Sunday, September 30, 2007

Those sort of things just don't happen, folks!

When I graduated from high school, my parents and I realized that I would need a set of wheels to drive back and forth to my classes at Johnson County Community College, so in the summer of '77, we started shopping for a car. One day my dad, who had an uncanny knack for picking out good, reliable used cars, looked up from the classifieds section and asked me, "How would you like to go look at an Opel GT for sale?"

My reaction was, "UGH! An Opel GT? What the heck is that? I don't think I want one!" I'd never seen one, and it sounded like an ugly, pedestrian sort of vehicle, not unlike a Yugo. We went to see the car anyway. The moment I saw it sitting in the seller's driveway, however, I was immediately begging my dad to buy it. He did.

For the better part of a year, I drove that dark metallic green two-seater everywhere. I loved it for its sporty, curvaceous lines and cool, funky headlights that popped up in a clockwise motion with the pull of a lever on the floor console, near the four-speed manual stick. I had always thought that this little car, often called a 'baby Corvette' was far better looking than the Corvette of that period, a car with a sharp, angular lines. My beautiful '71 Opel GT came to a tragic end one day, a story I will tell later on.

Fast forward thirty years, to 2007. For over fourteen years, I was content to drive my 1990 Honda Civic Si hatchback, yet another car my dad had helped me find, and one that I love driving and one that, I am sure, will be a classic and collectible vehicle one day. As a matter of fact, I've had several people approach me asking to buy it, to which I politely but firmly said no.

For some strange reason, I started having a hankering for a classic car and began browsing the listings on Craigslist and eBay Motors, feeling a little bit sick whenever I came across something I wanted but knew I couldn't have because of financial constraints. I think this hankering started because I miss my mom (who died very suddenly and unexpectedly last year), and thinking about her caused me to think about the two 70's-era VW Beetle convertibles of hers that I grew up with and how much fun they were to ride in.

She was the one who taught me how to drive my '71 Opel (actually, my cousin Deana tried, with little success, to teach me using one of the Beetles). That Opel was all the incentive I needed to learn and master the stick shift tranny, and I did it in record time ;-)

Anyway, not long after I started browsing eBay Motors and Craigslist, I posted a 'wanted' message for an Opel GT on one of eBay's affiliate sites, I didn't really have much hope that someone would respond, so I promptly forgot all about it... until just over a week ago, when I got an email, sent through Kijiji, from a Matthew C. in Colorado Springs. He said he had a '72 Opel GT in decent condition sitting in his garage, and had not had the time to restore it, what with all the deployments to Iraq he'd been on. Excited, I immediately sent a reply saying that I was definitely interested in the car.

A few days passed. I had not yet gotten a reply back from Matt, so I looked up his phone number on and found it, then made the call. He was at home. I asked him for further details about the car. So far, good. I then asked him what he was looking to get out of it pricewise. I nearly fell out of my chair when he told me it was mine if I could pick it up. In other words, he was giving me the Opel FREE. I was totally stunned. How often does someone do that with a classic and collectible car?? Especially a sports car. I frequently browse the automotive listings on Craigslist and people want $400-500 for totally rusted out hulks that are missing vital parts like the engine/transmission, etc. According to Matt, this Opel was pretty much a complete car; he'd driven it around the block once when he first acquired it back in '02, but then put it away in the garage, where it sat for five years.

I told him I would accept the car and make arrangements to have it picked up and transported to Kansas. I should mention that I was getting this car totally sight unseen, as Matt had not emailed any photos of it-- for all I know, I could be getting a completely rust-eaten and worthless piece of metal. I immediately listed the car on uShip, and waited for shipping service providers to make a bid on the shipment. If you're not familiar with uShip, it's a great website that connects you, eBay-style, with shipping service providers from all over, many of whom specialize in transporting vehicles and furniture; others move animals, including livestock, and even houses. Bids are received via email and you decide, based on the provider's feedback rating and types of services offered (such as enclosed trailers with tie-downs, insurance, etc.) whose bid you will accept.

Once a match is made, then you pay a small deposit via PayPal or credit card and then uShip gives you the provider's contact info so you can make the arrangements. After the item is delivered, then both parties leave feedback for each other, just like eBay. You can even list current eBay auctions on uShip, even if not the high bidder, and solicit bids. If you don't win the auction, then the shipment is canceled--but if you do win, then you have a number of providers lined up to take your item to you. It's an awesome site and I've used it once before when I won a 1965 Lambretta Cento scooter on eBay in Indiana and needed someone to pick it up and deliver it to me. That went very smoothly, which gave me the confidence to list a much larger item for shipment--the Opel GT.

I found a provider almost right away who said that he was going to be passing through Colorado Springs and would be loading my car into an enclosed trailer with tie downs. And his bid was for a reasonable price, and he had 100% positive feedback. Perfect. I accepted his bid and made the arrangements. He picked my Opel up the very next day and delivered it the next evening, on Thursday, September 27th, just five days after Matt C. first emailed me through I now had my second Opel GT sitting in my garage, patiently waiting for some TLC....