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Published July 20, 2021

That car may not be for sale

By John Toth / The Bulletin

I like old cars. Once I buy one, I have a hard time selling it.

“How much for this one?” asked the stranger who knocked on my door, interested in buying one of the cars parked on my lot. He was pointing at the 1999 Cadillac DeVille.

“I don’t know. I wasn’t planning to sell it. How about what I bought it for?”

I quoted him the amount and pointed out all the things I have done to it. Yes, it looked ghetto because it’s been sitting out there for a while. I hadn’t gotten around to driving it. I won’t print the asking price, but it was reasonable, and it didn’t even begin to recoup what I have sunk into it over the years.

“That’s too much,” said the unsolicited customer. “How much for the green one?”

He pointed at the legendary 1995 Dodge Caravan.

“I don’t think I want to sell it,” I replied.

“Why not?”

That did it. Now he had to hear all the reasons, which took a while. I was in the middle of telling him about the time my younger son, Bobby, learned to drive in it on a straight country road.

The potential buyer tried to head towards his car before I got to the part about when the road curved.
“He had a death grip on that steering wheel,” but then he just steered into the turn and everything was fine,” I continued my story.

He was apparently not a Bulletin reader, which was one strike against him right away. Otherwise, he would already be familiar with my green van stories, like the time it started smoking from the engine during a traffic stop and got me out of a ticket.

It was a minor problem and was fixed easily, but it looked dramatic. The officer backed away from the window and just asked me to signal next time I made a turn. Then he left in a hurry, and I didn’t get a chance to tell him that I did signal my turn.

The man wasn’t interested in buying any of the cars anymore. He again started heading back to his car. I could have sworn that he was running, but others said that he was just speed walking.

I wanted to ask him if he’s seen an old VW minibus that was in decent shape and affordable, but he drove off before I could catch up with him.

Some people just don’t appreciate good stories behind old cars. Each car has many of them, but they disappear at the trade-in for a shiny, new computer on wheels - until that gets old enough to be traded in.
I look at the green van, and I see the kids at baseball practice, tennis matches, Little League games (where it once got a baseball embedded in its windshield) and on the way to Orlando, Florida, and back.

I don’t see a “for sale” sign on it as long as I am alive, and I may even put in my will that it cannot be sold but must be handed down and preserved for generations to come.

The rest of the cars can go, with possibly the exception of the Cadillac. It is a smooth machine that feels like it floats above the ground. Its hood ornament way out there in front of me glistens in the sun. Maybe that one will also be protected in my will.

After the unsolicited customer made his quick exit, I sat outside for a while to see if anyone else would come around trying to buy a car from me. I had some more stories to tell.

(John looks forward to hearing from you on this subject. Send comments to john.bulletin@gmail.com. You can even send an old-fashioned letter to: The Bulletin, P.O. Box 2426, Angleton, TX. 77516.)