I love buying classic cars. It is both my profession and my hobby, and is undoubtedly what I do best. The scenario surrounding each and every purchase is completely different from the next, and never the same as the last. I’ve bought and sold it all; everything from barn finds to yard art to concours-quality collection pieces. Don’t get me wrong, I too fancy a nicely polished classic with a fresh set of shiny tires, but the reality is that nothing hits me in the sweet spot quite like a car dressed in years and years of accumulated dust. The thicker the coat of dust, the better. Many people will argue that dusty cars are dangerous territory, claiming that dust masks major faults and blemishes that would otherwise be glaring. In some respects, they’d be right. But I’ve grown to look at it differently. A dust-covered car can only look better, while a car that’s nicely presented looks as good as it ever will. A shiny turd is still a turd. If you want to find a real diamond in the rough, you have to look in the rough.
Dusty cars get me excited in ways that shiny ones cannot. For me, the most enjoyable part about buying a classic car isn’t that first sunny Sunday with the car when you wake up, wash the car, and go for a drive. Of course I enjoy those experiences, I’m not crazy, but I prefer those initial hours with the car when there’s still so much mystery surrounding it. I love the whole process of winching the car down from the flatbed, pulling out the carpets in a hunt for hidden rust, spraying brake cleaner to try to make out barely-visible casting numbers to later research, and reading through pages of decades-old receipts in an effort to piece together the history of a car. More often than not, I’ll uncover something about the car during the sorting-and-decoding hours that make me more fond of the car, or at least look at it in a different light. For example, just about a month ago I bought a ‘65 Mustang Convertible that had come up for sale as part of an elderly woman’s estate. When I first went to go look at the car, I noticed a daisy sitting on the dashboard. I didn’t think anything of it. A week later, having purchased the car and trailered it to my garage, I began organizing and reading through the stack of receipts in the glove box. As it turns out, the previous owner had owned the car since 1975 and had held onto hundreds of receipts, including a number of handwritten communications between her and a local body shop manager. In these letters, the Mustang was constantly referred to as “Ms. Daisy”. Now, to me, the car is Ms. Daisy. It’s a sophisticated little lady and must be treated as such. I’ve assigned human-like qualities to the car; the car has character, and the feeling I get from discovering and reviving that character is infinitely more rewarding than just admiring my shiny new toy.
Quite possibly the most difficult part of being in the classic car business is managing expectations, both our own and of our customers. When you’re going to see a car based on just a couple grainy photos of it sitting in a dark garage, which I often do, it’s all too easy to get ahead of yourself in speculating about the car’s condition. It’s best, while difficult, to keep your expectations low. When we’re listing a car for sale we make a point to disclose anything and everything; like with a dusty car, it’s better to set the expectation low, because it can only get better from there. So next time you find yourself with an opportunity to gamble on a classic buried under a thick cover of dust, I strongly encourage you to take that bet. That, or call us and we’ll give it a whirl!