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Collector car auction horror story....

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  • Collector car auction horror story....

    I just returned from a custom body/resoration/paint shop to have a Bearcat wheel repainted..(long story, don't ask ).

    In the main bay was a 55 Pontiac convertible. It was stripped to bare metal and had temporary tubes in the doors to hold the car together.
    It seems the owners bought it at a famous collector car auction a couple of years ago, paying $35k for what looked to be a solid car.
    When they took it to a custom performance shop (next dor to the paint shop) for upgraded brakes, the custom shop owner noting some funky paint so he called over the body guy.

    Turns out the car was a bondo special. To make a long story short, when they got the car back from the sandblaster, about 1/2 the car was gone.
    The cowl, an important part of a convertible, was swiss cheese, with huge chunks missing.
    The rotten floor was left in place, the "restorers" simply welded a new metal on top of it.
    The sills were gone. There are 3 bullet holes in the rear quarters that were simply bondoed over. A hole on the inside of the trunk was patched with something that is still plyable...rather like taffy. The bottom of the convertible trunk well was also holier than a room full of nuns.
    Seriously, most of you have parts cars in better shape than this Pontiac.

    The owners were in so deep with the purchase price and resto-mod parts already bought and paid for, they have no choice but to press ahead.
    I guessed to the body guy a restored car like that might be worth $60K, and he said they were well past that already...before paint and interior. New doors have been bought (US made units that wil also fit tr-five Chevys) and he's reusing as many of the body panels as possible. He's adapting new Chevy sheetmetal for the cowl, floors and sills.

    I know what you're thinking..."Silly buyers didn't check it out before bidding".
    Yes, you'd be right, but these buyers weren't newbies with too much money.
    They looked at the car, just not close enough. They assumed buying the car at a high-end auction would insure the cars were reasonably sound...this outfit says it picky about consignments.
    Bad assumption.

    So buyer beware.

    BTW: The last two lines of the car's descriptrion are:
    "Recent mechanicals include complete suspension rebuild, complete rebuild of driveline and new radial wide white wall tires. This is a rarely seen excellent, show-quality vehicle."

    UPDATE: I just checked the auction company's website.
    It seems the car (as indicated by the VIN listed on the website) was sold a year before by the company (but at a different venue) for $52,000. The next year it was sold for $35,000.
    Looks to me like the first buyers found out what they bought and resold it the next year. The catalog description was unchanged. Hardly honest or ethical.
    Last edited by JBOYLE; 04-24-2012, 09:29 PM.
    63 Avanti R1 2788
    1914 Stutz Bearcat
    (George Barris replica)

    Washington State

  • #2
    Dammit. Unfortunately that can happen. From your description, that car should not have been too hard to evaluate.

    I love buying at auction. It's a great way to do business. But you've also really got to know what you're doing. These people would've been way farther ahead to find the car at the auction, then hire a pro to evaluate and buy it for them- or not.
    Proud NON-CASO

    I do not prize the word "cheap." It is not a badge of honor...it is a symbol of despair. ~ William McKinley

    If it is decreed that I should go down, then let me go down linked with the truth - let me die in the advocacy of what is just and right.- Lincoln

    GOD BLESS AMERICA

    Ephesians 6:10-17
    Romans 15:13
    Deuteronomy 31:6
    Proverbs 28:1

    Illegitimi non carborundum

    Comment


    • #3
      I was just talking to a guy here locally who paid $25,000. for a "factory original" paint job on his 57 Chevy, and I didn't consider the car all that bad to begain with. And I thought that was Crazy. I guess the 6K I was quoted on my 58 studie wasn't that out of line after all.

      Thought the years owning a wrecking yard I've seen it all from masking type over rust out areas puff caned over to attemp to hide how bad it was to you name it.

      Comment


      • #4
        OK , so they bought a car for $35K that " should " be worth $50K - to - $60K .
        I for one would be interested to know either what the "reserve" price at auction
        was or the "range (spread)" expected sale price might have been estimated and
        advertised at . Something smells fishy . Sounds like the previous owners , finding
        out how bad their car was , consigned it back into the next auction with the same
        Auction Company , saying something like , " get rid of this mess for us and we
        will not drag your (auction co. ) name down and your reputation with it " .

