Buying classic cars and hot rods

My friend Steve, from Santa Clarita, California, has met me two years in a row at the Woodward Dream Cruise, in Detroit, Michigan. This year he mentioned that he would love to get a classic car. While we drove endless hours on Woodward, during the cruise, we saw a lot of cars we’d like to have. We had fun pointing out various cars we had owned over the years, but never kept. But, it wasn’t till the last day that Steve announced that he’d like to get a ’58 Chevy convertible. Nice choice.

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The most popular Chevy classics seem to be ’55, ’56, and ’57 model years, the ’57 being the most iconoclastic of the ‘50s Chevys. The ’58 Chevy design had an abrupt end to straight up fin in favor of a rounded fin-like design. It was a heavier car than the ‘57, which did not do as well when designing for speed, but it was a classy car.

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All this got me thinking about where you could go to buy a ’58 Chevrolet? Where would you even start? Well, it turns out that there are many listing sources for classic car and hot rod buffs looking for a car. But how can you tell if the price is right? There are many things that go into the pricing; the body condition, the engine and powertrain, the miles, even the type of restoration can affect price (like ‘off-frame’ vs not ‘off frame’).

For the condition of the entire car for appraisal purposes, essentially think in terms of a scale from 1-10, 10 being the highest and most expensive. 1-2 would be cars that are for parts only. 3-5 cars are restorable cars. 6-8 are cars that are not perfect, but perfect for driving around a lot. 9-10 cars are show cars that are in competition a lot, but cars that you don’t drive a lot.

I’ll lay odds that Steve wants a classic car in the 5-6 range so he can fix them up to an 8. Well, there are all kinds of classic cars that are available from all kinds of sources like; magazines, websites, Google, car lots, individuals, auctions and even signs in the windows of cars.

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There are many magazines around with classic cars for sale, most free, but some you have to buy that are in the supermarkets –convenient stores – book store magazine racks – part stores – truck stops, etc. It’s also where you can find other cool mags on classic cars and hot rods. Hemmings is an insurance company for classic cars, but they also have a magazine sales directory for classic cars (www.hemmings.com). The free magazines are usually in the front of supermarkets, restaurants, and various places where there are other free magazines displayed. Don’t forget local classic car magazines that cater to local people going to cruise-ins, like Cruz’news (http://cruisnews.com/) in the Detroit area, or Cruisin’ times (www.cruisintimes.com) in the Cleveland, Ohio area. Try Google to find a mag like these near you.

To find classic cars and hot rods at a car lot, you need to find these on the Internet. Many of these lots are in states far from where you live, unless you’re lucky enough to have one near you. Some only deal in perfect show quality cars and you will pay big $$$ for these. But, if you want to buy a perfect car, these are not bad.

One of the largest classic car lots is Gateway Classic Cars, with stores in St. Louis, Louisville, Chicago, Detroit, Indianapolis, Tampa, and Orlando. You can cruise through their listings at; http://gatewayclassiccars.com/.

On the Internet, there is a wealth of sources for classic cars, like http://www.classiccars.com. Google is the obvious first choice because you can just type in the name of the car and year and, bam, on your screen are multiple lists for that car and many are on sale through sites like; eBay, Craig’s list, Hemmings and many others just happen to have the car you’re looking for. I Googled ’58 Chevy and sure enough there were bunches of cars, especially on eBay where I found 8 ranging in price from $9999 to $93000. Be very careful of scams. In a previous article about buying my son a car, I outline how some of these scams work, especially on Craig’s List.

Here’s a video someone made at a classic car show of a red ’58 Chevy Impala convertible: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h9tlB0FIBLw

Auctions for classic cars have become very popular, especially those TV classic car auctions like; Barrett-Jackson (www.barrett-jackson.com), and Mecum auctions (www.mecum.com/auctions.cfn). There are other auctions not on the internet like the Shane Albright auctions in Northern Alabama and mid-Tennessee. They have a lot of classic cars in various condition that are going for auction on Sept. 27, 2014. They even have a bunch of ‘58 Chevys listed. They do have a website to see the listing of cars at www.shanealbright.com.

