All good things must come to an and they say, and like it or not that includes our passions and travels here on the big blue marble. Its perhaps the most unfortunate part of the life experience, but every good story eventually ends and the cover closes. As a classic auto appraiser and operator of websites that market peoples old cars to the world, I get a lot of calls and emails from people that are looking to evaluate or sell the old car of a loved one that has passed. While there is always a little air of sadness to these situations, it is also in a way a time of re-birth and a wonderful new start for another enthusiast out there in the world.
Recently I had a call from a long time friend that turned me on to a few cars that were being sold as a part of an estate. Of course I followed up on the lead and eventually found myself in a garage with some dusty old cars in it...my "happy place". The owner had passed and his daughter was left to settle the estate. She was after a quick deal and just wanted them gone and had little time or patience for tire kickers...a common situation. The story of the car above was one that inspires my writing here today. It is here because someone cared too much to let go. This one was held tightly...and perhaps it shouldn't have been. The car is a 1927 Chevrolet that has been in the family since brand new. Do the math here quickly...that is 92 years of family ownership. It was handed down from generation to generation as if it were the family jewels and in 1951 it came into the hands of the gentleman who most recently made his exit to the garage in the sky. This man, was a car guy. He was young when took it on, but he spent his whole life playing with and collecting cars, so you would think that he would have been the perfect home for the family Chevy. It turns out that he probably wasn't.
The top material was in poor shape and it was removed at some point leaving the wood structure bare and eventually it caved in probably due to stuff being piled on top. The shiny bits of the grille shell and headlight rings were removed and stored inside and beyond that...all progress stopped. While the car was at least safely stored inside, time still took its toll and now 68 years later the project remains an even bigger project.
The upholstery has remained mostly intact, assorted trash from the decades have entered, the car really is still very restorable but life took the owner down a path that made the "family jewel" something on the "to-do" list that just never got "to-done". It happens to all of us, even those that have petrol running through their veins.
The odometer stopped turning decades ago as his life moved on. Many other old cars came and went and at the time of his passing there were over a dozen in the collection. The car passion was there but the motivation to revive this particular one was not. Perhaps it met a better fate due to his years of neglect and at least decent storage...(who knows where it would have ended up if he sold it or gave it away in the 60's or something). The point that resonates with me here is the decision to hold it and then to never touch it. The daughter never saw the car run and drive, it was always just sitting. The family history before that is cool and all, but is that reason alone to keep the car? My feeling is that it is not, and the daughter is obviously in agreement. If its not going to be fixed up and enjoyed, it should really be in the hands of someone that will truly use and enjoy it.
If you are ever in the position of inheriting a vintage car, do some serious soul searching. Good intentions and that emotional connection can be a very strong force to wrestle with, but if you decide to take it on and keep it for yourself, you should be prepared and focus on actually doing something with it. If you don't...it could end up taking up garage space for 68 years and then being quickly pushed off stage when your final curtain closes. Keep the memories, keep some photos perhaps...they certainly don't take up near as much space. Consider letting it go to a new home where it will create new memories and experiences for others instead of gathering dust and decaying while your own calendar pages flip by. Oh...and when you DO decide to let it go... call me. I will gladly help make sure it gets in the proper hands. Cheers! Randy