atlantic city

Car Restorers Enjoy Classics in Atlantic City Car Show

Tony Gambardella bought his 1956 Ford Pro Street Wagon for $20,000, fixed it up a little bit, and now it is worth close to $34,000.

Gambardella is just one of many vendors at the 43rd annual Classics in Atlantic City Car Show who have invested in older vehicles to fix up and sell to the highest bidder.

Gambardella, owner of Gambardella Racing and Performance in Williamstown, put $1,500 worth of sanding and restoration into his street wagon, and though it is valued even higher, he is looking to sell the car for $29,000 over the weekend.

"That's the whole game of it," Gambardella told The Press of Atlantic City ( ).

But sadly, some vendors are parting with cars they don't necessarily want to sell.

Tony Lanz, 38, of Middlesex County, drove out to Michigan and invested $10,000 in a 1974 Black Chevelle — the same model he had when he was a teenager.

He then put another $15,000 in restoration in the car but has since found himself without a garage to house the shiny ride.

Now, after a total of $25,000 invested into the vehicle, Lanz finds himself looking to sell it for $18,000.

"I know I'm going to regret selling this, but I just don't have a place to put it," Lanz said. "I hate to see it go, but you have to do what you have to do."

For others, the event, which expects to see 30,000-40,000 people throughout the weekend, is a time to show off finished projects.

Shawn Wark, 31, of Berlin, built a Batmobile replica along with a Speed Racer replica. He said he doesn't plan to auction them, though, as he just finished the car before the show, but instead wanted to show it off.

But Wark is looking to sell his 1928 Willy's Overland Whippet and 1929 Lasalle Five Passenger Phaeton.

Wark said he did little cosmetic restoration to the vehicles — to keep the nostalgia factor of the cars.

With torn seats, a worn steering wheel and even a license plate that reads "historic," the car looks like it came out of a time machine. And Wark thinks that can make it more marketable.

"Mechanically it was just a simple overhaul and just a couple thousand dollars," Wark said. "Now it adds the value of being a running, driving and useable car. Cosmetically it's not perfect but it's able to be used as is."

Wark said this type of nostalgia really resonates with the audience at the show.

"The difference is these are rarer and more unique so I wouldn't touch it," Wark said.

And Jeffery Patton knows that not all restoration can be seen on the outside.

Patton, 54, of Atco, invested $15,000 into his 1939 Chevrolet Pickup. But you wouldn't necessarily believe that with the chipping paint and rough exterior.

Patton is asking $15,000 for the new alternator, rebuilt transmission, fixed engine and new breaks he's put into it.

He wants to find someone who, like him, would want to add to the restoration.

"I bought this thing on Ebay. I'm not looking to break the bank. I'm just looking to break even," Patton said.

Copyright AP - Associated Press
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