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THE “CHITTY, CHITTY, BANG, BANG CAR (S)

In the late fall of 1972 we were asked to conduct a Classic car auction in connection with the annual Philadelphia Automobile show in November.

An amazing coincidence came to pass in connection with that auction. Literally two or three days before the sale, a gentleman in a small town above New York City called and said he had the actual car from the movie “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang.” He wanted to consign it to the auction. I had never heard of the movie and it sounded like a crackpot jalopy. Plus, we were just a few days away from the sale and we had no time to promote the car, whatever it was.

Chapter 22
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(. . . Hmm, so far Kirk, it seems as if you didn’t know much of anything about either television or the movies! . . .)

The consignor was a good and persistent salesman though, and I finally said okay, bring it in. Just before the event, snow was forecast and the consigner called and said he didn’t want to risk driving it in.

We had determined that the car had been built for the movie by Alan Mann Racing in Great Britain and was quite roadworthy. I had told the people in our office about the car and they knew all about it and the movie!

One of the young men in the place said he’d drive it in! On a cold late November evening off he went and brought the car in safely over the road, and the snow didn’t come.
Then, the Friday evening before our auction, CBS, coincidentally, ran the movie “Chitty, Chitty, Bang, Bang” coast to coast in prime time!! Back in those days the Friday night feature films on CBS were a big deal.

On Auction day, the convention center in Philadelphia was filled with people to see the car. The local CBS TV News people had come out the night before the auction to do a bit of preview coverage and had tripped over the car.

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Omar Landis, Jerry Girven and I were having a meeting just before the auction. Omar said to me: “What’s the reserve on the movie car?” Six thousand, I told him. “It’ll do $25,000" Omar said.

In 1972 that was a stupidly high figure for such a car! Omar knocked the car sold to Charles Wood of Lake George, New York for $28,000 and it was national news!

Past that glittering moment, the Philadelphia convention center unions ate us alive on expenses and we barely got out of there with the shirts on our backs.

We went on into 1973 and I was no longer down at 63rd Street. I was isolated in our new “corporate” office in Ardmore. I rarely went to Jerome Avenue or to any of my good dealer sources in Manhattan.

In early 1973, we ran an Auction in Boca Raton, Florida at the very swish Boca Raton Club. We gathered quite a good sized consignment for the sale.

A touch of good humor came to pass though. Our clever gentleman who had consigned the Chitty, Chitty car for the Philadelphia auction called to let us know that there were actually four additional Chitty cars built for the movie!!

After finally seeing the film myself, I could fully see why. There were so many mechanical functions to the “car” they had to be spread over various iterations.

He knew where he could get his hands on the other one that was in the US. The third one was in Australia, and the fourth had vanished. Well, we bought his other available one and gently informed Charlie Wood, the purchaser of the “first” one that we had unearthed a second Chitty, Chitty car.

Charlie was thrilled! We told him we’d bring it to Boca Raton and sell it to him there.
And we went to Boca Raton with high hopes.

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However, the expense of swinging the auction up on its feet on the grounds of the posh Boca Raton Club & Resort was staggering. Every expense involved was many multiples of what it had been in Philadelphia. Then the Saturday of the auction, high winds whipped through southern Florida and in the early afternoon the winds reached near hurricane strength. Consignors and all manner of people were hanging on to the tent poles attempting to keep them away from the cars.
There were two huge tents and there were a great many people hanging on the poles. Several poles became airborne and began to swing to and fro frighteningly near the auction cars.

Thankfully Moet Chandon champagne was an associate sponsor of the event and the local representative kept a steady flow of Moet flowing. The winds were relentless and we kept the pole manning personnel well stocked with chilled champagne! The wind stayed high nearly all afternoon and I’m certain that more than a few “pole people” had gotten buzzed enough that the windy ride on the poles became amusing!

It took forever for the high winds to die down and we had to start the sale a good deal later than planned, but we got it done and Charlie Wood got his second Chitty car!

The next morning we awoke to find out that the State of Florida had seized all the auction proceeds! It seemed that we had failed to obtain an obscure license! Needless to say it would take forever and a day to get the funds  loose.   


“WINNERS & LOSERS” Car & Driver Magazine, January 1973

Then, crossing into 1973, Car & Driver magazine’s January 1973 issue carried one of those marvelous pieces that only their outrageous crowd could carry off.

On the cover, to tantalize you toward the Winners & Losers article inside, was a smallish teaser photo of a thoroughly wet, downcast Roger Penske in a soaked rain slicker at a race track somewhere.

