How to score a derelict project car from a skeptical stranger


I’m always on the lookout for a project. My eternal hunt for overlooked and underappreciated classics causes me to follow a different route to the grocery store whenever I need a carton of milk, or take random exits off the interstate under the pretense of avoiding construction. After all, you never know where you'll find something cool and worthy of rescue.

This is a companion discussion topic for the original entry at https://www.hagerty.com/articles-videos/articles/2019/03/13/how-to-buy-a-derelict-project-car

Keep us posted on the AMX progress. I always thought they were neat looking cars.

  • Jim

I could see myself leaving a note on the windshield of your Land Cruiser.


Is that a Dodge D-50 or a Plymouth Arrow pickup? I had a '79 Arrow pickup and I loved that thing! Bought it in Louisiana and drove it all over the southeast. I had a camper shell on it and put a plywood floor in and added a full size of foam on top and slept in it for camping.


So the guy with the 504 diesel: Tim, or Dave? Or did I miss something?


Back in the planning period for Denver’s new airport, the then Director of Aviation drove a 4-wd Javelin (model name?), in any case AMC and was amply fitted with airport construction, city, and aviation related radios. And 4wd or all wheel drive is needed here due to snow and construction site roads and muck. Said car was stolen, recovered, and I do not know if he returned it to official duty - my guess is the radios were gone. His private car was an AMX like shown in the above. My father’s work vehicles were 4dr Javelins years ago. I guess he like them.


One of the better articles on a website with great articles. Thanks for sharing.

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Yes never tell someone the car they are selling isn’t worth what they are asking or infer it is a piece of junk. I always say. I’m sure its worth what you are asking but I just can’t afford to pay that. Most times they will say, Well what will you give me for it then ? And then we can strike a deal. If its junk I just say, nice car but not exactly what I was looking for and bid them farewell, Rudeness won’t get you anywhere. I’ve bought and sold a bunch of them. Its always been my hobby and more about the hunt than anything else. :grinning


Glad you put “model name?” in there behind " 4WD Javelin!!! That would have been an AMC Eagle. They made a four door, four door wagon, and a two door (looked like the AMX in this article, just sat up higher). Just the old Concord (four doors/wagon) and Spirit (two door) bodies with 4WD, but the first decent sized 4WD cars, and the first in the US. When they came out in 1980 the only other 4WD car was the little Subaru. The Javelin was a two door pony car, 68-74.


You are certainly a kindred spirit, Matt. I’ve owned over a 100 cars in the last 40 years. All sorts of orphaned and odd vehicles people just left lying around. One of my favorite finds came one day after driving on the back roads of Cape Cod. I saw what looked like an old Chrysler in the back yard of this old salt box house. I slammed on the brakes, and turned around. My new wife knew I was onto another one! I pulled in the drive and an older gent came right out and greeted me. I asked about the Chrysler and he said it was his son’s and its been sitting there for five years. He went in the house for a moment and came out and said his son would sell it. I looked it over and it was a 1965 Chrysler New Yorker 2 door with a vinyl top, fender skirts and 66k on the clock. It was faded but complete and pretty much rust free. Opening the hood, there resided a massive 413 big block time capsule. I offered $500 and he made another call. Thumbs up! I came back with a battery and some fresh gas and within 10 minutes it was running in the driveway. Everything worked except the a/c. I played with car for months getting it sorted. The 413 was a beast and would torch the tires on that boat with no problem. The best feature was the etched glass headlight covers…so cool. So, you just don’t know until you ask. Be kind, polite and respectful and you can get some pretty cool things. Great article and brought back some great memories of my own acquisitions!


That’s just about the only car in my fleet not for sale. Its work ethic is simply too good.


It’s very close to being back on the road! It only needed floors, trunk metal, gas tank, wheel cylinders, master cylinder, brake lines, motor, frame repair, inner fender reconstruction, wiring, starter, solenoid, lock cylinder, door handles, door bushings, pins, and latches, a title, and a good scrubbin’.


I’m on track to be as wild as you! I just looked at a '66 this weekend, actually.


I once found 5 e type jaguars 6 cylinder and v12 convertibles stored on the second floor of an old ford dealership with a curving ramp going up. After looking them over. (They were covered in bird manure half an inch thick ,flat tires etc.) I knocked on every door around that weed chocked place until i found the owners address. When i arrived there his house had huge slabs of siding hanging off the place and the front door was nailed shut Thinking this is gonna be easy i went round back. At the back yard which was covered with beer bottles, macdonalds wrappers, and knee high weeds i got an answer. It was no, i asked why, they are my cars thats why. I pleaded with him saying i could make them like new cars again, didnt work, then i mentioned the value of just one, restored.he said ok i will sell you one for that. I gave up. Never forgot that place.


My wife and I have been there more times than I can count! We’ve also heard the entire list of responses; everything from “I was JUST getting ready to pull it into the garage to restore it!” to “I’ll NEVER sell that car/truck!” and the usual “I saw one go on Barrett Jackson for $75K so mine ought to be worth $10K UN-restored!” But there were always a few people that were really happy that there was someone else interested in rescuing their car truck, and I’d get a deal. There were a handful of free cars and a few really cheap ones.
The most humorous one that I can remember was looking though the Tidewater Trading Post and seeing an ad for “two 1971 Barracuda doors. $50 each” back in the early 90’s. When I phoned the number, I happened to ask “What else do you have from the Barracuda?”, and he replied “Well, I have the whole car, but the doors were the only thing that I thought that I could sell for a few bucks.”. I asked “How much for the whole car?” and he replied “I figured I’d crush the car after I sold the doors, so $100 for the whole car.”. It was a 318 car, and it was wrecked pretty hard in the left front fender and the left front suspension, and frame rail were toast, but I quickly sold the grille, the right fender, the whole interior, the rear frame rails… Made out like a bandit on that one!