OCD plc

A collector speaks.

Image: Batucars

Mocking the afflicted is pointless when practically everyone suffers in one form or another. Collecting after all is part of what it is to be human. Possibly derived from our early hunter-gatherer instincts or maybe we’re just aping magpies – drawn by the shiny, fascinated by the interrelation? Far from being self conscious, my collections are varied; for instance, twelve Citroën books, genres of CD’s, scale model cars.

When you scratch below the surface or try to intuit the meaning, most of it is pointless. But it’s my pointless and over the years they have given me great pleasure. To enhance or alter a mood, my cd collection can rise to the occasion. Should my eyes wish to pour over a 1/32 scale Corvette that raced at Le Mans in 2004 (which I enhanced by weathering around brake ducts, spilt fuel stains, etc) and glean a fond memory of seeing the actual car race, I can. Well, I could. Owing to hostile feelings towards being exhibited, the huge problem of any form of collection is not just the space required to store them, but what to do with it all?

I have friends with enormous book and cd collections, both of which resembles walking into a shop (remember those?) selling nothing but Transport or Classical. Part of the fun is the buzz one feels from finding something new, is it not? Or just being plain bloody-minded.

I distinctly remember entering my local Porsche dealership just days after it opened; I collared a salesman, my intimations being to buy a car. He beamed with a saint-like smile before changing to that of Beelzebub himself upon learning that it was a scale model 911 my heart desired. Hastily pointed in the direction of merchandise, dismissed and forgotten. The car remains boxed, too.

Far from being a sociological interpreter or about to produce a thesis on the semiotics of alphanumerical classification (still aiming for that B+ at the University of Life…), with our ever more affluent societies and that dreaded phrase disposable income, the vulgar head of money rises to the fore.

The Magnus Walker collection. Image: 6speedonline

Magnus Walker, the Urban Outlaw, fellow Sheffield-ite (although never met, what with him living in Los Angeles and considerably wealthier than this humble scribe), has become quite the Stuttgart product addict. As with many of us, the catalyst often emanates from strong memory. For Walker, this was viewing a 911 on a trip with his dad to the Earls Court Motor show, aged ten. With time and accrued lucre, he could entertain his collection to a highly nuanced degree, seeking out specific years and specifications. The argument will forever rage from some less engendered to these worldly trappings that you ‘can only drive one at a time.’ And when does obsession take over from simple interest?

Surely even a jaded soul with the slimmest modicum of car enthusiasm must twinkle a little inside when the door opens to reveal a pristine collection of reverential motors, no? Mr Walker’s homage to Zuffenhausen’s creations could easily be described as eclectic, over-indulgent, colossal, or downright stupid, depending upon one’s frame of mind. Either way, one has to admire his dedication. See also John Duddington, the man who invented the Take a Ticket machine and his purchase of a former car park to store his life-size Matchbox © collection in.

How such passions irk our partners! But regardless of the depths we mine, depths which only true aficionados can revel in or speak of with authority, we shrug off the cost implications over a lifetime’s indulgence.

Image: lostplaces

Then we turn the corner to reveal this – the forgotten collection. As splendid a living and breathing museum is, how do we get to this temple to the forlorn? Whilst Magnus has only to open a door and choose which car in which to have a night drive around town, the unknown accumulator of this collection leaves far more questions than answers.

One really does have to wonder at the scale of acquisition. Given the majority of the vehicles have seen forty-plus years since they were built, never mind used, perhaps the cars were bought for a song. Given away? For it appears the French countryside is littered with such rusting hulks, abandoned to the elements, if recent magazine reports are to be believed.

Image: ABC News

What possibly started out as a hobby, a pastime away from the day job farm or garage; a couple of cars in a shed soon expanded (as collections do) to ‘leave the Opel there, I’ll get round to it.‘ And of course, never getting around to sorting out the Commodore, in any sense of the term, since the lure of securing the next car will prove stronger.

And so the collection grows, to the point where storage fields are required, which turn into woodlands, which evolve into these enigmatic yet hopeless heaps of junk, pounced upon by fortunate photographers and ogled at with collective sighs of appreciation by enthusiasts like me.

