Correlation Between Classic Car Prices and Financial Markets

hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
Every asset class competes with every other for investor dollars. Given the sub prime and other credit problems, and the weak housing and stock markets, to what extent will the current turbulence affect classic and collector car prices?

We've noted in the Classic Cars discussions that the market for ordinary collector cars has weakened, while prices for well kept, rare classics, especially the luxury and super high end ones, have held up well. Will the declines in the housing and equity markets spread to high priced classics? The fact that they represent an asset class, like art or coins, leads me to believe that there will be a spill over, but I'm not an expert on classic car market cycles. What are your thoughts on this?
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Comments

  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    It depends how severe this so-called "recession" becomes, or if it is already correcting itself.

    The "bad news" often comes late with economic cycles, so the worst may be over while the bad news is still being reported.

    But in general, it has been my observation over the past 25 years that:

    If the economic doo-doo really hits the fan, the FIRST thing to go are "the boys' toys".

    Would a person with assets of 500 million dissolve his 50 car collection? I doubt it. Would the person with $10 million in assets? You bet hie would.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    at the Carlisle PA swap meet this past fall, was that there were an awful lot of Corvettes out there for sale. More than I had ever seen in the past.

    Now, the Corvette is a big enough draw that it gets its own dedicated show at Carlisle, and I'm sure plenty of them get put up for sale there. But I'd never seen this many at an all-inclusive Carlisle event. I wonder if that's a sign that people are starting to get scared, and ready to unload their toys? I always looked at the Corvette as a car with incredible brand loyalty. People dream of owning them, and when they find their dream-come-true, they intend to hold onto it. So if they're willing to put these dreams up for sale, I imagine that's an indication that there's economic turmoil a'brewing.

    Just my observation. I dunno how much of a barometer for the economy the Corvette really is...
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,703
    I think you saw what Shifty's referring to - folks getting rid of boys toys as things tighten up. Lots of folks bought them to restore, and are now finding the pot of gold nowhere in sight! Of course, this isn't referring to the super rare ones, but I bet those weren't the ones you saw at Carlisle.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think older Corvettes are a pretty good barometer of the "toy" market, like Harleys. Big noisy nasty things, not very sophisticated or practical. LIke 1000HP speedboats, old juke boxes, resto-rods, etd.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    If you ever see me put my 1989 Cadillac Brougham up for sale at Carlisle, you know I'm in fierocious financial turmoil.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I would be shocked. You just hold onto that puppy for another 50 years and wait for the big bucks! ;)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    If you ever see me put my 1989 Cadillac Brougham up for sale at Carlisle, you know I'm in fierocious financial turmoil.

    I guess with me the real sign that the kitty litter hit the fan would be if I put my DeSoto up for sale. I have other cars I could unload first if I had to, but I vowed I'd take that one to my grave.
  • grbeckgrbeck Member Posts: 2,361
    I remember seeing those Corvettes, too, andre. I wonder what we'll see at this year's shows.

    I just hope that people selling cars begin to understand that just because a 1970 Malibu SS convertible with the 454 went for big bucks, doesn't mean that grandma's 1970 Chevelle sedan with the straight six is now worth five figures....
  • isellhondasisellhondas Issaquah WashingtonMember Posts: 20,350
    If you blow a wheel cylinder on those center plane brakes it may well take you to your grave indeed! ;)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    Oh, I've had experience in driving it with no brakes already. Trust me, it's an eye-opener. :surprise:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    There are no atheists in a car with a single circuit master cylinder failure. :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    Oh I learned how to use the handbrake and the "1" button on the selector REAL fast! And dual master cylinders aren't foolproof. When my grandma's '85 LeSabre lost its brakes, it lost them totally. That pedal would go right to the floor. And a foot-mounted parking/emergency brake isn't as easy to use as a substitute for regular brakes as a handbrake is. :surprise:

    That actually surprised me though...I thought that dual master cylinders couldn't fail totally. Until that LeSabre taught me otherwise. I had the brakes go out on my '76 LeMans about a year and a half ago, and they're starting to fail on my '67 Catalina. Both of those have dual master cylinders, and in both cases, the failures have been partial.
  • texasestexases Member Posts: 9,703
    Was it the master cylinder on the Buick that failed? Might have had partial failure, and then, when the other half's seal failed, nothing!
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    I never really looked into what exactly caused that LeSabre's brakes to fail. We were thinking about getting rid of that car anyway. However, the insurance was paid up on it, and the emissions test was good for about another 6 months. My original plan was to wait until the emissions test came around, see how bad it was, and then make the keep it or ditch it decision. But that morning when the brakes failed was the straw that broke the camel's back, and we decided to get rid of it.