This should be fun; I couldn’t wait to see who else was featured!

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Well gosh, so much for my snickering at everyone else in the article . . .
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It was terribly run down but gave every appearance of being all there.

She offered:

“I know it’s a terrible old hulk, but a few friends have told me that a Bugatti has value, so that is why I’m here. I just want to get the utility company off my back” she said. 

“OK, well what kind of money will that take?” I said.

“$4,300, but I have to give them cash,” she said.

Now, I was far from a Bugatti expert, but I knew enough to recognize that her Bugatti was worth easily the amount of money she was asking.

“Okay, I’ll get a check for you,” I said.

“Oh, but I need it in cash” she said.

“Just take it to the Bryn Mawr Trust on your way home and they’ll cash it for you.”
( . . .remember those days?? . . .)

I called the Bryn Mawr bank and told them “Daisy Mae’, was on her way in, and it was OK to cash her $4,300 check . . . And, please do not be put off by her lack of footwear . . .

That evening on the phone I sold the car to Tiny Gould for the princely sum of $9,000!

Was I sharp or what??

(. . . Yes, yes, I’m well aware that all of you want to know the rest of the story. And yes, it all ended up quite jolly for everyone else involved with that Bugatti . . . Tiny Gould upon receiving the Bugatti, was pleased to note the car was equipped with a supercharger, and he sold the car on to Bill Harrah who completely restored the Atalante and it then went on to take Best of Show at the  Pebble Beach Concours in 1976! It has subsequently been sold on for several millions of dollars!! . . .)
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CABRINI COLLEGE AUCTION, MAY 1973

We ran our May auction again at Cabrini. It was a decent sale, but it was chilly and raining. Late in the day one of our young driver/worker’s wet foot slipped off the clutch of a V-16 Cadillac roadster in the lane and the Cadillac booted poor Von Bartle, the Rolls Royce dealer several feet down the auction lane, landing him squarely on his rump. The lawyers had a good old time with that!

We finished the year in poor shape and went into 1974 with not much going in the right direction. I had simply rolled the company into a large batch of “do nothing” satellite operations.


IMPORTED & SPECIALITY CAR AUCTION


Going into 1974 I felt there was a niche for a dealer’s wholesale European car auction and it might work well in the Lancaster County, Pennsylvania area not so far from the weekly Manheim sales which were held each Friday.

I approached Omar Landis who, of course, ran a successful weekly sale at his facility in Ephrata, Pennsylvania largely for domestic cars. The facility was named Garden Spot, and God knows, it was smack in the middle of the farm lands in that area.

We started the sale each second Wednesday, serving a nice hot “farm country” luncheon and soon getting a nice gathering of cars.

I’ll never forget the very first car that was offered at our very first sale was a bright red 427 Cobra. Omar was on the block and he started the bidding out with the same routine that is still in play today by asking for a “sky-shot” bid.

In 1974 a used 427 Cobra, even in top condition, was worth about $5,000.

Omar after a rolling pre-amble asked:  “Who’ll give $7,500 for this terrific Cobra?” exhorted Omar.

“Dutch” Shappell, an astute dealer from Reading, Pennsylvania simply said: . . .“I will . . .”

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The whole auction room turned to see who had done such a thing! No one ever did that!  No one else in the room spoke a word and Dutch went home with a fine 427 Cobra!

I’ve never seen that scenario repeated at another auction . . .

Over the next several months the sale stitched itself into quite a good and viable entity.


AND THEN . . .

A buyer who was new to all of us out of lower Long Island showed up and became a very strong buyer for the high line cars. He was bulletproof as he always paid with bank checks. Seamless transactions.

It went well for quite a while and then after one auction where he had purchased several expensive cars, he said his six car hauler was finishing up a long trip and would pick up the cars late that evening. The driver would bring the certified check with him.

Fine, no problem. . .

Until close to 11 PM that night when Jimmy “L” called me at home. The truck driver had run too late to get the check certified.

“He has our company check with him, and Kirk, you know at this point we’re good for the money . . .”

I agreed, and of course fell victim to the scam. I was a fucking idiot. I’d heard this type of story for years on Jerome Avenue, but that type of thing didn’t happen out there in rural Pennsylvania.

The trucker snared the cars in the dead of the night, leaving a worthless “company” check in the box at Garden Spot.

We were beat for $95,400.00 dollars. Maybe, not so much money in today’s world, but it wiped us out.

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THE END . . .

On a Friday in late October of 1974, I locked the office door in Ardmore for the last time.

