Collector or Hoarder? 1953-1954 Corvettes and Parts

We have all heard of the various shows on TV that look into the lives of people who have compulsions.  One of the most popular deals with hoarders.  If you own a collectible car, you probably recognize a little of that compulsion in yourself.  However, if you care collecting parts for a restoration and some spares for later, are you a hoarder or a collector?  Take for example this collection of 1953 and 1954 Corvettes and the mountain of parts that goes with them being sold on craigslist in Belchertown, Massachusetts.  This mound is certainly a hoarding situation to those who have to deal with it, but surely we can see the wisdom in the original owner’s plan.  Right?  The seller’s hoard, or collection, is so large that prospective buyers are told to have a large building to store everything in.  You also can’t make a bid until you have seen it all.

Like many of you, I entertain myself by scanning craigslist, eBay, and Facebook Marketplace for tools, cars and parts I really don’t need.  Luckily, I manage to resist most of them because it would require me to get out of my comfy chair.  No such luck at swap meets.  I often find myself stumbling across items I didn’t know I desperately needed until I see them laying there in the dirt and mud.  Out comes the cash and into the garage or basement they go to sit.

This fellow did that with early Corvettes and parts.  What you see in these pictures and the multitude of others in the original Facebook ad are three Corvettes and a ton of rare parts.  We are told that there is a 1953 and two 1954 model Corvettes in all of this.  Obviously it would take a Corvette expert to put these three fiberglass Humpty Dumpty project cars together again.

The question is not if there are three Corvettes worth of parts here.  The real question is if there are three sets of date correct parts.  To restore these Corvettes properly, a restorer should go by NCRS standards if they want a car that will eventually bring big money at auction.  That means that parts of the correct type and date code make up the car.  You could just slap everything together, but that would be a sin if you can restore the cars the correct way.  All of this is especially important for the 1953 Corvette.

It appears work was started on many pieces.  One of which would be this seemingly rebuilt “Stovebolt” six cylinder Chevrolet engine.  The first two years of the Corvette’s existence went by with an inline six cylinder engine under the hood, and a few 1955 models left the factory with sixes as well.  They are robust engines, and responded well to the triple carburetor manifold and new camshaft they were equipped with in the Corvette.  The big question here is if this block is original to one of the three cars.

The engine pictured above may be another original engine.  Or not, as the valve cover doesn’t look quite right.  Looking to the left, is that another engine under all that plastic?  Just in this picture alone we can see a new set of wide whitewalls with a spare included, a gas tank, a box of AC spark plugs, a radiator hose, and God only knows what else under the dreaded blue tarp.

This picture reveals three of the rare triple carb manifolds, a box of carburetors, and two expansion tanks.  It would probably take a Noland Adams level Corvette expert a week just to piece through all of it.  Simply staggering.

The family is using an intermediary to sell off all the Corvettes and their parts and pieces to save the very private widow the grief of dealing with all of it.  This is certainly not an enviable job.  Very few people are capable of properly valuing this incredible collection of cars and parts.  Making this sale more complicated is that the family basically admits they only know a rough value of what they have here.

Would you be interested in taking over where the original owner left off?


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  1. leiniedude leiniedude Member

    I say he was a collector Jeff. Just ran out of time to put them all together. I bet there are a ton of readers here that have extra parts collections. I confess, I am one. Not as good as this guy was. Thoughts and prayers to the wife.

    Like 22
  2. geomechs geomechs Member

    It’s too bad that a person is dedicated to a project but passes on before he has a chance to realize his dream. Too many enthusiasts and their families end up that way. Condolences to the family and friends left behind. I truly hope that someone is there to pick up the pieces and continue the projects to the finish. I would love to have a ’53 Vette but something like this is so far beyond my scope that I would have to leave it to someone else. I wish them luck…

    Like 14
  3. John M.

    I live near Beantown and if I had the space, time and dough, I’d be more than happy to take all this off the hands of the widow. My heart goes out to her on the loss of her husband.

    Like 9
  4. Lance

    A collector will sell or trade his parts. May be higher than you want to pay but a hoarder will scream and moan anytime you want to buy anything from him. Then the wife sells the stuff the the local scrap iron dealer when the hoarder dies. I hate hoarders

    Like 10
    • norm bissonnette

      The flip side are those folks who want to offer you stupid low prices when they know and you know your stuff is worth more. I have more issue with flippers than hoarders. Hoarders are welcome to keep their stuff . They are not hurting anyone .

