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Trying to buy a idle vehicle from stubborn owner, Argh!

So There is a house I pass every now and then and I noticed a while back there is an old late 80s caprice that has been sitting in the driveway since spring, It is in good condition for the year and having spent 25 years in Indiana.

I like caprices and it seemed like this one hadn’t moved and a tire was going flat so I knocked on the door and asked about buying it, boy that was the wrong thing to do, the elderly gentleman told me “no,no,no I like it just fine, I like it just fine right where it is”.

It is a sad story because the reason its in the driveway is he cant drive anymore and they built a ramp in his one car attached garage to help him get in his house since he uses a walker now and can barely walk and cant do the stairs.

After he told me this I let him know that if he ever decided to sell it call me and I would love to give it a good home and would give a fair price for it, This was the wrong thing to say because he got a bit enraged and told me “Son, that car isn’t going anywhere, I have owned it for 25 years and I am going to own it for another 25 years”

Oh well. I figure there is nothing I can say to reason with him so I might as well let it go.

Its his car and I respect that, but lets be honest, its going to sit there until something happens and then the kids will deal with it and probably have it hauled of by a wrecker.

I know its not an old muscle car, but I sure love cruising the back roads in a good old caprice.

Anyone have any similar stories?

Back in the late '70s I used to drive by a house that had a classic T-bird just sitting in the garage clearly visible. It never moved for years. Eventually, I asked about it. Turns out, the lady’s son had owned it and had been killed in "Nam. It was to her a memento of her son. It sat there for many years until she passed. I had moved on by that point and never did find out what happened to it.

Sometimes a car is far more than just a car.

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What makes you decide what is good for the car or not. Isn’t it more important what is good and important to the guy?


It’s his car, his memories. No surprise, I sympathize with him. It’s not like he has a classic car he’s wanted to get to but can’t. It’s his family car.

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In my neck of the woods, there is an old, badly-maintained house where a '56 Imperial sat for the longest time, on 4 flat tires.
It was clearly not in good shape, but I used to fantasize about making an offer, and hauling that semi-valuable old hulk away.
Well, before I could summon the gumption to do a cold-call on the homeowner, one day that car disappeared.
My best guess is that the municipal code enforcement folks convinced the owner to dispose of the car.

However, the story isn’t over!
About a month later, the empty space where the '56 Imperial had sat for–maybe–a decade, was now occupied by a '70s vintage Buick–also sitting on 4 flat tires.
About 2 years later, there it still sits, growing rustier by the day.

You really can’t make-up stuff like this, and I am beginning to think that the homeowner in question just likes to hoard old junk cars in his/her driveway.
And, I’m just glad that this house is located several miles from my neighborhood.

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I do agree, I understand that car has a lot of meaning to him. I do respect that. I wont hound him anymore Maybe his wife took her last ride (alive) in that car, maybe he drove that car the day he retired. I understand.

After all cars are just machines. They can serve us going down the road, or sitting there serving a different purpose.

When I decided to knock on the door I was thinking, hey they probably bought a newer car and this one is just out in the driveway taking up room, maybe they would like some cash for it.

If I would have known what was going on I would have left it alone. Honestly.

I agree with you 100%

Oh, no problem with asking, I’m just not surprised at his answer. What is frustrating is somebody who get an old car to fix up, never gets around to it, and it just rots away.

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Every once in a while, I drive past a home in Edison, NJ, where the lawn is…decorated…with 6 or 7 Pontiacs of '70s & '80s vintage, all of which have been rusting into the ground for many years.
Yes, it was probably personally rewarding for this guy to locate and buy all of these cars, but…if you never do anything with them…What is the point?

Back in the 90s there was an old man who owned a relic of a welding shop. Inside was piled mountains of iron and all sorts of debris along with a 1947 Harley Knucklehead which had been purchased new back in the day. He was known to be cantankerous and not to be messed with.

Lo and behold he comes into the shop one day for a state vehicle inspection so I chatted him up a bit before getting around to the knucklehead and potentially buying it. The minute the conversation hit “Old Harley” he clammed up and that was the end of that.

He passed away about 10 years later and his son sold the bike for a pretty fair amount of money. The buyer turned around a few years later and sold it for a much larger amount of money to someone who was going to restore it.
This bike should not be restored as it’s an original paint and running survivor. It’s worth more grimy than shiny.

