Hoarder or Car Guy?
Cleaning the garage over the weekend, I was forced to come face-to-face with everything in it, including - but not limited to - cylinder heads, crankshafts, intake manifolds, and tools. So many tools. I had to wheel one of my engines around on the engine stand to keep it out of the way, and it got me counting. This one, one over there, that one next to it, the two out under the big work table, the three sitting in a silo at my ol' man's place, and if you care to include them, the 4 in my classics. All told, twelve engines built before 1975, two-thirds of which aren't even capable of running. That's a lot of engines for a guy with a two car garage that's likely older than all of my cars save one. And this count doesn't include the disassembled engines! (There's three or 4 of those too, plus various aforementioned heads, water pumps, carburetors, oil pans, timing chain covers, fuel pumps...) It got me to thinking: car guys "collect" parts ostensibly to use them at some point in the future. Some parts are hard to find, so when you come across one you pick it up, whether you need it or not. But we don't really call ourselves collectors in the sense of the guy with the stamps or PEZ dispensers. We generally collect out of usefulness. That puts us in hoarder territory.
From dictionary.com: hoard (v.):
Yup, that's what I do. Medically speaking, we're not hoarders. Our parts collection doesn't affect our ability to function on a daily basis, it doesn't affect our health, our safety, or our interactions with the rest of the world. But, technically, still hoarders. I currently have 5 vehicles. To most people, that's excessive. To car guys, that's not unusual. We often go out of our way to secure shop space, storage space, and coverings for our vehicles, which does, on occasion, affect where we live - does it have a garage, or a carport at least? Is there an HOA? How can I continue participating in this way of life if I live there?
That's the difference. If you're a car guy/girl in any sense of the term, it's not a hobby like other people have hobbies. It's a way of life. It causes you to adjust your spending to be able to afford that part you've been dreaming of or that garage space you need for your weekend racer. It causes you to get up early in the morning on a Saturday to go to a parking lot and look at other people's shiny (or not shiny) cars, or to drive miles and miles just to pick up that heap you've lusted after for years. You might haul your wife and kids to that big show you just have to attend. You buy too many tools because you can only borrow them for so long, or if you're lucky, you join up with a club and pool resources.
You know the guy behind the counter at your favorite parts store, and have a stack of catalogs on some shelf somewhere that you can refer to when you just want to see what's out there. Sometimes you might spend all day at a museum with your buddies just looking at old steel, and that's just fine.
While we may technically be classified as hoarders (or maybe just me), really, we're just car folk. And while the rest of the world might not get it, they don't have to, and that's just fine.