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Matt Harwood

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Matt Harwood last won the day on April 9

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About Matt Harwood

  • Birthday 02/04/1970

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    Cleveland, Ohio
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  1. There are no secrets in this business. There's no dark web where dealers are buying cars for $0.40 on the dollar and then marking them up 200%. We buy the same cars you do and get them at the same prices you do. We may be better at negotiating than the average guy but that doesn't necessarily mean we're getting the cars any cheaper. The cost is the cost. The mark-up is an attempt to make some money. If we didn't have to haggle, prices would be much more realistic. In truth, the hagglers are the greedy fools. I have a car advertised at $29,900 and a guy just today offered me $17,000 for it because "I'd have to ship it and pay taxes." No, what you're asking is for a huge discount AND for me to pay your shipping and taxes. If I didn't have to deal with that nonsense, I could price the car at a level that seems more palatable. A 40% discount just isn't a reasonable ask. Go to the Toyota store and ask for 40% off and see how quickly they laugh you out the door. No matter what price I put on a car, there will be guys offering me 20% less. Last year, our average margin on 223 cars sold was 9.42% (yes, we track it). Some cars sold for close to 0 and some were home-runs. But it averages out to a little under 10% in the long run. For the 10 years Harwood Motors has been in business, the average is 10.05%. We're certainly not getting rich doing this. How do I price the cars? Well, if I'm lucky, I get to do an appraisal and the seller listens to me. About 40% of our cars are priced the way I want them to be and those are typically the ones that sell in a reasonable amount of time. I bet my idea of a market-correct price and Jake's are two very different numbers. I wonder why that is? The rest, well, they're usually consignments with owners with dreams. Why do I even take them on? Well, for one, I need inventory and new inventory sells cars and brings eyes to the website. Two, I have to keep my employees working, and if we run out of cars to detail, service, photograph, and market, then a half-dozen people are out of work. I don't want that, either. So I take on cars that are a little on the high side but which I think I can make a run with them. I turn away cars where the guys are just completely unrealistic in their expectations, and that happens about 15-20% of the time. Say a seller wants $40,000 for his car. I'll mark it up to $44,900 or $46,900 and hope for a buyer to offer me $43 or $44,000. I can make that work. If the car sits for a long time, then I'll take something closer to $40 or even be willing to take a $0 commission on the car at $40,000 in hopes that I can renegotiate a deal with the seller once I have cash-in-hand from a buyer. The key is that I'm willing to take the $0 to keep my client happy, but usually they're flexible enough that once there's money on the table, they want it. I also have several repeat sellers, and more than a few who supply multiple cars. One client is responsible for more than 40 of the cars in my SOLD inventory. Those guys get a long leash. If they want to go fishing once in a while, I'm usually willing to let them. Eventually they come around or if we get an offer in the right neighborhood, we all negotiate. As my father the attorney always said, "No deal is done until everyone is equally unhappy." I think it's a mistake to believe that dealers are greedy fools and that you can do the job better because you are on eBay all day and read Hemmings. Whatever job you do professionally, I'm quite sure I can't read a magazine and master it, so don't look at buying and selling cars--something you only do for sport--as something at which an amateur can truly be an expert. I can whack a golf ball pretty well, but I don't pretend that I can play heads-up with Tiger Woods, you dig? There are more factors in play than most guys understand and it is most certainly not stupidity nor greed that makes dealers price the cars the way they do. I'll also say that many dealerships are bankrolled by already wealthy guys. There are more than a few that are one rich guy's personal playpen, including several big players. There are others where they're financed as a hobby by the owner's other businesses. And still others that simply have rich investors bankrolling the cars. There's one very large dealer who gets fantastic cars who apparently inherited $30 million from his aunt and opened his dealership using that money. I'm sure he makes a profit, but he's not relying on it to feed his family. Harwood Motors doesn't have a rich benefactor behind us, we built it ourselves, but that's likely how many dealers are able to consistently get great cars and advertise them at astronomical prices--they may not have to care about the margins or even making monthly sales. Or perhaps the whole world actually works differently than I think it does. I often suspect that everyone is corrupt and cheating and getting rich and I'm just too stupid to figure out how to do it.
