Bless this Mess

By Greg Prehodka

I caught the disease in 1967 when I purchased a ’66 Sunbeam Alpine. Since then whenever anyone offered me their extra or unwanted car parts, I couldn’t refuse them. You never know when you or a friend might need that extra starter, carburetor, transmission or—you name it, I had it.


I’m also addicted to tools and have accumulated way too many over the years, more than I would ever need. I’ve purchased specialty tools “just in case” I might need them someday—that I’ve never used! Why oh why did I save all those old used nuts and bolts, valves, miscellaneous electrical components, suspension parts? Boxes of them! If I had space, I filled it. In my house, garage, yard, and even in my mother-in-law’s garage. It became TOO MUCH—an anchor on my life!


As the years crept up on me, project cars were not even getting started. At some point I made up my mind; I wanted to spend more time driving my MGs, going to car events, and helping run car clubs, instead of dealing with my accumulation. And the thought of ever having to move to another home with all my stuff just plain scared me. So I started purging.


The first step, and the hardest, was to identify what could go and what I really wanted to keep. I’d repeat this process many times as I kept trimming down further. It’s a lot easier to get stuff than to get rid of it! First I evaluated the big items. Too many of my project cars were never going to happen. I sold my ‘58 Turner, two Sprites, a Datsun 240-Z (which I owned since new), and a basket case MGTD—all for whatever I could get. This freed up some room for me to move around in my garage and it put a few bucks back in my wallet. Today I’m down to just my MGTD vintage racer, and a street MGB—both in running order (most of the time).


At our MG Car Club monthly meetings, we have a “Green Table.” Members can put anything on it they are willing to give away for free. Do try this at your local club! The unpredictable variety of items that show up on this table always make for interesting conversations. Others are happy to get my items, and they became part of their stash now—not mine! Extra tools, car parts, hardware, memorabilia, posters, car magazines, etc. Why have I been saving all those car magazines since the 1960’s? Boxes and boxes of them!


I’ve given items to friends who could use them. I’ve also gone to British car events with my van loaded up with what I thought I could sell at bargain prices, and then spent the next day putting most of it back to where it came from. I’d be lucky to make enough money to cover my expenses, but at least it provided a fun day of chatting with others.


I have welding equipment and can do metal working, so I’ve accumulated a lot of various steel pieces over the years just in case I ever wanted to build something. Well, that rarely happened. Last year, I took over 2,000 pounds of it to the scrap yard.


I also want to get down to just one complete set of tools—well maybe two sets of certain ones. I have so many duplicates and triplicates and more. The challenge is to figure out just what I have, sort them, and decide which to keep.


What amazes me is that I found some stuff that I don’t know where it came from—or why I have it. Why did I have an 850cc BMC A-series engine? I had no use for it! As I reflect on this, I wonder what would happen to it all if I kicked the bucket today? It is very likely my wife (who is NOT a car person) could not be bothered dealing with it and she would just pay someone to haul it away—or trash it. So, for those things “not that dear to me,” I’d like them to go to people who would appreciate them or could use them.


I’ve had my MGTD since 1967 and have been vintage racing it since 1977. It will stay with me to my end, and then it will become my daughter Rachel’s, as she also vintage races it now. It has become part of me. But most everything else is open for re-evaluation.


Think about it, maybe it is time to let go of some of your stuff, too, while you are still in control of its destiny. What I will hold on to dearly are the many British car “memories of my lifetime.” I’ve lost count of all the cars of my life’s journey. But even now, as I place parts and projects in the hands of others, the adventures live on.

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