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You can always go to a cruise-in and find cars for sale. I have found that just about every city, town and community has some kind of cruise-in going on at an old drive-in restaurant, a diner, a drag strip, a local fair, a sports bar, an auto performance based business, or even just a parking lot that everyone gathers at on certain days. Look for a ‘for sale’ sign in the car window and if you end up not buying it, no biggie; you’ve had a nice conversation about the, ‘Dream Machine,’ with the owner.

This sales list of classic car and hot rod sources is by no means complete. If you Google classic cars and hot rods, you will come across an enormous availability of these cars, in all sorts of locations. I wish you luck in your search for your perfect, ‘Dream Machine.’

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The ‘Dream Machines’ Car Club in Illinois

I saw this article and I think it deserves a ‘guest post’ on my blog. It’s just about a local cruise in Illinois, but the car club calls itself the ‘Dream Machines’ car club, which sounds great to me. I don’t know why, but they didn’t include pictures. I always include pictures. Sorry, but it’s a good look at the latest craze in America; classic cars and hot rods. That’s why I hope they enjoy my novel, Dream Machines. Enjoy.

This cool cruise info is from: http://www.mywebtimes.com/news/editorial/our-view-in-streator-cruise-night-is-king/article_984c9141-062c-50c4-8830-5606c4267d12.html

 

It’s Labor Day weekend in the Illinois Valley, and that means it’s time for one thing — the Dream Machines Car Club Streator Car Show and Cruise Night.

Sure, there are other events going on — notably in Toluca, Paw Paw, Mendota and Pontiac, some of those celebrations with more than six decades of history — but today’s Cruise Night celebration is the undisputed king.

If there was any doubt about which event wears the crown, last year put it to rest. After a threat of rain abated, Dream Machines Vice President Mike Starjack said more than 500 vehicles took part. He also told The Times between 15,000 and 20,000 people came out to see the vintage cars. Those numbers are on pace with 2010, the last year where Cruise Night coincided with great weather, which drew 545 cars and at least 20,000 spectators.

That’s a two with four zeroes — a larger number than the population of any single town in La Salle County.

Some taverns and restaurants point to Cruise Night as their biggest of the year in terms of traffic and revenue. Cars come in from several states. Perhaps not every hotel room in town is booked, but clearly Cruise NIght has a social and economic impact. It’s no wonder the organizers of the Streator Tenderloin Festival chose Labor Day weekend — they knew when it made the most sense to tap in to a huge number of visitors.

Cruise nights are common throughout the region, so what’s the big deal in Streator? Anyone can have a car show. In Streator, the real attraction is the cruising: getting those vintage vehicles out on the road, slowly going up and down the main streets, listening to classic music and restoring — if only for one night — some magic memories of the past.

In many ways, Streator is a perfect backdrop. Many families have called the town home for generations. The people are proud of the town’s work ethic, and nothing says “elbow grease” like getting under the hood of your classic auto and turning a wrench yourself. Anyone with money can buy an old car. But only someone with passion, skill and dedication can restore it to glory.

The physical scenery itself helps, as Streator itself has a classic look. Not much of town is ultra-modern, and that’s the way many folks like it. Streator looks and feels like home, and these classic cars and their owners fit right in. Cruise Night hearkens back to the days when the Roamer — America’s answer to the Rolls Royce — was built in Streator.

It seems almost preposterous now to think America’s leading luxury car could be built in a small town in the middle of Illinois. But that’s the way things worked in the early 1900s, and Cruise Night and the Dream Machines Car Club help us all tap into that nostalgia.

The cruise route is from Main Street to Park Street to Kent Street to Vermillion Street to Hickory Street to Shabbona Street and back to Main. Members of the Dream Machines Club are selling tickets all day for the choice of a restored 1975 Plymouth Duster or $5,000 in cash.

The people who continue make Labor Day weekend special in Streator every year deserve praise for their efforts. It’s a labor of love for sure, and the beneficiaries are numerous. Hats off to everyone involved. The months of planning and preparation are complete. Tonight, the party begins. Live it up, step back in time and enjoy one of the greatest weekends of the year.

