Samba 21-Window: The New Woodie?

1964 VW Transporter

From Colin S – Tired of seeing these 1960’s VW 21-window vans? Every year for the past decade what is being pulled out of fields or streams just looks worse and worse as what remains now are slim pickings. These VW’s were first used until beaten to death, then they were left to rot for 20+ years. They are now pulled out of a field with a tree growing through and listed on ebay or CL for crazy money. Take this one found here on craigslist for example. I wonder if the post-restoration buyer of this VW would still want it – whether $200,000, $150,000, or at all – if he saw what it looked like before restoration began?

21 Window Bus

If this were a one-of-a-kind Bugatti Royale, or Duesenberg, I guess I could better understand the rationale. That being historic preservation. But VW vans were produced in the millions and are ubiquitous, like Model A Fords. Sure, the 21-window van was not produced in such high numbers, but they are really not “rare” by definition. I’m looking forward to reading about these when the market has fallen out / corrected, and prices have dropped to $50,000 or less, where they should be.

CS_PHOTOS_2011_11.12.2012 374

A similar thing happened to post-WWII Ford woody wagons. As the market shot up 20+ years ago, speculators were scrambling, pulling wrecks out of fields. The wood bodies on most were shot. Rotted out. Still, people were asking $30,000 for what amounted to wrecks. Sellers would tell you these sell for $120,000 to $150,000.or more once restored. What they failed to say was the high figures they were referencing were for original, largely unrestored Ford Woodies, not for rotted out wrecks with reproduced bodies with pieces cut from some outfit in Florida that would supply all the wood pieces as a kit.

CS_PHOTOS_2011_11.12.2012 373

When it comes to vintage cars, I generally define “rare” if fewer than 100 of a type of vehicle survives worldwide. Woodies, like these VW vans are nice vehicles, but they are not “rare”. No doubt about it, many cars that would have been considered “too far gone” even 10 years ago are now being restored. The question of “what can be restored” is now in direct conflict with “what should be restored” (and what should not) I see these questions being asked more and more now. The argument between commerce, profit and ethics. ie: Legalities aside, is cutting the VIN tag off a rare, wrecked car, then welding it on another car ethical?

These questions are being asked now as the pool of restorable vintage cars depletes. I note that what should be restored, and what should not, is becoming a more important issue in the collector car world. This is also an on-going theme and area of concern for many Barn Finds followers.

Should You Restore It

The issue we need to debate and come to some consensus on is – if a vintage car – whether a classic Mustang, Camaro, Super Bee, Dodge Charger, etc is pulled out of a field (rusted out, burned, previously wrecked in a collision, with countless bullet holes, a tree growing through it, etc) and then restored using mainly reproduction parts, where only perhaps 10% – 20% of the original car remains – what is it then? And what’s it really worth?

 

*Attached are 2 photos I took of a 1948 Ford Woody I came across for sale in western, Mass in July, 2012.  The price was firm at $30,000.  The seller told me it was a sure money-maker. I did the math and concluded it was not.

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Comments

  1. Nessy

    I do not want the rusty empty shell missing title pile of junk for free let alone for 35000….Some fool will come along and buy it.

    • Jason Houston

      I can’t decide which is uglier, a restored or an unrestored one of these. But if I had $35 Tall Ones to flush away, I could get one helluva nice 1957 Thunderbird.

  2. jimbosidecar

    Just like oil commodity speculators, stock market speculators, car speculators will have their day of reckoning and for me the sooner the better

    • streamliner

      Full disclosure, I’ve never owned a woodie or a VW van. I’m an amateur car collector-restorer-enthusiast. Not a flipper, broker, dealer, pro restorer or opportunist. Important to note because I have no professional agenda. No “skin in the game”. Like the majority of Barnfinds readers, my interest in vintage vehicles stems from my love of cars. I can say without hesitation I’ve NEVER sold a car for as much money as I had spent on it, let alone any compensation for my time and overhead invested.

      Having read the varied comments posted about this issue, I did a little fact-checking. I’m no expert or authority on VW’s but according to Wikipedia, more than 3.5 million VW vans were made. I also found the 2 auctions the seller of this 21-window Samba was vaguely referencing. Surprise, surprise. neither of those vans applies to this vehicle.

      1) A 1955 23-window sold at auction in Germany for €190,000 in 2011, which after 10% fees and USD exchange amounted to $235,000. But that was for an extremely rare 23-window, one of only 11 made. This 1964 samba is not that.

