Saturday, May 22, 2010

What's in your driveway, nuisance or future dream car?


You know you want to keep that junk car in your driveway. It will be worth big bucks one day. Your wife and neighbors don't care. They want it gone, as do your kids who just want room to play. What will your decision cost you? You weigh the pros and cons. More often than not you give in. You see the elements taking a toll on the paint and interior, not to mention that it doesn’t run and had a host of problems when you towed it home. Your automotive lawn ornament loses its luster and is sold. Hopefully, for more than you paid for it.

Almost 40 years ago my dad, Joe Potter, encountered the same problem. In 1972 he scored a deal on a 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. Price $150. His buddy, John McElroy, originally scored a bigger deal when he bought the car for $75 from a service station near Birmingham, Alabama. The white Chevy with silver and red interior had lost its transmission and 283 cu-inch engine to the previous owner's hardtop. In the musclecar 1970s, the pillaging from heavier convertibles for lighter coupes was a common occurrence.

Must sell!
My dad paid John $150 for the car but had no room for it at his house. That's where my grandfather, his flowers and a camera came in. My dad moved the car to my grandfather's house in East Lake, Alabama where the '57 Chevy convertible quickly became a nuisance. My grandfather grumbled about having to mow around it. My dad had to sell it. He happily sold it for more money than he paid and moved on to his next project car – one that ran.

How much?
At Barrett Jackson last year, a similar, restored 1957 Chevy for $165,000. My dad recently found this photo of his 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air convertible. It's the only photo he has of the car and it was taken by accident. My grandfather's intended subject was his flower-covered fence in front.

Want it back!
The fact that my dad and his buddy doubled their money should have been a clue to its future value. Now, the $300 is little consolation for what might have been. My dad wishes he had kept that one.

Got a story about your car in the yard that you sold or kept?
Send it to junkyardlife.