"A half life, a cursed life."

Dear Internet,

What, do you suppose, was the useful life designed into, for example, the right rear ashtray* hinge of an Italian car built in the mid1980s? Consider in your answer that almost all of the "fiddly bits" of Italian cars -- even eyewateringly expensive, gigabuck models -- have the most pedestrian of origins (i.e. Fiat).

Exactly.

This leads me to eBay. How people restored and maintained rare, weird old cars before 1998 is beyond me. When you think about the fact that, prior to eBay, if you needed to replace the disgronificator for your 1957 Blimpmobile Deluxorama, and the dealership (HA!) or mechanic who repaired same happened to have none, you were pretty much scrod. You'd call others in the area, maybe consult with the wizened sages at the National Blimpmobile Club, put an advertisement in the newsletter (which took 2-3 months to reach anyone) and hoped that if someone had the disgronificator, it'd be someone who belonged to the club.

With eBay that all changed. Now anyone with a digital camera, a garageful of hoarded stuff and an entrepreneurial spirit can make available to all what, less than a decade ago, was only accessible to the gnostic few. Even better, if you bring a modicum of linguistic skill to the mix, you may even expand your horizons to encompass similar-minded loons from all across the world. In half-jest, eBay has done more to foster the brotherhood of man in 9 years than the United Nations in 60+. Without taking up valuable New York real estate, too.

Anyway, this brings me to my current situation. As my teeming horde of longtime readers will no doubt recall, I have a decidedly non-standard taste in vehicles. This means that sometimes I am the guy looking for the weird bit for a weird car. When you have a car that is approaching a quarter century, some of those bits which were not the slightest consideration at the design phase have begin to disintegrate. Where do you go for an ashtray hinge for an Alfa Turbo from 1985? You go to eBay.

Keep in mind that if you are deranged in a manner similar to mine, it is imperative that your old, weird car looks (and remains looking) "showroom new." In fact, not having it thus is utterly unthinkable.

But even then it's not as if an avalanche of 1985 Alfa Turbo ashtray hinges happens to be pouring forth on eBay, either. I recall when I needed to replace a fuel tank cap on a previous model, purely for aesthetic reasons, as mine was faded and had a hairline crack. The 1987-later version (which fit perfectly but was "not correct") cost $22.65 at the dealership. But it looked wrong. I found one on eBay. New, too. Had all the correct boxes, paper stickers, etc. Even the key -- those being the days when siphoning was a concern -- was included. I figured I'd bid thrice the price for the current model, sure I'd win.

Well.

The damned thing went for...

for...

wait for it...

$355.00.

Because that style of gas cap is simply not available anymore, and Adam Smith shows up to remind us he is alive and well and throws in a handy reference to supply and demand and there you have it.

Why am I telling you all this? Because right now some bits VITAL to the almost-done restoration of my car are available on eBay. Not regular USA-eBay, but Far Distant Land eBay. And I'm sweating it out.

Many things we see on eBay are things we really want for whatever purpose. "Oh, look! A Rochefoucauld! The thinnest water-resistant watch in the world. Singularly unique, sculptured in design, hand-crafted in Switzerlandand water-resistant to three atmospheres. This is the sports watch of the 80's. Back then it was $6,995 retail. It tells time simultaneously in Monte Carlo, Beverly Hills, London, Paris, Rome and Gstaad. Only $50! Cool!" We may find some things we have been after for a lower price, or even satisfied a collector jones (For example, I collect old ViewMaster reels, sue me.). But when there is something you NEED, and something you can only find on eBay that, even for eBay, is pretty damned rare...you perspire freely.

Thought I'd share.

-J.

* Italians, being Italian, designed the car with ZERO cup holders, but five ashtrays. Pause and reflect on that.

Comments

MsCellania said…
Well, I spose you put in a 1-second Snipe Bid that literally takes your breath, and the majority of your wallet, away.
And say "Pfffft - what college fund deposit for the boys?"
Badger said…
No cupholders? Where do they put the wine?
Stomper Girl said…
Fixit has a jokey poster at his work for Ducati motorbikes, which are of course also Italian made.

It says: Ducati. Making mechanics out of riders since 1946.

But they look and sound so nice.
Joke said…
Badge,

They put it in their bloodstream.

SG,

I have learned the hard way that Italians are brilliant engineers when it comes to the parts of the vehicle resposnible for it going fast. The rest of the parts are given over to a committee of idiot sons-in-law.

-J.
Major Bedhead said…
I'm still reeling over the fact that you collect old Viewmaster thingummies.
KPB said…
Sometimes the fact you are male comes screaming back into the picture doesn't it.

Not that I don't know this otherwise, it's just not... top of mind.
Joke said…
Kim,

Oh, you dunno the half of it.

-J.
Bec said…
I just love how you make up swear words.

'scrod'.

Classy.
LBA said…
Not really related, but have you seen this site yet ( Barn Find in Portugal ):

http://www.intuh.net/barnfinds/

Even I found it interesting.
Joke said…
Ooh! Thanks!

-J.

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