With tears blurring my vision, I drove to our home in Radnor. I parked in the driveway crushed, going over in my mind all that we had done, and now it was all gone.

I pulled myself together and walked into our kitchen. My wife was there. She gave me the briefest of glances.

I told her that I had closed the business. She scarcely reacted, not so much as casting a glance at me. Finally, she turned with a face that was twisted with anger.

My wife directed this disgusted, horrified look at me. I’d seen similar looks time and again but never one with the intensity of that evening.

An incident of this magnitude would be devastating for her from a social standpoint. And that was what she was all about. This would irreparably damage her social climbing world.

I was consumed with shame and sadness. It all happened quickly. I had scarcely drawn a breath since I’d come through the door.

I had hoped, foolishly, that we could gather up the pieces, plan it out and start again. We were young and we could take the best of these past years and get back underway with my having truly learned what took us down.

That small flame of hope for our future was extinguished in a nanosecond.

With a lightning fast response my wife told me that the marriage was equally “closed”! She had no further interest in doing anything with me. To cap it off she was sure to emphasize that my ability to see our children would be cut to the very minimum “the law would allow!”

She knew just where to inflict the deepest damage.

And I was to leave . . . that instant.

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Over her shoulder as she was walked out of the kitchen she tossed these few words at me:

“Shut the door tightly it’s supposed to get cold this evening . . .”

Why do such a thing with our children, for God’s sake? ? ?



AND ANOTHER VERSE, MUCH LIKE THE OTHER VERSES . . .

This wasn’t the first time I’d been told to get off the premises. The previous blow-outs though, usually took place late at night.

There had been enough episodes that when I would drive up to the night check-in window at the close-by George Washington Motor Lodge, my “usual” night clerk would give me a knowing nod, a sad smile.

. . . “Get out with your wallet this time?” . . . he’d say

If I hadn’t snared my wallet in the heat of the battle, he’d always tell me to bring it around when things were 

(. . .”uh, fixed” . . .)

This time, though, I went to my friends’ Kit and Bonnie Wilkes who had harbored me through more than a few previous storms. They were well aware of the firestorm that our marriage had become.

I stayed with them for the next four months.

Yes, you read that correctly! Four months. It was a hideously, nearly indescribably, rough time.

You may ask yourself just how much worse could our unfolding divorce be than anyone else’s.

Being allowed extremely limited access to the children through the holidays, often for minutes  should be enough . . . Christmas day 1974 I had been allowed to enter the home at 10:30 and was told sharply at 12:2o that it was time for me to leave as they were about to sit down to their Christmas luncheon.

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On that drive back to my room at the Wilkes, for the first time, I heard John Lennon’s . . .”so this is Christmas” . . . on the radio. I had to pull off the road. You can’t really drive with that many tears spilling out of you. To this day that song catches me up.

Well, I’m certainly not going to drag you across all of the flaming fields of broken glass that was our wretched scenario.

We’ll let the awful mess slide into the muck with this simple fact.

In the fall of 1979 the divorce case came before a particularly sharp judge who tracked back all of the court’s time, foot dragging, and lawyer switching all on the part of the wife as plaintiff. Said plaintiff had unnecessarily wasted four years of the court’s time the Judge said.

Judge Gawthrop was totally 0utraged and ordered that the divorce be finalized within 30 days or he would bring it to an end.


A SURE THING . . .

To this day I always, and I do mean always, easily win any social discussion of who has suffered the worst ravages of a divorce.

Through the years I have met many, many people who have said they have just endured the most vicious divorce in the history of mankind.

And they always go on to take you through their most agonizing episode.

That’s where I come in . . .

“I would bet everything that mine has to be the worst . . .” I’d say easily.

“Yours couldn’t be” . . . and they’d wheel off another terrible tale.

“Try this one . . .” I’d say, and reach into my valise filled with incidents well beyond cruelly bizarre.

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( .  . .My “nasty episode” ammunition satchel was plenty full of all manner of atrocities. . .)
I would relate one of my tales and invariably anyone who heard it said  . . .

                 “Whoa, you really do fuckin’ win . . .!!”

66 CENTS!!

But, that was in 1979. What of the years from late 1974 to 1979.

Well, I existed in a near catatonic state for two months, staring down the barrel of the awful mess I’d left behind. I deservedly faced slings and arrows up through 1976. 

One morning in early January of 1975 I was driving toward the dry cleaners with some clothing. I reached in my pocket and found I had sixty six cents in cash!

