I don’t often buy cars from antique stores. I enjoy the “find” of coming across something at a garage sale or thrift store that nobody else has discovered. Even on eBay I can usually hunt up something good that nobody else is bidding on. But when I buy from antique stores it feels a little bit like cheating because somebody else has made the “find” for me.
Also, it seems everything is at a premium only because it’s in an antique store. I was in one place recently where they had 3 different baskets of loose diecast cars. One basket was $1 each, another was $2 each, and the third was $3 each. As far as I could tell, there was no difference in the value of any of the cars, and even the $1 price was probably a stretch.
So I was surprised last summer when I walked into an antique store and found a couple boxes of loose cars priced 5 for a dollar that actually contained … well, if not pristine cars, then some that were actually relatively old. My son picked out 5 for himself, I picked out 5 for me and we walked up to the cash register to pay. Sure enough, a man walked out from the back room, glanced at what I had on the counter and said, “Oh yeah, I hadn’t had a chance to go through those yet.” The woman who rang us up then explained to me that they always have a booth at the big flea market at the coliseum every month. Presumably, the man would have taken the cars that I picked out of the box, marked them up considerably and taken them to the big show. So, despite the poor condition of these cars, I still felt like I made a “find” at an antique store.
Funny enough, I sent a photo of the Zodiac to a buddy of mine to illustrate a point I was making about how some of my collectible cars weren’t in very good shape. He sent back a photo of the same car from his own childhood collection with the comment, “This wasn’t my favorite car either.”
Here’s another car from the antique store “find” – a Hot Wheels Letter Getter. The U.S. mail truck casting was introduced in 1977, but this worn out version with the blackwall tires and the black plastic base is from two years later. I’ve never customized a Hot Wheel, but that was definitely on my mind when I picked this one up. I envision a Rat Rod version with fat white walls and a crazy blown engine sticking out of the rear doors. The large blank sides will obviously provide a nice canvas for some fun graphics.
The final pick of my 5-for-a-dollar was this diecast Chevy Chevette. I don’t know anything about this Hong Kong-made model, but it brought back some memories of the Chevette my sister used to drive when I was a teenager.
You don’t see many Chevettes on the road anymore, so I was surprised to discover one in my own neighborhood that’s in good running condition. This one is the same blue as my sister’s, although hers was a 4-door.