      2) Before this, the highest price ever paid for a microbus had been about $218,000 at a Barrett-Jackson auction in California. In 2016, these were selling at the last B-J in Scottsdale for $60,000 – $70,000. Seems the market is finally correcting.

      In our current political cycle, we’re all acutely aware of apples-and-oranges comparisons. The claim in this CL listing does not pass the sniff test. While I’m not a pro restorer, spitballing the costs, I’d guesstimate if one paid $35,000. for this 1964 21-window (not even a 23-window) once restored the total investment incl. parts, labor, transport, cost of borrowed money, etc, would amount to at least $80,000.

      That math may sound fine to many, and for those who think so, this van is for you. No argument, almost every vehicle ever offered for sale eventually finds a buyer. Also true, a car will sell for whatever someone is willing to pay. And if a buyer doesn’t ask a lot of questions and do a thorough inspection they may be buying a restored vehicle that looks really pretty, but is mostly made of reproduction parts and filler.

      My issue is watching the car hobby over the past few decades turned into a commodities market instead of what it should be. Jimbosidecar’s comment above said it well — it is the auction houses and car speculators who have priced so many of us out of this hobby.

      As for vehicle rarity, check out this Wiki link. An interesting read…
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_automobile_sales_by_model

      • Woodie Man

        Spot on from top to bottom

  3. MikeG

    Hey let’s sand blast it!…….oops..

  4. Woodie Man

    “is cutting the VIN tag off a rare, wrecked car, then welding it on another car ethical?”

    Only if your sense of honesty is bereft of common sense.

    Having owned a ’67 21 window that was an original California bus, and having sold it complete with a Westphalia interior for 6 K back in the eighties, which I thought was a lot of money, those selling them today for insane prices are just following the greater fool theory. NO ONE who has any common sense would pay this money for a bus UNLESS they figured they could peddle it on to an even stupider buyer.

    Speaking of Ford Woodies, of which I have some experience, while I do not quibble with your assessment, some of us who own them value originality and even restoration as long as we know the provenance of the car.

    While they were not produced in the numbers of VW busses by any stretch of the imagination, and Fords are more common than other makes Woodies, they will always be worth more as they are inherently valuable for their wood bodies. Given that many woodies have been bastardized with modern drive trains for the convenience or just the rod sensibiities of their owner, woodies which are as they were when they came from the factory, either restored or original, will eventually become rarer and rarer. Future generations will rediscover them one hopes.

  5. RayT Member

    I have a fairly simple attitude about your statements and questions, Jesse: what CAN be restored SHOULD be restored. While both the VeeDub and Ford would be costly projects, the butt-for-every-seat theory is that someone out there would probably like to have either one, not to make a killing in resale but to work on and enjoy for themselves.

    Can’t disagree with jimbosidecar. Unprincipled flippers and speculators have done great damage to the hobby, and the sooner they move on to other endeavors, the better. But someone who drags an old derelict out of storage, cleans it off, and pockets $100 for passing it along to someone who is interested is, in my opinion, doing a service. The businesses that try to skim thousands off the top by passing a “rare” junker from a gullible seller to an unwise buyer are not in that league.

    I’d have to learn some new skills if I took on either of these. If I had the budget and space, I’d love to! And I hope someone who can do the necessary work ends up with them, does the work and proceeds to love them….

  6. Jason Houston

    A car with a completely metal body is never considered a “woodie” [sic] by any stretch of the imagination.

    • Rob

      It was a comparison of 2 collectible vehicles that Jesse was stating, referring to the woody as a possibly overpriced anomaly of today’s car collecting market.
      Ya missed the point Houston, but that’s nothing new. 😕

      • Woodie Man

        ouch!

      • Bobsmyuncle

        Truer words…

      • grant

        I don’t think Jesse wrote this. As it states in the first TWO WORDS “From Colin S” He just posted someone else’s submission. And with that said, what was the point of this? This is a site dedicated to rusty old cars FOR SALE. We all grouse about the insane prices of some of them in the comments, so I guess Colin wanted to wax poetic, but ultimately, what’s the point? Sambas, Bugs, hell I’ve seen some overpriced Rabbits lately. From what I could gather, Colin is upset because old cars are getting old, and people will pay for them. This isn’t even about cars for sale…

  7. mark

    No mater what it is, it is only worth what someone will pay for it.