 

Jimmy Shine and the Grand Rapids, MI, Metro Cruise 2014

I was so tired when I got back home from the Woodward Dream Cruise; I seriously over-slept to noon the next day. The Dream Cruise was three days of intense cruising and checking out over 40,000 classic cars, hot rods and big exhibits by Ford, Chrysler and GM. So when I heard the news that Jimmy Shine would be at the Grand Rapids, Michigan, Metro Cruise the coming weekend, it gave me enough energy to make the 5 hour drive west on the Ohio Turnpike to Indiana, then turned north to GR on a Friday afternoon.

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In case you never heard of Jimmy Shine, he started out with the now famous, ‘SoCal Speed Shops,’ which are garages where they restore or modify classic cars and make a lot of cars go…faster. Jimmy is the kind of guy that can take a beat up old 1950s (or any year) car and with his own two hands, turn it into a stunning show car that has power and looks to win trophies and races. That is talent.

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Jimmy is also the host and/or guest on many classic car shows that offer classic cars and restoration projects as subject matter. Those shows frequently are shown on the Velocity Network on cable. His show, ‘Car Warriors,’ pit two teams of restoration mechanics and fabricators to restore and modify in a small amount of time, two similar old cars. The teams can do whatever they want to the cars and at the end, the cars will be judged and the winner gets to take the car home.

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Jimmy is also in my novel, Dream Machines. When the two old farts realize that they can’t restore and race their cars by their self-imposed deadline, Jimmy steps in. He helps by adding two teams to work with them to get their cars ready to settle the big 50-year grudge drag race on Woodward by Friday night. The only condition is that the restoring and race will now be part of Jimmy’s show, ‘Car Warriors.’

Now, this is the kind of car I see myself in... someday.

Now, this is the kind of car I see myself in… someday.

I got to GR, dropped off my luggage at the hotel and headed down 28th street, where the Metro Cruise was. The Cruise was supposed to be on the west side of Highway 131, but miles before that, there were classic cars in parking lots with lots of people on lawn chairs checking out what’s interesting in traffic. I hope they all saw my Cruisemobile mobile billboard and ordered the book.

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After Hwy 131, there were significantly more classic cars and hot rods as well as bigger crowds. At a large shopping center, Roger’s Plaza, there was an enormous crowd, with food vendors, lots of lights and cars. This was the main staging area for the Cruise, http://www.28thstreetmetrocruise.com/, so I figured I would keep going until I found the end of the cruise area then turn around. It kept going for about a mile and a half before I turned back. Along the road, the crowds kept growing, along with a lot of side-of-the-road food vendors.

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I pulled into Roger’s Plaza and did my best to get a parking space, like all those other people roaming in their car hoping to get lucky, which I finally did. The whole scene reminded me of a carnival, only instead of amusement rides, they had cars, lots of very cool, groovy and all the other ‘60s adjectives, cars.

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I looked for Jimmy and found him immediately, signing autographs. I showed him my book and he said, ‘I have that book on my desk, but I haven’t read it yet.’ I gave him another copy (yeah, he wanted me to autograph it and he gave me his autograph) and he introduced me to his beautiful wife, Nikki, who took a picture of us. He was so nice, it was like talking to an old friend and he said that he would read the book. I told him I wanted to make the book into a movie and Nikki’s eyes lit up, like they had been talking about such a thing. Maybe he’s looking for the right book. I tried hard not to be so impressed with him, but I don’t think it worked because I probably sounded like the ‘Wayne’s World’ groupie of a rock star going, “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.”

Jimmy Shine and I (I'm the old guy);-)

Jimmy Shine and I (I’m the old guy);-)

The show was going to close at 9pm, or so they said, and if it was anything like the Woodward Dream Cruise, that could mean facing major traffic jams. So I headed out, knowing I would be there first thing in the morning. As I headed back to the hotel, I saw a place I had gone to many years before, the Beltline Bar; home of the famous Wet Burrito. Yeah, I stopped and had a famous ‘Burrito and Beer,’ and it was just as good as I remembered.

