Hoarders, automotive style

I don't have much use for reality shows - the ongoing degradation of the human spirit isn't something I find particularly entertaining.

At the bottom of that rather odious pile is "Hoarders." Occasionally I'll stumble upon it while surfing channels - horrified, yet unable to resist the hypnotic thrill of rubber-necking at someone else's train wreck.

I don't really need to experience that particular form of dysfunctional behaviour vicariously - I live it. Those of us who've taken up permanent residence in denial occasionally have to admit, if only to ourselves, that our obsession may have gotten out of hand.

There are two hard and fast rules that I live by if I don't want to face the ugly truth:

1. The total expenditures of project vehicles will never be recorded, nor tallied up.

2. Under no circumstances will a truthful inventory ever be done of accumulated car parts.

And yet ... there are times when the shocking realization hits, that I've somehow amassed a collection of stuff that could easily be mistaken for a small-scale wrecking yard.

I don't know when my mudroom made the transformation from out-of-sight repository for muddy boots, work clothes and garden tools to become a full-on automotive garage.

Probably around the time that I installed an engine stand and proceeded to tear into a big push-rod V8. It was originally intended to be a learning experience - have a look, freshen it up... well we all know how that goes. Before I knew it, the UPS fairy was beating a path to my door and my workshop was floor to ceiling with custom parts.

That engine is long gone... but traces of it remain. Spare gaskets, the original wiring harness and the stock intake manifold are tucked in the corner beside the freezer - just in case. Upright in another corner is the spoiler from a lovely, yet horribly unreliable little Mazda whose fate was inevitably the crusher. A modular shelving unit holds various and sundry pieces for the three vehicles I currently own - and more than a few from those long since departed.

My basement? Looks like a giant, musty checkerboard. Towering columns of stacked rims and tires line the perimeter and encircle the furnace, leaving only an access path. Several cartons contain extra catalytic converters, a dual-tip Magnaflow muffler and a barely used set of shocks for my elderly beater.

Tucked away in the rafters for the last five years:-a misshapen, plastic-wrapped object that looks suspiciously like body parts - but is merely a prized Stillen bumper for my truck.

Above the bounce sheets and detergent, the top shelf in the laundry room is packed with manuals, a box of ARP head bolts that were too cheap to resist and a spare gauge pod for my Dodge Dakota - just in case.

I'd like to say that's the extent of my obsession - but it's not. What was once a picnic table in my tiny city yard is now a lumpen mass, tightly bound in tarps and bungee cords. Inside are the entire disassembled remains of an imported JDM engine. Because every car nut knows it make good economic sense to keep a spare, right?

So far, the main floors have remained immune from my spreading obsession. Well, with the exception of the dining room, which holds the last remaining uncurbed example of a gorgeous set of billet aluminum Boyd Coddington rims.

I consider it a perfectly acceptable artistic statement.

Nothing wrong with that, right?