ATLANTIC CITY — When it comes to selling a classic, 62-year-old Chrysler for $68,500, the small details matter, too.
“Shine the bolts, shine the exhaust pipe, polish and shine down to the bolt,” said Andrea Perakis, of West Chester, Pa., regarding the family’s 1950 Chrysler Town & Country for sale at the Atlantic City Classic Car Show & Auction. “The same with the engine — all the compartments down to the hoses.”
The annual show, which runs through Sunday, brings together more than 1,000 vehicles from times past.
They come from different manufacturers and generations, but they all have a showroom shine and reflection-clean engines.
For classic vehicles that may have taken hundreds of hours to restore and have purring engines, these touches are a final and important step to selling.
“Detail is everything,” said Nelson Belot, of Hinsdale, Mass., whose 1960 aqua-colored Plymouth Fury goes to auction Saturday. “People like seeing stickers, washer bags, literature on the dashboard — original literature about when the car was made.
“This is the closest thing in our life to a time machine. People get in these cars and it brings them back to some happy point in their life. The guys who are going to bid on this car tomorrow … they had one, or their mother had one, or somebody had one.”
His 15-year-old son, also named Nelson, wiped some dirt from the wheel well that the car had picked up driving from its trailer into Atlantic City Convention Center.
“Your first impression is your only impression,” the father said. “You try your best to come here and do that.”
Show organizer G. Potter King Inc. estimates the vehicles are worth a combined $15 million. Half are offered for sale at auction, while others are for sale by individual sellers.
Here the cars have stories, as do their owners.
John Krause, of Philadelphia, is selling a red 1955 Bel Air, with a 383 “Stroker Street Beast” engine that shines like a mirror. Krause restored the car himself over four summers.
“I had always wanted a ’55 Chevy for the last 30 years, since I was a kid. I’m 58 now, and that was my dream car,” he said.
George Hartman, a general contractor from Maryland who restores cars as a hobby, is selling a 1966 Ford Mustang K Code Coupe. His father got him into the hobby, and now he buys and sells classic cars.
“It’s a nice hobby. You never see people arguing, people fighting. People are stirring their youth up. You have to have a certain appreciation for that,” he said.
Restoring a car can take him 40 to 200 hours.
And that’s before the last-minute touches on the floor, like brushing the car to remove dust and fingerprints that accumulate as people look around.
Tom Felice, of Berlin, Camden County, attended the show with his son, Aaron, 7. Felice wasn’t selling a car, although he restores and sells them.
“I’ve been into cars since I was young. When I was 15, my mom got a new car and I got her old car. She gave me a ’69 Coronet,” he said. “Since then, it’s been Dodges for me. I’ve had 30 of them over the years, and I’m only 45.”
If you go
The Atlantic City Classic Car Show & Auction continues Saturday and Sunday. Tickets are $20 for adults, and $5 for children younger than 12. Show hours are 8:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. today; and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Contact Brian Ianieri: