Matt Harwood

Advice needed---maybe you've been here already (long post)

Recommended Posts

I have the opportunity to buy a <span style="font-style: italic">really </span>spectacular, big-league car for an excellent price. It is an open pre-war capital-C Classic that requires total restoration, but is solid and complete and will offer a challenge simliar to the Century project. More than likely, it will always be worth more than I have invested in it and is highly marketable. When it is restored, it will be <span style="font-style: italic">vastly </span>more valuable, and virtually impossible to get upside-down on it no matter what. If I don't buy it, the seller will most certainly be able to get several tens of thousands of dollars more for it than the price he's offered me. He is being <span style="font-style: italic">much more </span>than generous which completely amazes me. For inexplicable reasons, he's taken a shine to me. laugh.gif

However (and there's always a<span style="font-style: italic"> however</span>), I just got cut back from 40 hours to 36 at work, in effect, a 10% pay cut. The stock market tanked and wiped out a big pile of my savings. I'll have to borrow to acquire the car and it will put a substantial strain on our monthly budget just to buy it, never mind restore it. I don't really have the money for it, but could probably find it if I really sacrifice a lot of other things. The wife is against it (aren't they always?). Honestly, I can't justify the purchase in any rational way. But dreams aren't rational, right?

Finally, I already have a pile of unrestored old Buick in my garage that has been languishing for a year, so it'll be some time before I can get to this one. Ditching the Buick is not an option and I WILL finish it first.

The fact that it will be hard to lose money on it (not that I plan to "flip" it, and doing so would be a slap in my friend's face), and that it is a car I've wanted all my life suggests that maybe I should take a chance and stick it all out there. If I get in trouble, I will always be able to get my money out of it again (I'm guessing the seller would happily buy it back). My intention would be to restore the car as a driver and drive the doors off of it, not restore it to the Pebble-Beach standards which such a car might demand if it were an actual investment. Nevertheless, if you're looking a pure dollars and cents and place no value on the journey, a strong #2 car will still be worth more than my investment in it.

One last thing: Do you believe in karma or signs? I don't. But here's an excerpt from the E-mail the seller/friend sent me yesterday regarding the car: <span style="font-style: italic">"You will NEVER find an open car of this quality and value EVER again. NEVER EVER ! Just remember... You owe me big time. Payback is you committing to doing something charitable for someone in need one day. It comes back 10 fold. I know... I am living proof of it."</span>

So this morning, a young woman was stranded by the side of the road with a flat tire. Of course I stopped and helped. Thankfully Der Ubervagon has an on-board air compressor, which I needed for her flat spare--nice!. A sign? A week ago I would have said mere coincidence (at best!), but a lot of successful people seem to get a lot of guidance from such random events. Is their success because of it or despite it? I don't know, and is this such an opportunity? I'll probably never have a chance to get a car of this caliber that I can actually afford, and if I buy it now, I'll have 25 or 30 years to enjoy it. It may also wreck me financially for a very long time.

Perhaps "signs" are just one method people use to help themselves make tough decisions when logic and reason fail, I don't know, I'm not a religious or spiritual guy.

I'd be pleased to hear your thoughts. I'm really agonizing over this and the window of opportunity is closing.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

We ALL have footprints on our butts from kicking ourselves for not buying "the car" we have always wanted when it was offered to us. I say if you AND your wife can endure the hardship of limiting your budget and buying the car, do it. If there will be a divorce over it, let it go. If you get the car you can always sell stuff on ebay to alleviate the cost of getting and keeping it. That's what I do. Just another old car guy's opinion. John

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt,

If you do not purchase this car, it will always be the one that got away. Having said that, my suggestion is to follow the previous posters advice. Only purchase it if you can see yourself AND YOUR WIFE driving the doors off it when you are finished.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt, although we have never met one another, I've known you for 7 years. That's 7 years that you have been working on the Buick that I know of and its still not finished. To me that's along time to be working on a car. Time does go by fast.......The question is, will you ever get around to this new project?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wouldn't look at it as an investment. If you're looking for an investment, I would look at the stock market: If it keeps falling and killing peoples' savings, the value of our cars is going to take a serious hit.

The question is, would you really get to it and finish it and enjoy it for many years? Only you can answer that, and I think that answers the question.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt,

Look at your list of howevers.... 10 % pay cut (at least you have a job), wife against it, 401K tanking (along with lots of other peoples), you dont really dont have the money for it etc.

Lets play devils advocate here. What happens if the market keeps tanking and yu lose your job ? You say your neighbor will buy the car back but what if he has no money ? What if your wife decides she wants to be your ex-wife because of this car ? If you borrow money to buy this car, will you ever finish the buick or will we see it on ebay because you dont have money to finish it ?

