What’s the Most Useless but Necessary Garage Trinket?

Lucas Oil

We have a lot of internal conversations here at Hagerty Media that influence our work. Sometimes these chats turn into questions like, “Who wants a Lucas Oil demonstrator?” and, “Should we buy them in bulk for everyone?”

Well no, we should (and did!) not buy the gears soaked in oil; that’s an impulse purchase we just don’t need. But it got us thinking about what could be the most useless but necessary trinket for your garage. Here’s my contribution.

wall of random assorted automotive badges
Murilee Martin

Okay, it’s not exactly my contribution, as I pinged my good friend Murilee Martin, the author of our Final Parking Space series, for a fresh photo of the car emblems on his garage. He texted me back this joyful expression of useless but necessary garage trinkets, and for it I am eternally thankful. I have a smaller collection of emblems that lives in a few boxes in my home office, but plastering them on a wall doesn’t jive with my minimalist aspirations. But they have come in handy for work at Hagerty. Yes, really.

Emblems from long-gone vehicles are a wonderful thing to own, be it on a garage wall, in tool box, or within a box as a reference material. It might even be the best trinket you can have in your garage. But it’s unfortunate that these are getting harder to collect, as junkyards now have cars with adhesive-backed vinyl letters, not metal or plastic emblems. So perhaps this is where we will leave it with the Hagerty Community, before we ask the question once more:

What’s the most useless but necessary trinket for your garage?




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    “it’s unfortunate that these is getting harder to collect”? Maybe what you need most is a grammar tutor, Sajeev!
    I, too have some of the old emblems, but my favorites among them are the individual letters that often were used to spell out the make or model – ’cause I use them to spell out other, fun stuff on cabinet doors and toolbox drawer fronts. The letters from DESOTO were used to put together my old high school nickname. Most folks know about how to get clever with DODGE and TOYOTA. Some of us old-timers will remember the rude way to change PONTIAC into ANTICOP (best not to use that on a real car – just in your private garage!).

    Oh, and I keep looking for the letters that spelled RAMBLER on like the ’63 American. A buddy in High School had one and removed the “R”s on either end. Perfect description of how the car drove! I have a tool drawer reserved just for that one if I ever find the letters…😛

    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.

    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!

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

    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 concourse 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 tail gate. Little over half of a Trans Am Jaguar clam shell 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 rest for the chairs upside .down.

    Finally the most useless item is a tire from the main landing gear of the space shuttle.

    The ceiling is storage for my son’s old soap box derby cars hung up side 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 inflatable’s. We are near the blimp base here and they visit often.

    I am always on the look out 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 scrap book.

    hyperv6, for a while, I thought I had some interesting stuff in my garage: old signs, oil containers, emblems, etc. This all got blown out of the water with the Space Shuttle tire!

    Well played!!!

    Had that C4 billboard poster back in the 70’s – it covered a whole hallway wall in my house😆. Now I have a walk photo of a 60’s 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 motorhead daughter was a little overwhelmed first time they saw all the “stuff”! It all tells my story too 😃.

    i was given a ratchet ball years ago. It has square end bits that accept 1/4″ or 3/8″ sockets and is the handiest trinket in the garage. You reverse directive by flipping the ball around to the other side. Perfect for those small spots where you can’t swing a wrench. I’ve bought one for each of my kids since then.

    License plates, of course, including NW Territories (Polar Bear) and Philippines (“Pilipinas).
    Hey Haggerty – how about an article on the Jeepneys of the Philippines?

    An old “Rhodesia AA” badge in chrome and yellow taken off my 1949 Beetle when I sold it 50 years ago in Livingstone? And an old paperboard Chinese Checkers board and a few strange woodworking tools I haven’t used in over 15 years along with 2 matched sets of orange cycle fenders and a ’65 Corvair engine in peices up on the mezanine with a PA/Guitar amp and 2 4 foot high speaker towers – – –

    More of a tool than a trinket, but for the life of me I’ve not been able to figure it out. It 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.

    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.

    The radio. Actually I use a Google home speaker now. The right song can make a bad day better and a good day great.

    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.

    I had on one wall a collection of pendants ( now in a tool box drawer). I started collecting them when I was a kid travelling Canada and the Northern US and still did it while we travelled with my kids. Tried to buy one from anywhere we stayed it got harder to do in the 1980s on. Took them down a couple of years ago as they were so dusty and faded. They were complimented with all the licence plates from our cars back to the 1973. Put them all in a drawer as could part with them as I should have.

    The most useless, but very important thing in my garage is a reclining wing back comfy chair. I often take a break from whatever it is I am monkeying around with and just sit for a few minutes surveying my domain. Peter Egan of Road&Track magazine was a big influence on me in so many ways. A nice chair in the shop is one of them.

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