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I arrived Saturday morning at 9 am, when the program said it was going to start, and it sure enough; it had already started without me. Being there at what I thought was an early hour, I thought I’d be able to get a good highly visible parking place, but the place was already packed with people and cars. I saw all the cars and after-market companies then ran into Scooter, with the ‘Cruiz’news’ magazine from the Detroit area. I asked if Dana was there, but Scooter said Dana had gotten totally burned out at the Dream Cruise and was on a beach far away from any classic cars;-)

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It was nice to see a city like Grand Rapids with such a large cruise. It was a good size cruise and I could tell the crowds loved it. I left at noon because I had to get going back to Cleveland, where I had things to do later. I decided to go through Ann Arbor and head south from there so I could stop for a lunch break at one of my favorite stores; Cabela’s. This Cabela’s is huge inside with an incredible selection of outdoor gear and clothing. I just happened to need some mesquite wood nuggets for my smoker.

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I decided not to eat in their ‘wild-game’ restaurant because I saw a sign at a nearby small pub, The Great Lakes Pub & Grill, that advertised fresh Bluegill fish. I love Bluegill and they didn’t disappoint. The filets are only big enough for one bite, but oh, they are the tastiest fish, even better than Perch. I love Florida seafood, but this is great lakes fresh water seafood, and it is delicious.

Blue Gill, beans and cole slaw. I only ate the Blue Gill.

Blue Gill, beans and cole slaw. I only ate the Blue Gill.

I finally arrived back home, just in time to unload luggage, pick up my neighbor Roger, and head to downtown Cleveland to arrive just in time for the opening ceremony for the Cleveland Browns home exhibition pre-season game and Johnny Football himself; Johnny Manziel. Throughout the frustrating game for the Browns, which almost distracted me, I still kept thinking about Jimmy Shine, and all those gorgeous Dream Machines in Grand Rapids. Way to go GR!

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Woodward Dream Cruise 2014

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It’s the biggest annual event in Michigan. It’s the fourth largest one-day event in America. It’s the biggest car festival/cruise in the world. It’s the Woodward Dream Cruise with over 1.3 million spectators and over 40,000 classic cars, antique cars and hot rods. This year was the 20th anniversary of the event and not many people outside of Michigan know about it (other than classic car buffs, hot rod enthusiasts, drag racers, auto restorers and car people).

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I had to be in Detroit the Friday before and it was crowded with cars and spectators already – a week in advance! I returned on Wednesday, picked up my friend Steve from California at the airport and headed to the hotel taking a longer route on Woodward. Woodward was packed. Four lanes going north and four lanes going south and it was bumper-to-bumper classic car traffic at around 4 MPH. Engines rumbled, an occasional tire squealed loudly and sometimes it was hard to hear with all that Detroit muscle revving up.

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With my new automobile advertising wrap about my novel, Dream Machines, I was getting plenty of attention. My goal with this trip is to get enough publicity to sell over 2000 books through Amazon.com and barnesandnoble.com so I can attract a literary agent, who will sell my book to a big publisher. If that happens, then movie producers will be interested and that is my true main goal: to make my novel, Dream Machines, into a movie. If made (hoping some big rich Detroit leaders read this) a side benefit would be improving the negative perceptions and opinions about Detroit into positive ones. At least, that’s my plan. Know of any people like that with $5 million they would like to invest in a movie? I didn’t think so.

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Wednesday night was the only chance we would have of stopping at Duggan’s Pub on Woodward for a Big Chief burger, the burger they once served at the Totem Pole. Speaking of the Totem Pole, I stopped by the lot on Woodward where the Totem Pole was. It had turned into a Burger King for years and then they closed. They leveled the building and there is nothing but a vacant, empty lot left of what was the greatest drive-in restaurant in the world (my own opinion).

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Thursday had Steve and I cruising Woodward as much as possible (to show off my moving billboard). I had a very bad problem though. On Tuesday, my good friend and best man at my wedding, Dan Hurley died of a heart attack. Dan went to many Dream Cruises with me and his absence was a sore spot. That night we went out to dinner with his son, Neil and his wife Monica. We went to Birmingham, where the sidewalks were filled with people trying to get seats at the many fine restaurants in the area. The streets were also starting to be filled up with classic cars.

