Mrs. Moparlee and I dropped in to St Clair Av. – the Little Italy area to those of you who know Toronto. We were walking around when this loooong black shape caught the corner of my eye as it glided by, in stark contrast to the jellybean and teardrop shapes of cars today, and pulled up to the curb a ways ahead. A lanky guy got out on the passenger side and rushed into the bank.
When we caught up to the big Ford, I started snapping photos, and noticed the driver, an older gentleman, standing near the car and looking wistfully at it. I went over and explained that I was shooting his car for a website, Curbside Classic, that specialized in old car finds at the curb. “Curbside Classic?!?” he blurted out with a startled look. “The guy in the bank there is from Curbside Classic; Niedermeyer is his name, like our great hockey players. He just flew out from Oregon today to buy my car, and he’s in there getting the cash right now. He’s planning to drive it back as soon as he pays me and drops us off at our house.”
“Oh, uh; I just remembered; he didn’t want anyone to know about him buying it. It’s some kind of hush-hush thing. He’s a bit…ah…odd”.
The owner went on; “This guy Niedermeyer said he’s always had a huge crush on these cars, and has been looking for just the right one for years, and when he saw my ad in Kijiji, he called and said he just had to have it, and wired me a deposit. But there’s something a bit disingenuous about him, sort of pretending like he doesn’t truly love these cars either, or being somehow embarrassed about his passion for them. And swearing me to secrecy about buying it. He’s obviously quite complicated and conflicted; he should go see a shrink. They’re cheaper here in Canada too”.
“And there’s something to do with his wife too, like she doesn’t want him to have it, or so he thinks, anyway. Or he’s just embarrassed about her knowing his passion for these. He said it’s going straight into a storage unit, and he’s only going to be able to take it out to drive in secret once in a while. Told me he had to make up a story to her about going to a car museum here with his Canadian Curbside Classic buddies in order to explain his trip out here. She must be a real ball-buster. My wife loves this car. What a waste.”
The owner told me he had just pulled out his baby from winter storage in his garage a couple of days ago, and cleaned it up to sell it, strictly out of necessity as they were moving into an apartment and wouldn’t have parking for it anymore. He said he had bought it second hand and made a bunch of modifications. These mods, I am sure, would include the fancy spare tire carrier, the vinyl roof with opera windows and landau bars, wire wheels, chrome tailpipe tips, probably the mudflaps, and maybe some more on the interior.
He went on: “This guy Niedermeyer is really worked up about my modifications. He said he just can’t believe that someone could actually make one of these splendid cars look any better than how they came from Ford’s design studios. He thinks I’m some sort of car styling-folk art genius. Said he couldn’t believe his luck in finding this. His big worry was that I would sell it to someone else first. I wouldn’t do that, especially after he instantly wired me a deposit. But I’m beginning to think maybe I made a mistake; he’s pretty weird about this car. Maybe he’s some kind of car fetishist? Or maybe he’s a car masochist and he’s going to demo-derby it?”
“He stretches the truth, to put it mildly. He apparently claimed on his website that he had bought a ’72 a couple of years back, but then he had to take it back. Someone must have called him out for being a liar. Then he claimed it wasn’t really the right car for him, or something like that. And that car was such a steal. Idiot! Why would he do all that? And why would anyone want to read this crazy shit? You just can’t trust these internet self-aggrandizers. The more I read his stuff, the less I trust his intentions with my car. Maybe I should just drive off and leave him stranded here.”
What could I say? He had some valid points. Frankly, that whole incident with that ’72 LTD really was pretty lame and embarrassing, especially since that car was so pristine and cheap. What is the real story about his thing with these cars?
The seller continued: “I confronted him with that whole fiasco to, and he was obviously embarrassed and more than a bit cagey. He claimed that the only reason he didn’t buy that one was because it wasn’t a ’71, as well as not being a coupe. Said something about having had a mystical experience in a ’71 Galaxie 500 coupe one night in the summer of 1971, with three high school girls while on LSD. And that finding this one was like the Holy Grail. No wonder he’s wacky. So what’s he going to do with it? Look up those girls on Facebook almost 50 years later, and propose a reunion or reenactment? Good luck with that. They’ll pretend they never knew him. More likely, the whole story is just another of his many obvious fabrications.”
“I’m telling you, this guy is a whack job. Get this: when Niedermeyer found out that my car had the relatively rare and desirable 429 V8, he went all quiet and queasy on the phone. And then he told me it absolutely had to have the 400! Said he would pay me whatever it cost to have a 400 installed. How bat-shit crazy is that? And it’s not exactly easy finding one of those 400 boat anchors anymore that doesn’t have a bad block.
But I found one, and it’s in there now. Actually, it didn’t cost me a penny; I found this guy who swapped me straight across for my very healthy 429, and installed it for free too. He was so thrilled to upgrade his Marquis whose 400 was tired. Aren’t they all? I told Niedermeyer it cost me $3500 for the swap, plus my time in finding it. ‘No problem’, he said. He was just overjoyed to know that it’s going to have the 400, like the one he drove that night in ’71 when he was all fucked up. Can you believe it? Well, if you’re one of his followers at that site, you probably can. What other crazy shit does he go on about there?”
Mrs. Moparlee was getting more than a bit bored, and I could sense she was starting to wonder about all the time I spend at CC. I had been hoping to catch Paul come out of the bank with a wad of cash, and see him drive off in his new car. What was taking him so long? Maybe his bank account was overdrawn? He’s always complaining about not making enough money from Curbside Classic, even though he owns something like a dozen houses. I have to admit, he is a bit…ah…complicated.
But then I remembered about the seller being sworn to secrecy, and figured if I actually did meet Paul, he’d undoubtedly swear me to secrecy too, at pain of banning me from CC. Or something much worse (I hear he’s a bit hot-tempered). So I decided we’d best skedaddle along.
I wrote this up as soon as we got back home, my first ever CC submission, and emailed it to Jim Cavanaugh Friday evening. He was pretty jazzed when he read this, and said he’d make damn sure it got posted first thing Saturday morning, well before Paul can make it back to Oregon. Even if Paul is even half the the crazy-fast driver he’s always bragging about, it’s still going to take him at least 40 hours driving straight through, if he doesn’t get tossed in jail by the RCMP. And if that tired 400 doesn’t spill its guts.
So I figure he won’t get home until Sunday night at the earliest. I made Jim swear he’d take this post down again Sunday noon, so nobody say anything about this to him afterwards! It’ll be our little collective CC secret, ok? These neurotic types need to be indulged once in awhile. Maybe, just maybe, one of these years Paul and his beloved ’71 Ford will finally come out of the closet. I’m not holding my breath, though.
Here’s the links to Paul’s embarrassing saga with that ’72 LTD: