I Funded My Eclectic Car Collection by Flipping VW Beetles - Hagerty Media (2024)

This article first appeared in the May/June, 2024 issue ofHagerty Drivers Clubmagazine.Join the clubto receive our award-winning magazine and enjoy insider access to automotive events, discounts, roadside assistance, and more.

My car journey started when I was a little kid growing up in Morganton, North Carolina. My dad had a ’65 Ford Mustang and a ’69 Oldsmobile Cutlass, and my granddad had a ’72 Volkswagen Beetle. My best friend was my next-door neighbor, and his dad had a 1967 Chevy Impala Super Sport convertible with a factory 427. When I grew up, got a job, and started making my own money, I decided to start investing in old cars.

My first old car was a 1971 Jeep Commando. I wasn’t looking for a Commando. It popped up on Craigslist and I thought, “Yeah, that’s pretty cool,” so I bought it. I spent a lot of time and money trying to get it as close to stock as I could, because it had a lot of modifications done to it. I really should have gone out and found one that was already original.

Then I was driving down the road one day and saw a Volkswagen Beetle for sale. It was a ’73, and I remembered my granddad’s old Beetle. I bought the ’73 but didn’t really have the room to keep both it and the Commando, so I decided the Jeep had to go. I kept the Beetle and had fun with it. When I finally got rid of it, I sold it for three times what I paid for it. I started wondering if I could buy a few more and flip them. Over the next five or six years, I bought and sold about 16 Volkswagen Beetles. I never made less than $3000 on any of them. That’s how I financed my collector car hobby.

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If the cars needed a little bit of mechanical or engine work, I was good with that because I could do that work myself. I had pretty good knowledge going in; when I was in high school, I worked for a guy who was an aircraft mechanic. He knew about everything mechanical, whether it be cars, airplanes, trains, steam engines—you name it, he could fix it.

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Probably the toughest thing I ever did myself was a clutch, and it was on a Volkswagen. I know people who do them, they’re like, “Oh, that’s simple,” but I’d never done it. I don’t have a lift in my shop, so I was just jacking them up and putting them on stands and crawling under there with a creeper. I ended up doing it only once and decided that I wasn’t ever going to mess with clutches again.

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Eventually I bought all the Beetles that were around to flip. After that, I added a ’64 Ford Galaxie to my collection and a ’62 Ford F-100. Then I found another 1970 Jeep Commando that was bone-stock original. My collection is fairly eclectic. I bought a 1953 Chevy 3100 from a guy here in town who was a client of mine—I’m a Hagerty insurance agent—and when he came to my office to get insurance on it, I told him, “If you ever decide to get rid of this, let me know.” And sure enough, four or five years later, he called and said, “I want to sell this Chevy if you’re interested.” I own a 1970 Buick Skylark, a ’64 MGB Mk II roadster, and a 1959 Ford M151, which is the successor to the Jeep. It’s also known as a MUTT, which stands for “Military Utility Tactical Truck.”

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My granddad was a staff sergeant in the Air Force during the Korean conflict, so even though the MUTT is an Army vehicle, when I got it back home, I made it an homage to my granddad. The serial number on the hood is my granddad’s birthdate. I have his military dog tags hanging inside of it. I don’t drive it much—it does better off-road than it does on the road, obviously. I keep all my cars in an airplane hangar, so I use it to drive around out there. It’s almost like a glorified golf cart for the road.

I like to go to the cruise-ins when I can. I don’t make it to a lot of those, but we have a pretty good one in a neighboring small town called Valdese, North Carolina, here in the same county. There’s a diner in downtown Valdese called Myra’s. It’s one of those old-style places where you get old-fashioned cheeseburgers and milkshakes. There’s always a big turnout with great cars.

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I’ve still got my original ’65 Beetle, which is the car I’ve had the longest. I’ve had it for about 10 years. My Skylark is probably the nicest car in my collection. It came out of Georgia, and it’s got 60,000 original miles on it. It’s got that high-output 350, and I’ve got all the maintenance records with it. I’ve had friends who ask, “Why the heck did you want a Buick Skylark?” And I tell them, “Well, my dad had one when I was a kid, and I always remembered driving it out to watch fireworks in downtown Morganton.” Plus, I’ve always been a big fan of the 1970 Chevelles, but the ’70 Skylark is essentially the same car with a few differences, but for a quarter of the price.

As mentioned, I’m an insurance agent as well as a client of Hagerty. I’ve got all my cars with them. My agency, Mimosa Insurance, has been here in my hometown of Morganton, since 1938. We’re one of the oldest insurance agencies in western North Carolina that’s been continuously operated under the same name and family ownership. It’s cool to see the clients who come in and have similar stories or completely different stories. I really enjoy meeting the people, you know?

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I Funded My Eclectic Car Collection by Flipping VW Beetles - Hagerty Media (2024)

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