Some of you know I have a thing about DeLorean cars. It’s based on nothing more concrete than a childhood memory: I recall being about ten years old, glued to the TV set, watching a documentary on the now-infamous car, and wishing I could own one. The power of nostalgia compells me to love this car today; I can’t help it.
There were only ever about 8,000 DeLorean DMC-12 cars made, 6,000 of which are believed to still be in circulation, most in the USA. Now and again, I tap the name of the car into eBay. Occasionally they show up for sale, in various locales and conditions. I never seriously thought I would have an opportunity to own one. However, last week, one of these cars showed up in County Down, of all places – just a short drive from where I live. The car was described as pristine condition, and had had its original rust-proof stainless steel panels painted black by one of its owners. I liked this unique look a lot. DeLorean Noir! Bidding began at £10,000, but with a reserve of who knows what.
So I started thinking, was it truly possible for me to buy this car? Well, the only way for me to raise the funds was to remortgage my house. It’s not as drastic as it sounds. I have a pretty small mortgage currently. More importantly, was it worth it? Let’s say the total cost came to £15,000. Fifteen grand just to make driving feel like piloting an X-Wing Fighter. Since I’m currently getting around on a bicycle (and intending to keep on doing so), the car would be for special occasions only – largely kept in storage, free from wear-and-tear, retaining its classic status for a long, long time. Again, I have to ask, is it worth spending fifteen grand to own a car that you will hardly ever drive?
At the end of the day, it wasn’t money that put me off; the car would retain its value over time and could be re-sold whenever. I opted out because I thought long and hard about what owning something like this does to your mind. I pictured myself driving with acute paranoia about damaging the car. I pictured myself parking in public, leaving the car there and going shopping, constantly worried about someone deciding to run a key along the side of the door because the car is so eye-catching. This mental issue can be summed up in one Bible verse: “Where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matthew 6:21). What the verse is saying is that the things we own form attachments to us, or rather we form attachments to them. It’s a basic, unavoidable principle of human life, rooted in our own greedy natures. We care deeply, usually too much, about what we own. Naturally, the less you own, the more your heart is free to set itself on what’s important in life. Bottom line: I don’t want to become the kind of person who owns all sort of pretty things and worries about them constantly. That’s what the DeLorean would provoke in me. In my youth, I had a terrible collector’s mentality for books and videos. I seem to have grown out of it, to the degree that I hardly ever buy anything these days. If I buy a DVD, I’m usually thinking about its resale value on eBay! I’m glad about that and I don’t want to be lured into materialism again. Maybe I have a better grasp on my mortality than I used to.
So I let the DeLorean go. All things considered, I would be better served pursuing my dream of one day owning a boat. On the surface, it sounds like the same pursuit as the DeLorean, but what I’m really after is the experience of life on water, away from civilisation and close to nature. And experience is far more valuable the ownership of rare treasures. After all, if we get to take anything with us to the afterlife, it will be our memories of what we did in this life.