      Like 21
      • Wishful Thinking

        Both Lance and Norm B make valid points. Flippers are opportunists who more often than not add no value to this hobby. The exception is where a flipper rescues a car that is wasting away, bringing it back to market for someone else to enjoy.
        I understand this hobby is a business for some, but for the vast majority of us, we preserve, restore (and hoard) vintage cars because we love them. Most of us are not trying to make a quick buck off an acquisition. I readily admit I have never sold a vintage car for more $ than I had into it.

        I understand “hoarding” of 2 or more of the same kind of vehicle if being done with a serious plan to restore one good, complete vehicle. But I do not appreciate hoarding a large number of different vehicles, (more than 10) where there is no reasonable possibility of ever completing the projects.
        ie: nutty hoarders with 20 or more vehicles. We see this on a regular basis on BF, Tom Cotter’s Barn Find Hunter, etc. — countless vehicles all rotting away, never to be restored and run again. What a shame.

        Like 8
      • bull

        I’ll be the devils advocate.

        Yes Flippers do add value!

        If the market was left to average Joe owner who rarely is a collector just an owner the value of these old cars would be nowhere near what they are today. Most vehicles value wise would STILL be What’s It Worth? What’s it weigh!

        The Flippers ARE the market makers not only in price or value but also in desirability of an item. It’s the Flipper that makes an item “Collectible”. Hoarder’s acquire a bunch of junk out of their personal likes, needs and wants with little regard to value. It’s Time and the Flippers that add value to the Hoarder’s pile with the Flipper being the PT Barnum Promoter of that make and model of old vehicle!

        Example: Lets talk Corvairs. Rare? No. Desirable? To a few. Collectible? To a few. Valuable? Not Really! Very few if any Flippers in the Corvair market however there are LOT’S of Hoarders in the Corvair market. As such Corvairs as a collectible car ain’t worth much to the vast majority of the Collector car world.

        The above describes lot’s of old cars today. Better sell em when the market is prime as just as sure as these old vehicles go UP in value they will also go DOWN in value just as they doing right now as we speak!

        Like 2
  5. Steve R

    As presented, it’s not a hoard. However, that may not have been the case before the intermediary got involved. The parts are staged so potential buyers can assess what there and their value.

    I don’t like how they are only taking offers and don’t have a set price. The ad suggests they have an idea as to value of the collection, but is it based in reality. Many times relatives think a collection should be valued at the top of the market, which is unrealistic, unless they plan on doing the work themselves and sell it off piece by piece.

    Steve R

    Like 8
    • Little_Cars

      Hoards can sometimes negatively affect a family. I purchased a Austin Healey Sprite a few years back from someone who hoarded performance goodies but had only installed a few. He (like my mother) was in the beginning stages of Alzheimers and while he couldn’t remember what his intention was for the car, his “value” was based on — you guessed it — hearing of Mecum auction results for Austin Healeys. I had to take a family member aside to let her know his “could be worth $15,000-$20k” claim was more like $1500 including the parts. In the end, his daughter valued my opinion and said come back and tow it and the parts away for $1500. The family didn’t want to, nor should they have to, deal with a subject they did not understand. The $1500 went towards home healthcare and a much cleaner living environment.

      Like 3
  6. Ike Onick

    There’s a difference? So your saying I can start telling “The Duchess” I’m a collector?? Thanks guys!

    Like 4
  7. 86_Vette_Convertible

    I find the question of collector vs. hoarder interesting. I consider myself neither yet I have a closet full of car parts. I consider myself a driver and having some of those hard-to-find parts on hand makes it far easier to keep them on the road especially when those parts might keep it off the road.
    I don’t know I’d like to tackle this one but I’m sure someone will.

    Like 5
  8. Robert White

    Car parts hoarders are just hoarders and not car guys that actually restore their projects. The few that actually do restore their projects know all too well that the hoarders just get in the way with their hoarded collections that they never want to part with because they are hoarders.

    Glad the old bastard died so that the vett parts get redistributed to all the restorers that the hoarders make sure can’t get the original parts they need.