Yeah, I probably had a couple bucks stashed in my briefcase at the Wilkes", but reaching in my pocket and coming up with simple pocket change stopped me cold. I turned off my route and said to myself:

          “Forget your dry cleaning! You can’t afford it!”

           “Get on the phone and get a job! Today!!”

I screwed up my nerve and called a dealer friend who had also suffered some slings and arrows himself. He was tough as a nail and still bore watching.

His name was Jim Westburg and he ran Drexel Motors in Drexel Hill. Jim hired me as a buyer that afternoon. Westburg’s Drexel Motors was basically an old parking garage having dealt in “bootleg” VW’s when the supply was very lean to the US and then “grey market” Mercedes Benz.

But when I got there Jim had purchased a fleet of flood cars. American Motors Pacers! They were everywhere throughout the building and up and down the adjoining streets.

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I was expected to sell them, along with everyone else who worked there.

Drexel Motors had placed a small advertisement in the classified section of the two Philadelphia newspapers. The ads pulled no punches.

“Sir, this AMC Pacer was under water in the Mississippi Delta for several days. We cannot and will not guarantee anything except that the vehicle you are buying is the one you’re standing next to.”

The public snapped them all up, happy as could be.

You’d get 40 of them in on a Wednesday morning and they’d all be gone by Friday night!

After the Pacers were gone, I finally sat down at my desk which was located in a scarcely insulated room located up in the open air parking area of the building. It was the coldest damn office I’d ever been in.

This would be the real test. Could I call my old friends, dealers and contacts and actually do business with them? I called one of the real gentlemen in the European car field and a long time friend, John Levy.

I hoped John wouldn’t say: “Wow Kirk, I hear you’re busted and a fuckin’ crook . . .”

He couldn’t have been nicer to me, and, in fact, sold me a Maserati Mistral. The Maserati came in, and as it was with John Levy’s cars, it was better than described. I sold it on to my pal Ronnie Tzirlin at Grand Prix Auto Wholesalers on Jerome Avenue, Bronx, New York.

That sale was the start of a long, amazing and fruitful relationship with Ronnie and his partner Eddie Haskell.

Things went well at Drexel. Jim Westburg was willing to carefully move in a different direction, and we started to move up into high Line Mercedes, Porsches, Jaguars, and pretty soon we were buying and selling Ferraris, Maseratis, and Lamborghinis etc.

And I finally began to gather up some financial momentum.

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“Sales Department, line 3. Customer needs assistance identifying his Mercedes . . .”

No one moved. A minute or two later the operator came on again:

“Line 3, sales; customer needs assistance . . .”

Same deal, no one moved. That type of thing, non response, has always bothered me. I had no business giving a tinker’s damn, one way or another.

The page came over the loudspeaker for the third time . . .

Finally, I said to the salesman closest to me:

“Are you going to get that?”

“Get what?” he said.

I picked up my phone, and punched line 3.

“Sorry for the wait, May I help you?”

“Yeah,” the somewhat anxious voice said. “I got a situation here. I’ve got an old Mercedes that I gotta’ get moved and sold, fast.”

“Okay, tell me about your situation,” I said.

“This old car has been in the family forever, I think it was my Grandfather’s, then my Dad’s. They had a body shop in Chester. The problem is, years and years ago my old man put the car out back over here.” He went on . . .

“The real thing is, it’s straddling two properties, mine and the bar next door. It’s always been sideways out there with a hedge growing up through it, and now the bar next door’s going to add on and redo their whole parking lot.”

“There’s hedge growing up around the car?” I asked.

“No, it’s growin’ right up through it; the car ain’t got a body.”

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At that point, I’m thinking, this is turning out to be time really well spent, Kirk. What now?
“Okay, tell me what’s “out there,” just pieces?” I asked.

“No, no, it’s the whole frame, wheels, tires, axles, big motor, the transmission; the big firewall mid section thing is there, the dash, steering wheel all that stuff. If ya’ cut the hedge down that’s growin’ through it, it could be towed away.”

         The only thing that caught my ear was the “big motor . . .”

“How many cylinders is the engine?” I asked.

“Eight.” He said.

“A V-8?” I asked.

“Nah, it’s a big ol’ straight eight; got a supercharger too.”

(. . . A Mercedes Benz automobile carrying a straight eight cylinder motor should be, by and large, an early S, SS, SSK, 500K, or, 540K. The years for these big classic Mercedes Benz were from the late twenties to the late thirties. A very limited number of each series were built. They were very expensive in the day. Generally they carried coachbuilt body work. Of course this gentleman’s Mercedes Benz was missing its coachwork altogether, wasn’t it? . . .)