My opinion is that the downsides to this transaction are too great at this moment to consider it. Granted it is a car of your dreams, but sometimes it better to hang on to dreams as opposed to fufilling them. I speak from experiance here. I did what you did once and it turned out bad. My dream was sold, my life turned upside down, my ex-wife left me and life sucked for a long time.

Listen to your heart but at the same time look at the logic of the situation. Sometimes your heart will get you in trouble.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

One more tick in the (pro) column: I just renegotiated my contract at work and am at least back to where I was a week ago, with the guarantee to renegotiate again in 2 months. Almost equally important, I now have my Friday afternoons free to throw at the old cars.

And the Buick ain't goin' nowhere, Bill! I promise it'll be at the 2010 National meet (if there is one...).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess I am about to say the same thing all the others said: What good is buying your dream if you may very well lose it? We tend to demand immediate gratification in the US, and our credit card balance show it.

Listen to your partner, and make your financial decision together. Times are very tough and they aren't getting any better. Make your move when the time is right all the way around. Then both of you will be happy; that's the most important goal.

Dave Dare

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hey don't listen to these guys grab this dream car before they do. wink.gifsmile.gif See they are all saying this so they can have the pie smile.gif

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt, as the others have said first thing is your wife has to be on board. As times get tough and stuff happens you will always want that special someone to be there. I adore my wife and it took me a divorce and lots of bad stuff before I found out how good having a partner can be. Lets assume she says O.K. Sometimes ya can do the math, research etc. but basically a lot of times ya gotta trust your gut. I would be straight with your friend, if ya get in trouble he gets first option if you need to sell the car for any reason. If this is a car you really want, maybe you should not finish your current project, take the money and put it into this car. I am not standing in your shoes so its a tough call. Just make sure you are not trying to put a round peg in a square hole when it comes to your life. Best of luck to you.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I'll agree with Keiser31. You didn't say how much, but maybe you can trade/sell down your daily driver & get a car loan to buy this car. Stop eating out twice a week & you will find a lot more $$ in your wallet to help pay for this.

Look for ways to make it happen, & PROVE to your wife that you are committed to follow them.

GET her blessing or it won't be nearly as good of a deal....

Larry

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, when you have a dilemma, you really go all out. I feel for you in this decision but we all know none of us gets to make the final choice. Maybe the best we can do is help by dissecting your original post into pros and cons? I’ll try not to change any of your original wording.

Pros:

1) I have the opportunity to buy a really spectacular, big-league car.

2) for an excellent price.

3) is solid and complete

4) and is highly marketable.

5) When it is restored, it will be vastly more valuable

6) it is a car I've wanted all my life

Cons:

1) requires total restoration,

2) When it is restored, it will be vastly more valuable (note: when being the operative word)

3) I just got cut back ..at work, in effect, a 10% pay cut.

4) The stock market tanked and wiped out a big pile of my savings.

5) I'll have to borrow to acquire the car and

6) it will put a substantial strain on our monthly budget just to buy it, never mind restore it.

7) The wife is against it

8) Honestly, I can't justify the purchase in any rational way

9) I already have a ..unrestored old Buick ..that has been languishing for a year,

10) it'll be some time before I can get to this one.

11) Ditching the Buick is not an option and I WILL finish it first.

Unknowns: ( could be read either way or may turn out totally opposite of your original outcome)

1) (it) will offer a challenge simliar to the Century project.

2) More than likely, it will always be worth more than I have invested in it

3) When it is restored, it will be…virtually impossible to get upside-down

4) I don't ..have the money for it, but could probably ..if I really sacrifice a lot of other things.

5) If I get in trouble, I will always be able to get my money out of it again (I'm guessing the seller would happily buy it back).

6) My intention is to restore the car as a driver, not restore it to the Pebble-Beach standards which such a car might demand .

7) a strong #2 car will still be worth more than my investment in it.

I think taking a look at the unknowns collectively I would add at least one more con to the list.

Good luck with your decision.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: ChaplainLar</div><div class="ubbcode-body"> Stop eating out twice a week & you will find a lot more $$ in your wallet to help pay for this.

</div></div>

..........and I'm sure the wife would like that. shocked.gifcry.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

From a Coffee Shop in Hailey, Idaho

Dear Matt,

I've enjoyed reading your posts and think it's an interesting question you've posed about the car your're contemplating.