    Good riddance to the anal hoarders & their psychopathology.

    P.S. After being married to Oscar Madison it would be poetic justice if his wife remarried Felix Unger after the barns are cleared out.


    Like 4
    • norm bissonnette

      Robert White , you should forward your message to that man’s widow…

      Like 3
    • Ike Onick

      You should change you name to “Richard” because you appear to be a true dick.

      Like 11
  9. Roarrr

    OK Guys I’ve around 100 unrestored collector cars that I wrench on and play with, they’re inside so not rotting away as someone of you would immediately claim, My question is: who can I will them to in that I have no heirs, I of course want them to go to those that will enjoy them, not just try to make a buck from or scrap them. I’m not planning to go away soon but a plane could crash into my home in the next ten minutes When I do go, all this, my full up shop and tools also need to go also–ideas?

    Like 2
    • Robert White

      I’m poor as dirt. You can will your shop & collection to me, as I will see that it is put to good use, and NOT hoarded.


      Like 3
    • ron trainor

      Not sure of your age, but if you sold 2 per year, you could dine out every Friday for at least 50 years (haha) or you could leave one to me and I would do a tribute to you! My project (87% finished, was stolen while I was away on active duty Marine.

      Like 6
    • Doug M. Member

      Roarr: I too have a collection -of about 10 cars (give or take a few). I just barely retired and now have actually started to work on them. I really enjoy it. I do “catch and release” as I do not have a large warehouse to be a “collector.” For me, the fun is in fixing them up. I also am a CPA and am helping a lady with no heirs to plan for her future. I see an important point in both your cases, and it was pointed out by “ron trainor” above: just come up with a plan, then move on it. If no plan is in place, who knows what the state will do with all your cool cars!?? It could be that you have a cause that you really believe in. You could start the wheels turning in that direction and leave a great legacy of help to that cause… Just my thoughts, because I appreciate your honest question! Cheers!

      Like 8
    • Rich

      DAD!!! I’m so glad I finally found you!

      Like 12
    • grand

      You can kick one to me. Your choice, I’m not picky. I like old model A’s, Torino’s, Cougars, 70’s Lincolns are cool too. Old bugs, little British sports cars, whatever. If you need someone to be a caretaker for a few I’m your guy.

  10. Alan Brase

    This case here the estate would certainly bet better off to contract with a proven expert to at least properly inventory the parts and put all the parts with the correct original cars. Perhaps even to loosely assembling them into rollers and maybe using tape to hold the trim parts on. It is very hard for many people to visualize a functioning automobile when just looking at piles of parts. Especially the 1953, which might have a lot higher value than a 1954 or 55.
    There are likely some qualified people out there that could visit the site and maybe put in a couple weeks getting them ready to sell or even brokering them.
    Maybe that is what the lister is doing? Maybe it was even more chaotic previously? There is certainly a lot more shown than pars from a 1953 and 2 1954 corvettes in the pictures. The Red engine is a 1955 and one of the sixes is earlier.
    I guess they are just fishing for offers at this point.

    Like 4
    • Nate

      If they were to do the things you’re suggesting, inventory parts, partially assemble cars, etc., the price of this ‘stuff’ would likely double.

      It’s hard to say if this is a hoard or a collection without more knowledge of the previous owner and the background story, but it does seem incredibly ‘hoard-ish’ to me to completely disassemble three first generation corvettes, store the parts rather haphazardly, with apparently no documentation as to from where the parts came and continue to collect and store hundreds of other miscellaneous parts in the same manner. A serious collector would have properly documented each part upon removal from the car. I’d bet a serious collector would NOT have disassembled a second car prior to reassembly of the first.

      Like 5
  11. angliagt angliagt Member

    I had a garage full of Cortina parts.After I sold
    the LAST Cortina,I saw an ad for someone looking for
    He made me an offer,& I even delivered them
    to the Denver area,on my way to Virginia.It turned out
    for the best,as we ended up selling our house & moving
    cross country.
    I did the same thing with my collection of B210
    stuff.Ended up “giving it all away” for $800,even though I
    had about five times that invested.

    Like 5
  12. pugsy

    “carefully vetting prospective buyers”

    Pun intended?