I looked around the showroom to see if somebody right there in the building was pulling this fucking stunt on me. Didn’t look like it. It had to be one of my buddies who had whipsawed me right into the jaws of this joke.

I pressed the phone tighter to my ear to try to figure out who it was that was pulling this stunt.

“You said the engine is a straight eight cylinders right in a row. How do you know that it has a supercharger?” I asked.

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The boy’s name was Charlie.

I was really amazed at how well the remaining components had survived through the years. The cowl was intact as were all of the instruments. The engine, the blower, etc. were all there. The exhaust manifolds were gone. The entire rear axle assembly, springs, etc. were all there. Both front suspensions were four square. The Mercedes horn button was still untouched in the center of the steering wheel!

“I don’t know Charlie, there’s really not much to buy here. How much do you want for the bits that are here?” I asked.

“My Uncle says we need to get $1800 . . .”

(. . .Ah, yes, ever the Uncle, Father, Mother, Sister, Cousin, Priest, who is always somewhere else lording the price over whomever . . .)

“Charlie, what was the body on this car when your Grand dad had it?

“When they had the body shop in Chester it was a big ol’ ugly convertible. They wanted to put some kind of slick roadster body on it.”

“Charlie this car isn’t worth $1,800. You and I both know it. When does the construction start next door?” I asked.

“They told me Monday. . .What can you pay?”

$800.

“I’ll hafta’ call my Uncle.”

“So, go ahead over and ring him . . .” I said

         (. . . Yeah, I know, I’m trying to buy a Mercedes Benz, matching numbers 540 K, complete rolling chassis and I’m acting like I’m in Leach Brothers junkyard scrapping over the price of a used up Ford engine . . .)

Back came Charlie; “My Uncle said the bottom is $1,200, and it has to be in cash.

There I was, as you can plainly see. The photograph caught me at Le Mans looking every bit the foppy parlor dandy: double breasted blazer, tassle loafers and hair far too long. Cigarette in one hand and a riveting tool in the other!

I immediately called Brock Yates.

“No, no, jeez I don’t know anything about that. I’ll switch you over to Smith, it’s the kind of thing he would do . . .”

After Smith finished denying it and my being moved further and further down the editorial line, the consensus was that it was done by a young intern who had recently returned to their home in rural Idaho!


THE BUGATTI T57 ATALANTE

Early that summer of 1973 a remarkable young lady came into our office in Ardmore.

She was maybe 25-30 years of age, blonde haired, in shorts, barefoot, cheerful and well tanned. She was very attractive.

Easy to talk with, she came straight to the point. She had inherited a Bugatti automobile and it had lain alongside her home right out in Berwyn, almost where I lived and only a dozen miles from the office!

She had to sell it today as the power company was turning off her utilities the following day!
I pictured possibly a chubby Ventoux coupe decaying away on her property.

No, she said it was a “slinky” (her word . . .) two door coupe with right side drive. And, no her Bugatti did not run. She had a Pennsylvania Title in her name though.

I had one of our mechanics take the Polaroid camera and go with her out to her home and get some shots. In due time the two of them returned. The Bugatti was a Type 57SC Atalante coupe.

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It wasn’t long until Drexel Motors moved into a “real” showroom on City Line Avenue in Bala Cynwyd. At City Line things started to roll pretty damn well.

But then Westburg wanted to rein things in, just at a point where we were really rolling. He was about to take on a Mercedes Benz agency in Atlantic City, New Jersey, and I had no interest in moving there.

I was offered a simple arrangement with a nearby Philadelphia Mercedes Benz Agency, Blenheim Motors in Upper Darby where I would handle their new car trades and could run my wholesale business on my own. Wayne Given, who had been with us at Drexel Motors, would be the General Manager and Jack Walsh would join us in new car sales.

In making the move, I had made a deal with the Mercedes dealer that I would fund a separate Blenheim Motors bank account with my monies. It would be a lot easier to be giving a check drawn on an account of  an authorized Mercedes Benz dealer to say, a Porsche dealer in Altoona, Pennsylvania for four of his trade cars, than if the check was drawn against the account of “Joe nobody,” wholesaler.

While there at Blenheim a couple of interesting things happened. Here’s one . . .


EXTRA EFFORT, THE SAGA OF THE “OLD” MERCEDES BENZ

Shortly after I made the alliance with the Upper Darby Benz agency, I happened to be in the showroom one Thursday, mid morning.

