Look At What I Found!: Not For Sale

Ronnie Schreiber
by Ronnie Schreiber
Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth

Every year, the Ypsilanti Automotive Heritage Museum sponsors the Orphan Car Show, dedicated to vehicles, brands, and companies that are not with us anymore. Lots of oddball cars and classes means lots of graphic content for Cars In Depth and maybe an article or two at TTAC. It looks like there are more than 800 images on the memory cards so it’s going to be a bit before I get them all processed and winnowed for a proper report on the show for the Best & Brightest. Still, as I’ve said before, you never know when you’re going to find an interesting car or something else automotive worthy of note. Driving to the Orphan show I decided not to take the Interstates and instead took winding two lane roads out to the Ann Arbor / Ypsilanti area. I wasn’t sure about an intersection and ended up going a couple of miles in the wrong direction. On the way back I noticed a home with a bunch of old Fords in front of the garage. There were a couple of 1970s vintage LTDs, two Fox body Mustangs, and a Pinto. One of the Mustangs has current license plates and looks like it’s a daily driver. The rest of the cars appeared, from a distance of about 100 feet, to be solid restoration candidates, but they had the look of “when I get the time” projects. What really caught my eye, though, was the yard sign standing by one of the big Ford sedans: “Cars NOT For Sale – Don’t Ask!”. It’s enticing to wonder what’s out of sight in the garage, but it’s still a nice collection of Fords.

For a second I was tempted to knock on the door and ask the owner about his collection and his sign, but I figured that maybe, just maybe he was tired of answering questions. I’d like to write something poetic or insightful about dreams as yet unfulfilled, but to be honest, it was just a bunch of old cars by the side of the road.

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth

Not long ago I found out about Cars In Barns, a web site devoted to, well, you’re not stupid. People report old cars that they spot in barns, behind buildings, in fields, and wherever you might find an interesting old car (but aren’t all old cars interesting?). Some are proverbial “ran when parked” barn finds. Others are shells, exposed to the elements and returning to the same. Many of the cars are probably beyond restoration, some of them are steel and rust lacework, but every single one of them is about passion, or obsession. Many of the reports at Cars In Barns read something like: “I’ve known about this car for ten years, but every time I ask the owner, he says that it’s not for sale.” To me that speaks of passion on both sides, the passion of the owner who still dreams of a restoration, and the passion of the guy that keeps bugging him about selling it. That passion for a specific car is sometimes rewarded. It’s not entirely uncommon, when reading a particular vehicle’s history or hearing an owner recounting the acquisition thereof, that the first efforts to buy it were rebuffed. “I’d been asking him to sell me the car for years and finally, when he was thinning out the collection and wanted it to go to a loving home, he called me.”

Photos courtesy of Cars In Depth

So I understand the guy with those Fords feeling the need to ward off the lookie loos and wish him well with his cars, whether they end up as 100 pt restorations, parts cars or, sadly, Chinese washing machines. I also understand the people who stop, see the sign and say, “well it can’t hurt to just leave my phone number in case he decides to sell.”

Ronnie Schreiber
Ronnie Schreiber

Ronnie Schreiber edits Cars In Depth, the original 3D car site.

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3 of 18 comments
  • DIYer DIYer on Oct 07, 2011

    I live a couple of miles away from this house, and there is an older woman living there, whose husband passed away a number of years ago, and these were his vehicles. I used to see him tooling around in the green Pinto with a Vietnam Vets plate, wearing a Gilligan-type beach hat. It was his daily driver, but I haven't seen it on the road in fifteen years. This is nothing more than a widow who wants to hang on to her late husband's old cars; I am sure there are lots of fond memories there for her, otherwise she would have junked them.

    • Ronnie Schreiber Ronnie Schreiber on Oct 07, 2011

      DIYer, Thanks for the backstory. I'd love to talk to her about her husband's cars.

  • Fincar1 Fincar1 on Oct 07, 2011

    There was a house with a black 1937 Ford coupe in the carport. I used to pass by when I would take the back road to or from my job. Finally I stopped on the way home...the lady said her husband was planning to restore the car and it was *not* for sale, but that I could leave my name and phone number if I wanted. She produced a piece of lined notebook paper, and I think I became seventeenth on the list. Needless to say I didn't ever find out what happened to the '37 when it finally left that carport.

  • MaintenanceCosts "But your author does wonder what the maintenance routine is going to be like on an Italian-German supercar that plays host to a high-revving engine, battery pack, and several electric motors."Probably not much different from the maintenance routine of any other Italian-German supercar with a high-revving engine.
  • 28-Cars-Later "The unions" need to not be the UAW and maybe there's a shot. Maybe.
  • 2manyvettes I had a Cougar of similar vintage that I bought from my late mother in law. It did not suffer the issues mentioned in this article, but being a Minnesota car it did have some weird issues, like a rusted brake line.(!) I do not remember the mileage of the vehicle, but it left my driveway when the transmission started making unwelcome noises. I traded it for a much newer Ford Fusion that served my daughter well until she finished college.
  • TheEndlessEnigma Couple of questions: 1) who will be the service partner for these when Rivian goes Tits Up? 2) What happens with software/operating system support when Rivia goes Tits Up? 3) What happens to the lease when Rivian goes Tits up?
  • Richard I loved these cars, I was blessed to own three. My first a red beauty 86. My second was an 87, 2+2, with digital everything. My third an 87, it had been ridden pretty hard when I got it but it served me well for several years. The first two I loved so much. Unfortunately they had fuel injection issue causing them to basically burst into flames. My son was with me at 10 years old when first one went up. I'm holding no grudges. Nissan gave me 1600$ for first one after jumping thru hoops for 3 years. I didn't bother trying with the second. Just wondering if anyone else had similar experience. I still love those cars.