The last owner scrapped accessories, chromed almost everything on it (these bikes came with almost no chrome), and from what I heard it is now hanging from chains in the entrance of a restaurant in southern OK.
What an ignominious end…

@WhosaidRick, maybe one reason why the old man was a little gruff is that others have stopped there in the past and lowballed him to the point of just pxxxxxx him clean off so he just adopted an attitude of to hxxx with everybody.

In 73 wanted to buy my bosses mgbgt. 6 cyl hatchback kind of a thing, only 1800 imported that year, I’ll give you $1400 $200 more of the trade in value the dealership was offering. 2 days after the deal date the loan was approved, too late, bank could not turn around a loan in 10 days. It was a sweet car, remembering shifting into 5th gear and cranking it to 120 mph. Did not miss the 68 jag I passed on at the time.

Oh how difficult it is for us to allow someone to make their own decisions when we disagree with them. I disagree that cars are just machines. They can mean a lot more to people that just a way to get around.I think it might have gone better if you would have just allowed him to talk about his car, when he bought it and where he drove it and so on. Then after establishing some re pore, mention your interest in buying it. “It might be a rust bucket but it’s my rust bucket, so get lost.”

If that hadn’t been NJ, and the years were 40s to 60s, you’d have described my grandpa. Grandpa had a decent amount of money on hand, but you’d never know it. He lived through the depression and like many of his generation never quite trusted that it was over.

So when he needed a car he’d buy the cheapest old heap he could possibly find, and drive it till it died. Tools are expensive, so he didn’t have any, and wasn’t willing to pay a mechanic for anything more than an oil change, and so off he’d go to find another car.

Of course, no one would give full price for the old car because it didn’t run, and Grandpa wasn’t going to let a cherry vehicle like that go for less than he thought it was worth, so there it would sit.

When he died, Grandma had 15 piles of rusted (s)crap hauled out of the yard, then went down to the dealership and bought her first brand new car with cash.

There was a show on the discovery channel called “Car Hoarders” - or something like that. Amazing all the people with 30+ junk cars in their yards and have anxiety attacks on getting rid of them.

I think your next step is to produce a true numeric offer. . . then just wait.
Give a dollar amount for him consider . . all the while empathizing with his potential emotional attachment to it along with the possibility that you could leave it original and let him ride in it once in a while.

I suspect Rick might be looking at the business end of a shot gun should he continue to harass the guy. Time to look for something that is actually for sale.


I lusted after an early Corvette (1954…I think) that sat in the backyard of a friend and neighbor of my grandmother. I watched it slowly rust away (frame} over the years until the house was eventually torn down about 5 years ago. The body was probably in good shape although the last time I touched in was back in the late 60’s. The owner’s son had owned the car and he died in a work related accident back in the late 50’s. The owner refused to sell it and I eventually got tired of asking.

I saw a decrepit property with some cool old tractors in the barn. Cool old cream city brick house in disrepair, 13 acres, 1.5 mil asking price, my dream home of the future, as I love fixer uppers.

I had a different disappointment with a 1954 Corvette. In 1964 I was a lowly 12 year old 7th grader in Junior High School. One of my long time friends was Skipper Mann. A great guy but not the sharpest knife in the drawer. He was a 9th grader which would have normally been 14 years old. He was 16 years old. His Father was a very successful building contractor so “skip” drove his brand new 1963 Stingray 4 speed split window to school. I got a few rides and was hooked. I needed a Corvette. When I was 17 years old Corvettes and even non split window Stingrays were really cheap. I answered an IGA shopper ad for a 1954 Corvette and found a jewel. The owner had been transferred out of state and needed to sell it quick. It was 90% restored (everything!!!) and only needed paint. Asking $450! I went to my insurance agent trying to sell him on a Corvette with a 6 cylinder engine and 2 speed automatic transmission. He asked if it said Corvette on it. I truthfully answered “technically no” as all the chrome was removed. His answer was NO! Now it would sell for high 5 figures. It may be just as well that I did not get it as would have probably ended up with a hot 327 and a 4 speed!

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Wish someone would knock on my door! Actually someone did (my plumber), but then his van broke down, so he’s occupied with that.