  8. Lee Hartman

    It just blows me away seeing the prices people are asking for rusty VW buses, rusty Porsches, and rusty Camaro firewalls!

  9. Doug M. (West Coast) Member

    Call me crazy, but that bus doesn’t look that bad to me. Parts to restore are easily found and not expensive. The end product can be very attractive and carry with it that “nostalgia” or retro feel that makes you want to look at it (unless you can’t stand them!). So, short of the unscrupulous few flippers with no interest in the hobby, it all comes down to economics of the rebuild.
    As for corrections to the market, the most recent auctions are showing a backing off of some of the high-dollar German cars and others. Seems that with the strength of the dollar, foreign buyers are having to pay more, so we are losing some of their bids. I imagine it will all trickle down and we’ll see some market correction. But then, what do I know?? Still a lot of fun in the process.

  10. BradL

    I passed on one of these back in the late 80s because it had a few rust holes around the skylight windows. It was in otherwise decent driver condition and I think he wanted $2K for it. Who knew?

  11. Jason Houston

    To me it’s worth 73c. I can step on it and stick it in with my aluminum cans.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      That’s great man. Really great contribution.

      • Jason Houston

        That’s what my aluminum cans would say, too.

  12. Bobsmyuncle

    Lots to consider here.

    For one 100/200 thousand dollar buses are an anomoly. The online community is so quick to think that a couple such sales (Porsche, Buses, whatever) indicate a new ‘going rate’. That just isn’t the case. Even with Porsches, yeah we see some incredible asking prices but MANY (most?) of these languish a long time, or don’t make their reserves. The rest sell for more moderate prices.

    As for buses, they are not only rich with character, but as vintage vehicles go they are mechanically simple, and parts abundantly available and affordable. For that reason they make a great vehicle for a first time owner or less mechanically inclined one.

    Additionally buses are great for camping, road trips, and very functional work horses. (They have anywhere from 3/4 to 1 ton ratings)

    I’ve used mine to cart the bride and groom in a wedding on Saturday, help move friends, and then gone straight to the car show on Sunday. It’s been driven across the country and back, tackled logging roads without faltering and driven 9 people to the beach countless times.

    One can choose to mock them or claim they are ‘junk’ but they turn more heads than ANY other high dollar vintage or modern exotic car within eyesight, and without the douchey attitude to go along with it.

    All that said even as an owner I’d say some of the sale prices are over-the-top and the asking price on this is ridiculous.

    • Jason Houston

      Thanks for pointing out that too many of us see the latest WOW! price and instantly accept that as the new benchmark of value, when nothing could be further from the truth. How many times have we asked a seller, “Why are you asking so much?” and get, “Did you see what one sold for last week the Wldrschnf Auction?”

      Ford began advertising their station wagons as both work and play vehicles years before these Samba things got popular. “Sunday hauling or Monday calling” was one ad slogan I recall of many.

      In 1958 My dad was enamored with these VWs and rented one for a day trip. Much to his disappointment, I couldn’t stand it, my mother – who normally didn’t care about cars – absolutely hated it and my brother cared even less, except that he would be embarrassed to pull up at school in one.

  13. Marty Member

    I am not now, nor have I ever been the owner of a VW bus. But whether we’re talking about this, a 356, a Jaguar or any other collector car that is currently skyrocketing in value (or maybe just price, not value), what is interesting to me is the emotion it brings out in people. It’s fascinating to read comments from those who seem to actually be ANGRY that a rusty hulk could possibly be priced at $25,000 dollars.

    • Nessy

      Oh it’s not anger about the price, it’s pitty on the few dopes who think it’s a good buy. Just think about it….Would any of us here pay 35 thousand dollars for this mess?

    • Jason Houston

      Good points. Maybe their anger is triggered by witnessing what they might describe as human stupidity, when spending that kind of money for a rusty car body. But in the end there’s no accounting for taste.

      • Marty Member

        It definitely reads as ‘anger’ when they’re casting aspersions on the sanity of the buyers (justified or not). Many seem to think the people paying these ‘crazy prices’ are ‘ruining the hobby’, and all that other bunk. They’re not.

        If $25K is too much to pay for a rusty bus with no floors, great, don’t pay it. I sure as hell wouldn’t. But it’s untrue and is way off base to say that anyone who would is nuts.

        The big money disparity and difference of opinion in this hobby are not just some aggravation factor we have to deal with, rather they’re a very big part of what makes the world go around and makes this hobby work.

