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Acquisition Through Compulsive Self-Justification

Have you ever felt compelled to buy a spare part for a classic car, which you don’t even own? Surely not! After all, there’s hardly a more illogical thing to do. Yet I have done just that. Several times even. Silly, right? Or is it?

It would probably be fair to argue that I have plenty of classics in my garage to keep me both busy and financially ruined just purchasing necessary spare parts for them. Especially as two of my classics are project cars, which I should really focus on getting back onto the road. So why on earth buy spares for a car I don’t even own? What is it with this compulsive insanity of mine?

Well, it started off quite innocently. I bought a book about a specific classic car which I didn’t own. But I had been interested in this particular model for quite some years and wanted to learn more. I’m sure we’ve all done that, so no cause for alarm (yet). Then late one evening probably about two years ago, I found myself multitasking – using my right hand to trawl through eBay, while balancing a healthy sized glass of Single Malt Islay with my left hand. A recipe for disaster, I know. In fact, I know of people who under those exact circumstances ended up buying a classic car which they either 1) couldn’t really afford, 2) didn’t have storage space for, 3) didn’t even really want, or 4) all of the above. At least I didn’t mess up that bad. But there was just nothing left to hold me back when I came across a very rare and original nose badge for this particular classic car – which I of course do not own. I just had to have it! At least that’s what I told myself. So I bid. And inevitably won the auction. Cause for alarm? Well, I’m sure some people might have thought so, but no, not really. I figured the badge would just look good on the wall above the workbench in the garage. It could serve as a little reminder of this cool little classic car that I dream of owning. At worst, I suppose you could at this point call me a bit of a hoarder, seeing as I had now bought a part which I didn’t need, while there might be an actual owner of such a classic car who in fact needed this badge to finish off his otherwise perfect restoration. Hmmm… well, he should have bid higher than me then – tough!

From here it slowly snowballed. Seeing as it’s quite a rare and obscure car, there’s not much to be found in writing about the model. Of course I had the book already. But I bought an old 1987 issue of Classic & Sports Car in which there was a five page article about the model, and it even included a bit of a backstory on the marque in general. Later I got truly excited as I won another eBay auction, this time for a period sales brochure for the model. The brochure was in Australia, so I ended up paying almost as much in postage as I had for the actual brochure. But never mind, I absolutely needed to own this brochure. There’s nothing like rare automobilia after all. Still, I don’t even own such a car. So what exactly is it with this obsession? What am I achieving?

Recently I took it a step further, and I now fear there might actually be basis for concern. I came across a wooden steering wheel from one such classic car. Again, this is quite a rare model, so parts like this don’t come up often. Granted, the steering wheel isn’t exactly in pristine condition, seeing as the center had cracked at some point, and the previous owner of the steering wheel had welded up the center in order to repair those cracks. Of course, it would now need the holes redrilled in order to attach to the hub. And then there’s the matter of the wood which needs restoration too. But nonetheless, this was an original wooden steering wheel for the classic car which I still do not own. And I had to have it – obviously!

Am I alone here? Or do some of ViaRETRO’s readers in fact suffer from this same compulsive disorder? Should I be worried, or is this perfectly normal behavior for a classic car enthusiast?

In some weird way, I tell myself it makes perfect sense. I just have to keep this up a little longer, and eventually I will own so many spare parts and random automobilia for this particular classic car, that the only logical thing to do next, will be to actually buy the car as well. It’s a classic case of which came first: the egg or the chicken? Or in this case, the car or the spare parts? As such, I foresee my current compulsive self-justification soon enough serving me the perfect reasoning to purchase another classic car. Perhaps somewhat backwards and complicated, but also strangely clever, right?


10 Responses


    That’s funny I suffered with the same affliction. Years before I actually found (by accident actually) my 69’ BMW Neue Klasse. I found myself going through the small ads and travelling the length and breadth of the country gathering bits of dead Neue Klasse. Never a whole car either. Engine components. The odd body panel. Glass. Interiors, I rationalised it as. I’ll find one one day and I did so maybe not so bonkers after all. 10 years of hoarding parts for a car you don’t actually own and potentially may never find. Anyway the medication has helped and I’ve learnt to type with my feet as there is no getting my arms out of this straight jacket…….

  2. Dave Leadbetter

    You underestimate your powers of shrewd investing, Anders. When does your museum of unfocussed automobilia open anyway? Will we be able to review it on TripAdvisor?

  3. Claus Ebberfeld

    I don’t see the problem.

    It’s been exactly two years since I bought my set of original Mazda-alloys for an RX7 in the belief that such a car would inevitably end up in my garage sooner or later. I haven’t been close to acquiring on since, but when the right one shows up – ehrm, I have the wheels.

    The only problem that almost occured was when I considered buying an early RWD Mazda from elsewhere in the Seventies program. Just to fit my wheels! Thankfully I controlled myself.

  4. Anders Bilidt

    Thx Paul and Claus! Nice to know I’m not on my own. I actually feel a bit better know… ;-)

    Question is what will come first for me from here on? A strait jacket like Pauls or Dave’s suggestion of a Museum of Unfocussed Automobilia?

  5. Les Brown

    You had me chuckling out loud with this one, Anders. We’ve all been there, just try to see it as a voyage of self-discovery – you always were a Rochdale man, it’s just that you didn’t know it yourself! But if you really want to ‘lose it’ completely, you might try looking out Doug Blain’s Olympic vs Grantura test in the December1964 issue of Small Car, but be warned – there really is no way back once you go that far… and steer clear of my later ‘Special Obsessions’ whatever you do! But on the bright side, it’s not all doom and gloom. That looks like a genuine Les Leston wheel to me – look for the LL logo on the bottom spoke, and ‘Walsall Wheels’ stamped on the reverse. Leston drove Rochdales in the 50s and most Olympics seem to have been fitted with them. I have seen them reach an eye-watering £900!
    Am I ok to print your item in the next Owners Club magazine?

  6. Anders Bilidt

    WOW! @les-brown I’m truly excited that you’ve found your way onto ViaRETRO. May I commend you on your excellent book on Rochdale. Thus far I’ve read my copy twice, and I’m sure it’ll continue to be an excellent reference for me for many years to come.

    As for the wooden steering wheel, I have of course already looked for signs of the famous “LL” but found none. Equally, there isn’t anything stamped into the back of the spokes. Maybe Rochdale received steering wheels from Walsall without any markings? Or the more logical explanation, it’s simply not a Walsall steering wheel. Either way, I think it looks great and I love knowing that it started life within an Olympic.

    Les, as you ask so politely, of course you may print the article in the next Owners Club magazine. I would ask that you please accredit ViaRETRO – thx. I’m glad my compulsive self-justification brought a smile to your face – hopefully it’ll do the same for a few of your club members…

    Now I’ll of course have to search out that December 1964 article from Small Car!!
    Hmmmm… and does anyone have, well I don’t know… let’s say a pair of Rochdale Olympic doors I can buy? Apparently a need them for my Museum of Unfocussed Automobilia… ;-)

  7. Anders Bilidt

    Well, I couldn’t find a copy of that Small Car magazine from December 1964.
    So instead I purchased two separate copies of Motor Sport. One from June 1961 which includes one of the very first road tests of the Rochdale Olympic, and a second from February 1964 where they sample the Olympic Phase 2.

    The self-justification continues….


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