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Friday put me in a better mood. We cruised a very busy Woodward, but my friend Steve wanted to hear about actor/comedian, Robin William’s home area, because it was in the news so much about his death a few days earlier. Better than explaining, I showed him. We toured the neighborhoods and small lakes of Bloomfield Hills and the exclusive Cranbrook Institute of something or other. Robin lived in an extremely affluent part of Detroit’s suburbs along with his neighbors Mitt Romney and Lee Iacocca. In the ‘50s and ‘60s the area attracted big executives from Ford, GM and Chrysler. They let their teens play with the new demo cars they drove home from the factory. Many of those kids and their parents, drag raced on Woodward in their new GTO’s, Mustangs, Dodge Hemi’s, Corvettes and all the other muscle cars. Robin and Mitt had to have cruised all the drive-ins too. That’s a cool thought. I believe there are still a lot of auto execs living there.

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Friday night was an absolute zoo. Cars were crammed onto Woodward going about 2 MPH bumper-to-bumper for miles. It took hours to go a mile. The tree lawns, parking places and just about everywhere the crowd sat on lawn chairs or walked between the mini cruise-ins that were jammed with cool cars. TV crews were flitting around getting interviews and radio station guys were out in the street talking to people in their cars asking for a rev up (for sound).

Motorcycle police at WDC 2014

The police were out in a larger force than I’ve ever seen. At the shopping center at 13 mile and Woodward, where Chrysler has set up a ‘Mopar’ exhibit, there was a line of police motorcycles like I have never seen, other than in a movie like, ‘Blues Brothers.’ There had to be at least 30-40 motorcycles from police stations all over the Detroit area. There were cop cars everywhere as well as plenty of cops on bicycles and horses. At the Mopar exhibit, there was a lot of local hype and publicity about Dodge’s new 700+ HP Charger, ‘Hellcat,’ but it wasn’t at the exhibit…yet. They said it would be there on Saturday, but unfortunately, we had a different schedule for cruise day.

Dodge's 'Silver Bullet' ripped up Woodward in the '60s with over 600 HP.

Plymouth’s ’67 Belvedere GTX   ‘Silver Bullet’ ripped up Woodward in the ’60s with over 600 HP.

Down the street from the Mopar exhibit, and across the street from Duggan’s Pub, was GMs Corvette exhibit and next to that was a park area that was transformed into a classic car carnival. It was packed with food concessions/trucks, classic cars, hot rods, t-shirt tents, the truck from my friend Dana’s magazine ‘www.cruiz’news.com,’ several bleacher seats faced Woodward and the enormous crowd either sat and watched, or milled around enjoying the intoxicating atmosphere of motor city metal.

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It was quite an experience, but the show ended at 9:40pm when the huge presence of police blocked off Woodward and everybody had to go home. I mean, tried to go home. The small neighborhood road that the police forced people to take became jammed and it took us forever to make our way back to the hotel.

Black '57 Chevy MSU

The Saturday morning of the Dream Cruise had a chill in the air. The temps had dipped into the 40s the night before, but there was a crowd on Woodward at 8am. We headed to Ferndale. At the corner of 9 Mile Road and Woodward, 9 Mile was blocked in either direction for blocks and blocks for Ford’s ‘Mustang Alley.’ Ford and many after-market suppliers like Saleen, Rousch, Shelby and many others showed their newest Mustang designs. A large parking lot was filled with only Mustang Cobras. Then there were blocks and blocks of Mustangs of all years and models owned by private owners. In all, we figured there had to be at least 1,000 mustangs. It was unbelievable and overwhelming for this ardent Mustang fan. My Mustang was stolen, but that’s in a previous blog.

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Ford's Mustang Alley  9 Mile at Woodward

Ford’s Mustang Alley
9 Mile at Woodward

We then headed to Birmingham to see GM’s offering to the Cruise. It took us a long time to go 6 miles, but lots of people saw my mobile billboard along the way. Tee shirts under a tent dotted the sides of Woodward for miles as well as a bunch of ‘radio towers’ so people would know a radio station was broadcasting from there. Crowds surrounded various cool cars parked everywhere and anyway they could. I could tell by the crowded boulevard that this was the biggest Dream Cruise ever. Along the way, there was a row of around ten DeLoreans like the one in the movie, ‘Back to the Future,’ all with their doors open and pointing skyward. What a blast!

Radio tower WDC 2014

In downtown Birmingham, Old Woodward Avenue was closed off and wow, they had quite a show of classic cars. Since this was Birmingham, with it’s affluence, there were a lot of classic foreign cars that cruised Woodward in the ‘60s, like MGs, Triumphs, Austin Healeys, Jaguars, Rolls Royces and even an old Bentley. There was a long row of Cobras, Thunderbirds and Corvettes. On the other side of the sidewalk, in parking lots full of parked cars, there were a number of exhibits for after-market companies that do a lot of business with GM.

