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News-Sentinel.com Your Town. Your Voice.

What's your ride? Gerry Charvat's is a 1950 Plymouth convertible sedan

Wednesday, September 3, 2014 - 12:45 pm

Ask car collector Gerry Charvat what his favorite car is and there is little doubt. It's his 1950 Plymouth convertible sedan.

Why? Because it was the car he couldn't afford way back in the day when he went to Central Catholic High School. Charvat, who owns Collector Car Insurance, along with his wife, has had an opportunity to see a lot of cars.

Back not so long ago, when Kruse Auctions in Auburn was still operating, Charvat spent a lot of time working with clients who needed insurance for their new purchases from Kruse. Now retired from the business for the past 11 years Charvat spends a lot of his time in his garage with his cars. He has numerous vintage vehicles and over the years has bought and sold parts of his collection, including the 1950 Plymouth, something he came to regret. That is why a few years ago he was surprised when he found the very same car online.

His first car was a Plymouth 1950 convertible, which eventually got crushed, so he bought another one in Auburn. He fixed it up and a few years later business at his Hotrod Shop wasn't so good, so he reluctantly took it back up to Auburn and put it in the auction.

"Figuring it wouldn't sell because I wanted stupid (high) money for it; well it brought stupid money," Charvat said.

He can still to this day see the guy who bought it driving around the auction grounds with his two little boys in the backseat with the top down, and "I thought that was really neat, but it was still my car," Charvat said.

So last year he decided he needed another project. He had just finished an Oldsmobile. The restoration of that car had helped him recover his strength after a round of therapy for testicular cancer. So he started looking for another 1950s convertible. He really wanted a Plymouth.

"I chased them all over," Charvat said

He spent a week at an auction in Indianapolis. There were Fords, but no Plymouths. At the end of the week he came home with his money and no car. He was kind of depressed, so he turned on the computer – and there is was. He yelled for his wife, Sandy, to come and look. She was sure it was their car. Charvat said he looked at it and was sure as well, although he didn't remember the spotlight on it.

He called the man who was selling the car. He told the seller he was sure it was his old car. The man was skeptical. He believed the owner had it for a long time. But he went and checked the serial number and when he came back on the line he said, "That's your car."

So Charvat sent him a down payment through PayPal and had a purchase agreement by the time he got off the phone. After putting new tires on his trailer he left for Humboldt, Iowa, the very next morning, 588 miles.

He found very little had changed on the car since he owned it except the owner had put in a new engine with an overdrive transmission, and four new tires. In the end Charvat paid $1,000 more for it than what he had sold it for, but he didn't care. "Margaret" the car came home.

Because the car had been run on ethanol fuel he changed out the fuel system, rebuilt the carburetors and fixed a smashed fuel line. The car had only 8,000 more miles on it

"It still has my Fenton dual carburetors and duel exhaust and it will rattle the windows when you start it up. It has everything on it you loved as a kid, but couldn't afford," Charvat said.

The car, Charvat said, is never leaving home again.