft thanks to the lime-mortar that I had to use industrial-sized rawl plugs and screws to hold the shelves up, but they looked impressive nonetheless. The smaller radios and other period nick-knacks were dotted around the house. Dusting was a nightmare.

Over the years though, these collections shrank. Now only the particularly attractive or rarer examples remain, but there is a simple reason for this: they have been overtaken by one huge obsession. Classic cars. I have got rather more rational about it – as marques come and go from my ownership, so does some of the merchandise. As soon as the emotional attachment starts to diminish slightly, I allow some of the models, books, brochures and spares to slip from my grasp. Of course, I see this as a good thing, but in truth it is merely creating more space to be rapidly filled by paraphernalia relating to the current obsession.

Fortunately, Mrs P doesn’t moan. As a lover of classics herself she knows it could be much worse and I know she would prefer to have the house full of car stuff rather than being forced to explain the bizarre array of meat mincers in the front room…

Comments

dlc74

Couldn't agree more...
i was stashing my collection of 80/90s car brochures up in the loft only yesterday and planning how i can 'shelf up' the loft to make it more of a study and Scalextric area for my son and me.

:o)

D Curtis

DUESIE

I hate to spoil the fun, but you are entirely normal. I suspect your ailment is so common that I would be wary of any adult male that does not have simlar obsessions filling the shed/loft/understairs cupboard. But I do not stop at whatever cars I have at the moment, so model Facel Vegas fight for space with brochures for Marmon, Hudson and Ford Anglia etc. I just need a bigger shed.

Yours, Rufus T Firefly

Dinsdale Piranha

Can't help but agree with Rufus, totally normal behaviour.  Both my loft and numerous bookcases are groaning under the weight of various magazine collections and the house is littered with vintage radios (real radio glows in the dark!) although meat mincers and soda dispensers are conspicuous by their absence.  I also have to admit to currently being engaged in hoovering up various brochures, manuals and trim parts on eBay for a car that I'm fully intending to purchase at some point but haven't as yet quite got round to!

Martin Port

I don't think I suggested that it was anything BUT normal behaviour - certainly not among the classic car fraternity! I think I would be rather suspicious of someone who didn't collect automobilia. Not to be trusted ; )

Art Editor, C&SC

Sir Driftalot

You are not alone ! But you didn't mention old watches (cheap ones in my case, but beautiful mechanicals anyway), vinyl records (!) and, err, 23 years of C&SC subscription to be stored...
cheers,
Alex

"Why doesn't someone tell Pedro it's raining" - Chris Amon, 1000km Brands Hatch 1970
Dinsdale Piranha

Only 23 years worth? Amateur ;-)

Badspitfire

I recycled 15 years of CSC, lots of 60's 70's 80's 90's car mag's of various titles and a number of other publications when I moved 10 years ago. My whole collection took 2 Rover 214 trips to the tip to get rid of them. I had advertised them but no one was interested in them for free just needed collecting.
The only thing I was able to get rid of was about 4 years of CAR magazine to journalist Colin Goodwin who wanted them to have his work with the magazine in his possession.
Reading this blog pains me beyond belief when I look back at what content was thrown away.

GreaseMonkey (not verified)

In a former life I used to haunt the antique fairs and markets and do a bit of buying and selling.
ebay ruined that for a lot of people, I can't imagine Lovejoy having so much fun tied to a laptop. There were certain items that I always seemed to end up with that could easily sell on for an Ayrton, a broken Elgin pocket watch, an orange plastic shaded 'Rocket' lamp on three teak legs and a Spong meat mincer. Don't knock it, but in the days before the current glut of Antiques TV shows and the "I can get anything I want on ebay" mentality, people bought on impulse, and nostalgia was remembering that granny had one of those. The Spong mincer WAS the Morris Minor of kitchenalia, hang in there Martin, what goes around comes around and they may yet be worth Bugatti money one day. Or maybe you are just planning a particularly gruesome murder? That bloke in Cranley Gardens, Muswell Hill might have got away with it if he had used a Spong.......
Chris M.

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