Ken Lingenfelter and I at the Dream Cruise

Ken Lingenfelter and I at the Dream Cruise, I’m in the Hawaiian shirt.

An old friend of mine, Ken Lingenfelter, owns one of those companies, Lingenfelter Performance Engineering. They make GM cars like Corvettes and Camaros go faster and make race cars go faster too. They build race car engines and components like superchargers. Ken showed me a new product of his; trucks he named, ‘Reapers.’ He gives trucks a go-over, performance and custom looks wise, and calls them ‘Reapers.’ They are already in some GM showrooms in Texas. Ken also showed me his personal ‘everyday car,’ a gorgeous ’67 Corvette with over 600 HP. I want to go the grocery store with him.

Ken Lingenfelter's daily ride

At the end of the street where it meets Woodward, forms a triangle where Chevrolet, this years Dream Cruise sponsor, has a large exhibit of their coolest new cars and classic Chevys. There was also a TV station, WXYZ (ABC), which is a sponsor, doing live broadcasts as well as the oldies radio station, WOMC, with their funny radio hosts, Bobby and Stacy doing a live show. Add in all kinds of food trucks, huge crowds, live music stages and you’ve got a pretty wild scene with hundreds of thousands of classic car buffs oo-ing and ah-ing  every cool car that drives by.

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When we headed back out onto Woodward we heard my radio interview. The day before, I had done a radio interview with WWJ 950 am all news, and we heard it run several times in the day and once at night. We didn’t really get all that far on Woodward, because again it was wall-to-wall classic car traffic going at a snail’s pace. At 9 pm, we saw the lights on all the police cars go on like it did Friday night just before they closed Woodward down. I hurried (you really couldn’t hurry) as fast as I could to get off Woodward. I turned the corner at 13 Mile Road and just then the cops shut down Woodward. I thought, ‘9 pm?’ I guess they wanted to end the happiness earlier that usual. Back at the hotel, I heard people moaning about the long ride back in the traffic. I felt lucky, where can I buy a lottery ticket?

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The Big Chief Burger

The Big Chief Burger

On Sunday, we finally got our chance to eat a Big Chief at Duggan’s Pub. We sat at the bar and I saw a very hard working guy, Larry Payne, owner of Duggan’s. Larry said he heard my interview that morning on WWJ, so maybe I sounded better than I thought. I said goodbye to Steve when I dropped him off at the airport. This was his second Dream Cruise year and he said it was, ‘great.’ I headed back to Cleveland, with a big smile, great memories and it helped me get over the tragedy of my friend, who loved the Dream Cruise, passing on. I’m sure that now he’s in a real, ‘Dream Machine.’

More pictures –

'59 Edsel Wagon

White '56 T-Bird

A really big unknown car with Canada plates

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Buying a used car

Trying to find a used car under $2500 is easy. Trying to find a decent reliable used car under $2500 is not easy. Almost impossible.  My search for a good used car for my son has revealed a few things about buying a used car. One fact, is that any car under $2500 is under suspicion. I have searched through thousands of cars listed on online websites and have some conclusions about the cars and the people that are selling them.

I have been lied to so many times by these used car sellers, that I’m getting very skeptical about anything these people tell me. Even the pictures can be very misleading. Descriptions that say, “good running, starts well and awesome,” are not necessarily true. In fact, they could be wild exaggerations. Go figure. I will try to give you my honest opinion on searching for and buying a used car.

I will start with my experience a few years ago when I wanted a Lincoln Aviator with low miles. Aviators were only built for a few years, 2003-2006, and looks just like a Lincoln Navigator, only it’s the size of a Ford Explorer, with a lot of improvements and with even more ‘bells and whistles.’ I drive on business sometimes as much as 3000-4000 miles in a month on Interstates through every kind of weather condition and road conditions there are. I had a ’03 Aviator that I put 225,000 tough miles on and liked it so well, that I bought another one. But it took a long time to find one that fit my finicky requirements.

