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Let's be realistic... Condition vs. Price


63RedBrier
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So, I have been playing with old cars (mostly Corvairs) for 40 years!  I guess most of you here can say the same or more!  I'm in the market for a mid-20's thru mid-30's classic or Full Classic car.   Anyway, last Friday I had the opportunity to look at two Full Classics on the same day, one PURPLE, one bright YELLOW, both unfortunately, are being stored outside under those dreaded tarps. 

  

The PURPLE sedan was recently pushed outside at the seller's wife's request.  Only the back half is covered by a tarp.  The seller showed me the title and he has owned it since 2010 but has never driven it!  Fuel line is disconnected and he says it needs a fuel pump.  The spark/throttle levers that should be in the middle of the steering wheel are gone!  The top is new(er) and appears to be done well and in the correct pattern; however, none of the trim around the edges was reinstalled.  It desperately needs new tires.  The running boards were recreated in solid wood.  They were done fairly well, but no appropriate for the car.  A friend mentioned to the seller he thought the car was worth $7,500.  While I was there the seller said he was asking $10K.  Did I mention it was PURPLE?  He said he told the painter he wanted it maroon, the painter showed him a sample that the seller agreed to, and it is now PURPLE!  So, body work and repaint - $10k?  Six new tires - $2k.  Probably another $5-10k to get it running, etc.  Value then?     

 

The bright YELLOW coupe was also stored outside under a tarp or two.  Smells terrible inside (like a vehicle stored outside would smell!).  Trunk is missing, fuel tank which has patches is sitting where the trunk should be.  Engine has a cracked cylinder.  He has owned it for DECADES but also has never driven it!  Did I mention it was YELLOW?  The top was done poorly with smooth black vinyl.  Also, desperately needs tires!   He wants $20-25K!  He may have that much into it, but what was done was done poorly.  I think he was hiring one of the guys from the 7-11/home center parking lot to work on the car and having him do the best he can.  Here the paint could work (if one likes bright Yellow(!), it is more of an issue of fuel tank, finding the missing trunk, a major engine repair, installing the correct roof, & six new tires!  This could all add up to another $20-25k!

 

Of the two, because of price, I think the PURPLE sedan would be easier to get back on the road.  I'm holding out for something better...  Both sellers were very gracious and patient!

 

The seller of the yellow coupe also had a two-door convertible, not a Full Classic, with a trunk (not a rumble seat) in the garage.  It is NEON GREEN with SILVER fenders!  It was owned by someone famous and everyone that would know that famous person is dead.  He had this car stored in a friend's barn for decades and while it was in there someone stole the magneto.  The top of the driver's door trim is also missing as is the correct DS door handle.  The running boards are covered in plastic diamond plate(!) and trimmed by aluminum stair tread trim.  The saddest car he has is a Full Classic which was stored on the rocks next to his barn-ette.  He showed me photos of when he bought it at auction almost a half century ago, then it went into his friend's barn and severely deteriorated from there.  We only uncovered the side and I was able to see one wheel and the engine; hopefully the windshield frame is there somewhere.  I think this one is the most desirable to me because it is untouched by poor restoration efforts.  I've asked for a price on this one, but I haven't heard back yet...  He has at least another four-six vehicles under tarps/covers outside.  Two were kit cars.   

 

These cars were relatively local.  There is one on FB (that i might be interested in if it was closer) an hour or so north of Chicago for $8500 firm, but the outer body has huge areas of surface rust and it doesn't run. Two/three day roundtrip, fuel, hotels, food, etc.  There is another one advertised on the west coast of Florida, price unknown, but stored in a trailer and not started for the last five years or so.  How well does a 90-year old car fair inside an enclosed trailer in the hot/humid Florida climate for five years?  I just can't justify driving to look at either when what I'm finding close to home is in such poor condition. 

 

Then there is the guy about an hour from where I am retiring who is in his early to mid-80's who has been selling off his hoard of 65+ vehicles via a sandwich board in front of his home.  Holding firm on his prices (and he may have gotten those prices 15-20 years ago).  I'm waiting to hear about the auction...

 

I'm in no rush to buy and I think it is important to go look at some that I come across that are fairly close, so when I find a good one, I will know!

