Live anywhere long enough and eventually you find car guy landmarks.
For me, they consist of interesting cars and where they are around my neighborhood. There’s the ’67 Malibu that sits outside near my parents’ place, and the mossy ’66 4×4 Chevy truck that’s about two blocks from my house. There’s a ’55 Chevy with a NOT FOR SALE sign in the window up by our local parts store (and it’s been there since the 1970s), and the ’70 El Camino over by the grocery store. None of these cars ever move. I tend to use them as mental waypoints to help me find wherever I’m going in the area.
To an American car guy, these are all interesting cars, but the problem with them is they’re very visible. And that means the owners have likely been flooded with offers to buy them over the years, and in most cases, the fact that the cars haven’t moved is a pretty clear sign that they never will.
But what about the cars that live behind garage doors?
When I was still wrenching every day, back in about 2005, I found something interesting in a garage not far from my shop. The house was a 1950s-era ranch built on the side of a hill in a little neighborhood full of similar houses, with a small, windowless garage that was always closed. I just happened to be cruising by on garbage day, so the door was open and the owner was outside. And visible just inside the dark garage were the unmistakable six taillights of a 1965 Chevrolet Impala. A Goldwood Yellow SS convertible with a black top.
I pulled a U-turn and stopped to talk to the guy. I was in my ’66 Caprice, which helped to break the ice. He was an older man, probably in his 80s, and once he saw my car, he was happy to tell me about his wife’s. It was a factory SS 327 4-speed convertible in original condition. She’d bought it new but had stopped driving it when her eyesight started to fail. Other than a replacement top and an engine rebuild, the car was original down to its SS hubcaps. Would she ever sell it? Maybe. I had him put my contact information with the title, just in case, and figured someday I might get a call. After that, I cruised by every once in a while. And every time the garage was closed up tight.
A few years later, a For Sale sign appeared out front. The house was now stripped and empty. I knew the ’65 was gone.
Then, about a week ago, as my daughter and I cruised through the neighborhood in my ’72 K10, we passed by one of my car guy landmarks — the house with the amazing two-story garage, green Vega with the Baldwin stripe and ’64 Impala hard top. And inside the open garage were those six tailights. I’ve been meaning to stop and ask about it ever since. I’m glad the car ended up with someone who will take care of it. It’s just too bad it wasn’t me.
What’s your worst car guy missed connection? What cars have you found and lost out on? Let us know in the comments below.