The windshield info card is a public cheat sheet that lists your car's amazing features -- rotisserie restoration, only 20,000 original miles, once owned by Soleil Moon Frye's cousin. In my case, I'm really tapping a dry well when it comes to praising the Cimarron. I mean, do I brag about the thirteen-inch wheels, the three-speed transmission, or the easy interchangeability of Cavalier parts? The woman at the check-in desk tries to help me out.
"What color is it?" she asks.
"Well...sort of light yellow. On tan."
"Unique color combination!" she replies. I appreciate her positivity. The color-combo brag goes on the windshield. Along with very little else. Now the Cimarron will get parked outside on the grass, enticing auction-goers until it hits the block tomorrow morning.
I flee to the visitor parking lot and the 2012 Cadillac CTS Premium Collection that I've borrowed to serve as a rolling reminder of Cadillac's progress. The Recaros are as comfortable as any chair in your house. The V-6 puts out 318 hp without any fear of overheating. The air-conditioning is sublime. This is why you should be jealous of your kids -- if Herbert Crippon Davis had been born a couple of decades later, he would've owned this instead of a Cimarron.
I wake up the next morning with a knot of fear in my stomach. What if the Cimarron doesn't sell? I haven't really prepared for that contingency, even though it's entirely possible. As I drink my morning coffee, I jot down the addresses of Orlando-area pawn shops. There's at least one that takes cars. I might be visiting it later, depending on the fate of Lot G120.
Back at the auction, I wander around and assess the crowd. Later today, many of these guys will casually snap up $100,000 cars and load them onto trailers next to their other $100,000 cars, but the overall sartorial makeup includes a lot more jean shorts and white high-tops than you see at Pebble Beach. If I told you, "Meet me next to the sunburned guy with the ponytail," let's just say there would be a lot of confusion.
I spend a while lurking next to the Cimarron and eavesdropping on the comments, none of which are hugely encouraging. One guy points to my trusty machine and tells his friend, "I call that a Cadillier. It was a Cavalier with leather." He then peeks inside and says, "This one doesn't even have leather!" My instinct is to defend my car, but he has a point.
If there's any encouragement to be found, it's in the fact that most of the cars here are in some way awesome, so the Cimarron will at least stand out through its sheer mediocrity. Oh, another pristine 1969 Camaro? Yawn. But a Cimarron? You don't see those every day. There's a good reason for that, but still, you don't.
As the morning's consignments churn through the main auction building, the Cimarron's big moment draws near. An enlistee of the Mecum army fetches the car from the grass and moves it to the line snaking toward the tent. I stare at the little Cadillac, willing it to behave. Don't overheat. Don't drop the transmission. Don't puke a rod. Every other owner here is wishing the same thing of their vehicles, and not all are obeying. As if sensing their fate, many of the spotlessly primped classics in the queue seem to be doing their best to sabotage their impending trade to a new team by failing to start, refusing to go into gear, or just running ragged and ornery in protest. The Caddy, though, creeps toward the door without complaint. My stress level is mounting. The Cimarron is ready. But is anyone ready for the Cimarron?
The lady behind the wheel shifts into neutral and shuts down the engine while three white-gloved guys line up at the trunk and begin pushing my car into the building. Considering the modest amount of money on the line, I am unbelievably stressed out. What if nobody buys it? What if the high bid is only $750? I have the reserve at $1000, but would I pull it off at some lower point or take my chances at the pawn shop? All of this will be resolved momentarily and in real time. Once the auctioneer's silver-tongued chatter can no longer elicit any higher bids, you either cut your car loose or you hear, "The bid goes on," and your ride joins the cast of unlucky lepers that are still for sale.
After covering four states and more than 600 miles of trouble-free driving, the Cimarron is pushed under the auction block's searing bright lights. They definitely highlight the fact that the front end is a slightly different color than the rest of the car (probably because of factory-defective paint, which is, of course, covered by an excuse in the owners' manual). "HeybiddabidafybiddaFIVE-HUNDRED!abiddabiddaabiddaCadillacCimarronabidddda," declares the auctioneer, Mark Delzell. There's a shout in the audience, and the bid goes to $750. Feeling good energy, I decide to pull the reserve. Let's keep this bidding frenzy going. Big money! I feel like I'm in a casino, riding a hot streak in front of a few thousand people. With bidding already at $1000, Delzell announces that the reserve is off. The crowd cheers. I've never heard of such a thing as group sarcasm, but that cheer was it. The bidding goes up another notch, to $1250, where it...stops. The hammer comes down, and my Cimarron is sold for exactly the price I paid for it. Minus the $500 auction commission. You'd better watch your back, Wayne Carini! There's a new car-flipper in town. Today a Cimarron, tomorrow a Beretta Z26.
I find the Cimarron's lucky new custodian, a car dealer from Florida, and hand him the original paperwork and a spare set of keys. It's not Gold Key delivery, but it'll suffice.
Giddy with the euphoric relief that comes from selling my Cadillac Cimarron, I point the CTS back to the hotel and fire up my laptop to book a plane ticket home. When I open my e-mail, I find that I have a first and only response to, of all things, my original Craigslist "Cimarron wanted" ad. The e-mail asks if I'd found a Cimarron, because this guy is looking for one. I write back and tell him I already sold it. He asks the year, mileage, and price, concluding, "I kinda want that car, too." OK, if you say so.
I give him the name of the South Florida used-car dealership where the Cimarron will soon resurface. Today it's sold, but tomorrow, the bid goes on.