Ron Dauzet, the Michigan man whose township is forcing him to sell 20 of his cars per month in order to comply with a “blight ordinance” tells me he’s still working every day to get rid of his vehicles. And unfortunately, he’s had to send a whole bunch of good cars to the crusher. At least 75.
I called up the 74-year-old former Ford powertrain dyno-cell technician to see how things were going, and he told me he was still working his ass off to try to meet Northfield Township’s requisite 20 Cars Sold Per Month quota.
“Pretty much every day. Rain or shine. Snow or hail, it don’t make no difference,” Ron told me about how often he works on excavating his neglected cars. But he has had to slow down due to some injuries, telling me: “Right now, I’ve been out here for about four hours, and my doggone knees are throbbing... I work as long as I can.”
It wasn’t just the knees. Ron said that, earlier this winter, when it got slick outside, he had to take a break for a few days. “I fell and landed on my back, screwed up my ribs. So I ended up taking a couple of days off because of that, I couldn’t do anything. I was hurting too bad.”
Ron’s been hurting on several fronts since last fall, when his Michigan township declared the more than 200 cars on his property to be a blight and secured a court order forcing him to sell 20 vehicles a month. It’s a tall task for anyone, let alone someone his age, and despite some progress he’s been forced to scrap many of them.
The good news is that, according to Ron, the township has been cutting him some slack, even if they are still keeping track of the count, with Ron saying: “[The township official] is gonna be here I think April 9th. Yeah, they’re still counting.”
“Pretty much the last three months at least,” Ron told me when I asked how many months he’s missed his quota. “I was right on one month, and then after that, it went downhill. Once this yard turns to crap, it gets muddy, you can’t do nothing.”
“I think I’m supposed to be at. I forgot.. .but anyway, I know I’m high. I’m still quite high. But I can’t do anything about it.”
According to Ron, though, that “slack” was hard-fought. “Last time [I spoke with the Township representative], I damn near blew my cool,” he told me over the phone. “I told her, I said ‘I don’t have a helicopter. If you’ve got a way to get these cars out of here, you let me know.’”
He told me he continued expressing his frustration to the official, saying: “I’m not junking these cars. I junked over 50 as it is. These cars didn’t belong in the junkyard, but I went along with it. I put them in, got them off the property.”
“I scrapped a couple real nice Saabs,” Ron added. “They were newer ones, like ’02, ’03. There wasn’t nothing wrong with them.” When I asked him what else he got rid of, he told me “a lot of Mercedes. A lot of BMWs. A lot of Volvos.”
“The Volvos I scrapped were a damn shame,” he said, “because I had one with a five speed, a wagon. I had four wagons, and I’ve got one left now. But I scrapped three of them.”
Now Ron says he’s getting to the “better stuff,” which he’s got two or three grand into—stuff that he has no plans to send to the junkyard. “I ain’t gonna scrap it for three-four hundred bucks. Stupid,” he told me.
When I asked Ron to confirm that he’s scrapped 50 cars in total, he thought for a second, and remembered that his scrapyard stamps his vehicles, and after 25 vehicles, they give him an extra 50 dollars. He’s received 100 dollars so far, so he’s turned in at least 50 vehicles.
But this isn’t the first junkyard Ron’s been sending the cars to. “I know I’ve got at least 50, it’s probably closer to...the first ones, I didn’t get any number—no stamp or anything—so I’m guessing, probably, total, I’ve scrapped at least 75 or more. Since it started.”
Ron told me that because of the weather and the muddy terrain, he’s had to hire someone with a Bobcat to help him extract cars before they get sent to the crusher. But Ron says his hired help has been flakey (though the guy does “[work] his tail off” when he does show up, Ron says).
The real flakes, though, have apparently been the prospective buyers, with Ron telling me a gentleman bought a Mustang back in October, and never picked it up. “I got another car in the back, same thing. I think the guy paid me for it, but I dunno. I haven’t heard nothing from him.”
Between people buying cars but not picking him up, endless lowball offers, and interested callers who just live too far away, and never show up, this whole task of getting rid of 20 cars a month has been a struggle for Ron.
So if you’re looking for cheap cars, particularly old Mercedes (like the one above) and BMWs, go to the Ann Arbor Craigslist and type in “Ron.”
The cars sitting out in the grass are probably his.