And yet no-one knows the presumably deceased proprietor; surely someone in the nearby villages knew Reneé/ Danny/ Gustav/ Earl (delete as appropriate) and his love of collecting cars out on the farm? It’s the kind of conversation to crop up in any kind of local bar or shop. We are at a time where these kind of collections will ultimately disappear, since I seriously doubt anyone in the year 2120 will find a field full of Tesla’s, Leaf’s and Escalade’s. They may exist on a server somewhere, filed under Old Collections, soon forgotten.

Me? Still afflicted: just shelled out for Dieter Klein’s book Lost Wheels – the nostalgic Beauty of abandoned cars. It called to me… I answered – another gap filled on the bookshelf.

Author: Andrew Miles

Beyond hope there lie dreams; after those, custard creams?

14 thoughts on “OCD plc”

  1. Good morning Andrew. An excellent description of the ” Collector” although I stop at abandoned cars due to a lack of space to store them! Like you I have books, 1:18 scale models of cars in boxes and out, dinky toys in boxes and out and even Mercedes Unimogs too.
    I admit to having recently sold a large part of my LP collection but plan to replace most of it with either CD’s or downloads over time.
    I have never weathered a model car but do give the odd Tamiya scale model military vehicle the treatment after the build is over! It seems wrong not to somehow…

  2. Good morning Andrew. Although not a collector of anything in particular, I am an obsessive organiser, needing “a place for everything and everything in its place” which is, I imagine, a similar condition to the urge to collect. That said, I’m fascinated by those abandoned car graveyards that evoke memories of the cars in their prime and speculation about the lives they led before ending up in a field or forest.

    Your encounter with the Porsche dealership made me smile. I am lucky enough to be completely ignored whenever I wander around an upmarket car showroom. I clearly don’t look nearly affluent enough to be regarded as a potential customer!

  3. The can from which you have lifted the lid, Andrew, is deep and wide – bottomless, even! You, Mike and I may well, like James Thurber’s bear, be able to “take it or leave it alone” but there are those for whom it becomes addiction. Those hordes of decaying, overgrown hulks are the sad monuments to such follies – and reminders that everything returns to its elements eventually…..

    But in the meantime, let’s celebrate our eccentricities. You can never have too many books; more than one of my friends can never have too many Jowetts; never throw anything away (it’s all “stock”); if you do thin out the collections be sure to find a good home for what you get rid of. And if you weather your models, build dioramas in which to display them!

    1. Aaah a diorama. I follow Military Modelling on Facebook, along with various other topics, and some of them are just wonderful to see. So much detailed work involved.

  4. Good morning Andrew. A great job description of a collector 👍🏻 I’ve a collection of Haynes manuals from either previous cars I’ve owned or always wanted, just in case I bought one. The Austin 3litre fits that bill. I’ve a collection of model cars I’ve owned too and again, wished I’d owned. Books, brochures, memorabilia, all in the loft, neatly stored away of course. Just a few books and models are allowed out on display. As to LP’s, cassettes and CD’s, long gone and all now stored digitally. Sadly, I don’t have a collection of cars, wish I had both the cash and space to store even a small percentage of my previous rides.

  5. Having said I’m not a collector, I have recently been lucky enough to acquire this:

    It is thirty years worth of Car Magazine editions from 1965 to 1995 and has come my way thanks to the thoughtfulness and generosity of JTC.

    Thanks again, John, it will be a very useful resource for my DTW writing!

