Monday, May 23, 2005

Sold the Challenger…

Yep, that’s right, sold it. Never thought I would, in fact the other 200 or so folks who’ve ‘dropped in’ and asked if it was for sale were all told pretty much the same thing. “Make me an offer; we’ll see who wants it more.”

Most, either didn’t want it ‘enough’ (which means I thought it was worth more than they did), or, never made an offer, or ever came back… I guess they didn’t really want it that badly.

So last weekend, this guy stops in (by the way this car has never been advertised for sale, folks just pull up in the driveway and ask) and inquires about the Challenger, again, we hem and haw about who’s going to talk money first, but he throws a number out, and we let it sit there… We talked about hot rods, street cars, various 60’s and 70’s muscle cars, he left me his number and they headed off.

During the week, often during my daily commute (it’s about 50 minutes each way so there’s plenty of time to ‘think’), I’d think about actually parting with the Challenger, but couldn’t put a dollar value on it… yet.

You see, the first time I saw a 1970 Challenger (a 440 big block car anyway) was from the back of a Navy bus in Newport, RI. I was riding back to the base from a night out on the town (if you can call Newport a ‘town’) as we were slated to ‘ship-out’ in the morning. I fell in love with that car at first sight, the lines, and the stance, everything about that car epitomized ‘muscle’ to me then. It still does, in many ways. I promised myself that day, that one day, I would own one.

I dreamed of that car the entire time I was overseas, it was one of those day dreaming kind of things that could transport me home again. It’s probably why I never really let it go, I just hung on to the dream waiting for the day when I could own one.

It took me nearly 25 years to finally be in the right place, at the right time, with enough available cash to actually buy one, and I did, in November of 1995. She was a tired old girl with a lot of flaws, but basically sound, with a 440ci engine, ‘all the right stuff’ as they say. Good body, straight as an arrow, no rust and despite a gas tank leak she ran. So I bought it, and towed it home.

After that things began to change in my life and my dream of restoring the car kept getting pushed off. My first marriage was falling apart all around me; I was frustrated at work and worst of all, didn’t have a place to actually work on the car. So it sat, and I looked at it everyday, thinking “One of these days car, you and me, we’re gonna dance”

I got separated, divorced, met my present wife, fell in love, bought a house, remodeled the house, got married… I towed the car from one house to another... and still she sat, tires flat, waiting…

I even started in on the restoration of my wife’s ’78 Silverado this year, and the Challenger sat waiting, more in the way than not, yet the first thing I’d see on the way to work, and again when I got home. Each day, I’d think about it finished, cruising, enjoying the fruits of the work it would take.

Late this week, I was driving home from work, on Thursday I think, and came to the decision that if this guy came back, and would give me the dollar figure I had in my head, he was going to own it. I didn’t mention it to my wife, except to say, if I got this much for it, I think I might sell it.

Why? Well, truth be told I realized I didn’t ‘need’ it any more. I don’t need to escape or get away from my life these days. It’s a leftover from another time in my life, one I survived and is now, thankfully, behind me. I’m sure it’s going to be strange to have it gone, but I also know I can now put new dreams and ideas in its place.

Well, the old boy and his buddy showed up again today. We hemmed and hawed a little more, walked around the car. Him trying to hide that look we guys get when we really want something, me trying to look like it was a first born child he was trying to buy, but neither of us succeeding very well. After a few minutes of this, I told him what I wanted for the car… he looked at me a bit… looked down at the ground thoughtfully… even scratched his chin… then looked up at me and said: “I’ll take ‘er”. Just like that, the deal was done.

As I’m writing this, he’s gone, as he put it, “to get the cash”; I’ve already dug out the title and the keys (thanks to my wife's excellent organizational skills!), so we’re pretty much good to go when ever he gets back with the cash and his wrecker.

So why did I sell it? I’ve thought about that too. I think the reason is, I’ve built that car, so many times in my head, seen her at least a 100 different colors, with 50 or 60 different engine configurations, that in my mind, I’ve already done the job, taken the rides and felt the results.

