Some Thoughts on Aging

Yes, I am 91 years old, but I am blessed in that I currently do not exhibit the decline in ability that is often associated with this age. That said, I would be foolish not to think seriously about what the future might bring. Unlike most people my age, I do not have extensive family; that simplifies a lot of considerations that most others have. However, as a car collector and restorer/hot rodder, I need to think about what the future holds not only for the cars in my collection, but also for some very rare, and (perhaps) valuable parts.

Let’s start with the cars. I made myself a strict promise that I would not have any more cars that I can keep in a garage. I am fortunate to have a nice six-car garage with a service pit plus a two-car size workshop with machine tools, and a two-car size assembly room. This provides me with a really enjoyable facility to do full restorations or complex modifications.

I can’t play golf, and I don’t care for fishing, but I do like to turn a wrench and machine novel parts. With two modern vehicles to house that leaves me room for four hobby cars. For me, it is a huge mistake to have more than one project car. As soon as a project is finished, I have to sell something if I want to start another project. A big “no no” is to have two substantial projects going at one time. Neither one gets finished and parts get mixed together. That currently leaves me a space for one more complete car or a project car when “Grandma” is finished. I need to think hard about that opportunity.

I am not a “Ford Man” or a “Chevy Man” or a “Chrysler Nut.” I like cars that were the high performance cars of their era. It also gets me involved with a variety of fellow car aficionados and the related car clubs. That is why I have a hot rod 1940 Ford, a restomod 1962 Pontiac Catalina, and “Grandma” (1954 Chrysler four door with a C300 hemi engine conversion). In order to keep my sacred vow (to me), I had to sell some cars that I really liked. The 1940 Lincoln Zepher Continental convertible was a concourse first prize winner.

The 1967 Goodwood green Corvette roadster was my commuter car in New Mexico. The 1965 Corvette Rochester fuelie coupe got me started in fuel injection design. The 1955 Chrysler C300 with its platinum white color with tan cowhide interior was an absolute knockout and very close to a 100 point restoration. This led to the 1961 Chrysler 300G, the big fin cross ram “bankers hot rod,” that got a full restoration plus FI conversion that was “invisible.” There were other cars, but you get the idea.

If I am going to buy one, I have to sell one. From a financial standpoint, it is almost a zero sum game. The sale of the last one finances the next one.

What happens when I am gone to the big garage in the sky? All the cars are properly titled, so they can be legally sold. It will be a matter of deciding which to sell or keep for a while. It will be a project to sell them, but there is substantial reward possible. Like Clark Gable so famously said in Gone With the Wind: “Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn.” It will up to my daughter to sell them unless I sell them first. A much more difficult decision – what happens to the rare parts? I think all restoration gearheads fear that these parts, some of which are the last to exist, will end up in a dumpster. If there is sufficient ambition, a round of eBay auctions could be done. Who knows where that could lead? eBay sales can be a problem in that you have to set up the sale and then follow through by packing and shipping the part. With a shed and basement full of parts, this could be quite an undertaking. Who knows what the future of the restoration market will look like? Will the current young generation be interested or able to afford to restore the old Fords and Chryslers? There simply may no longer be a market for many of the parts. I would not mind giving them away to someone that I knew was legitimately doing a restoration and would appreciate the gift. Therefore, advertise, sell, or donate seem to be the options. Then there is the dreaded dumpster last resort option.

The blogs that I write every month under the watchful eye of Kelly Johnson, my faithful “Virtual Assistant,” have developed a nice following. I think it might be close to 1000 if direct email distribution and secondary forwarding by those recipients are added together. Why do I do this? Not sure, but Kelly does not let me duck out as she gives me pointed reminders of deadlines, so I do it.

The thought has occurred to me that I might be able to help out my readers, most of whom, I believe, are gearheads involved in the old car hobby. I also know there are several of you who can relate to what I have written above as you are faced with the same situation. I do not want to start a “For Sale or Trade” section, but perhaps a “thinning the herd” situation where you can let it be known that you are ready to sell down part of your collection and want contact with potential buyers who might be interested or can make helpful suggestions. You may have a friend that wants to sell something and is seeking guidance. I won’t do it unless I get some support for the idea or an alternate idea. A bit of a gossip column that spreads the word to a selected audience.

Email me at flatheadeng(at) and use “Thinning the Herd” as a subject.

Leave a Comment