I went to several Lincoln dealers to look, but most didn’t have any used Aviators on the lot and the ones that did had a very large price tag or a lot more miles on it than I was willing to accept. This Aviator I was looking for needed to have under 50,000 miles for me to be interested. I figured this car would last me the same 225,000 miles and if I bought it right, I wouldn’t have to spend over $14,000.

I searched on Craig’slist.com, cars.com, autotrader.com, and a few others I found on the Internet. I looked through at least 3500 cars because I widened my search to over 1500 miles away. Now the choices expanded a lot. I pretty much drew the line at the Mississippi River, but if I had the extra time, it wouldn’t be a bad deal to drive all the way across the country. Yet, if the car didn’t match up to what was advertised, it would have been hard to get a cheap flight home, not to mention the potential of a broken down car in the middle of nowhere.

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On autotrader.com, I found an ’05 Aviator with only 43,000 miles in Florida. Not only that, but there was another ’05 Aviator just 30 miles away with 58,000 miles, just in case the other deal went bad. I made the deal with the dealer for $12,000, $2000 under my max price, crossed my fingers and got a cheap three-leg flight and flew down. It turned out perfect because the car was beautiful, other than the tires looked to have maybe another 5000 miles on them. I bought the car, spent some time visiting with friends in Florida, then drove it home. All in all, it was a good experience.

If you read my blog last week, I was in the middle of a search for a car for my son, and had three terrible attempts; One was a relatives car that was about to blow a head gasket, a scam deal on Craigslist.com that tried to pry my money away by posing as eBay motors, and then there was a bid on eBay for a “good running condition Acura” that turned into a trip to Jacksonville, Florida to buy a that turned out to be a beaten up piece of crap.

So now what do I do? Well, I went back over all the steps I had learned, and started at the beginning. First I went to relatives and friends asking one more time if anybody had a good car to sell. Nothing, but one guy told me it’s a bad idea buying a car from a relative. I told my story and he just laughed.

My search this time had some differences because now I was looking for a $2500 or less car. New car dealers don’t typically handle these cars because they have high mileage, so they usually wholesale these cars and wholesale dealers need to make a profit on a small sale. That’s why I thought first of buying from an individual seller instead. Somebody’s ‘cream puff.’

So, the next step was searching through the ‘owner/seller’ list on Craigslist.com and it came up with a lot of cars, but I needed to see even more. So I expanded my search on Craigslist.com to bigger towns that were only a few hours drive, and would have a good selection. I found a number of cars and have emailed many of them. Nobody has emailed back today, but sometime I don’t check my emails everyday. Well, that’s not true either because I do check it everyday.

So, during the wait to hear back, I went on cars.com and autotrader.com as well as checked the classified section of our local newspaper. I searched through thousands more cars. Interesting tactic, because I got a good feeling for the car my son should get and the price we would pay for a dependable one. I emailed to a lot of potential sellers asking for more information, but it’s Sunday night and no response so far.

It’s now Monday afternoon, way past my posting deadline, and I have only received two responses thus far, and one of them is a three hour drive. So the tedious search goes on for a reliable used car, only now I have raised the spending limit to around $2200 in order to get a reliable used car, despite my son only contributing $750. Hopefully, next week he will have his first, ‘Dream Machine.’ Tune in, because it will happen soon.

Dream Machines that blew me away this week

When I was in my teens, I went every year to the Detroit Auto Show, which is now called the, ‘North American International Auto Show.’ The one thing I looked forward to the most was the concept cars. That’s where automakers looked forward a few years ahead and tried to come up with the most modern looking machine with the not-even-a-product yet type accessories.

Future Car

One design that I thought for sure was coming was flying cars. Flying cars are still coming, but it really is just a plane with the body of a car. If you Google ‘flying cars,’ you will get a bunch of responses like this one: http://www.terrafugia.com/ or check out this one: http://auto.howstuffworks.com/flying-car.htm

Then there was a car/boat like the Amphicar, built in the 1960s. They made them years ago then stopped. But it’s such a cool idea, another company is now making car/boats again, only it’s also like a very cool dune-buggy. Check it out here: http://www.youtube.com/embed/2150iFXF5Vc?rel=0

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In a previous blog, I wrote about the concept car, Dia, that singer Bobby Darin bought in 1960. Bobby drove the car, with his wife Sandra Dee, to the 1960 Oscar awards in Hollywood. It looked like something out of the old TV show, ‘The Jetsons,’ only it didn’t fly, but it looks like it could.