Some other things:

  • That Silverado in the shop. I’ve got it torn down to the frame, and we’re about to start spending money on new parts as I put it back together, this cash will come in real handy.
  • I’ve already got more toys than most, I don’t really ‘need’ this one
  • Did I mention I made a tidy profit for letting it sit in my driveway?
  • That I could really use the parking space in the driveway?

They just finished loading her up and driving off. Sad? Yes, a little, but not as much as I might once have been. I’m more energized about having the $$ to really do up the Silverado!! So, if I get to feeling too sad, I’ll just go hold that cash… I’ll feel better shortly!

So the Challenger is gone, long live the Silverado! Until some other piece of old Detroit Iron catches my eye… then I’ll be reversing all of these rationalizations… and finding a way to sneak that one into the garage!

Thanks again for taking the time to read this. Your thoughts and comments are always welcome!


Karyn Lyndon said...

What is it about men and cars...I keep saying, they're just inatimate objects! I do hear a wistfulness in your voice, but it sounds like the new guy will make it a good home. And congrats on making a profit on it!

Firehawk said...


If you've kept track of the resale prices of muscle cars, especially original big block cars like your Challenger (think if it had a Hemi!), you'll have noted that they're really booming now.

Guys who have hung onto one of these old tire-destroyers and managed to keep them from getting too ratty can get a tidy profit right now.

We hang onto totems from our past--things that belong to earlier iterations of ourselves, but when it comes time to shave of the dead flesh, we find out which things we can do without by the pain involved. Sounds like you found out that the Challenger, while still a good dream, didn't have the power over you it once did. The world had moved on for you.

There's a motto on the wall of the building where I work. It says, "The more I know, the less I need." I think that's the case. The only true things--the things that can't be taken away--are high-piled logbooks of your days. You take any one possession, and eventually, you'll find that it's significance dwindles.

When you need it, you'll find a new talisman. It really doesn't matter what it is, in the end. All of them are just conduits for dreams. Used or unused, restored or left to moulder, in hand or lost to the vagaries of time, they serve their purpose and fade away.

Nic said...

Reminds me of the Camaro from the movie Better Off Dead. A true classic 80's movie. Your description of the Challenger sitting there brought it back. I haven't seen that movie in a while. Thanks for helping your dear wife out with the MeMe. :)

RealLady said...

Babydoll, I know how much that car meant to you! and that's why I never complained about it sitting there in the driveway. We all need dreams and visions to get us through an other wise monotonous day. The challenger, which represented an escape from a time passed by, was no longer needed.

You have once again reached a milestone in your journey, and it has helped you become the most wonderful man I know!

I look forward to moving on with you, with our new life, and a wait eagerly...for what is "next" - around the corner!

Greg said...

Yo Dude!
First ya give us a lecture on "balls", now you let the beast out of your life!

I may have to give you a call...need more the quivering in your voice.

'Course speakin' of projects...

Trevor Record said...

car (kär)

1. An automobile.
2. An extension of one's personality
3. A bottomless pit to drop free money into.
4. A source of nostalgia.
5. Something you can talk about with strangers.

Bill said...

Karyn: For us car 'nuts' they're far more than that... on the most basic level it has to do with self-expression... but that's a discussion to another day.

Firehawk: If I'd done it up and had the extra $10K a Hemi is what it would have had! You're exactly right about totems, talismans... they're all just objects... 'stuff'.. and the fact is, we can always get more 'stuff'.

What we can't get more of is what's really important.

Nic: You're welcome she had fun... I always saw it more like that movie Carazy Larry and Dirty Mary.. or was it the other way around... "Speed costs money... how fast do you want to go?"

RL: You da one babydoll, you empower in ways you could never understand.. and I love you for it!

Greg: Nice to see your pixels bro.. I've been 'researchin' that project... got some ideas, now all I need is time and some extra talented hands. Drop me a line and we can sync the voice based communications.

Trevor: Spoken like a true car nut! Just a machine that consumes cash :) But a constant source of conversation and frustration.

Thanks to you all for reading and the comments!!