I HAVE A shed full of crap. Crap from one end to the other. The sad truth is that there are sections of my shed where I can barely move. I have so many tubs and boxes of spare parts. I do not even remember half of what I have.
Recently a call went out through the French car community for spare headlights for a DS Citroen. Could anyone help a bloke in Tas-wegia who needed two good headlights to repair his otherwise beautiful car.
I knew I had some tucked away somewhere but, while searching, I found bits for cars that I sold thirty and more years ago.
There was the Daimler Dart, or the SP250 as it is officially known. A fibreglass bodied, leather seated V8 engined guppy fish of a thing, adorned with fins on the back and a bulging mouth around the grille at the front, it was supposed to be Daimler’s answer to the XK Jaguars that were so popular around the same time.
Then the Jaguar E-type came along and killed its chances of selling in volume, leaving a legacy of doors that fly open on corners and terminal scuttle-shake for the lucky few that treasure one. I loved mine, the first convertible I owned. It was great fun – on a rare day when you could actually drive it. The Dart required a clear but cold day to be enjoyed… of which there are few. On any other type of day it was a disaster. If it was a rainy day it was terminally claustrophobic and you got wet too. On a sunny day it was suicide – the footwells got so hot you thought your feet were on fire. But it made a fabulous noise through the stainless exhaust, and the motor was a pearler.
Then there are bits from a cream 203C Peugeot that I cannibalised to keep my other one on the road. Mine was a very early car, a 203A, black with a sliding sunroof. The original leather seats, famously flat and lifeless had horse hair stuffing spilling out the sides. The 203 was great about town, nimble and easy to park, until one day going over West Gate bridge the gear linkages fell apart mid-gear change and I was stuck in neutral on top of the hump of the highest bridge in Christendom unable to select gears. I pulled over into the emergency lane, folded my suit coat, crawled underneath and used rubber bands from my office files to hold the broken linkages together. I jammed it into second gear with the car stationary, roll started and stayed in second gear all the way home.
Then there is a spare wheel for the ’74 Alfa Spider, and some left over bits from our long ago departed Toyota Prado, a dashboard trim panel from one of the half a dozen Light 15 Citroens that I have owned but this one I barely remember and a dashboard mounted mirror in crackle finish black plastic for my first ever car, a 1961 Renault 4. That car lasted a very short time before attracting the attention of the police and being declared unroadworthy, even though just months before it had been sold to me with a road worthiness certificate. My first attempt at litigation followed, along with my first and only visit to the Licensed Motor Car Traders Tribunal.
In the void of the garage roof, alongside bicycle wheels, fishing rods, electrical and plumbing conduit and so on is a selection of exhaust pipes, vintage car roof frames, a few prop shafts and the mesh cage for the aforementioned Prado, even though we sold it a decade ago. Next to them, the rotting old carpets from a Bristol 401, a spare seatbase for a DS Citroen Safari wagon, a burnt starter motor for the Renault Fuego that nearly triggered a divorce and miscellaneous Subaru Forester rear luggage blinds.
Add on the dozen or more large tubs with Alfa Duetto bits awaiting assembly Airfixstyle into a car and you get the picture. And so on.
What is this disease? Is there a cure? I am not a hoarder. I know that, because my dear friend who is a hoarder tells me I am neat and organised. I can still move and work in as well as get around the shed. My treasures are put away and stacked in labelled tubs and boxes. So if I am not a hoarder, what am I? Am I a collector? Squirrel? Magpie? Accumulator? Investor? Or just another sad middle aged bloke who can’t get rid of sh*t – much of which could go to the tip...