Loc: Middlesex, CT
07-13-12 02:01 PM - Post#2247871
In response to impala dude 831
Grab a cup of Joe for this one:
Back in the day, I had recently completed my first restoration of a ’58 Bel Air stove bolt 6, 4 door sedan. Being proud of my achievement, I had a picture of it in my office cubicle. The manager having admired the results and commented “Very nice car but it’s too bad it wasn't a convertible” He noticing my reaction went on to say. “Don’t take any offense, I had recently read an article the 58 ragtops were under-priced in the market and expected to increase”. I responded with “Any chance you could share that article?” The next day he brings it in and it turns out there indeed was a small blurb by Rick Cole listing the 5 top undervalued cars with the 58 Impala ragtop topping the list. My quest was born.
At that time, (pre-internet) networking consisted of local clubs, friends and perusing Old Cars weekly, Hemmings and the like. My first find was a ragtop located in Montana which required a complete restoration. The price was right enough to investigate. ( I was such a newbie) None-the-less, I actually invested in a plane trip from the east coast to check it out.
FWIW – I had never before set foot on a commercial plane before.
Long story short, the seller turned out to be a bait & switch operator stipulating he would only sell the car if the buyer agreed to restore it in HIS shop. Being interested in the VIN data, while we were negotiations, one of his flunky’s comes into the office carrying the actual VIN tag he just removed from the car. At that point the deal was over and I was gone. I spent the rest of the time enjoying the beauty of Montana and Glacier Park in Canada.
Returning home, a little embarrassed, I soon returned to Hemmings and other advertising mags in search of a ’58 ragtop. My next contact was Tom from Ohio advertising (3) 58 ragtops to select from. Still a bit hesitant for the Montana trip, I initially told him I’d head over following the Easter weekend. I later called him back telling him “Forget that, I’ll be heading out the last week in March instead.”
So I drove out solo to a small town by Dayton, OH to see what he had. Tom is what I’ll refer to as a private car corral seller having some 20-30 cars on site. He basically flips car sales privately. As advertised, he had the (3) 58’s to choose from. I almost got swayed into a ’62 factory 4 spd. while there, but I soon got a grip on my original mission quest and made the deal for the best ’58 he had. A check of $1000 secured the deal on April 1st.
In passing, Tom mentioned he had just sold a like ’58 to one of John Mellencamp’s local buyers. “Yeah right” I’m thinking. The deal included transportation once the remaining balance had cleared.
Returning home and only having about 50% of the balance in liquid assets, I had no idea where the remainder would come from. But as luck would have it, I was fortunate enough to sell my Bel Air for the actual cost of its restoration. (A rare achievement for a 4 Dr sedan) With the balance paid, I then anxiously awaited delivery. It arrived some 6 weeks later around 3:00 am. (You all know the feeling)
Now with the days of the internet, a fitting end to this tale reveals a surprising discovery. While on You Tube, some commentaries were posted regarding what kind of car Mellencamp used in his “Rumbleseat” and “Rooty-toot-toot” videos. Any viewing will show it to be a ’58 ragtop. But the twist is with a poster comment replying with: “Yup, The seller is a local guy over here in Ohio” and essentially supporting Tom’s story from so many years before.
Would I do all again? You bet! But I’d find a way to keep the original Bel Air next time. LOL