Tom in Missouri, need your thoughts

An old fellow worker lost his life to cancer last year. Last night I was talking to his son-in-law, also a fellow worker and Corvette owner, that told me his widow was going to sell his 1954 Corvette. A
big surprise to both of us but the medical bills were killers also.
He has had it appraised and I was wondering what your swag might be by just a brief description. I have only seen it a couple of times so some of this may be from my faulty memory. The car is stock, un-restored and the second owner since 1957. Slight re-paint of the white paint on the rear fender tops, I don't know the miles but believe them to be low, every part was retained if it needed replaced, full documentation, original tires were removed and stored when he purchased it. He was an exceptional machinist by trade and very meticulous and it shows on this car. Right now I can't remember the interior color and can't say it was red, seems like it was as they only put the beige in some of the blue exterior cars.
Thanks for your thoughts,
--
Dad
05 C6 Silver/Red 6spd Z51
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Hi Dad,
Whew, did you ask a good one. First, sorry to hear about your coworker. Something like that is always hard to take, and then when the bills get too much, it is even harder.
If you would have asked me last spring, I'd have said they were running a bit on the cold side. I was surprised then to seem a few selling in the $30,000 - $40,000 range as complete cars. Part of it is that they are in the Model T/A syndrome, the old guys who can really relate to them are passing away. However, they have remained and will remain cars that just don't show up a lot. A handful turn over, many stuck in collections, and you have to just wait for one to become available a lot like swap spaces at Hershey and Carlisle.
But a quick look at prices on eBay, the only thing I had to check quickly since I just saw your note, is that there were more than a handful of the 53-54-55 out there right now and they were ranging from over $100,000 for fully restored to $20-$30,000 for projects.
I'd guess that the car is running, in good to great shape by your meticulous comment, and offhand would run in the $50,000 to $80,000 range, or more. The market is a bit strange, prices are climbing thanks to Barrett-Jackson, but not all are selling.
Then again, you never know exactly what may happen on a given day. The price for it could go $100,000. This is such a rare group of cars, the price can be almost anything.
I wouldn't recommend a Barrett-Jackson auction. While there are some collectors, there are a majority of people with too much money who buy because of the color or how it shines. Original cars often fall short, even those which are immaculate, because original cars just don't look like cars that someone spent $10,000 to make shine like a new penny. Still, the prices seem high this year so even a low buy could be a very high price.
Mecum usually brings out more Corvette guys, but then their prices usually end up lower.
I can point a few guys your direction if you want who can really help on this. Where is the car located? Then I'll know who to point to you, or you to them.

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The killer is that had this car gone last May, $40,000 is right on the money. But in the last 5-6 months, everything almost is going up on the asking price. Maybe it is pre-Barrett-Jackson, I don't know. But even 73-82 cars have gone from an average of $6-8000 to $9-11,000. This is kind of hard for many who are used to seeing those late '70s cars for $5000.
You do have one advantage, if played right, similar to a friend of mine. Right now, they have a need for the money more than the car. You could buy the car, and if one day they really regret selling and financially are able, they could buy back their car. This way, it is kind of like a loan. If you'd go for that. My friend took another of our friend's Corvette when he died, because the son was like 15 at the time. The idea was to return it when he was 21 or 25, responsible enough to have it without wrecking it twice a week or something.
When the time came, the family decided that financially that was not a good idea, and so they sold it to him permanently. odds are that they will not want it back, but it is a great jester that shows you are truly a friend and not just trying to steal the car.
And of course, you have seen the car and I haven't so you'd be in better position to judge value. These cars have so many parts that are either not available or astronomically priced, so incomplete cars can cost a fortune to complete. This is why often cars that appear complete and nice can be sold for much less than others because a few missing items can literally add thousands to the cost of correcting.

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Tom in Missouri wrote:

I wonder, though, how such a deal would be negotiated? Somehow you'd have to promise in writing you would not sell the car in the interim (or else it's really a loan with the car as collateral and they retain ownership), and you'd have to negotiate a future selling price that may or may not be realistic when the time comes...ie, even if you pay full market value today (and you aren't, otherwise you'd buy it outright), they're certain to exercise their option when the time comes if the car appreciates, or if you make improvements that increase it's value, even though they do not intend to keep it. Too many entanglements.
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I think it has a lot to do with your real friendship. In my friend's case, they really were friends.
If not friends, then you would need some contract, and that contract could be conceivably too nasty to both. What if you got sick or had a problem and HAD to sell but the others weren't ready to buy?
And the always big problem, climbing market values. You buy at $50,000 but in 10 years when they want it back, it is worth $200,000. Or $25,000. Do you lose a potential $150,000 in profit or do you lose $25,000 in actual. Or will they pay $25,000 over market?

