Backyard Bonanza: California Collection

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While there’s a part of me (and perhaps most of us) that loves the idea of a property strewn about with cars and trucks, you won’t find too many communities where your neighbors share your enthusiasm for vintage tin on the front lawn. The listing here on craigslist is described as an estate sale that points to a longtime owner stashing project cars in his backyard and never quite getting to them; now, they’re all up for grabs, including this Ford Ranchero Fairlane 500 for $8,000.

While there’s nothing particularly exotic here, the California climate at least makes it likely that these cars are in decent shape underneath. The Cadillac Eldorado is worth relatively little on the collector car marketplace even as a runner, so this will be a passion project for the next owner to bring back to life. The listing indicates it needs a battery and that the seller is looking for $2,000.

California isn’t exactly an easy place to register cars with a high potential for failing basic emissions testing, so a lot of project vehicles fall into non-op status if enough time elapses between now and the last time it ran. There’s also a fee structure that piles up behind all that, so if you’re a California resident, you’re expected to pony up the funds necessary to address the years off the road in addition to registering the car (and absorbing those fees as well). This MR2 is listed for a staggering $7,000.

This 1960 DeSoto Firefly appears to be in relatively sound condition, which what looks like a body with good panels and consistent, if not heavily faded, paint. The asking price on this big-body sedan is $5,000, which again seems fairly aggressive for a model that doesn’t have a huge following. There’s also a rarely seen 1993 Chrysler Imperial, a 1961 Plymouth Fury convertible, and a 1964 Chevy Corvair Monza Coupe, among many others. Check out the full listing and let us know which one you’d rescue.

Auctions Ending Soon


  1. Cattoo CattooMember

    Ca looking to get money out of its residents’ wallet any way it can. Having to pony up all the previous years registration fees on top of the current most lately required to get the tags and I assume that’s after passing the tailpipe and various other safety inspections I would lean towards believing is to make returning the older cars back to the road too expensive for a lot of people so the people just leave these old vehicles where they sit and soon CA will just ban the use of ICE within the borders of the state and with that future looming its a surprise old cars are even being restored. I am glad they are being bought and brought back to any life they get. Don’t get me wrong I very much love the ICE vehicles of modern times to the way back time.

    Like 6
    • JagCarMan

      True, Cali tries to get money from its residents, unlike every other state. However, I just restored titled and registered a car that had been off the road since the ’70s here. It was not that hard, or expensive.

      Pre 1975 cars do not need smog, you off the hook right from the start. Later cars need to have all their original smog equipment, but the emissions standards they have to meet allow for some degradation over time. If you upgrade to a new engine (out of a Corvette for example) you have to meet the requirements of the newer engine, which is not as hard for modern tech.

      As to paying the back DMV fees, older cars (like these) have probably fallen off the records over time. My ’67 SAAB had title paperwork but the DMV had no record of it. I had to fill out a bunch of paperwork, get the car inspected, pay a couple of hundred bucks, and I was handed a new set of plates. The process was intimidating, but manageable. There are instructions on the DMV website, and the local DMV was very helpful.

      Too often people get frustrated and angry when confronted by regulatory hurdles, and tell themselves that something is impossible because of “the government”. A little research, a couple of trips to the DMV office, some polite discussion with folks there, and some money (not a lot) can work wonders.

      Like 8
      • Mikey P

        Very true. I did the same thing! Also I’m in Lake County Ca. You don’t have to smog ANY year cars!

        Like 0
      • angliagt angliagtMember

        You mean pre-76 vehicles.Last time I looked,
        Lake County is in California,& has to follow CA laws.

        Like 0
  2. John VanGorder

    I always try to keep my opinions to myself on prices because, after all, they own them they can ask whatever they want. But this one….holy cow. Not a single one of these is worth even half what they are asking. Trying to get retail for a non running vehicle that may not even have a title? GLWTS

    Like 12
  3. 64 Bonneville

    I liked the Valiant convertible, and the 2 Rambler Americans, 1 is a hardtop and the other a soft top. It appears that most had tarps put over the convertible roofs. The asking prices are totally out of this world. The De Soto Fireflight looks like a 4 door sedan, the Merc Marauder is a 4 door hardtop, stuff like that is hard to draw interest to, as it seems the 2 door hardtop and convertibles are the biggest draw. IMHO it will cost almost as much to restore a 4 door, hardtop or sedan, as it would a coupe or convertible. Don’t throw good money after bad.

    Like 2
  4. LCL

    Just because something is old doesn’t mean it is valuable.
    Discretionary purchases (art, old cars, collectible plates, Hummel figurines) aren’t worth what the owner asks, they are worth what the NEXT owner will pay.
    Ah the cruelty of the marketplace.
    I shopped for a used car in CA in 2010 and a lot of the sellers did not volunteer the information about back registration and pollution tests. “You’ll have no problem at motor vehicles” they said.
    I happened to be looking at an older Connecticut car with a month left on the registration when I realized that it was all very odd. Such a nice car. Why sell it? A little research and it became clear to me, the barefoot pilgrim, that some people are not honest. Doh.
    This looks like an episode of Hoarders. Some inheritances are like Morley’s chains.

    Like 3
  5. jimmyx

    Vehicles don’t “fall” into non-op status in California. It is an option chosen by the registered owner when the annual registration is due. If a non-op fee is paid, the car can’t be operated on the street prior to paying the normal registration fee to take it out of non-op status. While in non-op it does not incur penalties or back fees. The reason it exists is if a vehicle is not in use the owner DOESN’T rack up endless back fees, and if sold, the new owner pays only the normal registration cost to put it back on the road.

    Like 6
  6. Troy

    If it has clean title and your a out of state buyer you only have to worry about getting your truck in and out of California to haul them off, my state they only inspect to make sure the vin matches your paperwork a lot of those asking prices are a bit rich but as always cold hard cash talks better than a email promise.

    Like 2
  7. Piper62j

    Posting expired

    Like 1
  8. Heartbreaker AL

    I’ve been in the owners’ same situation. So not knowing his predicament or how soon he MUST SELL, he has it all posted for top dollar. So we will be seeing more and lower and lower pricing from him as time goes on. But I know how it goes and there just might be someone out there willing to pay for the dream car they’ve been looking for. Good luck to him!

    Like 2
  9. ACZ

    The one car I could be interested is that Reatta. From what can be seen in one pic, it might be a good driver but it’s on the wrong coast to make it worth while.

    Like 1
  10. Hammer

    So pictures of 2 cars that are ummm shall we say useless although the caddy may be a good demolition derby car for bout 2 mins. And no pictures of the 61 fury? The one that would probably sell quick. Smh.

    Like 2
  11. Raymond Hernandez

    hello, I am interested in the 1960 Desoto Firefly. Can someone send me a number or some kind of contact information. I would deeply appreciate it.

    Like 0

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