As you can see, my 1974 Buick Apollo was a complete, handsome, and charming old car the first time I had it.
Here's the short version of the story. The car was the purchased in the early 2000's from the estate of a "little old lady" by the previous owner, who was a body guy. The car only had 13k miles on it at the time, but being a rust belt car still needed new quarter panels and some patches in the floors. The car was resprayed the original color, but with added metallic for extra pop.
I bought the car in the summer of 2007 for $5800, with 23k miles on it. My wife and I dated in it. I had lots of ideas and desires, but no money. We got married, bought the house, had a kid, had another kid. I ultimately decided to sell it because all I was doing with it was taking it out on the occasional Saturday night cruise by myself. I sold in in August of 2015 having put another 4k miles onto the odometer. Here's a rear 3/4 shot. You can see my wife's beloved '06 Mazda 3 in the background.
Frankly, I never regretted selling it. With that garage space, I was doing other fun things. I bought the Roadmaster wagon, rallycrossed the bajeebus out of the RallyMetro (still the best under $140 I've ever spent, thanks to @XJDano for that). Most recently I've been having fun on 2-wheels with a bunch of scooters and now my free motorcycle.
It was only in the last couple months that I started getting the itch to buy another classic. The spark for me was I began watching Vicegrip Garage on youtube. My wife got into watching it with me too. I figured if I sold a scooter and the motorcycle once I got it going, and maybe even talked my wife into selling her Vespa, then we could afford something decentish to enjoy as a family. My kids are older now. My 7-year old in particular loves to help in the garage, and even says she wants to be a mechanic when she grows up.
So, I started looking at classics. While most things were either rust buckets or nothing I could think of affording, it did appear there would be options. The reason I bought the Apollo in the first place, is because the value of it is way less than it would be if it was a '74 Nova ... despite the fact that the Nova was hit with the ugly stick in '73, and then hit even harder in '74. That paradigm is holding true still. You can't touch a Chevelle or a GTO on a 4-digit budget, not one you'd want anyways. But a Lemans or a Skylark or a Lesabre? There's stuff out there.
Then to my great surprise, I found my old Apollo for sale, from the very people who bought it from me. Then to my even greater surprise, when I showed the ad to Mrs. Shop-Teacher, she said I should make an offer! And then to my utter shock, that offer (which wasn't a lot over their then highest offer), was very quickly accepted!
Which leads me back to where we started. How did the car end up like this?
The couple that bought the car from me, were true enthusiasts. They had every intention of driving this car, and driving it a lot. They even put regular plates, instead of antique vehicle plates, because they wanted to drive it more than the AV plate restrictions would allow.
Once winter set in, they decided to fix the couple of problem areas in the body. It doesn't show in the pictures, but the lead joints where the A and C-pillars met the roof had reacted under the newer paint, and also along the drip rail. So they decided to shave the drip rails, which lead to a lot of surgery because its the drip rails that tie the pillars and the roof together.
This also caused them to pull the front and rear glass, where they found rust in the window channels that they repaired. At about this point they realized the paint that was on the car, because it was a custom mix (even though it started with the stock tone), was unmatchable. He said they tried something like 18 test panels before giving up.
Now they were into a color change, and the whole car got blown apart. Scope-creep had gone full steam ahead. They decided to murder the car out. They were going to paint it a dark Ford grey. They pulled all the trim and had it powder-coated black. And I do mean ALL the trim. They even had the wiper blade frames done.
They even bought wheels and tires, which they offered to sell to me separately. I think I'm going to stick with the Buick wheels myself.
Mid 70's American cars are known for giant bumpers that stick way out from the cars themselves. Urethane "bumper" fillers took up the gap between the bumper and the body. The Apollo was no exception, and the fillers were not in great shape. The rear one was even missing a piece (it fell off literally a week before I sold the car). Being Buick specific pieces, and having the durability of a candy wrapper, replacements simply do not exist.
When they bought the car, I told them how I'd always wanted to narrow the bumpers and tuck them into the car. They actually started the process. The bumpers were sandblasted, the bumper jack slots and trim holes were filled. I guess I'll have to finish the job and actually narrow the bumpers! Which, I reckon means I'd better learn my ass how to weld already!
But that still doesn't fully answer the question. WHAT HAPPENED? Scope-creep is only half the story. The other half of the story is, "We paid for a complete paint job."
A story as old as any. It happens with cars all the time. It happens with houses too. You trust the person doing your work, you pay them up front ... and they never finish the job. They got screwed, and they lost who knows how much money in the process.
I know exactly how much they lost to me. I know they spent a ton on powder-coating all those trim parts. The car has a new dashboard pad, new carpet, and a new package tray waiting for it that they purchased. Those aren't cheap. Foose wheels and Michelin tires aren't cheap.
It's a sad story. They spent so much money. They had such grand plans. And they got proper-fucked. They are very nice people. They went above and beyond to help @Miss-Mercedes and I get everything loaded safely. They did not deserve what happened to them.
I am putting this gadamn car back together! I'm doing it for myself. I'm doing it for my wife. I'm doing it for my kids. Hell, I'm doing it for them to. It won't be a fast process, and it won't be a show car, but it is going to be a car again!