The Trip Home

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The Trip Home

Well, before I started out to go get the car, I had to get my finances in order. I knew I had the money. I just needed to get it into a form that I could take with me and that the seller would be able to cash.

I went to the bank and got a bank draft for the right amount, asking for it in US funds. When I got home, I looked at my receipt and noticed that the exact amount was removed from my account, not a converted from US to Canadian dollar amount. Then I looked at the draft - not in US funds. So, back I go to the bank to get that fixed. It didn't take too long before I was on my way. So, back home I'm gathering all the paperwork I'll need and I notice that  the seller has spelled his name differently than in any other correspondence we'd had to that point. I double checked with him and then called the bank. I was allowed to make the change myself without having to get a new draft.

I'd arranged a flatbed truck from the local towing company to go down to get the car. I guess I should mention that the car was located in Hartford, Connecticut. I went along for the ride to make payment and to be there when the car crosses the border. Someone told me it's easier that way. At one point someone told me that all I needed was the bill of sale and the title. Well, Connecticut didn't require titles on cars until 1981 or somewhere thereabouts. More on that later.

My wife and daughter gave me a ride to the office of the towing company where I was to meet up with the driver. They hung around to see us off.

The driver was pretty cool but a bit of a character. He'd had a pretty interesting life and we got a chance to talk during the trip. I won't go into details because that's his business not mine. Suffice it to say that he had a lot of good road stories about long haul trips he'd made into the states in the past. He also played a lot of pool. I play, but I don't nearly as much as he does. We talked about that for a while too.

The border crossing near my town is a bridge over the Niagara river. It was backed up for a few miles. We lost almost two hours waiting to get across. No problems at customs though. Once across the border, we made pretty good time with two stops along the way for food and fuel. We were only about 20 minutes later than I had told the seller we'd be.

We met the seller and his fiancÚ just off the highway and then followed them to where the car was stored. He had someone who was to do some of the restoration work for him and it was stored at his house. He had a pretty sizable shop at the back end of his driveway and there was a project car in there.

I gave the car a quick twice over. It was as described in the eBay listing and the correspondence we'd had. I chatted with the seller and his fiancÚ while the flatbed driver loaded up the car. Made the payment and apologized for not being able to spend more time with them. I had originally planned to go down there and rent a trailer from U-Haul to haul the car back. So, I'd planned things a little more leisurely than the way it turned out. That's okay, I think the seller was sad to see the car go, but I hope happy to see it go to someone who'd finish it up right.

Back on the road, things went well the whole way back until we got to the border. It was about 4AM, and the US customs officers on duty didn't like the paperwork that I had with me and said I'd have to submit more for review and that would take 3 days. I wasn't happy but they were just following the rules. I couldn't argue with them. In the meantime the car has to stay in the US. I asked about where I could leave it and there really was no place. They had gotten rid of their "holding pen" at that crossing. I asked the bridge commission about leaving it in the parking lot and they wouldn't guarantee that it wouldn't get towed. I decided to gamble and had the driver drop the car in a parking space.

We drove to my house and dropped off the extra engine block, heads, intake, and torque converter that I got with the car. I paid the driver and went to grab some sleep. Later that day I went back to the US customs office with more paperwork. The officers on duty were great. One was dealing with my paperwork and had the supervisor involved. Another was asking about the car. They realized I didn't know the procedures and just got through it all without any hassle. They said the original paperwork WAS good enough but still had to do the review. Thems the rules.

So, I hired the same towing company again for 3 days later to go get the car. I checked the day before to see if the car had been towed away. The agent at the bridge commission was very helpful and radioed across to the US side to check. It had been towed to a yard in the US. I had the driver take me to the US towing company's yard and got the bill for the tow and the storage. It was less than I had expected. They basically had me over a barrel, yet the price was fair: $50 for the tow and $15 each day for storage.

I paid. We loaded it up and were on our way. I popped into the US Customs office. They pulled the paperwork. Rubber stamped it and we were on our way.

At Canada customs, we didn't have any problems except my inability to answer a simple question. At the checkpoint I told the officer that I had the car and all of the parts to complete the car. He wrote "car & parts" on the slip and sent us over to the office. I headed into the office and the agent asked what the car was worth and I told what I paid the seller. Then she asked what the parts were worth and I said "Well, that's included in the price". She said, "Okay, then what's the car worth?" Again, I gave the total price for the deal. "And, how much are the parts worth?" "UHHHH Who's on first?" Finally the big light bulb goes on over my head and I show her the bill of sale that the seller got when he bought but never put in his name. "So, the car is worth $1000." Yes. "And the parts are worth the difference" Yes. (And that's about right because I've got all the receipts for those parts as well and it adds up pretty close.) So, now I pay duty and tax on $1000 for the car. BUT I pay a different rate of tax for the parts. Bottom line, I paid about $500 more than I thought I would at the border.

But it's done. I've learned something new, albeit the hard way. The car is home. Here it is for all the neighbours to look and wonder what the hell I'm going to do with it.