Shyster: A person who uses unscrupulous,                                            fraudulent or deceptive methods in business.

I am often contacted by individuals locally and from other states and asked to inspect a Model “A” Ford that they are considering purchasing.  I am not an appraiser, only a knowledgeable Model “A” person.   I have likewise contacted club members in other states to look over a car that I might be interested in buying since it is budget busting to say, fly to Colorado to look at an advertised car in one of the antique car magazines. This is one of the great benefits of belonging to a national antique car club. When I have done this I always send a gift card to a good restaurant as a thank you gesture.  Having had Model “A”s for a good portion of my life I belong to at least 2-3 national clubs and at least 2-3 local clubs of the Ford marque.

I was recently contacted by a fellow club member from New England and asked to inspect a car in Ohio that he was considering buying. I agreed to do so.  I never charge for this service. This usually expands our Model “A” frame of reference for cars and parts available in our local area and is beneficial to all club members.  Occasionally it also brings to light unscrupulous people and businesses. Oh yes, they are out there!

The New England club member supplied the name, address, stated condition of the car and asking price of $27,900 for a 1930 Ford town sedan, which is a four-door sedan.  According to several blue book value guides this car is estimated to be worth, in number one condition, $16-18,000, and $14-16,00 in condition number two.  Of course this stated value is somewhat arbitrary and many factors figure into an agreed upon value.  But it is a good starting point. Of important consideration here is the fact that 4 door sedans are not seen as highly desirable models compared to roadsters, phaetons, coupes and pickup trucks. The asking price of $27,900 is astronomically out of the ballpark and an immediate large red flag. I went to see the car.

Here is a letter and assessment that I sent to the New England club member after viewing the car.

Dear Mr. Smith,

As you requested I went to the western Ohio residence to view the 1930 Ford Town sedan that you are considering purchasing. By your description of the place, I am led to believe that this is some type of Antique Car business. I contacted you by phone after my visit.  You, of course, first asked about the car. My initial response was that you might rather first consider the seller.  I have learned from much experience that the person selling the car is at least as important, perhaps more so, than the car itself. The two individuals I met there today are best described as thugs.

As I related to you, I found the two individuals at that residence to be very hostile, belligerent, and ultimately threatening to me and the person who accompanied me. The visit was extremely disconcerting from beginning to end and was necessarily cut short for our safety and wellbeing.  Even as we arrived in the driveway we could hear loud yelling and swearing coming from the building where these two men were apparently working on a car. With trepidation I went down to the garage and announced my presence and that I was there to look over a Ford Town Sedan.

Uttering very few words they pointed me toward the car. As I walked toward the 1930 Ford they followed me closely and one of the men began loudly, angrily, and repeatedly, demanding of me how much time I would take. Not wanting to exacerbate this man I quietly responded “I don’t know”, which only seemed to enrage him and brought on further hostile exhortations.   After approximately 6 minutes of viewing the car one of the individuals began swearing at me and came at me menacingly. I therefore ended the visit immediately and we quickly left the premises.   During the approximately six minutes I spent viewing the car I observed the following about the vehicle:

– It appears to be a number two car by Old Cars Report price guide standards. This is to say that it looks very good, has a good paint job, good interior. It has been restored previously but is beginning to show some wear, particularly on the front floor carpeting.  The driver’s seat shows wear in the form of the stuffing drooping a bit towards the door. That seat upholstery also shows some wear.  I also noted that the entire floor carpeting was screwed or secured to the floor, which I found odd. This is not correct and prevents one from looking at, assessing the wood floors.

– On opening and closing the doors I noted that the driver’s side rear door had a loose lower hinge. On further examination it seemed to be not firmly secured to the door pillar which is basically wood with a thin skin of metal on the outside.  This could be due to loose screws, or deteriorated wood behind the pillar.  I could not ascertain that. As I explained to you, four-door Model “A”s weigh about 600-800 pounds more than two door sedans. This is because of all the wood that is used in the manufacture of those bodies. On assessing these four door bodies it is therefore essential to establish the integrity of that 85-year-old wood. When I checked the passenger side rear door hinges one of the men suddenly became belligerent, began swearing at me, and accused me of breaking the door.  He then advanced toward me in a threatening manner. As can be attested to by my friend, of course I broke nothing, but merely lightly rocked the door up and down to see if there was any looseness (There was not on that door).   I am disabled with neuropathy in my feet and legs. I have trouble walking. You could knock me off balance easily.  I recoiled and deemed his actions and words threatening and very potentially dangerous to my physical health.  Thus I immediately ended the visit and my friend and I left.

– I did not hear the engine run, I did not drive the car, did not even sit in it or try the brake pedal.  I was only able to open the passenger side of the hood and open the doors—and even this under uncomfortably close scrutiny and protest from the two men.

– Because of the aforementioned circumstances I cannot estimate to you the approximate worth of the car.

I hope that this information is of use to you.  Personally I feel that these are people that I would never do business with under any circumstances. Neither would I recommend their services to anyone else.

Sincerely, Skip Schweitzer

“Let the buyer beware” has never been so important as in this case.  If these sellers are indeed bona fide antique car people they know exactly what they are selling, and what they are trying to hide.  If stripped screw holes are the problem with the door hinges these can be rather easily and cheaply fixed with a couple different remedies. However, if there is a good bit of rotten wood, that is not easily or cheaply fixed.

In terms of salesmanship, a Salesmanship 101 course stresses developing a good rapport with the customer, establishing your integrity, and being up front with information good or bad to make a sale.  This is reassuring to the potential customer and will invariably draw the person back to you in the future because you have fostered a sense of trust.

NEVER BUY FROM, OR DEAL WITH, THUGS!   

The Old Road is a column that features antique automobiles, their owners, and stories of the road, the restoration, and the acquisitions.  Do you have an antique auto?  Maybe you have questions about restoration.  Drop me a line: E-mail me at Skipstaxidermy@yahoo.com, or give me a call at 330-562-9801, I’d like to hear from you.

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Skip Schweitzer, of Mantua, can be described from early on in life as an avid outdoorsman and old car restorer and aficionado. He comes from a long line of great lakes fishermen and hunters. He is a taxidermist and a retired psychologist. His grandfather Charles, a machinist and fisherman who fed his family with fish during the Great Depression, was one of the original auto restorers at the Thompson Auto Museum, now the Crawford Auto Aviation Museum. Skip learned to hunt, fish and restore cars from his father Roy and learned the value and appreciation of antique automobiles from his grandfather. Skip has, over the years, restored upwards of 25 automobiles including many Fords, Studebakers, Buicks, Jeeps and VWs. Skip has written extensively on automobiles and outdoors for several newspapers, magazines and auto publications this past 20 years. His current antique automobiles include a 1930 Ford Model “A”, and a 1970 Volkswagen Cabriolet. Skip’s most frequent bylines are, Outdoors With Skip, and The Old Road.