According To You: The Most Useless but Necessary Garage Trinket

Murilee Martin

There’s little doubt that we asked the Hagerty Community a pretty odd question last week, but we got more than we deserved back from you folks. Sometimes it’s these oddball questions that bring out the most creativity in our community, revealing the diversity in our collective lives.

When we experience something new, there’s a good chance a trinket will come along for the ride. It doesn’t have to be some item from a gift shop at a tourist trap; just about anything can turn into a garage trinket. After all, when you come across something interesting, why not put it in the garage?

Let’s see what you folks came up with!

Unusable car parts

valve in piston
Kyle Smith

@Dan: My display is a piston and rod from a John Deere two-cylinder that exploded at full throttle. It would have woke someone up on a hot day.

@Bruce: Hmmmm! For many years it was a headlamp busted off an IROC M1 in Monaco. Very aspirational souvenir, but sadly I’ve lost track of it.

Hilariously fake products

funny prank fake automotive products
eBay/Craig Bolton

@audiobycarmine: How about a jar of Lucas’ Wiring Harness Replacement Smoke? Somebody actually created this.

Odd tools

question mark
Unsplash/Towfiqu barbhuiya

@’02 Original Owner: More of a tool than a trinket, but for the life of me I’ve not been able to figure it out. This particular thing came with two boxes of tools I inherited from my father-in-law in 1967. He started wrench-twisting in the mid-1920s. It looks exactly like a valve spring compressor (like you’d use on a flathead engine) except it works backwards. Instead of compressing, it stretches.

I’ve shown it to a whole bunch of old-timers (older than I) over the years, and no one has been able to identify it. Still in my toolbox, though, awaiting an epiphany either from myself or someone else.

This is an interesting one! If you have photos, please email them to Sajeev at —Ed.

License plates

auto license plates shelf trinkets
Matthew Anderson

@David: I’m the son of a military brat, so we moved quite a bit. I’m also a car guy, so I started collecting license plates to commemorate the places we lived. I still pick up an interesting one every now and then. I’ve got a bunch up on the wall of my garage.

@DUB6: All of my old (and collected/scrounged) plates were used to patch over knotholes in the siding of my barn. Maybe I should have bought a higher grade of lumber!

@David: License plates, of course, including NW Territories (Polar Bear) and Philippines (Pilipinas). Hey, Hagerty—how about an article on the Jeepneys of the Philippines?

@’02 Original Owner: I too have license plates. Growing up in Florida in the 1950s/60s, those plates used the first number or two to denote the county—all ’67. I spent nearly 30 years gradually accumulating one from each county, plus the outliers (Seminole Indian, National Guard, Consul, etc) to grace my garage wall. I also have a run of Amish buggy plates from Indiana, from all 10 Panamanian provinces, and other plates from foreign countries I’ve visited—all obtained legally, of course.

@Steve: My garage wall has a collection of dealer license-plate frames, mainly from Chevy dealers.



@Barry: I had a collection of pennants on one wall (now in a toolbox drawer). I started collecting them when I was a kid traveling Canada and the Northern U.S. and still did it while we traveled with my kids. I tried to buy one from anywhere we stayed, but that got harder to do in the 1980s and onward. I took them down a couple of years ago as they were so dusty and faded. They were complimented with all the license plates from our cars back to 1973. Put them all in a drawer, as could not part with them as I should have.

Audio equipment

custom vintage audio equipment garage shelf
“They are even cute, like trinkets!” – Sajeev Mehta

@TG: A pair of Electro-Voice DJ speakers from the ’90s that originated from a, well, gentleman’s club. They still smell like strawberries.

@Headturner: The radio. Actually, I use a Google Home speaker now. The right song can make a bad day better and a good day great.

Grab bag

Rhodesia AA Badge

@Clare: An old “Rhodesia AA” badge in chrome and yellow taken off my 1949 Beetle when I sold it 50 years ago in Livingstone. (I think?) Then there’s an old paperboard Chinese Checkers board, a few strange woodworking tools I haven’t used in over 15 years, two matched sets of orange cycle fenders. I also have a ’65 Corvair engine in pieces up on the mezzanine, with a PA/Guitar amp and two 4-foot-high speaker towers.