    Like 8
    • Ike Onick

      Pugsy is all over this!

      Like 3
  13. Comet

    As a long time shop owner and user of Snap-On tools, garage equipment, etc. as well as probably too many motorcycles, cars and other possessions, I fear some crook will come into this grieving families life, throw out a low-ball “bundle” offer and walk away with this expensive collection for pennies on the dollar. My wife has specific instructions to consult my trusted friend to help liquidate my estate when I pass. I wish this family the best and offer my condolences.

    Like 6
  14. stevee

    THE rule about pricing: Always put a sell price. One guy will assume you want too much and walk away. The next guy will assume it’s junk and walk away. The next guy will think, the guy is sizing me up and will price it high because he thinks I can afford more. So, you have lost three potential buyers. You are gonna win some and lose some. Do you want to ‘git ‘er done’ or not?

    Like 8
    • Michael D. Rogers

      What a sweetie BOB is–another HATER! By retrieving old cars and protecting them for the future restoration by them or another in the future is performing a GREAT service for the rest of us. We all have seen cars that are too new to be collectable yet in the scrappers including Corvettes, Jaguars, Aston Martins, Pontiac GTOs etc. That fellow had the good sense to gather them so now others if not him can complete their project cars, I have a good pile that I’m working on AND an estate auctioneer that will sell EVERYTHING off when I’m incapable of wrenching on them then YOU’ll have a chance to get those rare parts YOU NEED that I’ve been saving for many decades here in rust free California and inside! I have finished many and passed them on to other lovers and have a 70 Ranchero /351-C /4 speed CR/ ram air/etc I’m detailing in my shop now.
      As far as those that NEED parts for their prized project, we will pay what we HAVE TO AND CAN so we can get on with the project. I just payed $875 for a head in Minn which is pricey but the only one I could find, those with early vettes that need bits WILL pay what they must because they’re hard to find!

  15. Glenn Schwass Member

    I have never considered the Hoarder vs collector but thanks to the above comments, yes, hoarders are keeping the parts from those that need them, due to mental illness or whatever.
    I have the same issues with train collectors…( since I don’t have room or money for cars, but want a 57 3100 or close someday) I have trains and will need to sell them sooner than later. Same problem. The big picture I learned from my first 57 Chevy and other vehicles, is that they are a noose around your neck if you can’t finish them, Age and health at 55 and seeing older friends dealing with their junk, brings this home. You MUST deal with it while you are healthy enough to, not dump it on someone else. It is all junk to those that do not care or need it.

    Like 7
  16. TimM

    Life truely gets in the way!! This guy has so much it seems no doubt there’s enough there to build a complete car!! Someone should take an inventory of parts and list them!! Sorry for the loss of your loved one!!

    Like 3
  17. Little_Cars

    @bull. You make a very good point, and using Corvairs as an example of value made me chuckle. Lately, since a few exceptional examples have crossed the auction block at Barrett-Jackson and Mecum, seems like every local seller with a ‘Vair in their back field has decided they have gold growing up among the weeds. They are neither flipper nor hoarder. However, the flipper in me doesn’t see enough to work with to make a quick profit and the hoarder in me doesn’t want another disposable car to strip parts off of and hang from the rafters of the shop. Corvair owners definitely accumulate a lot of stuff which I would surmise stems from years of parts not being available even from the major catalog players.

    Like 1
  18. Wayne

    The collection now lives on the Seacoast of New Hampshire. I bought it all and I am here to tell you it is overwhelming to say the least. Allot of work to bring these cars back to life. The 1953 will need the most effort and money. The others are not too far behind. Many, many, many of the more valuable parts were gone. Someone apparently took advantage of the lady and the collection shows it. it is going to come together and we have started on the 1954 that you see in the first picture. It’s off to the bead blaster tomorrow. The frame is done and we have chosen the mechanical components for the most part. I had to purchase another collection in Houston, Texas to make this project even remotely possible. The project is in phase one. We’ll see how far we can take it before we pull all our hair out. LOL At any point, the collection is in good hands and it will be brought back to life.

    Like 2
  19. Ralph Ferra

    Hi my name is Ralph I live in RI. My father and I are restoring a 54 vette I would be interested to know asking price and or interested in quit a few parts I can be reached at 4016391956 thank you

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