        On the other hand , my thoughts are how sad it is that a car like a '55 Pontiac
        convertible could actually be 'worth' say $50K in pristeen condition or with some
        concessional upgrades , such as disc brakes and whatever else . I mean to say,
        just think of the 'REALLY' good Studebakers that this kind of money could buy .

        I can't believe how boring the whole 55 - 57 Chevy and Pontiac thing is . I know
        it is different strokes for different folks , but really , these cars are WAY over -
        valued , and there are plenty of other way more interesting cars to be had at
        a lot less money than that currently being asked . Then again , what do I know !

        CRUISER

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by JBOYLE View Post
          Turns out the car was a bondo special. To make a long story short, when they got the car back from the sandblaster, about 1/2 the car was gone. The cowl, an important part of a convertible, was swiss cheese, with huge chunks missing.
          The rotten floor was left in place, the "restorers" simply welded a new metal on top of it.
          The sills were gone. There are 3 bullet holes in the rear quarters that were simply bondoed over. A hole on the inside of the trunk was patched with something that is still plyable...rather like taffy. The bottom of the convertible trunk well was also holier than a room full of nuns.
          Seriously, most of you have parts cars in better shape than this Pontiac.
          Going by what's left of it, there MUST have been some considerable labor and money involved to get it up to a 'saleable' condtion to the point of being accepted into a high-dollar action. I'd bet it wasn't cheap to even "restore" it improperly!!

          Craig
          Last edited by 8E45E; 04-25-2012, 11:15 AM.

          Comment


          • #6
            Reminds me of the story I heard someplace (probably at a car show) of a mid '50s Buick convertible. New owners bought it after recent restore work but it still needed the new top installed. They had it at a shop and when the shop guys took out the back seat and attempted to stand on the floor back there to work on the top, feet went through! Turned out the rear floor was constructed of bondo spread over newspaper.

            Jeff in ND

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            • #7
              CRUISER:
              The car was sold...both times...at a "no reserve" auction. (That should give you a huge hint as to who sold it. ).
              The first sale was in 2008...before the financial troubles, the second in 2009. Any differnce in price could have been attributed by the new owners (if they knew to check) to that.
              Another 55 Pontiac convertible was sold at the same event for about $37k...so it's not like the new owners were paying way below market value which might have tipped them off that all was not as it seemed. I might have less sympathy for the buyers if they thought there were getting a steal, a car so cheap that it din't make sense. But that wasn't the case here.

              Craig:

              You're right, I've looked at the four photos posted on the auction company's website, and it did look nice...good interior and tires. Neither of which are cheap. So whoever "restored" it, spent some time and money on it. It's flat out fraud...not just a case of so-so workmanship.

              The "restorer", the seller, and the auction company should all be ashamed.
              Last edited by JBOYLE; 04-25-2012, 05:57 PM.
              63 Avanti R1 2788
              1914 Stutz Bearcat
              (George Barris replica)

              Washington State

              Comment


              • #8
                In Ohio bringing a magnet and soft cloth was pretty much the first test for buying anything over 2 years old.
                I passed on a 1964 Olds Cutlass F85 Convertible for failing the magnet test, even at age 16
                Andy
                62 GT

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Andy R. View Post
                  In Ohio bringing a magnet and soft cloth was pretty much the first test for buying anything over 2 years old.
                  I passed on a 1964 Olds Cutlass F85 Convertible for failing the magnet test, even at age 16

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                  • #10
                    This why, I as an Ohioian went to California for my car. There's a reason it called the RUSTBELT here!
                    Originally posted by Andy R. View Post
                    In Ohio bringing a magnet and soft cloth was pretty much the first test for buying anything over 2 years old.
                    I passed on a 1964 Olds Cutlass F85 Convertible for failing the magnet test, even at age 16
                    sigpic

                    Packardbakerly,
                    J.D.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      A friend of mine went to buy a '51 Commander years ago. He asked me what to look for-I told him to take a magnet along,. When he came back he thanked me for the magnet idea. Seems the magnet woud not stick anywhere when held less than 6 inches above the rockers.
                      I have no idea who the seller might have been.
                      Oglesby,Il.

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