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Open Diff: What’s the longest you would let a vehicle sit?

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Photo by the author.

I keep having this recurring dream in which I suddenly recall some long-neglected project vehicle, stored somewhere I don’t frequent. While whoever’s stored it for me over the intervening years is kind enough to not charge me storage fees, I still get a minor panic attack over adding one more thing to my projects list, one more thing to try to find garage space for, one more thing to decide what to do with.

I’m not the sort of person to let something sit unused or unattended for long, which is one reason why I sold off the AMX earlier this year. Not to get all Marie Kondo, but if something’s not serving a purpose – or if I don’t need it for some future purpose – is it really sparking joy? Or is it just feeding a background level of anxiety?

At the same time, I recognize the non-utilitarian desire to hang onto things, especially old cars and trucks. They often represent dreams unfulfilled, memories too valuable to let go, investments of time and other resources, or some form of self-affirmation. The stories behind the immobilization and eventual decay of vehicles like the late Seventies Toyota with the Enterprise camper conversion seen above – which has sat not far from a buddy’s house for at least the last decade and a half without moving – fueled more than a decade’s worth of Abandoned Autos stories. And, realistically, where would the collector car hobby have been all those years prior to the commoditization of cars into blue-chip investments if it weren’t for people hanging on to old cars for far longer than planned obsolescence would have demanded?

So, all that said, we all have our upper limits on how long we’d just let a vehicle sit, even if those limits are dictated by mortality. What’s your limit, and what does it take for you to shove gift a long-neglected old car or truck on to the next guy, even if the next guy is the scrap hauler?