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Open Diff: What are your automotive New Year’s resolutions?

Published in blog.hemmings.com

The turning of the calendar is chance to start the year anew. Sure it’s just an arbitrary point in the Earth’s orbit around the Sun, like any other day, but you have to start somewhere. My main automotive goal for 2020 is the same as (at least) the last three years: Get the garage in working order and make some progress on the cars. It’s a Sisyphean task if there ever was one. Machines that get used will require work, and Philip K. Dick’s entropy-like theory of kipple is always at play. As an aside, did you all see how organized Kurt Ernst’s garage is? It’s almost scary.

It’s one thing to have a goal and quite another to get it done. For me, this necessitated a shift in approach. Instead of thinking of an ideal situation, I’m asking what the purpose of these goals are. You can probably guess the goal of the organized garage, beyond the joy and efficiency that come with tidiness: to enjoy my cars. What is the purpose of my cars, then, and how do I maximize that enjoyment? Now we’re getting somewhere.

When I question the purpose of my cars, I mean to ask my reasons for owning them. At present I have too many, although that’s entirely an issue of perspective. My particular circumstance is that there is one less garage spot than total vehicles, including daily drivers, meaning one car gets parked off site because I don’t want to leave it outside on the street. The complications that come with quantity prevent me from maximizing the enjoyment of all my cars, so at least one needs to go.

As much as I hate to choose, the odd one out is the Alfa Romeo Spider. The daily drivers get a pass, for now (I’ve already contemplated eliminating one or replacing it with a camper van and that is a deep, dark rabbit hole for another day). The Camaro is freshly back in running order and the only seasonal car that can carry our family of three, and I’m probably never selling my Honda Beat. Back to the Alfa, my original purpose was to chip away at the deferred maintenance accrued from the original owner, enjoy it in something close to a finished state, and eventually sell it. Alas, “finished” with an Italian car is even more subjective than “too many cars,” and this was too vague of a mission with no deadline.

Instead, I flipped things around and made a resolution to sell the Alfa Romeo as opposed to fix first, then sell. Now I’m working backwards from the end point, and determining the path to get there. And taking another loop through the big questions, what does selling the Alfa achieve? More garage space, and one less car in need of attention. Which frees me to tear down my totally average Beat and start what could be the least cost-effective restoration in the history of cars, shifting yet another goal from “someday” to an actual deadline.

It’s all part of a never-ending quest towards less hassle and more enjoyment. In my present automotive life that means fewer cars. Which, in a way, is a realization that my actual News Year’s resolution is to get comfortable with letting go, as bittersweet as that might be.

So, what are your automotive New Year’s Resolutions, and how do you make them a reality?