Many years ago you had some posts about a neighbor of yours who had an <span style="font-weight: bold">unbelievable</span> collection of Classic cars, but you had never gotten up the nerve to knock on his door and ask to see them. You haven't by any chance struck up a deal with this gentleman, have you? If that's the case, it may be a difficult car to say no to.

Once I had a chance to buy a 1910 Buick and a 1926 Elcar at an auction in 1990. I think that I could have bought them both for about $8,000, but I didn't have that much money or a place to keep them. I passed on the opportunity. Maybe I shouldn't have....and should have gotten inspired to find a better job to pay for the autos. Good luck with your decision! Maybe you can't afford to buy the car and send it around to all the best restoration shops in the country, but maybe you could afford to buy it and put it on ice for a couple of years until your job/income/investments change. Maybe you and your wife and The Seller could even go out for coffee somewhere and figure out how to make it happen. ----Jeff

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I vote no- If your wife is not on board, and you can't afford it, its not ever going to work out. Your not willing to sacrifice the Buick to get it either, so I really don't see a good future with this new car.(the only exception is if it is a Duesenberg). That changes everything!!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: caf</div><div class="ubbcode-body">I(the only exception is if it is a Duesenberg). That changes everything!!</div></div>

Yessssss why the lack of info in this area. What iiiiiis it? laugh.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Thanks for the geat advice everybody. Here is my brain dump:

I guess the first thing I should say is what kind of car it is: 1932 Packard 902 coupe-roadster. Since I was 8 years old, I allowed myself to dream of a 1932-1934 Packard 4-door sedan of some kind, but not a heavy-hitter like this.

The second thing is that the asking price is about the same as, say, a new Buick Lucerne.

Now (click to enlarge):

32convertiblecoupec001ya2.th.jpg

Later:

241a2b4207.jpg

So I went to see the car in person yesterday, and it is as advertised (and damn, is it a BIG car--one forgets the scale of these things when you're not around them often). A lot of work has already been done and there is a photo album to prove it, plus about $30,000 in receipts from a pro shop. The body was completely disassembled and all-new wood installed throughout, including the top bows, sills, doors, cowl, rumble seat/rear deck--<span style="font-style: italic">all</span> of it.

It was obviously sandblasted inside and out, and there is no remaining perforation or cancer. There is some light pitting on things like the inner fender panels in the rear and the door hinges. Portions of the lower body were apparently rusted, but new panels have already been welded in and metal finished--I could just barely detect 1 repair on the driver's side door (no filler has been used, this is just metal). It would be easy to finish as part of the usual body prep. The rear deck around the rumble seat lid was replaced and isn't in primer, so I could see that the metalwork is first-rate with near-perfect seams. The rest of car is in primer and very, very straight.

The engine was rebuilt 18 years ago and never run, so it's an unknown. I'd have to open it up and check, but if the parts are fresh, it won't need a total rebuild. It needs detailing, but the manifolds still look brand new and have been porcelainized. The carburetor is present, as is the distributor and other engine components except for the fuel pump (which may be in a box).

The rest of the driveline appears original and untouched. The frame has probably been painted, but hard to say--it looks too nice to be original, but too scabby to have been painted (albiet it was 18 years ago). All the brake hardware and cables are there, as are things like ride-control shock absorbers and the Bijur lubricating system. It rolls easily.

There are boxes and boxes of parts. It will be a spectacularly complex jigsaw puzzle of reassembly, and I have no way of knowing what's there and what isn't without spending a few days going through the 8 or 9 boxes of stuff. I did find quite a few new/NOS/reproduction parts, including running board trim. All the gauges are there, and the steering wheel is perfect. At least two gauge panels are included. Window frames and regulators are included (there are two sets of regulators). Glove box doors and cowl vent doors are in place. I didn't see any seat frames, however.

Bumpers are missing, as is the driver's side rear fender. Two other '32 Packard rear fenders are included, but they are not specific to this car. Metalwork will be required or find a replacement.

Driver's side front fender is pretty rough with some rust-through in the sidemount well. Some repairs have been undertaken, but it's far from nice. The mounting holes for the fender lamps on both fenders have been welded closed for some reason.

Grille shell is excellent with all the shutters straight and clean. Headlights are flawless. Single taillight is also very nice. All hood doors are present, including the little chrome knobs. Trunk rack is present and in primer. Both horns are present. There are at least 4 hubcaps.

Then I thought of this: although it's a heck of a car, it probably won't cost any more to restore than my Buick. The same work is required, some of which I can do, some of which I'm farming out. The bill for the chrome will likely be <span style="font-style: italic">less</span>, since there's a lot less of it.

