I Just Couldn’t Buy It

Last weekend I made a trip down to North Carolina to visit my son and look at a 78 Chevy Stepside he found for an outstanding price. The pictures looked reasonable for the money, so I took a chance and rode down with the family (about a four hour drive) to take a look.

I was rather excited about it, as I liked the pictures my son sent me. here are some of those so you’ll see what I mean.

Don’t get me wrong, this truck needs some work. It was everything I could want from a truck like this. I liked the stance. There were a lot of new parts on the truck. I didn’t like the rattle-can red spray paint on the rims, but that could be easily taken care of.

The truck had some issues. Mostly concerning rust all in the typical places you’d find them on a truck of this age. The rocker panels were very much TOAST. They’d need to be replaced if I were to keep it. It had some other old Bondo issues and just some rather nasty clean up items. One of the major items I see with it is it has manual brakes. I’d put a booster on there so fast it would make your head swim (and the truck stop!). I’ve dealt with manual brakes before and it’s not a lot of fun, especially for a larger vehicle.

Mechanically it had a few issues as well. The first and foremost problem was, it doesn’t run. My son had dumped some fuel down the carb the day before and had the engine running for 5-10 seconds he said, so I knew it was just a fueling issue. The truck has the small, in-line, glass fuel filter. It was bone dry, so I was pretty sure the fuel pump had gone out of it. I was ready to replace it, which is most likely a 30 minute job at the most. The second thing which is wrong with it is the tranny pan is leaking. I’m pretty sure a new pan gasket would resolve the issue.

My son and I sat in the parking lot where the truck is parked waiting on the owner. When he finally arrived, we talked about the truck and found out it had been sitting for about 3-4 months. The person who bought the truck hadn’t had time to get it fixed. We talked a bit about it and I offered him $650. He had purchased it for $600, so he was making a little profit off of it. I asked him for the title and started looking for the VIN on the truck, only to find out they didn’t put it in the obvious spot on these truck (the dash). I looked online and found out they stamped the VIN on the frame rails, so we were in search of some numbers. I looked in the several places where it might be stamped, only to figure out those areas are covered by “stuff”. The only place I could find anything stamped on the frame rail was on the passenger side of the engine bay. The problem was, though, I couldn’t match these numbers to the title. I’m not saying the VIN wasn’t right between the title and the truck, I just didn’t have a way to verify it. DANG! I had to tell the guy I wouldn’t be able to purchase it from him. The guy said he completely understood.

My son and I left shaking our heads about it. I think he thought I should have bought it anyway. Realistically I could have had it titled without the vehicle itself ever getting checked. It would have been fine, had I been keeping the truck for myself. The problem is, I was going to do a fix/flip on this. Running, without any other modification, I could sell the truck for $2500 easily. With a little more work to it (throw in some metal panels), I could have turned it around for an easy $4000-4500. There was some serious profit to be made with the truck, but since I couldn’t verify the VIN I wasn’t going to touch it.

Since the guy is a friend of my son’s and seemed very nice and genuine, I later told my son to tell him exactly what was wrong with the truck, what to do to fix it, and the parts he’d need to do it. Realistically, it would have taken about $40-45 to get it running and about 30-45 minutes to do it. He can easily turn the truck around in a few days and have the money he needs to get some bills paid off. Well worth the time and effort. I hope he does it and is able to get it sold. Until next time … Be Well.

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