I was going to be a junior in high school, when I finally concluded that I'd need to make some extra spending money for any dating I might be doing.
My father owned three automotive body shops, and I had spent most of my spare time, for the past five years, learning what I'd need to know to take over from him when the time came. Unfortunately, my father didn't believe in paying interns who were part of his own family. Both my older brothers worked for him, and even they had problems getting paid enough to support themselves and their families.
Ted, my oldest brother, who was married with three young children, was managing to make do, financially, by augmenting his income doing private classic car restoration work, in the evenings, and on weekends.
My brother Bob, who didn't have any kids yet, had Dolores, his wife, working for her father who was an attorney. Dolores brought home more in her paycheck than Bob did in his. This was a sore point with Bob, but for all his complaining, my father turned a deaf ear.
When I tried to explain to my father that I had more expenses now, because of my plans to date, all he told me was that I was welcome to use the body shop, free of charge, including all the tools and paint booths, on any evening, after the shop was already closed. My allowance would remain at $20.00 per week.
"I'd have continued being frustrated and discouraged, except for a singular stroke of good fortune. My Uncle Frank asked me if I knew anyone willing to cart off two derelict cars he'd purchased several years before. He'd bought them with the idea of switching out the engine and tranny on one, over to the other, to make one running automobile. He told me that he'd never had the time to get around to doing it, and now my Aunt Cleo (short for Cleopatra) was agitating for him to get them away from their house.
I ended up spending half the summer working to get everything done to get one of the cars working and ready to sell. I needed to change the upholstery and headliner, and pull some dents out of the door and right rear quarter panel. Since it was free, I borrowed some of my father's leftover paints and mixed them to make a gray/pinkish colored new paint job. The end result was more pink than I'd hoped it would end up being. Other than that freakish color, I was very satisfied with how the car I'd finally ended up with looked.
I parked it up front and on the side of my father's body shop, with a for sale sign on the wind shield. Nothing much happened for the first three days I'd left it there, but on the weekend, two girls drove up, parked in the street, and came over to look at my car. I let them look at it by themselves for about five minutes before cleaning my hands and walking over to see them.
"I just put a different engine and transmission in it, replaced the whole interior, smoothed out all the little paint ding's, and did a complete paint job on it. It would make someone an excellent transportation car."
"I love the color you've made it. I've never seen a car painted that color before. What do you call it?" The girl asking me the question was the taller, and much cuter, one of the two. I remembered that she had not been the one driving the other car.
"I call that color 'Apache Sunset', but it is a custom paint job. You won't find another vehicle anywhere with that exact color."
I'd just made the color's name up, but I hadn't expected the color of the car to be the main focus for a potential buyer. I gave the girl the keys, letting her take the car out to see how it ran. So far, no one had even asked me how much I wanted for the car. I was hoping for fifteen hundred. I had over four hundred in it for towing, help with switching out the engine and transmission, belts, fluids, gasoline, and miscellaneous other expenses. I also had about fifty hours of my own labor invested in it.
The girls were gone for about twenty minutes. But, when they returned, there were now four girls in the car I was trying to sell. They'd picked up two of their friends somewhere. I waited until after she got my car back where I'd had it before walking over their way.
"So, what do you think?"
"I love it. We all do. How much are you asking for it?"
"I have an awful lot invested in all the improvements I made. Custom paint jobs don't come cheap. I'd need at least $2,000.00."
I saw a look of disappointment on her face. One of the other girls told her she should buy the car. She told her friend that her father had set a price limit he would cover, and that was only fifteen hundred. I almost smiled when she told her friend that. I'd asked for $2,000.00, hoping to get fifteen, after she negotiated me down.
"Could you take $1,500.00 instead? I really want this car."
"I might be willing to go down to eighteen hundred, but I just can't let it go for anything less than that."