Friday, July 5, 2024

 So who, exactly, are we keeping our cars for?

If you've got a set up like this, then you
probably don't have any worries.
photo source: Robb Report

Have you ever given that any thought?

Whether or not they are valuable, or just an albatross around our neck, who will take them when we "shuffle off our mortal coil?"

Is this too depressing a thought to discuss? 

Who will even want the things?

If you have a younger family member that currently has a lot of interest in one of your cars, this could be a good starting point.

Getting an early start on deciding who will take possession of your little collection of cars is a good idea. This is especially appropriate if the vehicle is relatively modern, practical, and not that valuable. This is an especially good plan if the car is one of your daily drivers. 

An important consideration will be who will be able to take a vehicle without it becoming a burden?

Inheriting a vintage car of middling value will be a burden for most heirs. It's a car that will take up space, and will not usually be usable for daily transportation.  It will cost money to maintain, insure, and especially to store properly. The inheritor may like the idea of inheriting Gramp's or Dad's old car, but the reality is likely to be much different. They might be willing at first, but after a while they might decided that it's not going to work out. Then they might be criticized by their family members if they decide to sell the car. 

This is a consideration because many of our children, who are already in their 30's, are not quite where we were financially, and especially in terms of home ownership. It's hard to hold onto a car without a garage, driveway, or curb space in front of our residence.

photo source: dreams

A somewhat unpleasant thought for those of us who own vintage vehicles that are actually valuable, is that they become a big part in settling the estate. If you have a collection of valuable cars you can't just pass them out willy nilly to your grandkids or nephews, your children are liable to think that they should be sold and the proceeds divided up. 

I recently heard a story where an adult child of the deceased, put up one of their own cars for sale because they wanted to buy a particular car from the estate. I guess that it had been decided that their Father's collection would be liquidated and the proceeds dispersed to the heirs. We all know that most of our kids are not gear heads, and they have absolutely no interest in getting an old car!

"Car Collector," that's a term that makes some people think of affluent enthusiasts with Garage Mahals and warehouses where they store their vehicles. The vehicle code sees a collector as a hobbyist that owns one or more vehicles. Two vehicles constitutes a "Collection." 

There's probably at least one car hidden behind that junk!
photos source: Quora

Like a lot of car guys, besides actual cars we might have parts, tools, motorcycles, books, and memorabilia in our collections. If no one wants this stuff, then it just might remain with the surviving party until their passing.

It might also be a good idea to start thinking about where we can divest ourselves of this stuff.

From my experience with the AACA forum, it appears that really old cars are losing their appeal to younger members. Even Pre War cars from the 1940's. They are often difficult to sell. It doesn't matter what the actual value of an antique is, it is only worth what someone is willing to pay for it. A car could be legitimately valued at 50K, but if the car can't generate buyer interest, it really doesn't have any value. 

Whoever dies with the most toys wins! I'm sure that you've heard that statement. That's a fun thought, but what about the people that you leave behind?

You can't take 'em with you!

I have bought a couple of cars from estate sales. 

With my first, my XJS, the sale was handled by the son in law. The car was not titled in both spouses names, so the surviving spouse could not legally sign off the title. An official death certificate was needed to release the car for sale, along with some other forms. However, the SIL did not want to bother his MIL in her time of grief and he did not secure the needed certificate. I made the mistake of buying the car without the needed paperwork in order, and was unable to title the car in my name. It took months of waiting, then I contacted the widow who graciously straightened out the situation. I had to make another trip to So Cal to have her sign some documents, and provide me with the death certificate. It took almost a year.

It doesn't get any easier with the passing of time. It is intrusive to have to release a death certificate to a buyer. Better to have the necessary documents ready to go.

The second car I bought from an estate, was my '51 Jaguar. The sale was handled by the deceased's son, who had all the necessary paperwork lined up before the sale. He had an  entire package ready for me to take to the DMW, which made the transfer very easy.  

A simple thing that we can do is to have our cars titled to both ourselves and our current spouses. This way they can easily sign off the title and can sell or donate the cars as they see fit. 

We can be very idiosyncratic as car collectors, we like what we like. It doesn't matter to us if it is popular, or valuable. As "regular Joe" collectors we probably own several cars that don't have much market value. Many times we might have several non running rough projects, that we never got around to. We don't have the financial infrastructure available to maintain "this collection" for the future. We are not Jay Leno. 

We are involved with cars because we "love" them. It is distressing to think that a vehicle that we sacrificed to own and maintain, might not be valued by our survivors and heirs. But that is likely to be the case.

Maybe the time arrives when we should simplify our lives.

I'm beginning to feel that way. My house is full of cars, well at least my garage, driveway and at the curb. I only keep two vehicles at the curb, so I don't feel that I'm imposing a hardship on my neighbors by hogging the available parking spaces. But since I've got so many hobby cars, and since I'm retired, most of my cars sit, most of the time. My two garaged cars are a bit buried in there. The two driveway cars have to be shuffled around to get them out. That means pulling the car covers off, not an easy job with a Navigator!

Besides the expense of maintaining the cars, it's the sitting that bothers me. 

Sometimes my cars can sit for months on end. That's not good.

It's pretty clear to me that none of my kids will want, or be able to take any of my cars. I don't hold that against them, after all my Dad left two Chevy wagons and a Step Side truck behind, and I didn't want any of them. But if my cars will all be disposed of by donation or sale, why not deal with them now?  As much as I like my '96 Mustang, why not sell it right now? 

Why not pare down the stable? If we find something that we really have to have, we can buy it, and we'd probably have the room to keep it!

I have been considering this. More on this subject to follow.

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