There were two salesmen at their desks, the sales manager was in the building, and the owner was in his office upstairs.

As telephone calls came in, the agency operator would direct them, generally via a loudspeaker paging system.

Again, I was in the building strictly as an independent wholesaler, not really affiliated with Blenheim Motors per se.

A telephone page went out over the showroom speaker system.

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“Oh yeah, it’s straight all right. The damn motor is like five feet long. Years back a guy showed me the supercharger on the motor. It’s there, it’s easy to see.

“Where is the car?” I asked.

“It’s right here in Ridley Park. You know Ridley Park? It’s right at Marshall’s Bar on Delaney Avenue. We live next door.”

“Are you there now?” I asked.

“Yeah, you know what kinda Mercedes this is? You know anybody might want to buy somethin’ like this?

“I might, but let me take a ride over there and see what your car actually is.

I’ve got to come that way during lunch, anyway. (Sure you do, Kirk . . .) Can you give me directions?”

He did, and I hustled my fanny straight off for Ridley Park.

I had a hell of a time finding the place, but finally turned into the driveway of Marshall’s Bar. It wasn’t hard to see the car. The narrow driveway into Marshall’s Bar had a small parking area off to the right, but the driveway continued down the left side of the building. Toward the rear of the Bar you could plainly see where hundreds of patrons had had to dodge around this substantial automobile chassis sticking through the hedge sideways!

God knows how many years and how many cars, coming and going, had dodged around that big Benz. It appeared no one had ever clipped it, even slightly.

The young man I had spoken with on the phone came out of the house next door. I went over the car. It appeared to be a 540K. I wasn’t an expert or even moderately knowledgeable with early blower Benzes, I knew it was a thirties car, it just looked a little too chubby to be a 500K.

Considering the car had been out in the elements for many years, it was in remarkably stable, if shabby, condition.

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“Okay, I’ll take it. Have you got the title?”

“I’ll get it from my Uncle.”

“All right, get the title and come on over to Blenheim Motors in Upper Darby when you’ve got it, and I’ll give you the cash.

He came over, a couple of hours later, all down in the mouth, “My Uncle can’t find the title.”
(My knee jerk reaction was to start screwing around with the price again . Fortunately the microscopic rational side of my mind said, “leave the kid alone!”)

I drew up a Bill of Sale, Edith the bookkeeper notarized it, and I paid him, which put a smile on his face. When I’d gotten back to the agency, I’d positioned a tow truck, and made the odd request that the driver bring a portable chainsaw, if he could. I had explained the problem of the hedge!

The 540 K was out of there before Charlie got home.

My super knowledgeable vintage Mercedes Benz friend who I had talked with called. Did I get the car?

“Yep.” I said

He said he had a German friend who would probably buy the car.

I said to have his friend call me Friday. I wanted to get the car landed.

As I went through Wayne on the way home, I thought I’d duck into Molin Body Shop. I’d asked the trucking company to drop the Mercedes in the back lot. Molin would cover it well.

My, my, there it was on the rollback. And the truck driver was in the midst of helping himself to the horn button with a screwdriver!

“I was just gonna’ save it for ya.”

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Outside for a hundred years in a bar parking lot in Ridley Park, and no one touched the car. Ten minutes in the “tony” town of Wayne, and a theft was underway!

The next day the German gentleman in New Hampshire called. I gave him a complete description, numbers, etc. I told him there was no title, just a Bill of sale.

“How much is it?”

(Whoa . . . I really hadn’t thought about that yet.)

$17,000 I said.

That’s fine, he said.

(Hmm, that was too quick. I didn’t really care for anyone finding a price of mine to be “fine.” I seemed to need some bit of roughhouse skirmish on the way to closing any sale.)

Saturday morning at 7:30 AM, another rollback showed up. The driver handed me a Cashier’s check, loaded the 540K and off it went.

Extra effort; just do it!!

(In today’s world, (2017,) even the most mundane Mercedes Benz 540K Supercharged automobile carries a worth into six figures, and the swoopy Saoutchik bodied roadsters, well into seven figures.)

Extra effort! Simply do it . . .



A FINAL WORD

In undertaking this missive 21 chapters ago, I was aware that this chapter would come knocking on my door. I could have skipped around the edges of it, but that would have been the cheap ride.

If you are reading these words, you’ve made your way through it all. I feel as if I should in some way apologize for the heavy parts of it, but I felt it proper to put it out there. It has been the most difficult set of words I have ever assembled.

Thanks for your indulgence and we will be back:


February 2, with Chapter 23