    They had been working just fine, nice and firm, no sponginess, no need to pump the brakes, etc. But then one morning I went out and hopped in the car to drive it to work, and when I put my foot on the brake to shift it into gear, the pedal went right to the floor.

    That weekend, we got it over to my grandmother's place so it would be off the street, at least. I had one of my friends drive my Intrepid and I followed in the LeSabre, so that if I did have a little boo-boo, at least it would be with my own car! It wasn't too scary of a trip. We just took it slow, and I tried to time the traffic lights the best I could, use the lower gears for engine braking, and only use the emergency brake when absolutely necessary.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    of the Financial Markets?

    I've found where the individual seller of a classic is ignorant of financial markets, doesn't care about being sensitive to the FM, but just wants so much for his wheels and doesn't care about anything else.

    On the other hand, the buyer is much more aware of FM and that does influence his purchase quite a bit. In this FM, prices should be down 25% over 2006.

    It is a buyers market this year. ;)
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think buyers are always ahead of private sellers on market trends. Only dealers are sharply in tune with the market's ups and down because they are buying as well as selling and can't afford to be buried in their inventory. Dealers may ASK silly prices but they know full well the "real money".
  • grahampaigegrahampaige Member Posts: 51
    [quote]There are no atheists in a car with a single circuit master cylinder failure. [/Quote]

    Or clean underwear.....
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Classic and collector car prices have been weakening, but are they off from their highs as much as the equity markets (+/- ~20%, depending on the index)? I know the really rare, high end cars hold their value best, but excluding the Bugattis, pre-WWII Benzes, Deusenbergs, and other cars of this caliber, how has the rest of the car market done in the past 12 months, three months?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Seems to me it all depends on what you are trying to sell. I'd say the Mopars have flattened out but certainly aren't "cheap"; all the clones and mystery cars (is it a REAL SS?) are taking a beating. The quality stuff is still like gold, and some cars, like classic Ferraris, don't even seem to notice the crisis.

    I'd say most of the formerly "hot" cars are flat but not dropping, some of the neglected classics are becoming interesting to buyers (old MGs, TRs, etc), clones and retro-rods are dead.

    Woodies, if they are NICE, are still red hot.

    So I guess the carnage we were expecting in the high quality muscle car market has not happened (yet), but the droop we expected in questionable merchandise is real and its getting ugly. I think now's a great time to shop in the under $20K market.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    Thanks, Shifty. The under $20K market is the only one of real interest to me as a potential buyer, although I enjoy staying informed on the higher end segments too.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    Yeah, that's pretty much my range, too. IMO, $20K is still an awful lot of money for what is essentially a toy. Luckily, most of the stuff I like can probably be had for four figures...or even 3!

    Probably about the most "exotic" I'd ever get is a '57-58 Chrysler or DeSoto convertible. I imagine a really nice one of those would be pretty pricey these days. Even getting away from the Adventurers and Letter Series 300's, I'm sure even a Firedome/Fireflite or Windsor/New Yorker convertible would set me back quite a bit.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Yeah, 50s ragtops are pretty pricey because of a) rarity and b) the cost of restoring them. You can get just about any part in the world for a '66 GTO convertible but try and find something for a '56 Chrysler. Good luck.

    So anything in a drop top Mopar that's still decent from the 50s, you're gonna have to pay for. But they have to be really NICE to bring good money. A ratty 50s drop top is just a ratty 50s drop top and a hard sell---the costs of restoration are daunting.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    I remember watching the Barrett-Jackson auction and seeing a 1959 DeSoto Adventurer two-door hardtop go for 6 figures! It was nuts
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    I remember watching the Barrett-Jackson auction and seeing a 1959 DeSoto Adventurer two-door hardtop go for 6 figures! It was nuts

    Yeah, that kind of stuff is WAY out of my price range. Maybe if I was so filthy rich that I could never spend it all, but there's no way I'd mortgage up the house that much for a car! Although, if the Fed keeps dropping rates the way they've been doing... :P
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    Asking if you've seen for sale: 1947 Chrysler New Yorker, Highlander, convertible.

    It has the Scotch plaid/Merlot leather interior & the body is a "woodie". :):):)
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    I don't think I've ever actually seen one for sale, but there's usually one or two on display at Fall Hershey and at Das Awkscht Fescht, a show near Allentown PA that's put on in early August.
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    To those of you who follow classic and collector car prices, has the high and rising cost of gasoline had a noticeable effect on the prices of collector cars, other than, maybe, the rare and very expensive rare ones?
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    More than affecting the prices asked, the cost of fuel seems to deter somewhat the collector from traveling previous long distances to show his beauty. This is related to the family who will be staycationing this and future holidays or perhaps camping within 50 miles of home. Forget the Ocean, the lake is closer.