    • streamliner

      Marty, I would classify myself as being frustrated and hostile towards the opportunists and speculators that somewhat ruin this hobby. OK, guilty as charged. You make several valid points. I found your comments and use of the legal term “aggravating factor” thought-provoking. In fact, I looked up the dictionary definition and chewed on this.

      “Any fact or circumstance that increases the severity or culpability of a (criminal) act.”

      Point taken, this is the world we live in and nothing is going to change that. Some people have lots of money, while many of us do not. Agreed.

      Real estate is like this as well. Case in point; Hugh Hefner is asking $200M for the Playboy Mansion. Real estate experts have assessed the property and placed a value of about $60M on it. Hef is asking 333% of its fair market value.

      Should someone pay $200M for a $60M property, that is their business. You and I could not / would not, but if someone can afford that, so be it. Instead of thinking of them as “nuts” I will think of the price as “nuts” and not question the buyer’s sanity. Ditto for people who pay way over market value for cars. You’re right, I don’t want that $35,000. Samba wreck anyway. That said, my reality is when I do find a vehicle I want I often cannot afford it now because prices are more than they should be.

      • Jason Houston

        “Prices twice what they should be” has characterize the old-car hobby since it became a mainstream family hobby back in the 1970s. If it weren’t for the greedy, seedy, bottom-feeding flippers and used-car lot hustlers, and their ever-devious indifference to the hobby and motivation to become rich at our expense, we’d never see much appreciation on our collector cars.

      • Bill McCoskey

        And as part of that real estate deal for the Playboy mansion, Hef gets to live there until he dies! [True!]

  14. ron tyrrell

    What is interesting the trouble people go to to have a 21 window with safari windows and then market as such. I passed a standard bus the other day with the top missing, it does not take much figuring what’s next. I owned a hippie VW shop in Tacoma Wash in the early seventies and I can count on my hand how many 21 window buses with safari windows we had in the shop. We sold ten engines a week when the speed limit was seventy and that dropped to one or two when it was lowered to 55. I point that out to give you and idea of how many VW s we pushed thru the shop in one week.

  15. Kevin Member

    Clearly the cost of crack has gone up. $150,000 to $200,000? This person is insane. I know these have a cult following and for what it’s worth I think they’re cool. Not $30,000 worth of cool. I have seen them bring these kinds of numbers for an original or concourse type of situation but you better have the gift of gab to sell it at that price.

    • Jason Houston

      Crack cocaine or some new brand of opium… I remember an ad just as dumb that appeared in the LA Times in 1970, offering a stone-mint, 1960 Edsel sedan with 27,000 verified miles, for $12,000.00.

      He still has it.

  16. AMC STEVE

    I can’t even think of the nightmare it would be to replace the Windows in that pile and then trying to seal them and repair the rust. They would leak like a submarine with a screen door.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      To be honest in my 20 + years of ownership I’ve never heard of anyone having that problem.

      Now safari windows are another story altogether LOL.

  17. Pete Koehler

    I hope what has happened to the VW Type 2 market doesn’t happen to the Corvair Greenbrier market. The very best Greenbrier in the world was recently offered for less than $50k. And that was too much $$$ for the Corvair crowd. I am happy to have a nice looking and fully practical 1964 standard ‘Brier 9-passenger example in my driveway for about a tenth of that number. I didn’t buy it to make big bucks. I just like them.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      I’m a CORSA member (though not yet an owner) and have often thought about that. Corvair owners have NO idea how affordable their segment of the hobby is.

  18. Bobsmyuncle

    BTW for the record the big money resides in the 23 window buses.

  19. Dave H

    Is it worth $2,000? 2 hundred bucks? $20,000? $200,000?
    I don’t know- I don’t want a VW Bus- even free! Don’t like ’em – but that’s just me. Obviously some folks do like them.

    As with any “collector car” I don’t give a bleep about “provenance”, or originality – its all about “do I like it?” “Do I want to drive it?” (Which has very little to do with “Do I want to be seen in it?”) Rusty, rust holes, mismatched fenders are no-where near as important as “Is it fun to drive?”. I’m not in it to make money, but to enjoy driving the car. All cars – every one ever made – need MORE power, better brakes, better lights and better handling, better air conditioning, more comfortable seats, etc.