  2. Well, the Lincoln is back to its old ways: Took it out for a drive to get it ready for tomorrow's day tour and it lost power. I limped it into a parking lot, hit the electric fuel pump, and it seemed to come back online. OK, that's not unprecedented, it's kind of hot today. Half a mile later, it sputtered to a stop and that was it. Some side-of-the-road diagnostics (removing the fuel line at the fuel pump and turning on the electric pump) showed no fuel flow. Initially thinking that I'd run out of gas, I called Melanie and she brought me 5 gallons. We poured it in the tank and still no start. Time to call the flatbed. Another $250 ride for the Lincoln (its 11th, for those of you keeping score at home). Back at the shop I dove into it a little more intensely. It's obviously a fuel problem. I jacked up the front of the car so I could slide underneath and examine the in-line fuel filter I installed when I rebuilt the fuel system several years ago. There was some debris in it, but not nearly enough to clog it. Step two was disconnecting the fuel line at the fuel pump once again and running pressurized air back to the tank. It struggled then there was a big BURP and it started bubbling. Figuring the obstruction had been cleared, I hooked up the fuel line and tried to fire it. No go. Still no fuel flow. I took a hammer and rapped on my electric pump and the one-way check valve next to it, and the car fired up and ran properly. OK. Just to be sure, I removed the fuel filter and cleaned it out. A few granules, but more troubling were a few balls of rubbery slime. Shiat. The fuel tank lining is coming undone. The good news is that I had Gas Tank Renu restore the tank when I first got the car seven years ago and was having problems making it run. The bad news is that the local Gas Tank Renu shop burned down last year and is out of business. So I need to drain the tank, remove it, and send it to another Gas Tank Renu shop and hope they'll honor the lifetime warranty. And I don't know how long any of that will take so the car is going to be out of commission for an indefinite period of time. Alternatively, I can pull the tank and take it up the street and have the fabrication shop make me a new one out of stainless. Hmmmm... I can't trust the car anymore, of course. Even though I know what's wrong, it's going to clog up again and leave me stranded if I try to drive it any distance. I know what the solution is, but it's neither fast nor something I can do myself. The last tank I had restored by Gas Tank Renu took about four months. Looks like I might be writing off this summer with the Lincoln. What's my motto again? Oh yeah...
  3. I had planned to rebuild the Porsche's Solex carburetors myself, figuring, "How hard can it be?" I've done the Strombergs on my Buick and my Lincoln and the Carter on Melanie's Chrysler; these should be no different. Then I saw this: The Porsche Solex 40P11-4 Yeah, I took one look at that diagram and noped right out of that particular job--I don't feel like there's any shame in letting a pro handle this one. Instead of making a mistake, I took the car to my friend Andy, who runs Steinel's Autowerks where they have been servicing this car for the Doctor for the past 25 years. Andy bumped me to the front of the line (there are about 30 Porsches of all kinds waiting their turn in his shop) and got the carburetors rebuilt in record time. He also rebuilt the shifter mechanism, a portion of which had apparently disintegrated inside the transmission tunnel (he showed me a handful of shrapnel to prove it). I was driving it without any shifting issues other than terminal vagueness, but I figured it's a Volkswagen Beetle and that's how their crappy shifters feel, right? Andy's comment was simply, "How the heck did you even drive this thing here?" Regardless, it's fixed and it does indeed shift a LOT better. Not quite what I'd call precise, but certainly not the wooden-spoon-in-oatmeal feeling that it had before. With the car in good health, we decided to attend another Porsche Club outing, this time a dinner meet-up at a local eatery after work Thursday. I drove the 356 home from work and took my traditional "car in front of the house" shot that I like to take each time I bring a car home. A very dusty 356 at home base. We left for dinner a little early so we could take the scenic route, then met up with the Porsche Club at the restaurant. We were by far the oldest car, which is OK with me, but everyone seemed to like the little guy. It seems like a good group of people who like to drive and they have a lot of events planned for this summer. We're going to try to attend a few of them. Evolution in action... After dinner, we took an even longer route home and let the car warm up, although according to the oil temperature gauge it runs ice cold. There's still a little flat spot in the throttle that just needs some fine-tuning, and I can handle that (I'm looking forward to it). It was getting dark and we discovered that the parking light position on the headlight switch does nothing. Fortunately, we did have headlights and taillights, as well as instrument lights, so I'm guessing that it's something in the switch itself. New switches are unobtainium so I'll have to get creative and see if I can come up with a fix. Other things to do soon: the aforementioned carburetor tuning, a deep clean and detail, some new spark plugs, a third brake light, new wiper blades, and maybe some new tires. Oh, and there's something rattling in the right front wheel--probably the badge on the hubcap. Longer term, I am thinking about changing the slightly incorrect black interior with houndstooth cloth inserts to a correct red leather one. I'm also in the process of tracking down some original documentation such as the Porsche Kardex (which is basically the build sheet for the car). But just in case you think I've gone over to the dark side, we have a CCCA judging seminar at our shop tomorrow (Saturday) and a day tour on Sunday where Melanie will be driving the Lincoln. Time to drive!