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You can also see a bunch of pre-1955 cars that look like they are concept cars, only they are real cars off of an assembly line somewhere. Check them out on my Facebook Page for, Dream Machines, here: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dream-Machines/560475744012570?sk=photos_stream

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But this week, the ‘Dream Machines’ that really blew me away was at the High Museum of Art, Atlanta, exhibit. I can’t make it in person, but you can look at the incredible pictures.

Just go to: https://www.high.org/Art/Exhibitions/Dream-Cars.aspx?gclid=CjgKEAjwt4-dBRCDnaTUn-mC_0oSJAC4Q6kGU8Qe3j4WkPy-92fonXsv0B-Ax4FuqTXjxzmh2bKhWfD_BwEk

Dream Machines come in many forms. All I know is that there is a reverence for Detroit Iron made before 1974. I’m sure there are a lot of foreign cars made at that time, but nothing like our ‘Dream Machines’ of the ‘50s, ‘60s and early ‘70s.

The search for a good classic car or hot rod

My '88 Mustang GT

Ever since my Mustang was stolen, I’ve been thinking about buying a classic car or a hot rod, or turning a classic car into a hot rod, to replace the Mustang. It’s a real dilemma for this former Motor City boy. I love cars. I’ve been in advertising for many years, advertising cars on TV and radio for local car dealers all over America. But I continue to think about it every time I go to a cruise-in, car collection, car museum, car show or watch a restoration project.

I really thought about it last Friday, the day before Flag Day. There was an American Flag retirement ceremony at a local American Legion Post and since I play Taps on trumpet, I attended and played. One of the Legion guys just bought a ’64 Ford Galaxy convertible off of an ad on ‘www.Craig’slist.com’ and drove it that night, with the top down. I tamped down my envy emotions and complemented his good fortune.

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The next day, I decided to really search for that classic car that I can own… at a budget price. So I went where everybody goes now-a-days; Google. I thought of what kind of car would I want, what year, and in what condition. I immediately thought of a ’68 GTO convertible. I don’t know why, but the GTO was a gutsy manly car, with a deep rumble and the looks alone demand people’s attention. I also thought about a ’58 Thunderbird a saw once.

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So I Google it and a bunch of websites came up with lots of links to classic car brokers. The first was www.classiccars.com. I went through the site and there were a lot of nice GTOs some with prices and a lot of cars that were listed as, “To be sold at auction.” http://www.Hemmings.com came up a number of times on Google with ’68 GTOs. On their site, they list over 160 GTOs of various years. Many had prices, but many were tagged, “Auction.”

Oldride.com showed up on Google with a lot of listing for all kinds of classic cars. I spent a lot of time there re-thinking what I want. A ’57 Chevy looked real good, but the price tags were huge. Although, when you compare it to new car prices versus classic cars that have been restored properly, it’s something to really consider for what will become a good-weather kind of car that you only drive occasionally. Now I’m thinking about the pitifully small size of my garage. This is an affliction of many classic car people; garage envy.

After that, http://www.autotraderclassics.com was the next big classic car source. Then I found a bunch of others like

www.carsforsale.com

www.ebay.com

http://gatewayclassiccars.com

http://www.haggleme.com/

There’s a lot of other sites I couldn’t get to because there are so-o-o-o many. It all depends on what kind of classic car you want. Do you want to drive it all the time? Keep in the garage only for parades? Lock it up in the garage and protect it until you sell it? The condition of the car has an enormous bearing on the sale price. The top quality conditioned cars are investments and based on what has happened to classic car prices by these collectors, TV auctions and investors, prices have been driven up sharply. The other day I watched a Mecum TV Auction where a ’68 Plymouth GTX in unbelievable condition, went for $3.5 million dollars. WTF??? My American Legion friend paid $4000 for his Dream Machine He went to to a local source like Craig’s list, or could have gone to your local classic car/hot rod magazine or website, or even to some cruise-ins. Whatever price and car you get, you will be buying your own personal ‘Dream Machine.’ Good Luck!