On the family side, Juila is on-board if this is something I really want. She understands that this is a long-term invetment and knows that this hobby is a lifetime thing. I also have a family member willing to go in with me--purchase 50%-50%, with me handling any and all restoration work. There is the understanding that I will buy out his half "someday in the future," with interest of course. If the car is sold before that, he gets half the profits. So I'm getting a loan for half the car with an open-ended agreement. Now I'm essentially getting this car for the price of a Model A Ford roadster, and not even twice what I was prepared to spend on a "beater" hobby car a few months ago. My job situation has already improved to where I was before, so scratch the 10% salary loss.

Yeah, that changes things, doesn't it? The decision is still a hard one, and the project is intimidating in scope and importance--you can't do a car like this half-assed. I have no doubt that the Buick will be one of the nicest Century sedanettes in the country. I have faith in myself. I wouldn't shoot for Pebble Beach in this case, but rather a very, very nice car that won't lose value if I drive it. I trust the seller, but he doesn't know much about the car--he bought it as-is, and is not a Packard expert.

There's no hurry to make my decision, and I'm still perfectly balanced on that fence. It's exciting and intimidating at the same time. Life is short, and regret follows you to your grave.

Again, thanks for reading and for your thoughtful advice. Will keep you posted.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds like a good deal Matt. After an expert look-see by someone you can trust, I'd say go for it. You're still a young man, so a long term commitment to a project like this will be very rewarding, in my opinion.

Wayne

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Wow, I just about dropped my jaw!!! This is the kind of car hook or crook I'd find a way. I have always wanted a Packard or Duesy 32-34. Your wife sounds like a wonderful person, like mine, she would rather see me enjoy myself than anything else. Thats a one of a kind person. You are right you have found the one of a kind car. Some how some way, make it work, even if it means giving up the Buick. Be aware if it was restored for a museum they were concerned more with cosmetic rather than mechanical. I don't think this was the case here as they would not care about some of the details you have described. Good luck, hope it works out for you.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt, It's a beautiful car and only you can decide what to do. The only advice and guidance I will offer is this. Do not involve a financial partner, ESPECIALLY a family member. If you can't afford it yourself, you just can't afford it.

Be very aware that the love affair with the Packard could very well turn into hatered if it poisons the relationship with your wife and family..........Bob

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Matt,

OK so you can buy it for around $30K. At today's prices a fully restored 902 coupe roadster will bring in the $175K range. Think of how many people you know that have bought a sedan that needed to be restored with only a top end value of $50K. With a lot of the work already done, you have a lot of room to spend $ for restoration, but not be upside down. However don't be surprise if you have another $100K in it before you are done. I would not restore this car on the cheap, but do it right even if it means stretching out the time for restoration.

Chrome will be expensive if you do everything. Bumpers may be hard to find but the rumble seat steps may be harder to find. Looks like a great project and who knows at the end of 10 years when you are finished, it could be worth even more than today's prices.

It's the right car to restore. 32-34 Packards are considered the best year Packards by many. Coupe roadsters rank up there at the top with dual cowl phaetons for body style desirability.

If you don't buy it, let West buy it and you collect a finder's fee from him laugh.gif

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

<div class="ubbcode-block"><div class="ubbcode-header">Originally Posted By: tbirdman</div><div class="ubbcode-body">If you don't buy it, let West buy it and you collect a finder's fee from him laugh.gif </div></div>

Yeah, baby! laugh.gif

Actually, my question is... "Is it a "real" convertible coupe?" I don't know if that would affect it's value greatly, but it might. I'm going to disagree with you in regards to its current "finished" value. That seems a bit steep for a Standard Eight.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Hi- Tbirdman has said it correctly. Parts are expensive, and the chrome bill alone on that car could run $25K. That said, open Packards are always desirable and are as close to "money in the bank" as you can get. And don't skimp on the restoration if you want the value to stay at top dollar. If I were you, I would go for it, and keep in mind that, if things start heading south either in personal or financial life, sell it. I remember "stretching" in the 1980's to acquire a 1938 Packard Super 8 convertible coupe, never have regretted it, and still own the car today. Good luck! David Coco Winchester Va.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

If you can do all the chrome on that car for 25k you will be doing really really well.

To repeat some of the good points from this thread. If you have to borrow money to buy it you have to pass. There are many many cars that you can get for "free" and be underwater when the restoration is finished. Restoring a classic is unbelievably expensive. The cars you see sell for top dollar usually have restoration costs that exceed the value of the car. Unless you are exceedingly talented a "backyard" restoration will not bring top dollar so don't use those sales as a benchmark.

I can understand the urge to "do it" but if it has any amount of negative effect on your families finances you have to pass.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now