Monday, July 21, 2008

A Tale of Two Del Reys

Woke up early this morning, and at about 7 am, browsed thru craigslist. I'm certainly unable to not click on an ad titled "2 Fuji Bikes, $100". So I clicked and this (roughly) came up:

Two Fuji del Rey 27" 12-speed road bikes in very good condition. $100 for both.

Well, the pictures are kind of grainy, but you can't beat the price! Noting the time on the ad was ~5 am, 2 hours prior, I thought, "No way these are still available" along with the usual, "My wife might kill me". But, being an optimist on both points, I immediately fired off an email:

"I'll buy your bikes assuming there is no major damage. I'll come out later today."

I was a little surprised to get a response back shortly from the owner, Dave, with, "Ok, they're yours" and address and phone number. He also mentioned that he was the original owner. So I did some emergency research on Del Rey's, I couldn't really tell the year from the photos. But the 1983 ones, apparently the year introduced, had half chrome forks:

Then I found a picture of a 1984:

As you can see, the 1984 model doesn't have half-chrome forks (bummer), but it does have gold anodized rims and a derailleur hanger integrated into the rear dropout, while the 83 has silver rims and the separate derailleur claw. Plus, the 84 has lug pinstriping.

Finally, I found a picture of a 1986 Del Rey:

While it is a sharp bike, it looked nothing like the bikes for sale. So I concluded that they were probably like either the 84 or 83 models, both with their sweet points.

Late afternoon, I brave metro traffic, drive out to Dave's, nice subdivision, he sees some guy in a pickup looking around his cul de sac, waves me into his drive, where he is standing with his teenage son.

Me: Nice to meet you. You mean to sell some bikes today.
Dave: Sure do. Hey, after the deal is completed, I want to ask you a favor.
Me: Sure, what?
Dave: I don't want to ask until we close the deal.

The bikes are there, they are identical the to 1984 pictured above, a deep olive with gold highlights and rims, a dead giveaway. Very good used condition, no rust, a little grimy and dusty, but obviously all original and not abused. We chat a little bit about the bikes, I say, "They're 1984, right", to which Dave responded, "Hey, very good."

Dave bought them for himself and his wife (they are marked with stickon letters "his"/"hers", as they are otherwise identical models and sizes) when he was a Marine in North Carolina. Since I also had been a Marine in North Carolina around the same time, we schmoozed about that a little.

As for the bikes, I said I didn't need to ride them, they looked fine to me. The only visible issue were brake hoods with serious rot. That's a shame since they are imprinted "Fuji" and probably impossible to replace exactly, but I wasn't about to start being nitpicky. Other than that, Dave mentioned that he removed the reflector on one to accommodate a child seat and put foam handlebar wrap on the wife's bike. Everything else original, down to chains, etc.

So Dave, his son, and I loaded them into the truck. Shutting the tailgate, I turned to Dave:

Me: Ok, what's the favor?
Dave: Tell me how much they are really worth.
Me: Got a lot of emails, huh?
Dave: Man, you wouldn't believe.

Well, since Dave was such a good guy, very cheerful/hearty type, I took some pains to honestly explain the vagaries of vintage bicycle valuations. I didn't try to deny that I got a great deal, but I mentioned that if he had priced them substantially higher, I wouldn't have been willing to commit sight unseen and then spend an hour each way in DC traffic.

So if he wanted to clear out his garage, gotta buy them both, today and no questions asked, somebody was going to have to get a deal. But if he wanted to max out the price, clean them up, tune them, post on ebay, deal with all the noise, that would be the other end of the spectrum, he'd get a lot more money, but it would be a lot more work. And for somebody that is doing this as a one shot deal, as opposed to somebody who does it regularly and is past the steep part of the learning curve, it is comparatively a lot more work.

Dave is taking this all in, nodding his head. He mentions that, yeah, he understood where I was coming from, he even saw it in his ad, which apparently started getting responses immediately. But they were along the lines of, "Can you ship?", "Can I buy one", "I have some questions, can I come by". Dave mentioned that I was the first one who said, "I'll buy them today, tell me when to come out", which was the deal closer for him. And in my opinion, at the price he listed, that is what he deserved and for me to get these out of his driveway as fast as he wanted me out of there.

With that in mind, we bid adieu. I mentioned that I would be writing this up in a blog posting, he thought that was cool. Driving off, I give him a big Semper Fi.

So here are the bikes on arrival at home. Turns out that it is not so easy to take effective pictures of two bikes. But I'll have to master that, as there will be more as I figure out what to do with this doublemint duo.

What would you do? Fortunately, or perhaps unfortunately, they are my size. Too bad Velox discontinued green handlebar tape.


honkeie2 said...

I know very little about bikes but I know I love graigslist. Never know what you will find!

john smith said...

I just picked one of these up to sell it. However mine appears to have the full chrome forks

john smith said...

I have one that appears to be an 83? Chrome forks etc for sale contact me as it will be for sale and it's all original! 175.00

Anonymous said...

I think you got a monster great deal! Sold my original '84 Del Rey about a year ago. Now wish I had given up food instead! Enjoy..