Auto Acquisitions

From Moss Motoring 1983

by Steve Hensley Davis, California

“Why are you selling it?” I asked.

“Well, I’m just tired of that wind in the face feeling,” he said, being more intent on his new Camaro and his new girlfriend than on the MG Midget sitting in the garage.

I eyed the car with a vengeance, looking for possible defects. The car was the same shade of glossy red all over, except for one patch in the back, where an entire section was painted an unusual shade of flat, old farm equipment red. I pulled on the front bumper and it broke loose, held on by only one bracket. “Who cares about front bumpers,” I thought to myself as I visualized the potential of the car. After making it look like a street-bound SCCA production racer, I could even put a big front spoiler on it writing HUFFAKER ENGINEERING, or better yet, HENSLEY RACING, on it. Then I would get a roll bar, a fire extinguisher and racing seat belts for it. I could plaster it with SCCA decals and race down Russell Boulevard in Davis, looking more like I belong on the track at SearsPoint or Laguna Seca.

It was a thoroughbred sports car, Handmade at Abingdon to the finest standards. Why the guy was selling it off in favor of an overstuffed Detroit pretender was beyond me. Perhaps his girlfriend told him to sell it. Maybe he was suffering from temporary insanity.

On the other hand, I could have been suffering from permanent insanity. After all, I already had an MGA and a Fiat roadster, neither of which was capable of motion under its own power. But I felt this desire to buy and fix up yet another old sports car. If I had all of the money I spent buying old worn-out sports cars, I could buy a new sports car…

Why do car enthusiasts have this burning desire to acquire old sports cars that should be on their way to the junkyard? Is it out of pity for the cars themselves? Do we feel these cars have met an unjust end and deserve better? How could this beautiful piece of European machinery find itself up for sale to anybody with enough guts to drag it off? How many owners have mistreated them before you stumbled across that ad in the “Cars for Sale; Imported and Sports” classification in the local newspaper? If you don’t buy her, will another inconsiderate turkey buy her and try to stuff a 455 Olds-mobile engine under her hood, or pile her into a guard rail while making a feeble attempt to drive under the influence?

What about the car’s potential? Every thrashed sports car has the potential to become a concours winner, a road racing champion, or a tastefully done cafe racer. But only a few car enthusiasts have the ability to do something about it. Today’s junker could become tomorrow’s classic. All one has to do is buy it, fix it up and wait. But the easiest and most exciting part is the acquisition stage, and for that reason, many of us never pass beyond that stage to the actual restoration. Because of this, there are hundreds of car enthusiasts scouring the countryside in the never-ending quest of acquiring yet another worn-out sports car. These are the symptoms of a psychological disorder, technically diagnosed as auto-acquisition mania.

This sickness can grow to the point of absurdity. Those who have 2 or 3 cars are only-bush leaguers in this game. There is one gentleman in Sacramento who has 20 such cars in his front yard. He probably spends most of his time looking for yet another one. The ultimate set-up would be a large barn that could keep… say 50 or 60 cars. Don’t bother to leave space for tools, because none of the cars would ever be restored. You’ll be too busy scouring the want ads and shopping for other cars.

‘Well what do you think?”

I was rudely interrupted from the realm of my deepest thoughts. “I’ll take it.” I mumbled reaching for my checkbook. “By the way… do you know anybody who has a small barn for sale?”


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