I’ve got some good news on Ron Dauzet, the Michigan man being forced by Northfield Township to sell off his enormous car collection at a staggering rate of 20 cars per month: thanks to the help of Jalopnik readers and the massive amount of attention around his story, Ron is on track to meet his monthly quota.
Actually, the news is better than that; Ron expects to not only meet his September 20-cars-per-month quota, but he also thinks he’ll be able to make up for the months he was deficient (like last month). So Ron should be all caught up when the township inspector comes in early October.
Ron, you may recall, is the 74-year-old man whose property at one pointed contained more than 200 old cars. His local government deemed it in violation of zoning laws, and then ordered him to sell 20 cars a month—a tough ask for a car dealership, let alone one guy.
Obviously, better news would have been if the township had reached out to Ron and cut him a break, lowering the quota or just getting rid of their mandate entirely (since Ron’s collection is out of sight, in the middle of nowhere). But, alas, Ron says the township hasn’t said a peep.
But who has said a peep, Ron told me, are old friends like Jim in the top photo, with whom Ron used to work at Ford (Ron used to be a powertrain dyno-cell technician).
I met Jim yesterday when I visited Ron to check on progress; apparently, the two hadn’t spoken in 25 years. Jim is just one of a number of old Ford coworkers who’ve reached out after reading about Jim after Jalopnik broke the story last Monday.
But the calls that have been sending Ron’s phone off the hook aren’t those from old friends, but rather those from potential buyers. Ron says he’s amassed 130 missed calls on his phone since the story went up, and that his wife had to add more money to his cell plan to accommodate the influx. Ron told me that, in the days following the article’s publication, people showed up at Ron’s place from 10 a.m. until 8 p.m., with cars parked on the dirt road outside his driveway for an entire block.
Ron thanked me endlessly for writing the story, telling me that since it went up, things have gotten better, saying, “It’s definitely an improvement [over the slow trickle of people coming to buy cars before the story went up]... this was like a mad rush.”
That influx of inquiries has led to 13 cars being sold in the last week alone (11 of which are gone, and two of which Ron will sign the title over to as soon as the check clears), with people coming from as far as Illinois and Tennessee. Demand has been especially heavy for the Jeepster Commando and Chevy Stepside; Ron tells me he’s gotten probably 150 inquiries on just those two vehicles. Ron plans to get the truck running and the Jeep’s engine freed-up before parting ways with them.
In addition to the cars he’s sold this month prior to the story, and the six cars he’s got lined up to sell to a prominent Michigan junkyard (they reached out to him after reading the story, and offered him a decent price), Ron says he’s in fairly decent shape as far as the township’s quota is concerned.
He’s actually hoping to get a bit ahead of the township’s requirements, as Ron told me that, as soon as the weather gets bad, he won’t be able to get his forklift to the cars without getting stuck. Right now, he’s working from back to front to prioritize the vehicles that are in spots that would challenge his “Hi-Lo.” Getting ahead of the quota will also allow Ron to fix up some of the cars that he knows he could get going with just a bit of work; he has lots of seized brakes to free up.
Unfortunately, Ron has had to deal with a bunch of lowballers. But if there’s one thing I’ve learned about Ron, it’s that he will not be ripped off. He may be turning 75 next week, but he drives a hell of a hard bargain, and will not be swayed by people who pester him with the classic, “I’ve got cash.”
And while I don’t think all of Ron’s cars are amazing deals, many of them are actually pretty good buys. Like this 1989 Toyota 4Runner from Virginia. The body has very little rust, and even though the manual transmission needs some work, it’s a 4Runner for $900. I’m half inclined to buy that myself.
And that’s not even mentioning all the VW Cabriolets Ron’s got sitting around. This one doesn’t show any rust on the outside, and though it needs work on the top and perhaps on the fuel injection system, Ron’s only asking $600 or best offer:
I’m tempted to pick that up myself and run it in next year’s Gambler 500.
On a different note, Ron showed me some cars I hadn’t seen before, many of which are not for sale. Here’s the inside of one of his buildings, whose roof is in the process of disintegrating (that’s a Model A replica with a Ford 2.3-liter inline-four under the hood, an old BMW e23 735i, and a Renault Alliance in the corner):
Here’s a back lot of random cars I didn’t see when I last visited (this is across the street, technically in another township):
Also across the street is an Austin Mini, and a bunch of BMWs being smothered by shrubs:
There were more cars back there:
In another one of Ron’s garages sat a very clean BMW 2002:
There was also a one-owner, low mileage Super Beetle convertible (which isn’t for sale):
And there’s a very low-mileage Honda Accord that’s clearly been sitting for a while:
Also in the garage: A Porsche 928:
And then there was what appears to be a late ’50s Mercedes 220S:
Ron says he may part ways with what appears to be a VW Beetle-based kit car:
As you can see by the photos, and that Instagram video above, Ron’s still got tons of cars to get rid of. But, thanks in part to Jalopnik readers, he’s in a much better spot today than he was a week and a half ago. And he appreciates that immensely.
You can reach Ron at: firstname.lastname@example.org.