Treasures or hoarding? Faine 464

By: Jon Faine

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ARS and duds can considerably shorten the sufferer's life expectancy

Is there any treatment for Ageing Restorer Syndrome? ARS is endemic, contagious and, so far, untreatable. It is often detected along with the closely related Deranged Unrealistic Duffer Syndrome, the dangerous symptoms of which are hard to distinguish from ARS, with only the most sophisticated of diagnostic tests able to tell them apart.

Both afflict men far more than women. The internationally recognised and most authoritative diagnostic manuals suggest the most common features are hoarding multiple projects which can never be completed in the expected lifespan of the owner together with untidy storage of mechanical oddities the workings of which no other person on the planet could possibly understand.


The most highly qualified actuaries, armed with the most sophisticated software loaded into supercomputers and backed up on the cloud have calculated that ARS and DUDS can shorten the sufferer’s life expectancy considerably.

However, somewhat counter-intuitively, those who do not die prematurely often live out their full life expectancy and have a jolly good time.

Is there some deep psychological pain associated with these conditions? Typically, we find an inability to let go of what to the casual observer is no more than junk, together with an absurdly optimistic view of the eventual potential of a mountain of rusty parts.

Add in as well a complete lack of awareness of the passing of time. By which I do not mean minutes or hours, but years. Even decades.

| Read next: How not to go to a swap meet


Swap meets become super-spreaders of these dangerous diseases. Entire communities of sufferers gather together, often for days on end, no doubt finding comfort in being surrounded by similarly afflicted people who understand and empathise.

Sociologists are seeking government funding to mount a world leading study of these gatherings and undoubtedly UNESCO will be called upon to prioritise the despatch of archaeologists and anthropologists in the future as well.

So far, the various medical and allied health disciplines have established that both the conditions cross ethnic, cultural and racial boundaries. Both have been observed in the northern and southern hemispheres, and in almost every country on earth.

Now that we are all amateur epidemiologists and acutely aware of contagion, it seems timely to take precautions and to try to avoid cross infection. Lack of space seems irrelevant to those afflicted, as does lack of funds. Indeed, the expenditure of scarce resources on more and more projects that will never be finished is often a clear cause of poverty, triggering a shortage of money for anything else. Asset rich but cash poor is typical.

| Read next: Swap meet fever


How can it not be a good idea to spend tens of thousands of dollars on a few more old cars instead of getting the kitchen or bathroom renovated? Who needs hot water anyway?

A face mask is next to useless to stem the spread of the conditions, and by far the best preventative measure is a stern spouse. Many DUDS and ARSs are only saved from complete isolation, familial neglect, loneliness and emotional collapse by the limits set on their impulses, although one common side effect is divorce.

We have all met these tragic fellow enthusiasts, and many of us have devoted hours if not days to trying to help them. Counselling often takes the form of trying to persuade them to part with a precious relic, often overlooking the obvious and glaring conflict of interest involved.

Subverting the therapeutic relationship by disguising self-interest in trying to prise a gem from the clutches of the diseased is totally unethical. And it is the diseased, not the deceased – although that is often not far away.


I know one patient who as he approaches his mid 70s has dozens of cars waiting to be restored. His firm and unshakeable belief is that they will all get done, and nobody else in the entire world is capable of achieving what he alone needs to attend to.

Who else will know that on the Velocipede 25/60 of 1908 there has to be 2.5thou play between the bearing bushes and the housing flange or the left-hand threaded cup on the splined retainers will seize unless the oil pressure is maintained by the gravity feed being assisted through a titanium coated dripper driven off the extra cog that was optional for the gearbox-only in the second half of the year and exclusively for the colonial export market?

And the 1909 Velocipede was totally different, of course. That year it was a right-handed thread on the splines....

Indeed, the pages of Unique Cars bear witness to the virulence of both of these diseases.


From Unique Cars #464, April 2022


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