Thursday, February 22, 2007

Should I Call The Police?

I am not a car buff, but several years ago I bought an antique car on a whim. I had heard that eBay sold cars and so checked it out online, and the web page logo for the online store featured an image of a car I had never seen. It was amazingly cool.

After some research, I found out it was a 1956 Austin-Healey BN4 100/6 and decided I wanted to buy one. It was a sizeable amount of money and it took some convincing to get Michelle to feel ‘ok’ about the purchase. I reasoned that it was an investment- something that would grow in value and provide some really fun spare-time driving.

I found one on eBay in my budget, watched the auction, and then jumped in with 2 minutes to go and bought it. The car was coming from Florida, and they drove it up on a transport within a few days. It was thrilling to drive and a wonder to look at. The curves and lines were stunning.

Again, I’m not a car buff or a weekend mechanic, so my justification for the purchase as an investment was out the window the first time I needed to have it serviced. I found a mechanic nearby that specializes in antique British roadsters, and he put his youngest through college on me. Each year I owned the car represented one major repair and another year of college funded.

I decided to sell it after a particularly bad mechanical failure. It was a beautiful spring day, but held promise of afternoon rain, and Michelle warned me I probably should drive my everyday car to work. I really wanted drive the Healey, so pulled out the bad weather gear (the canvas and vinyl top, along with the polished wood front rim all reside in the trunk) and assembled the convertible top in the garage. On many old convertibles the process can take 5-15 minutes- not something you can do while stopped in traffic when the rain drops start. Off to work- no problem. On the way home in massive winds and torrential rainfall? Really, really bad.

I was driving down a back road when the pressure of the rain and wind caused the front of the convertible top to buckle and break. It popped halfway off, and turned from a protective covering into a giant intake valve. Its hard to describe exactly what happened so I will give you this picture- imagine in a horrific rainstorm the front section of the roof of your car lifted up 2 feet, and convexed out efficiently scooping massive amounts of wind and rain, and depositing it all nicely on your head. There you go.

I pulled over to try to fix it, but the structure was bent and broken and could not be fixed or removed without tools. I drove the rest of the way home- about 20 minutes, and arrived with a foot of water in the bottom of the car, and soaked to my underwear and socks. Hahaha. It’s funny now.

So…Shortly after that fiasco I listed it on eBay, and sold it for about what I paid minus my dignity.

The gent that bought it, among the hundreds and hundreds of watchers/bidders, turned out to live only 10 miles away. He arranged to come see it during the auction, and ended up as highest bidder. We picked the day for him to come over and drive away my car. He showed up with a friend, we chatted for a bit, and then he handed me a big manila envelope- the 8.5 x 11 kind. It was bulging and about to burst the frail paper seams. “Here’s the money” was all he said.

What?

I opened the envelope, and inside were stacks and stacks of $100 bills. “Go ahead and count it” were the words I imagined him saying, right out of the movies when bad guys are transacting drugs or weapons. Sure enough, those were his exact next words.

I dutifully counted the stacks of bills, arrived at the right number, and then pulled out the title that has a place on the back to transfer it during a sale or a lost drag race. As I filled it out, he leaned over close and quietly asked if I could remove a zero from the sale price so that he could keep the state sales tax low. Yikes. I politely refused, tightening my grip on the money and making sure his friend wasn’t reaching for a weapon.






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2 comments:

The Eccentric Blonde said...

That is a beautiful car! I too have an ebay car story and have been meaning to type it up on my blog but just haven't had the time! This story is just the inspiration that I needed... :)

Austin-Healey said...

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