  6. As an unapologetic collector myself Andrew’s tale contains a lot of recognizable situations; as the regular DTW readers will know my “poison” is car brochures, books and press kits with a bit of model cars on the side.
    The question “But what do you do with all that?” is an understandable one but difficult to explain to someone who does not collect things. At least in my case I can say it is a valuable source of information and research material for my writings on the DTW website!
    I count myself lucky to have a loving and understanding wife who allows a modicum of my affliction on display in the living room; the brochures and other printed stuff, together with old car related magazines, is stashed out of sight in a spare room. The car-seat sofa (Rolls-Royce Silver Shadow seats I got in a cheap and lucky deal) for which I designed and built the frame myself with my own two left hands* provides a suitable spot for reading and researching.
    Here are a few photos of “my situation”:

    The “brochure room”: https://i.imgur.com/rzk5LqZ.jpg

    My workspace in our living room: https://i.imgur.com/bbCNP36.jpg

    The car sofa: https://i.imgur.com/q26r1SH.jpg

    * Proof that with the proper motivation anyone can do it, believe me

    1. Lovely stuff brrrruno. May I respectfully suggest that the cables shown near the RR seats need to be attended to. IMHO they tend to spoil the ordered view provided elsewhere!

    2. Bruno, that sofa is brilliant and you look exceptionally well organised!

      Nothing wrong with two left hands…if you’re left-handed like both me and my partner. Being left-handed, one has much more incentive to become ambidextrous.

  7. Si, si, il y aura peut-être des champs de Tesla et consœurs électriques !
    C’est déjà le cas en France avec les Bluecars (voitures électriques en accès libre à Paris) :

    Translate :
    Yes, yes, there will perhaps be Tesla fields and electrical sisters!
    This is already the case in France with Bluecars (electric cars with free access in Paris):

    Info :

    1. I’ve driven these Bollores on a couple of occasions. Cracking little things, stylish and fun to drive. Are they taking offers?

  8. I was (also) a hunter and collector. All my life.
    Yes, I have accumulated a lot of things that the best-wife-of-all stands in front of at least once a month and says quietly (but loudly enough for THE man to hear!!!) “dust collectors!”.
    In the last few months we have started “tidying the house” – occupational therapy during Corona conditional “residential detention”. (This was based on the “wardrobe rule”: everything you haven’t put on in the last 12 months goes on the test bench and either gets put on immediately or gets disposed of).

    For some things it took some persuasion to make the woman understand why you still wants to keep this or that. But it was a good exercise. Because finding good arguments also meant that some things still have a certain importance.

    But I´am actually no a hunter and collector anymore.

    The remaining collection of watches, like the collection of old vinyl, is promised to our neighbours’ 15-year-old boy. (I think he’s also sick enough to discover one or two gems in the collection for himself*).
    And there’s still a lot of “dust catchers**” lying around, no idea if they’re “treasures” looking for a new owner before my brother-in-law, after we’ve been “killed-by-a-ten ton truck ***”, will throw them in the trash can. Because let’s not kid ourselves, our descendants (or executors) will not have our interests at all.
    *Probably he is one of the few people you would want to put the future of our civilisation and planet in the hands of. Imagine a 15-year-old coming back from a concert by his favourite rapper and telling you that what he heard and experienced there actually had nothing to do with his life. He is now practising the piano part of “Alladin Sane” because that would be much more meaningful. You can’t make this stuff up.

    ** There are still a small number of automobile things on paper – Eóin has a list for that – waiting for an interested new owner.

    *** The Smith “There Is A Light That Never Goes Out”

  9. I am desperately holding the collector in me in check, as i know how easy it is to go too far 😉

    I managed to get rid of about 2-300 classical records earlier this year, since i prefer classical in FLAC (for the Dynamic range) but i somehow new vinyl just keeps showing up in the mail…

    i also have 6 vintage race bikes (all used regularly), three old cars, a bunch of vintage stereo equipment stuffed into various storage spaces (including some ESL63 speaker, quad II amps and a kenwood supreme preamp) and a big bookshelf stuffed with books that also keeps multiplying.

    At some point you realize you have too much stuff, and you dont have enough the time to enjoy it all because you spend all your time trying to find new stuff.

    when i was starting to get a bit too interested in watches a few years ago, i decided i could only have one, so i bought a high beat grand seiko, and stuck with it for the last 5 years – best decision i made, since i now cant imagine replacing it with something else, or having a large collection to rotate.
    it just feels right to have ONE nice example of something and then stick with it 😉

  10. I must admit my assembly of stuff (it’s not systematic enough to be called a collection) pales rather in comparison with what you some of you have put together, but… this community feels like home!

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