    Collector car prices are softer now, but few are dumping their rides as they don't want to take a soft price for their wheels. It is a wait and see attitude.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    More than affecting the prices asked, the cost of fuel seems to deter somewhat the collector from traveling previous long distances to show his beauty.

    A few people in one of the online Mopar clubs I'm a member of commented on just that. They said that because of the high gas prices, they're going to cut back on some of the car shows they go to.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think it will affect the "cheap and cheerful" type of collectible, like a 70s or 80s V8 sedan or barge-like coupe (Lincoln, etc) since these buyers are high dollar people to begin with. But I don't think a person shopping for a $50,000 restored 60s GTO is going to care about gas prices, no.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    I don't think it's the gas prices, by themselves, that are going to affect the collector car market. After all, we're talking toys here that usually see a limited number of miles, and not a daily driver.

    However, with the economy starting to head south, and the housing bubble pop taking away a lot of equity, and putting some people in a serious bind, that's going to put a crimp on prices. I'm sure a lot of cars were purchased by people cashing out home equity, or otherwise stretching their budget to buy one. Now that the times are rough, they might be willing to sell their toy, even at a loss, if it means keeping their house.

    Just out of curiosity, what kind/condition of "Forward Look" era Mopar could $30K get me? I was afraid that my HELOC was going to get frozen, so I pulled some money out and parked it, for the time being, into a money market account. It's supposed to go towards home renovations, but I'm starting to think that a '57-58 DeSoto or Chrysler convertible would be a lot more fun than a new roof or bathroom or deck. :shades:
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    You might have to settle for a Dodge in 57-59, as they are cheaper than Chryslers or Desotos. For $30K, a 57-59 Desoto ragtop or Chrysler ragtop is going to be just a so-so car, but for $30K you should be able to get a nice Dodge.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    Chrysler convertible would be a lot more fun than a new roof

    Ever tried laying plastic tarps on the leaking roof during a moonless night in a wet & rainy windstorm with no electricity? :(
  • lemmerlemmer Member Posts: 2,699
    Andre, isn't $30K more than you have in all of your other cars combined? What's the most you've ever spent on a car?
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    Andre, isn't $30K more than you have in all of your other cars combined? What's the most you've ever spent on a car?

    Well, my 2000 Intrepid was $22,389 out the door, with taxes, tags, title, and an overpriced extended warranty that I never needed, but with my luck if I'd never bought it the thing would've crapped out right after the 3/36 warranty expired. :P

    Other than that, the most expensive was my '67 Catalina convertible, which I paid $3775 for back in 1994. The least I ever paid for a car, not counting hand-me-downs that my Mom or grandmother gave me, was $250 for a '79 Newport that I bought from the junkyard. It made the trip home, but then took $900 to get it to pass inspection, and then the tranny went out on it like 2-3 weeks after I got it on the road. So all of a sudden, that $250 car ended up turning into an $1800 car. :surprise: I probably should have let that one stay in the junkyard, but I did like the car. Actually what I should have done was just keep it after I had put all that money into it, but I finally got fed up with it when the water pump went out. I wanted something newer and better equipped. And I figured that a 9 year old Gran Fury with only 73K miles on it would be a better bet than a 19 year old Newport that was pushing 250K. I couldn't have been more wrong. Now, the Gran Fury wasn't a horrible car, but it wasn't really any more reliable than the Newport had been, and fuel economy was worse. It was a lot quicker off the line though.

    As for blowing $30K on an antique car, I have a strong feeling that if I did that, I'd probably spend a lot of time whining about it and regretting it, after the fact. Unless I got to the point that I was filthy rich and $30K was just chump change to me...but even then, old habits die hard. Heck, I had to play mind games to justify buying the Intrepid! I made the rationalization that between the refinance I had done a few months before, and the fuel savings compared to the Gran Fury, that would pretty much make the monthly payment. The 0.9 financing talked me into it, as well. And also the fact that back then, just a week of delivering pizzas would also make the monthly payment on the car...although soon after I bought it, I started scaling my hours back at that job.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Before you buy a $30K classic, you need to figure out your 'plans' for it. You have to do something with it--hopefully drive and enjoy it, car shows, tours, Desoto club, parades, the Plastic Trophy circuit----WHATEVER---but the car needs a hobby just like you do. :P
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 53,951
    If Andre buys a Christine or something and doesn't have time to drive as he tends to the rest of his fleet, I am sure some people here would volunteer to babysit it and promise to drive it every week or two :P
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    I used to know a guy who had something like 30+ cars, stashed around in various rural parts of Maryland. How does a person keep up with that many? I have trouble keeping up with my small fleet, which is only a fraction of that.