  20. Gary I

    They sold at the last Barrett Jackson in the $60,000 to $70,000 range this year. I have seen them over a hundred, but maybe people have come to their senses. I still think that the money they bring is silly. Not enough vehicle for me to spend that kind of money, my 1981 Westfalia is good enough for me.

    • Bobsmyuncle

      You might be surprised what your Westphalia is worth!

  21. Jason Houston

    REPLY TO MARTY:

    Actually, it does have an impact on future prices. It just doesn’t happen overnight, the way the greedy flippers wish it would.

    Each time one of these opportunistic airheads list some rusted-out beer can of a car for ten times it’s true value, naturally nobody pays it. Next, every other idiot with one for sale does the same thing, and over the next couple of years, that figure becomes the “unofficial” high-water pricing mark. Then suddenly, someone buys one for less than that, thinks they got a bargain, and THAT does become the “official” benchmark of value.

    You recall all the rusted-out, burned-out Pooches we’ve seen here recently with stratospheric prices? Come back in a few years and see what influence that has had on the actual price of a really nice Pooch… Then you’ll hear people moan about the ones they could have bought several years ago…

    That’s always the way it has worked over the last half-century I’ve been watching collector car prices.

  22. OhU8one2

    I’m still amazed in this day and age,that no company is building brand new retro VW vans. There’s 32 Fords,69 Camaro’s,Mustang’s,etc……..with the loyal cult following,and the number of these sold over the year’s. It just makes sense to give the people the choice of restoring an original,or taking a rusted,worn out part’s Vdub. And build a brand new one,with their choice of engine,interior layout,pop-up roof,what have you. Living here on the Southern California coast,I see surfers,campers,beach goer’s. I know from experience that these vans fill a void. Once you’ve had one,you almost wish you still never sold or replaced it. As far as Woodie’s go,a definite YES! I still lust for a 40’s Ford,with a hopped up flathead,and just the right stance…….But what about termite’s? We have them really bad here.

  23. Marty Member

    Prices just are what they….are. People complain about “greedy flippers” and unscrupulous auction houses, but both of those are market driven. The prices are dictated not by the sellers but by the buyers. For it even to be possible to flip a car, there has to be a buyer willing to pay the price that is being asked, and yet another buyer who is willing to pay even more. The people who have made our hobby “expensive” are the hobbyists.

    • Jason Houston

      All well and good, Marty, but I fail to see how hobbyists have made our hobby expensive. Could you explain, please?

      As for auctions, they are rarely market driven, but ‘shill’ driven. Shills place fake bids and the high bidder at the end always takes it in the shorts. That’s neither the market place or fair play at work. And it’s as old as auctions are.

      • Marty Member

        Jason, respectfully; it’s simple. Someone is willing to pay $25K for a rusty bus with no floors. You aren’t. Neither am I. Someone else is. Or rather, more than one someone else is, hence the escalating prices. They aren’t necessarily wrong, as previously discussed.

        In a theoretical auction, with 9 shill bidders and one legitimate buyer, the one legit buyer is still helping to set the market, whether he wins or not. So an auction being entirely shill-driven is not possible, (and is not an auction). The price paid at the last auction, even if it was fake, might help set a price at the next auction, but that’s up to the legit buyer.

        If the second sale is legit, even if the first one was fake, the new inflated price is now there to be reckoned with, and it’s up to the bidders at auction number three to continue (or not continue) to be a part of whatever trend is going on.

        If one person pays 100K for a VW bus, and every other sale were fake, the argument could then be made that the market isn’t really 100K. But that’s not what’s happening, and it’s not one guy buying all the buses, or 356s.

        If the asking price were a million dollars, no one would buy, not even the legitimate buyer, because the bus is not worth that much, no one else will pay it, the market isn’t there at that price.

        Shills do not have the power by themselves to escalate the market beyond what anyone else is willing to pay, or there is no actual sale taking place.

        In other words, if a shill “wins” an auction, no sale has taken place, so his fake high bid does not become the market….unless a “real” sale follows.

        If this bus were at absolute auction, and you thought it was worth 50 cents so you could sell it for scrap for 75, or sell it to your neighbor for even more, it doesn’t matter if everyone else there is a shill or not! When the price goes over what you’re willing to pay, you stop bidding. That’s it.

        But people often don’t do that. They get caught up in the emotion and excitement of the whole auction atmosphere, and sometimes end up bidding a lot more than they might have originally intended if they had thought about it first. People get caught up in that, some people get pretty competitive about it, and that my friends, is why we have auctions in the first place.

