Fieldside Classics: Springtime Brings Auctiontime

Classic car line up at auction - Pontiac Datsun Chevrolet

What is so special about springtime? As winter fades away the grass greens, leaves return to trees, baby animals are born and car auctions return. I have been teaching my youngest son to drive (with a manual transmission car for an extra challenge) so he will likely be the primary driver on my Hyundai Elantra for summer weekends. As a result I informed my wife that I am on the lookout for a reliable road trip vehicle for myself. She just rolled her eyes when I mentioned the non-running forty nine year old Datsun pickup at this auction that I identified as a good candidate. But let’s check out everything on offer during the auction preview before settling on something.

three pedals of a Pontiac wagon

First in the line is a 1967 Pontiac Strato Chief station wagon with a manual transmission. This one is a very base specification car with a three on the tree as well as manual brakes and steering.  The Strato Chief was the lowest trim level in Canada but retired as a nameplate by 1967 in the United States.

Pontiac Strato Chief station wagon

If this car was not so massive I would have been very interested in bidding on it but I just do not have enough garage space to house it while getting it going again. This, like most of the vehicles in the auction, was amazingly solid with almost no structural rust. It had a little bit of an accident dent at the rear but overall amazing, body wise for such an old family workhorse.

Pontiac Strato Chief interior

The interior was in scruffy but usable condition with a few mystery wires hanging down that every good project car needs.

Pontiac Strato Chief engine - straight six

We were the only ones checking out the cars early on Sunday morning so the owner was both talkative and helpful. Great for getting the low down on many of the vehicles but less so for snagging photos. So a few shots are from the auction site like this photo of the straight six engine. Like many Canadian specification Pontiacs this one runs Chevrolet mechanical bits. Look how much room there is in the engine bay with unrivalled access to all components.

1975 Datsun pickup

Next up is the 1975 Datsun 620 pickup that I am very interested in bidding on. It appeared to be a solid survivor by the auction photos that were posted so I was eager to check it out in person.

As another oddity of the Canadian market Datsun sold these under the Sportruck (all one word) moniker.

The interior was very well preserved with only a layer of dust and some cracks in the dashboard to mark the nearly half century of time that had passed since it was new.

wheel well

What is even more remarkable is this little trucklet had zero rust through and even had factory paint left in the wheel wells.

engine seized

The engine compartment was complete and tidy looking. The auction site marked it as inoperable and unfortunately the engine seemed stuck. In talking with the owner he shared that the Datsun was his father’s and one day it had made all manner of odd noises before getting parked with a seized engine being the end result. This certainly put a damper on my bidding aspirations as that likely meant my thoughts of easily reviving it were too ambitious. But it does display the value of checking these out in person.

Given the amazing body condition I was still interested in this one as a project (which I do not really need) but it does not scratch my itch of having an interesting road trip car on the cheap this summer.

Apparently I somehow missed getting a front shot of this 1960 Chevrolet Apache so here is one from the auction catalogue. Again, it was amazingly solid body wise with some dents but a little rust. This one was missing an engine but retained its four speed manual gearbox. It does have the desirable step side box but is a heavier duty 3/4 ton model. A very nice truck and project, just not for me.

This 1974 Buick Apollo is another vehicle I had some interest in but was again billed as a non-runner. You just do not see this Chevrolet Nova sibling very often, especially in hatchback form.

Decent interior

The interior was pretty reasonable except for the sun-visors taken down for some reason perhaps to remedy the usual headliner woes.

The body was not perfect but decent.

body work in progress

From the auction photos the rear passenger side looked heavily bondo’d but it was actually done with the old school leading method.

Probably a bigger project than I would like but this is still a contender for a cheap classic car depending on price.

Next up is another interesting project in a 1964 Dodge Polara 440 coupe. The Polara part of the name on this model was only used in Canada. The 440 part does not refer to the engine displacement but is just a trim name. This car was equipped with a 318cid V8 and push button transmission.

The interior was actually pretty decent but had some evidence of mouse activity.

The Dodge had the vibe of sitting under a tree for several decades with plenty of moss. That said the body was, again, surprisingly solid despite this and it is likely a better project than it appears at first.

Bumper sticker

This one wins the award for the best bumper sticker. “Sex relieves tension”. The 1972 license plate is an obvious mismatch.

rear of the car

This is not for me, with a pile of revival work to be done. Feel free to make fun of me in the comments section if I come home with this one.

This 1974 Pontiac LeMans Sports Coupe is equipped with a non-running 400cid V8 engine and while I like it I probably will not be bidding on it either with the costs of tires, windshield and re-registering bringing it higher than I would like.

Not sure what happened here. Heat damage?

Its a runner.

The rest of the line up was categorized as running including this 1965 Ford F250 sporting a flat deck but also coming with the original box. The paintwork is well beyond the patina stage but structurally it was in not bad shape. This one was apparently in use until a few years ago around the farm.

Interior is not bad

The interior is not bad all things considered with a seat cover made out of what looked to be an old shower curtain.

