The TV series “The Untouchables” was a top rated show as the Saint Paul’s High School class of 1961 worked their way to graduation day. The series depicted a special crime fighting task force that operated during the Prohibition era and depicted G-Men chasing gangsters with Tommy guns and was a feast for the eyes of connoisseurs of antique automobiles. The top ten TV show put Bill Hitzel and his 1931 Chevrolet Deluxe Sedan in the express lane to high school popularity.
For students at a parochial school who were required to wear suit coats and ties, a vest was a fashionable accessory that added an extra level of authenticity to the sight of seeing friends of Hitzel’s arrive at the weekly Friday night dance with the Eliot Ness attitude on display. The Friday night arrival ceremony featuring a swarthy Irish lad whom everyone called “Al” is just a nostalgic bit of history for the town that now provides a fictional home for “The Office” TV series, but anytime Bill Hitzel wants to revive the memories all he has to do is go out to his multi-car garage in New Jersey and look at that same vehicle which is the center piece for a somewhat neglected restoration project.
The restoration project has no time limit but Hitzel, like many similar American antique car owners, is becoming uncomfortably aware of a series of factors which tend to increase the motivation for handling the variety of options available for a restoration project that seems to have stalled out.
Hitzel can offer the vehicle and all related parts for sale in an “as is” condition and take any offer that he considers reflects the market value of the work-in-progress restoration effort, or he can continue to let the motivation continue to build until he is inspired to restart the restoration project.
Meanwhile others are offering more options. One suggestion is that he donate the sedan to a New Jersey automobile museum. A high school classmate has suggested that Hitzel, who is a retired high school teacher, investigate the possibility of donating the car to a college that offers a degree in car restoration such as McPherson college (http://www.mcpherson.edu/autorestoration/) in the Mid-West.
Hitzel’s children are all daughters and there is no competition among them to be bequeathed the automotive heirloom so he has to consider the restoration project as part of a long ranged plan on the “put his affairs in order” level of family business.
Many antique automobile enthusiasts can identify with his dilemma, and as the car restoration industry rebounds from a recent slump, many sympathetic classic auto owners will become interested in the variety of options they all face and automotive writers will have to contend with a vast new area of potential material that will have to be regarded as a journalistic frontier.
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