Educator Dan Spins The Public Surplus CC Auction Roulette

“Public Surplus Vehicles – Sealed Bid Auction” do those words fill you with delight? Do they fill your spouse or significant other with dread?

As many of you know I work for a large school district in New Mexico. Because of the geographical size (5000 sq. mi.) there are many fleet vehicles in the district. Now I’ve been told several times that they do unload the “surplus” ones periodically, but even having been employed here since August of 2002 I have not heard of these extra vehicles being sold off. Well my friends that changed this week! When a colleague and friend of mine who works in my department was overheard by me talking to a relative (on the phone) about some of the “surplus vehicles” that were being auctioned off, you know my ears perked up like a dog hearing the can opener.

After she got off the phone I asked a few questions. She is Native American and calls dibs on the old Chevy van you see in the pictures, wanting it so her cousin can transport his Indian Dance group between shows. (Sorry all you van lovers.)

So some details on the vehicles; the oldest is a 1978 model and the newest is a 1996 model. The highest mileage I observed on the ones that actually had 6-digit odometers was 175,000 miles while the lowest mileage observed was at 108,000. The Pontiacs and Dodges were witnessed by me on the road as late as May of last year, the other vehicles I have not seen in actual use, god knows how long they’ve been sitting.

Inspections of the vehicles will start on September 23rd and end on September 26th. Bids must be received by 2 pm on September 27th, at which time the bids will be read. Inspections do not include driving the vehicle, only visual and start it up, listen to it run sort of thing. Any of you “seasoned veterans” have any tips for me? Unfortunately the bid packets are only being accepted in person. I WILL NOT be responsible to your spouse or significant other for the car-casses you drag home and I’m not accepting bids for you.

Now you might be asking yourself; “Dan, why the heck are you bidding on any of this stuff?” Have I told you that the “World’s Greatest Fiancé™” is also the world’s most supportive? I came home on Monday having heard of the auction, found out where the vehicles were parked and after letting her vent about her day, being supportive, I told her about my predicament.

“Angel, I discovered a dangerous thing today. I was made aware of surplus vehicles that the district is selling and of course I had to go look. Now I’ve got an itch to bid on one.” Then I proceeded to give her the details about the bidding process, I also told her that I was torn between trying to find a “good driver” (ie: to save gas over my F150 – visible in the background of at least one of the pictures) and finding a total fantasy project car, basically bidding on a clean, solid, rust free hulk to turn it into what I wanted. That hypnotizing Latina/Navajo/Japanese/Hopi face looked over at me and said; “Dan, first I know you won’t bid what you can’t afford. Second, this idea is totally you.”

On Tuesday, because of some district business I was taking care of, my lady had to pick me up after work. She was tired and told me; “You drive.” I piloted her Vibe from the central office parking lot to where the cars were parked (the Diplomat and Caprice had JUST been parked there and I NEEDED to see them.) I cruised through and pointed out a few of the more interesting ones to her. She giggled a little and smiled at me; “You are such an old man when it comes to cars.”

Some more interesting factoids before I depart; the LeSabre’s are 1990 models with crank windows AND 3800V6 power, the Bonneville is a 1992 SE option-less model, the Diplomat is a 1988 model with the 318V8, Torque-flite and Salon trim, and the 1987 Caprice comes up as “invalid vin” when I type the supplied (in the bid packet) vin # into any of the many internet databases that can be used to research such things.

You should know (whatever I bid on) my bid will be very low and of course there’s always the possibility of being outbid by the next envelope they open. I’m torn between the Buicks (low options, little to break, combined with bulletproof engine), the Pontiacs (most likely to actually be daily drivable but also most likely to be outbid on), the Caprice (B-body love yo! But also popular.) or the Diplomat (well… heck Paul knows why I’d bid on the Diplomat.)

What do the CC Commentariat think? Which one gets your blood pumping? Which one would cause someone to make you sleep on the couch for a week? Which one do you have such bad experiences with that you’d like to bid on it just so you could kill it with fire? How many of you think I’m effin’ crazy?