By Craig Hastings
What makes us collect things? I’ll guess we all collect something even if the things we collect are of not much consequence. Which presents another question; what you collect and think is of value and consequence might be things I look at and think; geezz, who in this world would collect that crap? We get worse as we age too I think. I.e., I have a collection of frog figurines that I put together over many years back in the 1980’s. I just discovered two weeks ago a box I had packed them up back in 1994 the year I moved into this house. I had forgotten all about these frogs and the effort I had made to get this collection together. Why frogs? I can’t even tell you why today. But at the time I do remember how important they were to me. Those frogs made me an easy “what to get at Xmas” for my family and the one or two friends I had back then. So what did I do when I rediscovered those frogs stored in a box, under my stairwell, all the way to the back, two weeks ago? I left them right where they had been sitting since 1996. Anyone out there interested in frog figurines? I’ll make you a deal. Next.
Under that same stairwell on the same day I found a big tote sealed up with another forgotten collection of mine. This collection I had spent much more time, effort, and money than the frogs. This collection was accumulated in the mid 1980’s but carried over into the late 1990’s after and during my stay here at my current residence. Ladies, you’re not going to understand much of what I have to say about this forgotten collection. I have in this collection everything manufactured that represented, recreated, and modeled 1984-1987 Buick Grand National automobiles. The 1986-1987 was the pinnacle years of the model and the best representation of the American muscle car for those years and many years after. The 86-87 Regal GNs were faster than even the heralded Chevrolet Corvette. I owned and raced both. It was true if…you were racing in a straight line and your race never exceeded 130 mph. The Corvettes were going to easily catch and pass the GNs after 130. Over the course of seven years I owned four GNs and still search today for my next one which will stay with me until I pass I presume.
I don’t have one because most of them were raced and driven into the ground. Those whose drive trains survived may have rusted or been wrecked so badly they are not worth the cost to rescue them. There are some good cars out there but the price to buy brings reality into the mix so I pass. The market for these cars is still good. My generation has maintained enough interest in the GNs to keep prices for a good car in the $30,000-$40,000 range. There’s an even more valuable and interesting Grand National that was manufactured in 1987. The package was called “GNX”. Buick partnered with aftermarket builder ASC/McLaren and produced 547 GNXs. The cars suspensions, wheels/tires, and engines were all improved to make the GNXs faster and better handling than the base GNs. The cars were all sold before they were manufactured. A low mileage GNX will fetch $150,000-$200,000 today. They sold new in 1987 for about $40,000. Soooo, yeah, the GNX is out of my ability so I’ll continue to look for a base GN. For now my collection of Grand National memorabilia will stay under the stairwell keeping my frogs company.
I also have a collection of police memorabilia. Of course people bought/gave me these things because I became a police officer in 1980. I became a part time officer here in 1979 and it was in the early years that I was all hanging and displaying anything police on my walls and tables in my rental house. I became bored fairly quickly looking around my house at this stuff after working all day around what it represented. My first wife and I decided to gradually put most of it away and maybe there would be another time to display some of it. Say, after I retired or quit. Most of that stuff is scattered amongst the many totes in storage around my house and garages. I doubt I ever display any of it. I’ll probably take it to the police department and leave it for whoever might want it.
My dad collected things just to be collecting I think. Let’s see; Indian arrowheads, marbles, pocket knives, coins, guns, stamps, Red Skelton paintings and plates, dice, playing cards, and porcelain Christmas village buildings (40-50). And remember earlier when I said I might look at your stuff and think why would you collect that crap? Well, here you go, a few examples of the same. Dad was really into the arrowheads but the rest…not so much. It still sits around mom’s house here and there. It’s a collectable jungle throughout my mom’s home.
Finally, today all these years later I have a small collection of one item and these items take up a lot of space. I have a few cars I consider rare and unique for the models they are. Not necessarily valuable but unique in that they have rare colors, exceptionally low mileage, and or options for the model. I don’t drive them. I look at them and spend time with them in my garage. My garage is just as nice as my house inside so easy enough to be in the garage for hours at a time. Yes, television and ac/heat too. Before I go I have one or three more I’m looking to buy. The elusive 1987 Grand National is one of those. So this is where my collecting of anything will end; with my first love of my life, the American muscle car. I’ve come full circle in my collecting world. I’ve collected a group of just a few items that I’ll enjoy and spend time with until I pass I think. Now, should I hit a big lottery haul, my collection will grow expeditiously to twenty-fifty cars that I would love to own and require and a very large building which I would open occasionally to the public. Know anyone with a Grand National they would like to have preserved as new sitting with a few others at my house? Call me.