Lodinews.com

default avatar
Welcome to the site! Login or Signup below.
|
||
Logout|My Dashboard

Steve Hansen Take note: Buying a vintage car requires a keen eye

Print
Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Steve Hansen

Posted: Tuesday, November 22, 2011 12:00 am | Updated: 7:22 am, Tue Nov 22, 2011.

Collector car auctions can be a lot of fun. Millions of people have interests in vehicles from the past. I suppose it's a link to a happier time in our history.

Others simply appreciate the freehanded art and originality of older automobiles. Those were the days of unbridled creativity before the advent of massive government regulations.

Back in the late 1970s, a friend of mine asked if I would take him to the next classic car auction in Fremont. He knew that I had owned several older vehicles and wanted some advice on his "dream machine" — a 1957 Chevy.

"I remember that car in high school," Jack told me. "I always wanted one and now I have the means to get it."

I gave him some of the basics of old car-buying. "Condition is everything," I said. "You'll find collector cars here from 'trailer queens' (cars so pristine that they only ride in enclosed trailers between car shows), to junkers that are barely running."

I advised him not to be the first to raise his hand. Let the bidding play out and see where it goes. Have in mind a set price you want to pay, and don't let the "ring men" get your emotions rolling. It's their job to get the highest price possible and yours to get the lowest.

There were a few hundred cars at this auction, so Jack and I split up for most of the event.

The next time I saw him, he was running toward me with a Cheshire cat grim: "I did it," he proclaimed. "I bought my dream car!"

He couldn't wait to lead me to his newly found treasure — parked among a sea of multicolored machines.

It was a real "Plain-Jane." Its ugly "adobe beige" paint, coupled with a gray interior, was not a standout as compared to the two-tone pastel color combinations of that era. It was a lower line "Two-Ten" post model — not the popular Bel-Air hardtop or convertible. The old Chevy had a six-cylinder engine, not the sought-after dual four-barrel or the first year fuel injection V-8 motor. It was equipped with a minimal amount of accessories that even did not include an AM radio. The condition was average, at best.

"What did you pay for this 'artistic masterpiece?'" I inquired.

"$2,500!" he proudly boasted.

When he told me, I gasped. He had shelled out way too much for a grandma's day-to-day transportation timepiece. (In those days, it was about a $1,000 car.)

Jack's faced dropped at the news. He looked around and suddenly disappeared. The next thing I remember was an announcement over the PA system: "Will the person who just bought the beige '57 Chevy please come to the information desk."

I didn't see Jack for the rest of the auction. I returned to my car in the parking lot, figuring he would eventually show up. To my surprise, there he was — hunkered in the back seat.

"Hurry, let's get out of here before someone sees me!" he pleaded.

We left without a hitch and obviously, without that '57 Chevy. Jack had ditched the deal. For a long time following that experience, he wanted nothing to do with the old car market until a few years later when the bug bit him again.

This time, we went to a reputable classic car dealer and picked out an all-original, low-mileage, two-owner read and white Bel-Air beauty that included the first bill of sale.

Collector cars can be interesting and fun. If you get the urge to join this historical hobby, just remember two lessons from Jack's embarrassing experience:

Do your homework and "caveat emptor."

Steve Hansen is a Lodi writer.

More about

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Use your real name. You must register with your full first and last name before you can comment. (And don’t pretend you’re someone else.)
  • 2 Keep it clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually oriented language.
  • 3 Don’t threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
  • 4 Be truthful. Don't lie about anyone or anything. Don't post unsubstantiated allegations, rumors or gossip that could harm the reputation of a person, company or organization.
  • 5 Be nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 6 Stay on topic. Make sure your comments are about the story. Don’t insult each other.
  • 7 Tell us if the discussion is getting out of hand. Use the ‘Report’ link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 8 Share what you know, and ask about what you don't.
  • 9 Don’t be a troll.
  • 10 Don’t reveal personal information about other commenters. You may reveal your own personal information, but we advise you not to do so.
  • 11 We reserve the right, at our discretion, to monitor, delete or choose not to post any comment. This may include removing or monitoring posts that we believe violate the spirit or letter of these rules, or that we otherwise determine at our discretion needs to be monitored, not posted, or deleted.

Welcome to the discussion.

Recent Comments

Posted 17 hours ago by Linda W Reichert.

article: Four tenants could move into Walmart’s …

We should turn the old Wal-Mart into an indoor sports center, like the city's talked about before. First, buy up those older houses behind…

More...

Posted 19 hours ago by Angie McDaniel.

article: Steve Hansen: Climate change is real, b…

Hey, I thought we were debating here? Steve's hero, Jimmy P., is full of beans. Therefore, it's now your turn to prove the existence of thi…

More...

Posted 19 hours ago by Ted Lauchland.

article: Letter: Immigration crisis is linked to…

I wouldn't take yuck yuck to heart all that often Mr. Werner. Brainiacks tend to pop now and again. Criticism promotes more criticism. Neve…

More...

Posted 21 hours ago by Jien Kaur.

article: Letter: Immigration crisis is linked to…

The best thing regarding the Madeleine Cosman is that she is dead and cannot say these things anymore except when people like the Mr Portal…

More...

Posted 22 hours ago by Thomas Heuer.

article: Letter: Immigration crisis is linked to…

Eric No one should endure such polluution inside or out.

More...

Video

Popular Stories

Poll

Loading…

Your News

News for the community, by the community.

Featured Events

Mailing List

Subscribe to a mailing list to have daily news sent directly to your inbox.

  • Breaking News

    Would you like to receive breaking news alerts? Sign up now!

  • News Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily news headlines? Sign up now!

  • Sports Updates

    Would you like to receive our daily sports headlines? Sign up now!

Manage Your Lists