        You’re right, shills are as old as auctions themselves, and they aren’t going anywhere. No one at any auction is going to check the legitimacy of everyone else there. Bid to your premeditated limit, and no more than that, and you’ll stay out of trouble.

        The hobbyists have made the hobby expensive by paying the prices. If I go to AutoZone and pay $22 for a set of brake pads that costs $4 to make, I’ve played a small part. You’ve done that too, we all have. It’s what makes the world go around.

        Most of us have bought thousand dollar cars (or whatever) while being fully aware the seller of that car recently purchased it for a lot less, and didn’t necessarily add any physical value to it. It’s ok.

        Have you bought any ten million dollar oil paintings lately? Nope? Neither have I. But there are plenty out there, and people willing to buy them, and not all of them are shills.

  24. jimbosidecar

    Another unwritten law of collecting cars and bikes:
    The value will always be just a bit higher than I can afford

    • Jason Houston

      OK, then both of us, being true gentlemen, politely agree to disagree. But if someone pays $22 for brake shoes that cost the parts house $4 that in itself, is not a case of “ruining a hobby”, anymore than some desperate fool who pays $5 for a box of Mcdonalds garbage is going to ruin the market for fine cuisine.

      People who “ruin the hobby” are not those supporting the parts industries, but those in it strictly for the money and profit, and that’s the big auction companies. They are not hobbyists, they aren’t sincere about anything, they rarely display any scruples or moral fiber and they couldn’t care less if a rusted-out beer can sold for $1M or a mint 1957 FI Corvette sold for $495.

      Everything in this world has a good side and its bad side. We love salt, but if we eat too much, it will kill us. Auctions have been very helpful in bringing fast appreciation to our cars, but they’ve killed it off for the ‘the little guy’ at the same time.

      • streamliner

        I’ve read, and in some cases re-read many of the comments here. Woodie Man, Jason, Marty and others have written some good, compelling arguments. I don’t think we’re disagreeing gentlemen, I think we’re all collectively voicing our thoughts on this hobby as it exists today in 2016. Vintage car collecting and restoring has been a popular hobby for over 50 years now. But until the late 1990s we mainly relied on Hemmings print ads, car shows and local classifieds to locate our cars. It’s really the past 15 years that things have really taken off price-wise, due largely to online and flashy TV broadcast auctions. On the upside ebay, CL, B-J, BF, etc have collectively allowed us to find cars we never would have seen before. The downside is that everyone worldwide now sees these also.

        Part of the reason I find this exchange helpful is that I’ve been struggling with whether to go ahead and buy a vehicle currently on ebay. Not an auction but instead a listing with a very high fixed Buy-it-now price. Before being on ebay, this same vehicle was listed for months on a broker’s site for the same, overly high price. It’s been listed on ebay now for 2 months and there’s been over 2000 views and around 100 people are currently “watching” it. And yet, no buyer. I really want the vehicle, but the price is more than double what it should be, and more than I can really afford. Apparently, others see it that way too or it would’ve been sold by now. This seller has many old vehicles listed. All of his prices are consistently around 200% of what they should be. The seller is one of these people who will just sit on it until someone pays his price.

        No argument, the market would not be priced the way it is if no one bought. But people are often tricked and / or pressured into paying too much – either online or auction house. You’re right Marty, I cannot afford a $10M painting either. That said, I should otherwise be able to afford this vehicle if the price were not over the top.

        The age old problem being – what’s it really worth? To me, or anyone else. (or does that matter?) In this case, there’s no shill bidding as the listing is not an auction, per se. I’ve read the numerous points made in all the comments re: this Samba and about the car hobby in general. I’ve been buying old cars for 40 years yet I’m still unwilling to pull the trigger when the seller is asking an unreasonable price. Yes, I want the vehicle, but not at that price. No doubt someone will eventually buy it too – regardless of the price.

        Jimbosidecar’s reply is bang on. “Another unwritten law of collecting cars and bikes:The value will always be just a bit higher than I can afford.” Say Amen, somebody! That sure is the truth. Thanks for the good exchange of ideas.

  25. Jason Houston

    REPLY TO STREAMLINER:

    Amen. And thanks for a thoughtful, provocative editorial. You are so right in so many ways.

