2005.11.16 A used car fit for a Pope

Written by David Green.

By RICH FOLEY

Did you hear that Pope John Paul II’s 1975 Ford Escort was sold at auction last month? That’s the type of vehicle that isn’t at the top of very many want lists, but eight bidders pushed the price to $690,000.

For that kind of money, you could buy several hundred run-of-the-mill used Escorts. I’m not sure why the Pope connection makes it worth so much more. It’s not like it heals its own flat tires or anything. But if you waste time reading automotive classified ads like I do, you’ll come across many lame justifications for the asking price.

For example, one dealer recently advertised a truck with the selling point that it had been used by a sheriff’s department to aid Hurricane Katrina victims. This is a reason to buy a vehicle? Actually, I have another ad worse than that.

A dealership in Cincinnati that specializes in limos and hearses ran an ad last year for a 1985 Cadillac hearse, stating that it was previously owned by the funeral home that handled Martin Luther King’s services. Remember, it was a 1985 hearse. It had nothing to do with Dr. King’s funeral, it just happened to be purchased by the firm that conducted the funeral 17 years ago. Care to own it?

But enough of this morbid stuff. There’s plenty of entertaining ads out there. Like the one for a 1937 Citroen. “Made to look like a WW II German staff car,” the ad states. “Good for WW II re-enactors.” World War II re-enactors? You mean people dress up like Eisenhower, Patton or Hitler and re-run D-Day? Where will they find surplus tanks?

I enjoy the ads from people trying to put a positive spin on a bad situation. The ad for a 1973 Plymouth Barracuda says it all: “Rough and rusty, needs trunk and quarter panels. Piece of junk but who cares, it’s a Barracuda! $3,500.” I think I’ll pass.

I’ll pass on this one, too. “1992 Plymouth Acclaim. 147,000 miles, best car on the lot, $1,350.” They’re not kidding, either. You should see the rest of their inventory.

Some people turn to humor when there’s not much else to say about a vehicle. Like this one: “1996 GMC Sonoma Extended Cab. 4x4, it helps if you’re color blind.” Or “1992 Olds 88 Royale. Recent front end inspection.” Or “1999 Mitsubishi Eclipse. Must sell, moving to the moon.”

The woman who placed this ad may want more than a buyer: “1959 Dodge Coronet. 53,426 actual miles. Husband passed away, let’s talk.” About the car?

Some people just don’t have any luck, like the owner of this 1989 Ford Thunderbird: “Recent complete exhaust, shocks, complete transmission rebuild. Now needs head gasket.” Or this owner: “1991 Toyota Corolla. Lost battle with Dodge Neon. Everything worked before accident. $500 OBO.”

The owners of these next two cars realize some people might be scared off by their power: “2005 Dodge SRT 4. Use race gas and be close to 500 hp. Yes, it’s fast and no, your Mom won’t let you buy it.” And “1965 Pontiac GTO. 400 hp. Want economy? Buy a Honda.”

The selling points some owners decide to stress are sometimes a bit puzzling. Like this one: “2004 Chevy Monte Carlo. Never sat in back seat.”  Or “1997 Ford F350 Crew Cab. Complete with an extra fuel tank or perhaps you could store 80 gallons of lemonade or gravy.” Or “1986 Chevy Camaro. Graphic chick owned.” I’m not really sure what a “graphic chick” is. Any ideas?

Then there are the ads that make you think they really don’t want to sell the vehicle in the first place. Like “2001 Chevy 3500. 4WD is handy, 4WD is good. 4WD ain’t on this truck.” Or “2003 Ford Excursion. If your intention when you call is to point out the fact that it doesn’t have a moonroof, don’t call. We already know this and we don’t care.” Or “1997 Ford F250 Crew Cab. 183,000 may seem sorta high to you, but this one only has 182,000. Still seem high? Well, too bad, don’t call us then.”

And finally, an ad that says hardly anything at all: “1999 Something or Other. I can’t remember what truck this is, but I am sure that it is a terrific truck at a great deal, and in pristine condition.” Not much to go on, is there? Still, you might as well give them a call, it’s bound to be cheaper than the Pope’s Escort.

     - Nov. 16, 2005
  • Front.sculpta
    SCULPTORS—Morenci third grade students Emersyn Thompson (left) and Marissa Lawrence turn spaghetti sticks into mini sculptures Friday during a class visit to Stair District Library. All Morenci Elementary School classes recently visited the library to experience the creative construction toys purchased through the “Sculptamania!” project, funded by a Disney Curiosity Creates grant. The grant is administered by the Association for Library Services to Children, a division of the American Library Association.
  • Funcolor
    LEONIE LEAHY was one of three local hair stylists who volunteered time Friday at the Morenci PTO Fun Night. Her customer, Aubrey Sandusky, looks up at her mother while her hair takes on a perfect match to her outfit. Leahy said she had a great time at the event—nothing but happy clients.
  • Shadow.salon
    LEARNING THE ROPES—Kristy Castillo (left), co-owner of Mane Street Salon, works with Kendal Kuhn as Sierra Orner takes a phone call. The two Morenci Area High School juniors spent Friday at the salon as part of a job shadowing experience.
  • KayseInField
    IN THE FIELD—2004 Morenci graduate Kayse Onweller works in a test plot of wheat in Texas. She’s part of Bayer CropScience’s North American wheat breeding program based in Nebraska, where she completed post-graduate work in plant breeding and genetics.
  • Front.winner
    REFEREE Camden Miller raises the hand of Morenci Jr. Dawgs wrestler Ryder Ryan as his opponent leaves the mat in disappointment. Morenci’s youth wrestling program served as host for a tournament Saturday morning to raise money for the club. Additional photos are on the back page.
  • Front.bank.2
    SHERWOOD STATE Bank opened its Fayette office at a grand opening Friday morning, drawing a large crowd to view the renovated building. Above, Burt Blue talks to teller Cindy Funk, while his wife, Jackie, looks around the new office. The Blues missed the opening and took a quick tour on Tuesday. Few traces remain of the former grocery store and theater, however, part of the original brick wall still shows in the hallway leading to the back of the building. The drive-through window should be ready for customers later in the month.
  • Front.carry.casket
    CARRYING—Riley Terry (blue jacket) and Mason Vaughn lead the way, carrying an empty casket outside to the hearse waiting at the curb. Morenci juniors and seniors visited Eagle Funeral Home last week to learn about the role of a funeral director and to understand the process of arranging for a funeral.
  • Front.make.three
    FROM THE LEFT, Landon Wilkins, Ryan White and Logan Blaker try out their artistic skills Saturday afternoon at the Morenci PTO’s first Date to Create event. More than 50 people showed up to create decorated planks of wood to hang from rope. The event served as a fund-raiser for miscellaneous PTO projects. Additional photos are on the back of this week’s Observer.

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