- 7777 - The Number of Automotive Heaven

I’ve a confession. It’s rather embarrassing, but here goes. I photograph odometer numbers. Not just any number, you know, like 36274; but special ones like repeating digits, e.g. 8888, or palindromic numbers (i.e. they read the same backwards as forwards, e.g. 33433). You know, the interesting numbers. The “photogenic” digits.

In Odometers Anonymous the first step, they say, is to acknowledge you’ve a problem. Tick. The next, I gather, is to explain how it happened. The fact is until recently an odometer number was a number was a number. Nothing special.

So why do I photograph odometers? Well, first a bit of background...

All the world is strange save thee and me, and even thou art a little odd.

Ever since the earliest of times curious hobbies have abounded. When I lived in Britain I became acquainted with the past time called “train spotting” through a good friend. In the first months as I commuted to London by train I saw, standing on various platforms in the rain or cold, a small group of people looking at carriages rolling past and scribbling furiously in their notebooks. Some even had binoculars. They all looked serious.

At the time I asked said acquaintance about it and he confessed they both he, and they, were “trainspotters”. I asked if they were looking for particular models of trains or colour combinations. The things I thought would make sense. My friend informed me they were looking for the serial numbers and crossing them off a list. He, an actuary by trade, admitted the train spotting cohort were typically those involved in the maths, technology and sciences.

"Are there any women in this group?" I asked to which he replied: “It’s rare.”

M3 Heaven - I should make up terms for some numbers. This could be "shooting sevens", like that dice game in Vegas

These days, of course, people photograph and share any number of curious** hobbies on FaceBook et al. One winner of “Be a Car Journalist for a Day” takes excellent food pictures and during the dinner took a number of photographs. My better half is an accomplished macro photographer and has shot some of the best floral pictures I’ve seen. Me? I photograph odometers. (** Curious to me, that is. Heck, I can't talk, I photograph numbers!)

The odometers in my first cars were on spindles that rotated. Later, for me sometime after 1990, they became digital. The first car I owned with an electric odometer was my 1988 Mitsubishi Magna Elite. The dash was a 1980s version of the future. It was truly horrible, but I digress. For most of my driving life, I've used the odometer readings to guess when the next service would be.

The downward, spindly spiral...

This all changed when I leased my E92 M3 in 2014. As part of the lease, I would give odometer readings when making claims, such as servicing, and every time I filled up with petrol. However, my Aspersers-cum-OCD traits soon kicked in and I started looking for “elegant” numbers. At first, all the same digit or kicking over to the next 1000; but soon it expanded to repeating groups (123123), doubles (121212), palindromic numbers, as mentioned earlier, or even those numbers with integer square roots (49284). This meant when I got my monthly car report all the odometer numbers looked…. lovely.

Sort of palindromic except for the trailing 8. Good enough, obviously, to be photographed!

I’ve begun to wean myself off this obsession because, although harmless, it might lead on to other, more dire traits. Not sure what, though, and this has made me curious.

What other automotive OCD habits do other people have which they’re willing to confess to? Are there people who make sure all seat belts are buckled, even if there are no occupants? I’m only guessing here and should like to know so please leave *fun* comments within the posting guidelines of DriveTribe that are suitable for family reading, i.e. G rated.

BONUS FACT: Not all odometers are on the console… some are in different places. For example, the early Aston Martin Lagondas had the odometer under the front bonnet.

ADDITIONAL BONUS FACT: The Pagani Huayra has the number of hours a car has been driven in a displayed on the drive cluster