1980 Pontiac Grand Prix in silver.

This 1980 Pontiac Grand Prix had a poor paint job but looked otherwise solid. My wife hates these 80s GM two doors after having to drive her father’s related Oldsmobile Cutlass as a teenager.

It needed a windshield and tires at minimum plus that paint is a lost cause.

Old diesel VW.

When was the last time you saw a two door early Volkswagen Jetta? This 1986 example is a diesel but not a turbo diesel like the front badge claims. The odometer indicated a low for a diesel 173k or so kms but the owner quickly stated that the real mileage was well over double that.

Stick shift and a reasonable interior but I do not claim to know much about diesels despite owning a Mercedes 220D briefly.

Its a Buick.

This 1991 Buick Regal had some paint issues but seemed ok otherwise. I suppose if it went really cheap I could take an interest but likely not. I do like the rims on these.

I have always liked mini trucks and this S10 appeared to be in reasonable shape. It was a fairly low trim level with a five speed manual transmission mated to the 2.2L four cylinder. The owner told us he used to drag this one around the field behind his big harvester in order to have a vehicle with him.

A stang but V6.

This 1996 Ford Mustang belonged to his son who had left home without it. It was a 3.8L V6 and automatic car. Fun fact; I have owned both four and eight cylinder Mustangs but never a six.

Pair of trucks

The owner and his brother used to drive these almost matching 1966 pickups to high school. One is a Chevrolet and the other a GMC. Both run and are very solid body wise but do not have functional brakes. They probably do not run well enough to drive home but certainly to get it onto a trailer.

Chevrolet version of the twin trucks.

The Chevrolet is a six cylinder with a manual floor shift transmission, the GMC is V8 with a column shift manual.

Here is the GMC version.

Same year, same color, same patina but different brand and grill styling.

Bed needs work.

Unsurprisingly the wood in the bed needs work.

Very basic interior.

The good thing about such a basic interior is there is not much to go wrong. One could likely get away with a deep clean and a new seat cover. I suspect these two trucks will go higher than my self imposed budget but we will see.

Canadian special.

While I do not care all that much for the seemly endless supply of Chevelle SS cars (or clones) of this generation at car shows I do find this 1968 Beaumont Custom very appealing. Growing up I always thought the sedan variant looked like a poor styling afterthought compared to the two door model but time seems to have softened my opinion on that front. It is the Canadian variant (also exported to a few other markets like South Africa) which appeals to me as it makes it rather more unique. The owner mentioned this was an unfinished project car from his father so it has likely been off the road for a long time.

Workable interior.

The owner stated this was a 283cid V8 backed by a two speed Powerglide but the fender call out badges indicated a 307. This was a very basic specification car indicated by the single engine belt. I got to start this one up and it ran ok after some help from a spray of starter fluid. It would likely benefit from a tune up at least.

close up of badge.

While sold at Pontiac-Buick dealers and having a rather Pontiac inspired motif, Beaumont was a stand alone marque from 1966 to 1969.

Interior was ok except for nasty headliner.

While the exterior sheet metal was derived from the Chevrolet Chevelle, the dashboard was sourced from US Pontiac (GTO/LeMans/etc). The headliner and floor are a bit gross on this one but the door cards and dashboard are in reasonable shape. Some of the doors worked a bit better than others.

It has a tow hitch at least.

The paintwork is in tough shape but the body was not too horrible. All the rare trim was in place including the tail lights. I assume some of that trim indicates a vinyl roof at one point? I will place this one in the maybe category depending on price but I probably should pass on it.

Some squarebodies.

There were a few GM square bodies which are hot these days but they were all on propane which I do not want to deal with.

1963 Rambler Ambassador 990 four door sedan.

While this group was heavy on the GM side there was a lone American independent up for grabs in this 1963 Rambler Ambassador 990 sedan. Like a lot of the other cars, the body was pretty solid but the interior was weathered and windshield cracked. And in need of tires. I missed a front shot of this one so this is another auction house photo. Hard to tell from this angle but the headlights were missing like the Buick. The Ed Anderson styling was all new for 1963 and was AMC’s attempt to move away from its staid image. In my opinion these are fine looking cars especially in top level 990 trim, and this one looks particularly sharp with the contrasting white roof.

Not bad interior.

Minus some nasty carpet this one might be ok with a deep clean.

The 327cid V8 is pretty complete minus a carburetor and air cleaner. I am unlikely to bid on this one as it is a bigger project than I am looking for.

A lovely 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300 sedan. Diesel.

One car we did not see was this lovely 1983 Mercedes-Benz 300 which was owned by the brother and his wife. It was apparently a cherished classic car they were reluctantly parting with after not using it enough. The auction photos showed it to be in very good condition and it was very likely well out of my price range. This one was located inside in the shop and given I was not a serious bidder we did not want to waste their time looking over it.

There was a selection of heavy trucks which we did not check out as I certainly do not have space for one of these. If you would like to browse the auction listings yourself they are here. I would welcome any comments, recommendations, or speculation on what I should bid on. I have not committed to buying one for sure but depending on price I am certainly interested in a number of them. Bidding wraps up on the 15th. Bring on springtime and the auctions!