    So because of that, I probably won't be adding any more cars until I get rid of something. And I always seem to have trouble doing that. I guess if I really wanted a DeSoto or Chrysler convertible, what I should do is sell my DeSoto hardtop and the Catalina, but I don't wanna do that.

    In about two months, I'm supposed to get a bunch of vacation leave paid out to me when I our contract renews and I switch companies. I've made myself a promise that I'm going to put that money into the DeSoto and the Catalina, instead of boring stuff like retirement planning. :)
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 53,951
    Two cars is enough for me...I start having guilty feelings about not taking the old one out enough. Friends of mine think I am very strange to have an old car that I don't use every day. And of course the money spent on the modern car could really renovate the old beast. I doubt I will ever have a third or more car, unless I really came into some money.

    Maybe fixing up one of those cars would cure your desire to add another mouth to the litter.
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    Well, I have four - the 1988 Park Avenue and my girlfriend's 2005 LaCrosse get the most attention as they are used the most. For the money I spent on my 2007 Cadillac DTS Performance, I could've made both my 1989 Cadillac Brougham and 1988 Park Avenue Class 1 Pebble Beach Concours champions!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    Maybe fixing up one of those cars would cure your desire to add another mouth to the litter.

    I'd love to see andre restore his 1957 DeSoto Firedome hardtop to Concours standards! He probably wouldn't need to spend anywhere near $30K to complete the job, at least by judging by pictures I've seen of it. If he was really nuts, he could have the most beautiful 1979 Chrysler Fifth Avenue in the world!
  • fintailfintail Member Posts: 53,951
    At least you have two drivers for your cars. However, your three is still a full house. I also only have one garage spot, so the old car gets to live offsite. An expense and a chore rolled into one.

    For what I paid for the E55, I could have made a concours quality fintail too. But it probably would be more efficient to stuff 20K into a suitcase and throw it on a bonfire. I don't think I would really want a high end restoration anyway - I would be afraid to drive it. With a decent old car, you can drive it and not be uptight about wear or damage.

    For 30K, Andre could probably make his DeSoto a good #2 car and have enough left to buy gas for the fleet for some time.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    If he was really nuts, he could have the most beautiful 1979 Chrysler Fifth Avenue in the world!

    If I really wanted to do that though, I'd probably just be better off spending the five or six thousand that it would probably take to BUY the nicest 1979 5th Ave in the world! :P What I really should have done was bought that 1980 New Yorker we saw at the Carlisle Mopar show in 2006. It only had 34,000 miles on it, had leather, and was immaculate, and wasn't that ridiculously priced, something like $4300. But I was snubbing the car because it only had the 318-2bbl, which was a real dog that year with only 120 hp. I saw a road test of one of these in Motortrend that put it at 14.1 seconds. :sick: But you don't buy a car like that to drag race, and I'm sure it would be more than adequate for leisurely cruising around.

    It's funny how, at a quick glance, and right after a bath, that $500 NYer I bought last year shows up almost as well in pictures. Well, if the camera resolution is low enough, and in the right lighting. :P But there's no way I could throw $3800 at my NYer, and get it to anywhere near the level of that $4300 one. But at least I have the mighty 150 hp 360-2bbl, which knocks that 0-60 time down to maybe 11.5 seconds. :blush:

    As for my '57 DeSoto, it looks good in pictures, but I'm sure it would cost a fortune to get it up to Concours standards. Here's one of the more recent pics I've taken of it, from about two years ago. It's horribly dusty in this pic. It would clean up pretty nice and photograph nicely, but then they ALWAYS look nicer in pics! And honestly, if I got it up to concours standards, I think I'd be afraid to drive it!
  • lemkolemko Philadelphia, PAMember Posts: 15,306
    Does that script behind the front wheel read "Sportsman?" Did DeSoto name all its hardtops Sportsman like Buick named its hardtops Riviera or Oldsmoblie named them Holiday?
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    Yeah, that's the Sportsman script. DeSoto's first hardtop coupe was in 1950, offered only in the upper trim level. It was called the Custom Sportsman. From then on out, they stuck the Sportsman name on all of their hardtops, with a few exceptions.

