A recent newspaper story about a 1962 Chevy Impala flood car write-off in Calgary, Alberta, Canada is a prime example of why you need to really dig into a vintage car before you buy it.
The fraud case involved a seller who allegedly bought the Chevy as a salvage title after the convertible was submerged last year during a major flood in southern Alberta.
The case against the seller alleges he bought the car and used a VIN number from another 1962 Chevy to cover up the salvage designation registered against the actual VIN on the convertible.
The car was recognized by a Calgary police officer who noticed it look like the write-off he had seen after the 2013 spring flood.The police officer was a hard core car guy and former body-man who knew 1963 Chevy convertibles are not common in 2014.One would assume a write-off vehicle could be purchased for a fraction of the price because it has become a parts car for all intents and purposes.
An unscrupulous buyer might choose a different direction and the charges against the current owner indicate he chose that different direction.
He is alleged to have produced a fraudulent out-of-province vehicle inspection off the replacement VIN number so it could be registered in Alberta.
The Chevy’s rarity in the western Canadian collector vehicle market made it a very desirable vehicle at an auction.
The problem with a flood car is the incredible damage done by water to the vehicle. The news story inexplicably focused on new car features such as computer-controlled items like anti-lock brakes and stability control, but this vehicle had none of these new components on it.
However, that made little difference in the grand scheme of things because the vintage Chevy had indeed been submerged, although its former owner disputes the news story’s assertion about the depth and time involved in the story.
He contends the car was only submerged to below its headlights and spent less than 12 hours in the water, unlike the newspaper account of water up to the mirrors and three weeks in water.
Either way, the car was written off by the insurer and offered as salvage-only to the next buyer.
I have one experience with a flood car: I sank a Volvo up to my waist sitting in the car in a flooded underpass back in the 70s and it only spent about 15 minutes max in the water.
It was a complete mess after the incident and I got rid of it a few weeks later after it developed some incurable mechanical problems, along with electrical issues.
The problem with water is its ability to go where no water has gone before in a car. The result is an invitation to disaster for car and any owner who chooses to save what is essentially un-saveable.
Clearly, a flood car is heartache on four wheels and should never be put on the road again unless you are Jay Leno and can order your army of craftsman to save the vehicle.
Even then, my money is still on rust in this battle.