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Too many cars, not enough space. Despite efforts to reduce the fleet it’s still a perennial problem. What I really need is a larger plot where I can commission a multiple bay garage with sheltered parking for five cars and a two post lift. The living accommodation could be above and I wouldn’t even have to get wet walking outside to reach the garage floor. I could install a fireman’s pole to save time. Although I may currently refer to the western-most perimeter of my grounds, the truth is that it’s only two car widths away from the eastern-most perimeter. Basic mathematics says something needs to be done.

With a large repair job looming on my neglected BMW 318 meaning it will occupy the garage for a while, my rather better maintained BMW 2002 needs somewhere else to live. I have searched for years for a suitable local lock up garage to rent or buy but they are either non-existent or neglected to the point of missing key structural elements like doors or walls. The rising property market has long since eliminated any chance of buying a building plot for sensible money and rows of lock ups are regularly demolished to make way for garage sized starter homes. I’m not really sure I’d want to store anything half decent in a remote location that’s rarely visited anyway.

Thankfully there has been a steady growth in car storage businesses recently and I’ve come to terms with dipping my toe into these murky waters and re-evaluating what may be deemed a reasonable cost to park a car. As old cars become worth a little more it’s easier to justify proper storage as being a wise way of protecting the asset rather than just having somewhere to park it. Note I did not use the word “investment” because any car that gets used properly is absolutely not an investment – it’s a car…

The options are still quite limited around my way and range from £50 a month for an unattended lock up which may be in a part of town that is usually on fire, through £75 for people with a corner of a drafty shed, to £100 for proper dehumidified luxury with actual locks on the doors and everything. I don’t have a great tolerance for timewasters and it hasn’t been surprising to discover operators who I basically wouldn’t trust to run a bath, never mind a business. Sample phone call…

“And in terms of how much notice I need to give to take my car out for the day, I presume you are open 7 days a week?”

“No mate, you don’t need to give 7 days’ notice, much less than that, say a few days, you see it…”

“Sorry, I didn’t mean that, what I meant was-”

“…depends if I’m around or not but I won’t be far, apart from when I’m on holiday and away…”

“No, what I meant was-”

“… but that’s only in August you see but apart from that I’d be here but it depends if your car is at the back so…”

“No, that’s really not what I-”

“…it depends but I do have Brian who works here sometimes but he only does afternoons you see so it may be longer than…”

“Ok”

“…that but no it’s not 7 days, nothing like.”

“Ok, I’ll think about it, thanks”

<click, brrrr>

I had already decided not to rent storage anywhere that advertises their location openly. Clearly, the whole point of secure storage is that it is secure and though it doesn’t need to be hidden in a dormant volcano it is better to keep a low profile. Any credible firm will probably be trying to attract customers with cars significantly more valuable than mine and they won’t want any passer-by to know what’s behind the doors. But there is a fine line between security and farce.

“And where approximately are you based?”

“We’re close to Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and South Yorkshire”

“Ok, that’s a big area, whereabouts?”

Where do you live?”

“Derbyshire”

“We’re close to there”

“Ok, roughly where?”

“I’m not going to tell you the address”

“I don’t need the address yet, just roughly where”

“Well where are you?”

“Erm… Derbyshire…”

The whole process can be like an interview based on mutual suspicion, for a job you don’t know if you want with an employer who won’t tell you who they are.

“Roughly how many other cars are on site?”

“Why do you need to know that?”

“Just to understand if you are a small or large operator”

“But why do you need to know that?”

“I’d like to know that, it makes a difference to me. I’d like an idea of what kind of building it is”

“I’m not going to tell you that”

“Would you have 5 cars, 50 cars, more than that?”

“Yes, about that many”

“Sorry, about how many?”

“But why do you need to know that?”

I suppose it’s better to be secretive than just saying “yeah mate, we’re in some containers round the back of Asda with a big sign saying secret car storage” but it’s frustrating to spend time to eke out the revelation that the world headquarters of Global Motor Storage International Corp (UK) Ltd is actually a wooden shed in a suburban back garden.

All I really want is somewhere clean and dry that I can access without too much faffing about. After much wasted time I think I’ve finally found somewhere run by professionals, and by chance it’s a short distance from home. I’ve reserved a space. They have cars much more valuable than mine. Actually they have cars much more valuable than my house. They asked for ID before I visited and they let me look round. They have locks on the doors and cameras and stuff. It’s a little bit over specified for what I need but isn’t much more expensive than the real amateur set ups. Let’s see how it works out.

Now, I seem to have a space on the driveway. Must resist the temptation to flick through the classifieds…

 

2 Responses

  1. Claus Ebberfeld

    Hilarious read, Dave – thoroughly enjoyed hearing your journey through the jungle.

    My own solution was to move from the city centre to the countryside: With four barns of varying sizes I am now on safe grounds. Although after four years here I see a tendency that even that will not last. Not least because I have become like one of those amateurish storage operators on whom you report.

    Maybe that’s why I can relate to your story!

    Reply
  2. Dave Leadbetter

    Claus, it’s a good job that our respective countrysides are so far apart otherwise I’d be coming round asking to rent some space! The biggest danger is “out of sight, out of mind” and reading things like the Prime Finds column…

    :)

    Reply

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