  26. Marty Member

    Streamliner, thanks for the compliments. If you are on the fence about whether to buy this particular car you’re looking at that is overpriced, my two cents worth is-don’t buy it. I ask if the car you’re looking at is so rare, so one of a kind, that there isn’t another one out there somewhere else. Now that we have the world at our fingertips, at least electronically speaking, we can and should use that to our advantage. Scour the Earth looking for the car you want, that is priced reasonably.

    Maybe the first place to start is by offering market value, (or even just slightly more) for the car you’re looking at. You never know. All the seller can do is say no. Over a long period of time as he gets other offers that are near market rate, he’ll either keep it forever, or sell it somewhere nearer to reality. But I wouldn’t wait for him.

    Hemmings, eBay, CL, SearchTempest, Google, BF, the related car clubs and related forums are all good places to look. Locate collectors of the kind of vehicle you’re searching for, if you find a guy who owns one, chances are he owns a half a dozen, or at least knows where others are. Word of mouth can really deliver too. Ask around, make sure everyone knows that you’re looking, and what you’re looking for. Consider running a “wanted” ad in the right places. Be obsessive about finding the right car, search every single day if possible, and sooner or later one will turn up. Unless it’s the only one on Earth, don’t fixate on a single car, and please don’t over-pay for it.

    If the one you have your eye on is truly double priced, that leaves a lot of room to make improvements on another that may be priced more realistically. So I have to ask, what kind of car are we talking about here?

    Jason, I worked a short stint at a classic car dealer. Almost everyone in the place loved and respected the cars we moved through there. But unscrupulous people were indeed present, and they soured the experience for me. I’d love to do it again in the future, working with better people.

  27. Bill McCoskey

    Marty —
    Your last paragraph says so much about the auto sales business, be it selling brand new cars, used cars, junkers & antiques. There will always be unscrupulous people wanting to make an easy buck. Over the last 40+ years I realized most of the very successful car dealers started at the bottom, & used whatever means it took to make sales & advance up the ladder. One such person in Maryland started as a salesman [quickly rising to sales manager], with a local Dodge dealership in the late 1970s, and now owns a chain of new car dealerships, Mopar, Toyota, GM, Nissan, Ford, and more. He had a small framed poster on the wall of his cubicle. It had 4 block letters: W.E.I.T., said it stood for “What ever it takes”!

    I remember a tactic he used on a regular basis to keep customers from leaving before he had them agree to buying a car: He would hide the customer’s car keys after test driving the trade-in vehicle. He had a practice of tossing the keys onto a small flat roof over the entrance door to the sales floor. Once the customers had bought a new car [or they finally refused & demanded either keys back or a loaner car], he would send them home in a new car loaner overnight, and when they came back in, after having time to cool off and drive the car around for 24 hours, he usually ended up selling them a car! meanwhile he would use a short ladder to retrieve the keys. He once told me that by sending them home in a loaner, there was no way for the customers to go check out another dealership, as they were in a loaner car, not their own car! [True story]

    • Marty Member

      Bill, I generally avoid dealerships, but the wife spotted a car in an ad, of which she really liked the color and options, so we made the call. “How many miles are on it?” I asked, because listing the miles on the car in the ad is such an unimportant, trivial detail that they never seem to remember…

      The answer was, and I’m quoting: “Well that car’s got hunder sixty-three thousand miles on it!”

      Anyone reading this can determine whether the word “hunder” was intended to mean “under” or “hundred”. It’s an easy guess, although I have to admit I actually fell for it, and we wasted a trip and drove a couple of miles to get there.

      When we arrived and before we saw it, they told us the car was out on a test-drive. Could we wait a few minutes? Sure. They became mildly agitated when we wouldn’t sit down exactly where they wanted us to. A few minutes later, I saw someone walk outside, start the car up, and drive it out of a parking spot where of course it had been sitting the whole time. “It’s back, are you ready to test drive it now?” Nope. We left, never to return.

      Two lies before they even got me to sit in the driver’s seat. Pass. Most car dealerships are great places to stay as far away from as possible.

  28. Bobsmyuncle

    If we look at the issue of high prices (note I don’t say value) I think the problem is actually quite simple and has been mentioned already in an around about way.

    People ARE paying what most of us agree are ridiculous prices. And people are doing so because of the the great inequality in wealth distribution and more importantly the incredible gap in personal wealth.

    What is fundamentally a life changing evaluation for most of us is play money for an increasing number of people. The anger displayed is the frustration of that reality.

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