The continuing story of my 1964 Pontiac Tempest Custom...
Love at first sight?

Being the astute observer of automobiles my brother is, the car caught his eye.  He called me and we discussed it in several conversations and shortly thereafter, he took some pictures and emailed them to me.  From the pictures Allen took, the car did have some appeal.  I was following several vehicles on eBay and in the local trader paper, though and didn’t really give the car too much thought, at first.  My first choice for a restoration project was a full-size 63 through 69 Chevrolet, preferably a 64 or 65 Impala 2-door hardtop.  These cars are extremely popular with collectors and decent cars are both hard to find (at least in my price range) and expensive, even those needing restoration.  I hadn’t considered a Pontiac, as I didn’t think I could find a good candidate in my price range.

After several of the cars (actually all of them) I looked at didn’t pan out, my thoughts again turned to the car Allen saw on the side of the road.  He thought the car looked solid and reported to me that it had a 400 c.i.d. engine mated to a 350 Turbo Hydramatic transmission.  At least that’s what the for sale sign indicated.  Engine originality wasn’t a big concern.  Anyway, the chances of it having a 389 Tri-Power under the hood were about as unlikely as me getting a math scholarship.

In the pictures, I could see the car had a forlorn, lonely look to it; as if it were in need of a kind owner to mend its wounds. After looking at its plaintive expression, what else could I do but buy it? I had to save it from the indignity of spinners and a 3-foot tall wing on the trunk.

Sarah also thought the car had potential, and after viewing all of the pix taken by Allen, we decided to take a look at it during our upcoming trip to Georgia. We were especially impressed with the emerald green velour upholstery. Actually, the upholstery is in very good condition. Too bad I’m not a leprechaun, though. I’d feel right at home.

During all of this, I had talked to the car’s owner several times and gotten some basic information. About the only definite info I could get was that he needed to sell it and plenty of people were looking at it, so I needed to make a decision pretty quick. Hmm, a warning sign? Apparently, a number of people were interested, but none of them had ready access to the cash needed to purchase the car. That’s where I had the advantage, thanks to the generosity of my wife. (I really don’t think the kids will miss the money from their college funds). He did confirm that the engine was a 400, the tranny had a shift kit and, most importantly, the car ran. Technically, the car did run, but that’s about it. More on that later…

I decided that it would be best to look at the Tempest before asking the owner about meeting us where the car was located, in the event my inspection of it showed some serious problems. Overall, the first impression was positive. The car did need paint, but the body was straight and relatively rust free. The engine appeared to be in good shape, and the interior, while not the color combination I would have chosen, was in decent shape. Actually, the dashboard looks like it was tortured with a spray can, because it WAS tortured with a spray can.

After looking at the car, I decided that I should buy it. Sarah agreed, and I called the owner and asked him to meet us. While the car was suitable, there was no way that I intended to pay the asking price. Sarah, who has a much better head for business and finances, gave me bargaining advice. She is a wise woman, indeed. Had she not been there to save me, I would have come home with a handful of magic beans, but no car. After my initial offer, $400 less than the asking price and the shedding of many crocodile tears by the seller, we came to a handshake deal. Well, sort of. Prior to the actual transfer of paperwork and cash, he mentioned, several times, that he’d had several offers that were more than our agreed-upon price. I asked him if any of those prospects had the money to but the car – the answer was no. I asked him more than once if he wanted to end the deal and sell the car to one of his buyers with “virtual” cash or sell the car to the man with the “real” cash. He decided to go with the real cash, for some reason.

As we were getting ready to sign the paperwork, his cell phone rang. It was a caller interested in the car, who was supposedly going to offer about $200 more that I did. You could see the seller squirm. He asked me if I could wait 10 minutes for the other person to arrive (I declined), then handed me his phone to talk to some (other) idiot that wanted the car! After spending a few minutes on the phone with the caller, I again asked the owner if he really wanted to sell the car to me. He did, and we finally closed the deal.

Have you seen my bumper?

Note the look on its face.  Sad, isn't it?

If you shut your eyes, you'd think you were sitting in a new car.

Yeah, the A/C works.  Just needs a shot of Freon.

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