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Backyard Bounty

Backyard Bounty



  You’ve all heard numerous stories about people buying old cars that have very low mileage and were only “driven to church on Sunday” by a “little old lady or gentleman”. Some of the stories are true and I have been the owner of a few of these cars.

The first was a 1953 Chevrolet four door sedan that was the epitome of the “little old lady” car. This particular lady was literally dying to sell the car. Yes, I mean dying, as in taking her last breath. I responded to an ad for the car and was invited by the owner’s son to take a look at it. Upon my arrival I was asked into the house and there in a bedroom was the elderly seller in bed and surrounded by family. It appeared that she was nearing the end of her need to drive to church on Sunday. A purchase price was agreed on so her son helped her sign the title over to me. All of this was witnessed through the open bedroom door. Down the street went the very low mileage Chevrolet with its new owner.

The second car was another expired seller’s property. The owner had been cruising Heaven’s highway for the past seven years and the family had finally decided it was time to sell his very nice 1957 Buick Special two door sedan. This was a plain Jane model with a three speed manual on the column and 30,000 miles on the odometer. It was sitting on four wooden blocks and not running when I looked at it. The sellers said that they’d put the wheels back on and get it running if they were shown $300 in cash. A few days later I drove off with four tires and a surprisingly great running car. I sold it two years later and it then became one of those “I should have never sold it” cars that we all pine over.

Car number three was love at first sight when its headlights looked up at me. A four door 1962 Studebaker Lark was not on the top of my vintage vehicle want list, especially one with a factory luggage rack on the roof, however; this car was another low mileage original and in extremely good condition. The previous owner bought it new and, being single, was usually the only passenger. He was having an auction company handle the sale and my hand was the last one in the air. Its amazing condition resulted in it being featured in a national automotive magazine and constantly winning trophies at Studebaker shows.

The last “little old gentleman” car that entered my life was a 1952 Chevrolet two door sedan with, again, approximately 30,000 miles on the odometer. The seller purchased the car in 1953 and had kept it in excellent condition throughout his ownership. For years it was his daily driver and then, when he purchased a newer car, he would still occasionally drive it to keep the Chev in good operating condition. He installed seat covers in 1953 and, upon removal, the original upholstery looked fantastic. A friend had told me about the car and said the owner wanted some advice on what to do with it. I took a look at it, told him to ask $8,000 for it and gave him some suggestions on how to sell it. My finances were such that I was not able to free up the money to buy it. “How much would you give me for it?” I told him my budget would only allow $2000 and not to waste his time with me when a little effort on his part would result in a lot more money in his pocket. He said thank you and I went on my way. The next day the 85 year old seller’s wife called and said “He’ll never get around to taking your advice. Bring us $2000 and it’s yours.” I did and it was.

The vast majority of 1940’s to 1960’s little old people cars have all been found and turned into expensive restored cars or hot rods. Hidden in garages and backyards now are cars from the 1970’s and 1980’s with owners that may occasionally be asked “Would you consider selling that old Toyota in your backyard?”.