Friday, December 13, 2013

Bill Stephens And Me: A Rant


My question was in '58, and remains, why would you pay good money for this?  Any money for this?  Gawdawful.


Hotshoe continually reminds me that there are different strokes for different folks, and we're all car buffs in the end.  His question to me is Rodney King's: "Can't we all just get along?"  Hell, no!   

A restored numbers-matching '58 Chevy convertible that looked like the one above went for $100,000 at a Mecum auction.  It had a 348 engine with Powerglide (that's a 2-speed slush-o-matic for you youngsters).  I drove cars like this.  They were awful: huge, ugly, boring.  Bad brakes and worse handling.  Poor engineering and worse quality.  There's a reason they're called "parade floats."  I wouldn't give $5000 for it in 2013 money.  Bill Stephens, a Mecum Auction commentator for Velocity Channel, loved it.

Within 2-3 cars of the Chev, a silver-over-white '32 Ford roadster with a modern Ford fuel-injected engine and an exposed, chromed, quick-change rear end went across the block.  It had a Tremec 5-speed and the usual other goodies, including modernized suspension and brakes.  It was a well-engineered, great looking car.  A lot of money and thought had gone into the bodywork.  For example, a perfectly raked and chromed windshield.  I'd have chosen different wheels, but it was a stand-up triple, if not a home run.  If I were a street rod kind of guy I'd have bid.  It didn't meet its reserve price at $20,000.  Bill Stephens didn't like the car, and hated the exposed rear axle, which charmed me.

Stephens is an expert appraiser: I've seen his TV work and trust his judgement.  But he's also for me a reliable vector of taste.  If Bill loves it, I will hate it.  And for the same reasons.  If I'm in doubt about a car going across the auction block (which is rare), I need only refer to Bill.  He wouldn't know a good car, in the soul-stirring sense of the term, if it ran over his toes.  (In fairness to Stephens, the rest of the Velocity broadcast team shills shamelessly, and vacuously, for Mecum.  At least Stephens is sometimes funny.)

7 comments:

Watchtower said...

My eyes, my eyes...

Pilote Ancien said...

Wait till you get behind the wheel!

Bill Stephens said...

Someone told me about your blog. Thought I'd see what you wrote about me. Hmmm, "I wouldn't know a good car, in the soul-stirring sense of the term, if it ran over my toes." Funny how people in the car hobby who have a different opinion as to what's "good" and what's "bad" are all more than happy to crown themselves the unquestioned authorities benighted to define which is which. I have the best job in the world as someone who has been a relentless car nut practically since birth. I get to talk about cars, give my opinions on them, and have the time of my life--all while being paid lots of money. I don't know everything about every car and neither does anyone who accuses the Mecum team of being uninformed. It's a free country and they have every right to sound like bloviated know-it-alls. The one thing I WON'T do is criticize anyone who offers their opinion on what they like which may contradict mine. As someone once said, "Some people REALLY need to get over themselves." Hope you'll keep watching.

Pilote Ancien said...

Bill: "WhatEVAH..." Your taste is out front on the Mecum auctions. Mine is out front on this blog. Both of us are in love with our own opinions. Doubtless we are both kind to our grandchildren and small animals.

A '58 Chevy 348 with Powerglide and a continental kit? Give me an effing break.

Bill Stephens said...

You're making the classic mistake I hear on occasion, usually from those who profess to love cars but in truth only love cars that appeal to them. I don't know how old you are but EVERY car built in Detroit in 1958, except perhaps for the Corvette, could be described in the exact terms you used to describe the 1958 Impala I admired. Meanwhile, GM was bludgeoning every automobile manufacturer in the showrooms in the 1950's by building cars that had dynamic styling, numerous comfort and convenience features, and V8 power. By the way, tell the immense population of collectors who proudly own 1958 Impalas with 348's, Powerglide, and a Continental Kit to give you an effing break. Then tell them all about YOUR collection.

Pilote Ancien said...

Well, Bill, I don't see this bilateral thread going anywhere. We're about the same age (Boomers). I don't love cars, I love sports cars (the blog's subhead is full disclosure). 1958 was the nadir of Detroit styling. It took Bill Mitchell to drag Detroit, kicking and screaming, out of the Harley Earl era of awfulness. At least Virgil Exner's cars had some flair. Earl's were just offensive Rococo.

Leave sports cars vs. parade floats aside. I was impressed with the '32 roadster BECAUSE of its looks. It was a great-looking, apparently well-engineered, modern build that respected the hot rod tradition. FAR prettier, and more fun to drive, than the '58. "The market" at that auction said it wasn't worth 20% of the '58 Chev, and you seemed to agree. Craziness.

I can't afford a collection. But I'd sure as hell pay $20K for a well-done modern street rod before I'd pay $100K for an over-styled parade float. If you could afford BUT ONE, which would you choose?

Bill Stephens said...

Finally, we're in agreement. This bilateral thread isn't going anywhere.

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