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Tom in Missouri wrote:

Yep, those are exactly the issues I had in mind, and why the future repurchase price would probably have to be determined at the time of the initial deal. No matter what happens, if you're friends at the start, you probably won't be at the end, 'cause one or the other of you will be ticked off. Guess that's the reason for the old adage against friends having financial dealings.
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One of the reasons I always avoided selling to friends is that sometimes people come back with unreasonable expectations. I had friends who bought cars from each other and occasionally got upset with each other. One had a '72 Monte Carlo that he kept in great shape, or at least cosmetically. After a few years, one of our friends bought it from him after trying to buy it for a couple of years. About a year later, the engine broke and the buyer was upset with the seller.
Now the seller drove like an old man 98% of the time, even though he had hot cars, he drove them like he was 80 living in Century Village. The buyer was a hot rod freak through and through, and tended to be off to the drags with his '67 Chevelle most weekends and drove everything like every lights was a Christmas tree.
Anyone from the outside knew what would happen, yet when it did, friends lined up on each side.
I've often wanted to buy from friends, but never wanted to sell to friends. My expectations are simple, I bought it, I own it. 30/30 warranty - 30 seconds, 30 feet, whichever comes first.
Now if I find where someone doctored it to intentionally run long enough to sell, that would be another matter.

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Tom in Missouri wrote:

The discussion raises all of the potential conflict of interest issues in placing the car on consignment. I've seen other valuables placed on a sliding scale commission. Problem here is that the range probably tops out at 80-90 grand and that isn't enough to interest the type of broker that looks for a five figure commission on the sale. No doubt the owners wish to avoid commissions.
I'd suggest placing the car on Auto Trader and intermittent newspaper ads aimed at Seattle WA or Rancho Santa Fe, Rancho Mirage and Marin County in California. One of those towns has a carpeted garage waiting for a '54 'vette.
Having observed three generations of blood relatives and like 'Dad' I'm witnessing a rising death rate around me. I feel that clean, fast closure is a must. I've copied my own Dad and directed that all personal property (save for my HDD, papers, personalized awards and momentos) be disposed of for cash. It goes via an executor and not my widow or kids. The executor assigns the personal property to a fast cash auction (I've specified 30 days after execution of the will) or the Salvation Army.
I bought the C5 in just my name and will probably move the C4 to the same status if I keep it another year (I know my widow will drive neither). It then becomes an executor issue--not a widow problem. If I owned a C1/C2 I'd most likely give the executor 90 or 120 days to find an appropriate buyer or auction venue.
JMTCW
--
PJ
89 HookerCar, 02 E-blu 6-spd Coupe
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Snip>>

One thing you guys haven't thought about was that I'd give her the cash and to make sure she got the car back her daughter goes with it. Could be she would get it back in a week at my estate sale.
Dad
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I think this would have to be figured out independent of market price - merely a return on loan or investment. You'd have to come up with an equitable rate of interest with exact prices at intervals in the future. If you are truly doing this on a friendship basis then figuring in increases or decreases in market value shouldn't enter the picture.
If the need arose to sell the car for your own financial security then you would offer it back for the price plus interest with, perhaps, a payment schedule if they couldn't afford the full pop. If they were forced to pass then that's just the way it goes and you'd be under no further obligation to protect their interest.
If the market price zoomed well beyond their buy-back price and they took out a loan to pay you off, only to sell the car on the market... well, that's the breaks but you made the offer in friendship and protected their option to regain the link to the father. Inevitably it's their decision on what they do with it once it's returned to them. You really couldn't expect them to hold it in the family for eternity as a memorial, just as they couldn't expect you to hold it indefinitely for them; at some point it would be sold to a third party.
Another sticky point would be acts of restoring the car affecting your outlay vs. their buy-back price.
I'm not saying it's a bad idea, just that both parties have to go into it with clear understandings of what's expected and how much the other party is obligated in return.
Here's waving to ya - \||||
Owen ___
'67BB & '72BB
-- not affiliated with JLA forum in any way -- alt.autos.corvette is original posting -- ___
"To know the world intimately is the beginning of caring." -- Ann Hayman Zwinger
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I forgot to mention that it is in a very good position if you desire to not buy and past it on quickly. ProTeam is just down the road and they have been buying at much better rates in the last year or so.

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Although I've been there and one of the club members worked there most people here avoid them. Their less than stellar reputation back when it carried his last name won't go away. I used to live about 8 miles from his place and it was the last one I visited to get anything, even money. Just a short story, another fellow worker had a midyear coupe stolen right out of our parking lot. Not to long before the owner of the previous business name went to jail the door to that coupe was found on one of the cars for sale. If that had been the only part found the present business name might still be the same as it was back then. Just bad karma around here, but you never know.
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