  4. "Kids today don't know how to do anything and are lazy and worthless," says the generation that raised them.
  5. I heard Jay Leno has a Buick of some sort, maybe others.
  6. I think that's the right price for that car, provided the engine is sound. Very handsome.
  7. Every USB adapter I've plugged into a 6V car has blown its fuse. I don't know why, but modern electronics don't seem to like 6 volts.
  8. If you want 70 MPH cruising, I'd go with a 1941 Cadillac with Hydra-Matic. It's a little outside your year range, but it's one of the best-driving cars of the pre-war era and surely one of the best high-speed cruisers. A '40 Packard with overdrive (did they offer it in '39?) and a 356 cubic inch straight-8 will also manage those speeds. Maybe a Cord 810/812, but they're expensive. Set your goals on 60 MPH and your field gets quite a bit broader and you still won't be a rolling roadblock. My '41 Buick Limited doesn't mind 60-65 but 70 feels like it's pushing it a bit too hard. We do a lot of long highway trips in that car without issues at 60 MPH. Traffic can deal with it.
  9. Funny this should come up. We just had a big Full Classic come into our shop that has a 12V "upgrade." All-new wiring harness with a distribution block under the seat, all very professional looking. But when we got up close, we found that a lot of stuff didn't work. Gauges were wonky, only one headlight, only one taillight, brake lights stuck on. Work had been done by two different "experts" to make it work and the owner was proud of the job. The minute the thing came off the trailer and I saw the brake lights burning away, I knew it was going to be a headache. So we started taking it apart. Here's some of what we found: Wires changing color mid-stream, Pep Boys connectors, dangling wires not connected to anything, a whole bunch of issues. And the icing on the cake? When we got to the headlights, we found this: Yep, the headlight bulb is glued in there with some kind of caulk. I pointed all this out to the owner and he was understandably upset. He's taking it back to the most recent wiring guy to give him another try, so we'll see what he comes up with. I have a great electrical shop that will sort it out, but it will come at a price that will probably shock the seller. This is what happens when guys try to reinvent the wheel. In essence, they believe--as many do--that the 6V stuff is unreliable and that we're smarter now so it will work better with modern stuff. Funny how a 6V bulb would have snapped right into that headlight there. I've found that mechanics who don't understand how things work are always the first ones to say that stuff doesn't work and try to change it into something they do understand. Carburetors are confusing, so bolt on some kind of fuel-injection-in-a-box. Points and condensers are black magic so you throw an electronic ignition in there. It all works better, right? Right?
  10. Heat riser for the choke on the carburetor. There should be an insulated tube that connects it to the choke. It shouldn't affect anything on your car and you could probably trim it to make it less noticeable.
  11. Got the 356 back from the shop with fresh carbs and a rebuilt shift linkage. It's just joyous to drive. A major change from the big Lincoln V12--Porsche has like 80 lb-ft. of torque and is happiest above 3000 RPM. Keep it spinning and it just sings.
  12. That's a lot of money for a car that's three different colors.
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