 

I mentioned this to colleague who is a woodworker.  I said that I was unsure if I should feel sorry for the vehicles or the owners.  His immediate reply was the cars!  I am not trying to disparage the sellers and purposely kept out the makes and models of the cars to protect their identities, but I'm concerned that as time goes by many more vehicles from the Baby Boom era will be hitting the market.  Find them good homes now while they are still running/driving and be realistic on prices.  Thoughts?

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Very similar around here. But 99.9 % very ordinary cars. Definitely no Full Classics, just bread and butter sedans in most cases. And all in that 5K - 10K price range. Condition mostly poor , with some very poor. Street rod material at best for the most part. 

Some seem to stay for sale for a long time , but quite a few do seem to sell. Cars I personally would have thought would have a hard time in the $1000.00 - $1500.00 range, but people do seem to be buying .

Edited by 1912Staver (see edit history)
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Unless you are really looking for a total project and have lots of time and money, walk away now. IMO, look for either a nice original or correctly (older) restoration that is complete and is in running and driving condition. Pay more up front and save your sanity.

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Red, I think that the car auctions that we see on TV are part of the issue, people see a beautiful '55 Chevrolet sell for $50 grand and think that the rust bucket behind their house is also worth that kind of money. A couple of years ago I looked at a '59 Thunderbird, this car was virtually sitting up to the floorboard's in dirt. The white interior was black from mildew and at best it was a part's car, if that. The owner told me that he was keeping the car until his grand kid's were ready for collage and then he will sell it and it would pay for their education. How do you answer that, I certainly did not want to "burst his bubble". Some people refuse to believe that their car/part simply isn't worth what they think it is, true the car might have been a big dollar car once, but those day's are gone. Model A Ford's aren't worth what they were in the early 70's, real nice sedans can be had for around $8000 to $10,000. Roadster's that were $20,000 back then are still the around same price. Try to sell a Model T, you practically have to give them away, a really nice '23 T just sold for $8000 and I'm sure the owner spent twice that amount to restore it. How many people do you know are in the process of restoring a car today. Back in the '60s and '70s there were about 10 guy's in my area that were building some sort of antique car, now their are none that I know of. 

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If you want a reasonably priced Full Classic that has great club support and one that will drive beautifully when properly sorted, join the Pierce Arrow Society and find a car someone in the club is selling.

Pierce Arrow continues to be the best value out there in the Full Classics world.

Edited by zepher (see edit history)
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I agree with all said above. But these days collector cars in general are very high priced in Western Canada. Better condition , ready to use pre war cars that 5 years ago would have been on the market a long time in the low 20's are now mid 40's. { Canadian $, subtract 20 % for a U.S. dollar buyer } And seem to be selling. 

So many Western Canadian cars went South over the last decade, they are now seen as quite a rare thing. Pre war in particular.  And costs of bringing a U.S. car into Canada seem to get higher each year. 

 I probably only want to buy one additional , pre war car in my lifetime. A better quality , Nickle era car in decent usable condition. Roadster or Sport Touring.  But if prices continue like they currently seem to be it's not going to happen. Still a good assortment of Model A's and similar .But I decided they were not for me last year and sold the two projects I had for several years. Just kept my AA truck and even that may go.

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Purple, yellow, so many colors. Reminds me of being a kid with only one penny.

 

Kid buying a gumball from a red colored Jumbo Giant gumball machine

 

If you didn't se one that has your heart palpitating and wondering how you can get it before someone else. And taking the time to ask here I'd say you didn't find the one you want.

 

I am an impulse buyer. If I make a mistake I just sell it and go hunting again. Too much internalizing has made me walk away from some mistakes I still reget not owning.

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Purple not an issue in this family. 😉

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It took me 30 years to figure it out (I'm not bright - see my friends) but you ALWAYS buy somebody else's boondoggle.  You don't want to be the guy funding the boondoggle to begin with.

 

I have a buddy that just bought a big Classic that somebody had spent close to 7 figures restoring at one of the big top shops.  Restoration was starting to mellow, but he paid a fraction of the restoration costs and nothing for the car.

 

It is easy to get deluded in to the cheaper car for lots of reasons.  Mostly entry price.  But if the end result is using the car,  you are better off waiting, saving and stepping up.   Or,  aim for a lesser priced model but use the same formula.

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