    In 1956, DeSoto came out with two trim levels for the Firedome hardtop: the cheaper one was Seville and the more expensive one was the Sportsman. Also, when the Adventurer came out, the Sportsman name was never applied. Technically, the 1956 was a Fireflite Adventurer hardtop. The '57-59's were just Adventurers. And for 1960, they dropped the Sportsman suffix totally.

    Chrysler did a similar thing, with the Newport name. From 1950-56, it was used. And in '55-56, a cheaper Nassau hardtop coupe was issued in the Windsor series, while a pricier St. Regis hardtop coupe was offered in the New Yorker series.

    Must have been quite a mouthful in 1955, as Chrysler was also sticking the "Deluxe" name on everything. So the proper name would actually be "New Yorker Deluxe St. Regis hardtop coupe" :surprise: For '57 though, Chrysler dropped all that.

    Plymouth and Dodge also did it for awhile. Plymouth started off with Belvedere as the name of its hardtop from '51-53, then they just called it "Sport" from '54-58. Dodge went with Diplomat from '50-53, Sport in '54, and then Lancer from '55-59.
  • euphoniumeuphonium Great Northwest, West of the Cascades.Member Posts: 3,425
    Our first brand new car was a 1957 Plymouth Belvedere 2 Dr Hardtop, 301 V8, TorqueFlite pushbutton tranny. It was a gorgeous metallic Marine Blue & rode like a dream with the torsion bar suspension. There was only one chrome strip on the sides running the length of the car from front fender to tail light.

    I never got quite used to the fin on the Right rear. In a glance, I would mistake it for another car coming too close to us.

    We bought it 18 Mar 58 from Harris-Neff Motors, Crockett, CA for $2,400.00 the day I was discharged from active Army duty in Oakland. It was a great car for awhile.
  • andre1969andre1969 Member Posts: 24,656
    I never got quite used to the fin on the Right rear. In a glance, I would mistake it for another car coming to close to us.

    LOL, I have that same experience with my '57 DeSoto, although it's the left fin. For some reason, the right fin doesn't bother me, but I can see the left one in the rearview mirror, and at a quick glance it makes me think there's a red car riding along my flank.

    The fins on the DeSoto start just after the door though (or actually on the back door of the 4-door models) , and slope upward at an even pace. So maybe that's why, if I look over my shoulder to the right, I identify that fin as being part of the car. But with the Plymouth, the fin starts further back and then kicks up, sort of like a shark fin. I guess that could be a bit startling until you got used to it.
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    Gentlemen, this topic is going way off course. So either steer it back or we may have to retire it.

    thank kew

    Shifty
  • hpmctorquehpmctorque Member Posts: 4,600
    In addition to weak financial markets, it would seem that high gasoline prices would put downward pressure on collector vehicle prices. How and why? I recently read that the number of cars entered at classic and collector car shows has been declining this year, as a result of rising gasoline prices. Many collectors are choosing to limit the distance they will drive or trailer their vehicles, and are, therefore, only entering their vehicles in shows where limited travel is necessary.

    The logical conclusion is that if collectors display their cars at fewer shows, it will negatively affect collector car sales. Would it not follow, then, that this would translate to fewer bids, and that this, in turn, would result in price declines? or am I missing something?
  • Mr_ShiftrightMr_Shiftright Sonoma, CaliforniaMember Posts: 64,482
    I think maybe your logic breaks down in the middle of your thought chain, right about where you make the link between car show attendance and car prices.

    My feeling is that many current collectors are quite bored with taking their cars to shows and would now rather go on vintage tours, rallyes or historic re-creations of events of the past.

    It may be that collectors will drag fewer cars to fewer shows but I don't see that affecting car prices, since there has been a trend away from many types (but not all types) of car shows anyway. People are just getting sick of looking at rows of Chevelles and doing hours and hours of detailing to win yet another plastic trophy worth $10.

    Most of the really serious collectors I know, the ones who in a sense help drive prices, also drive their cars regularly.

    You could be right though in that it will change the regional buying habits of collectors, in that they might not be willing to buy a car in California and pay to have it shipped to Florida anymore.'

    There are too many car shows anyway IMO and many are very boring and not well run. So maybe this higher fuel situation will be good, not bad. Quality, not quantity.

    As for prices of collector cars, that's supply and demand of course, and I'm having a hard time (but I'm thinking on it....) deciding if car show attendance affects the demand side of the equation or not. I mean, would that '57 Chevy fuelie convertible really go begging if it came up for sale?

    Maybe the cars that go to local show n' shines might be less appealing---don't know.
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