Hyperv6’s grab bag:

Vintage Gas Pump Nozzles

@hyperv6: My garage is a collage of useless things but necessary to make it interesting. I have spent a life of collecting all things automotive. I have boxes of emblems, hood ornaments, license plates, posters signed by race drivers and Smokey Yunick, cases with diecast cars and models I have built. Plates from concours tours, metal auto product signs—some real, some not.

Most of one wall is covered by a 24 x 12 C4 Corvette billboard. Gas pump nozzles. Some race parts like an Austin Dillon NASCAR truck Bass Pro tailgate. Little over half of a Trans Am Jaguar clamshell hood. None of this is a must-have but it makes for walls that make you stand and look at all that is there.

On the floor I have a table built from a complete Top Fuel funny car short-block. The blower case is a broom holder. Porsche seats on each side facing the TV. The zombie headers are arm rests for the chairs upside down. Finally, the most useless item is a tire from the main landing gear of the Space Shuttle.

GoodYear Blimp Inflatable Dirigible

The ceiling is storage for my son’s old soap box derby cars, hung upside down. We wanted to keep them but needed to keep them out of the way. I also gave a fleet of old and new Goodyear blimp inflatables. We are near the blimp base here and they visit often. I am always on the lookout for something new to add. You never know what pops up at the track, swap meet, or yard sale.

I have had people come in and just stare at the walls. It is where I have been and what I do. It is my scrapbook.

@Al: Had that C4 billboard poster back in the ’80s—it covered a whole hallway wall in my house. Now I walk past a photo of a ’60s Ferrari race garage in the garage. A buddy gave it to me when I told him I could have bought a Ferrari with the house down payment. The two other walls have the usual automobilia including plates, signs, neon clock, grilles, posters, and emblems of cars past and present. My neighbor’s high-school motor head daughter was a little overwhelmed, first time they saw all the stuff! It all tells my story too!

John Howards Car tore dealership vintage neon sign clock

Me, Myself, and I

@Dean: My most useless trinket is myself, when I don’t “get out in the shop and get some work done.”




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    Just since this story I just added a new Moog Problem Solver lighted clock.

    Note it helps to work in the automotive industry as well friends and family.

    I still kick myself. We did work for BFG. I had stacks of BFG TA Expert aluminum signs. We had to toss them out and I grabbed a few. I could have taken home several hundred. I passes out to friends the ones I saved. Today I could have retired on them selling the stack on E bay.

    I once again submit that hyperv6 doesn’t have a “garage” – he has a Tourist Attraction and should be selling admission. 😂

    Perhaps Hagerty should pay a visit to hyperv6 and devote an article to his “museum”. Or is it an art gallery?

    We have a “wall of shame” that displays broken tools, automotive and ATV parts, etc. Every one of them has a good backstory to share with friends.

    I have a ‘pile of shame’ of Porsche parts from when I was trying to give my poor 944 life support when it was on its downward slide. One of these days they’ll end up at the swap meet

    I agree with David, If it’s got wings, wheels, an engine; it’s got me!
    RE: Philippines (Pilipinas in Tagalog) been there many times as an EE, made many friends, drove several different “P.U.J’s” (passenger utility jeeps), toured a few “factories” (Sarao is the biggest brand, built right in Manila).
    An article on “Pilipinas Jeepneys” would be a great diversion.

    I got my Alexa plugged into a 1970’s Sansui stereo. Last winter I refoamed my ancient Ohm speakers. So with my Amazon play list I can listen for hours

    Just yesterday I gave away a brand new hammer & dolly set that I bought 15 years ago after I retired. The pieces still were wrapped in the plastic 🙂

    My garage trinkets ate my cars:
    Air Force M38A1, a George Barris made for TV car…they are weird enough.
    Also, some car show trophies, unmade model kits and a couple if shells full of cleaning supplies.

    I’m surprised no one mentioned the World’s Fastest Indian homage: Offerings to the God of Speed. I have a collection of such things from my racetruck’s past Random Unscheduled Disassemblies (as NASA would say).
    Also a wall of street signs (obtained legally at the end of life from my town’s Public Works Department).

    My pencil holder is a worn piston from a M-B 300 SL. Our dealer principle owned two – one engine was rebuilt and everybody in tine shop grabbed an old piston.

    I have a few things hanging around on display like a can of FoMoCo chassis lube, a can of Hudson Clutch Oil and next to the old stereo is a Thomas Edison wax tube recorder with a few old dried and cracked wax tubes. These items are there to keep ME from being the oldest and most useless item in the garage.

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