As model toy cars collected dust and the plastic pages of an auto-album stuck together over the years, Bill Stoltenberg continues to enjoy his hobby.
Stoltenberg has never called himself a car collector, but he has owned around 80 in his lifetime.
“I got in the habit that I liked to try different cars, and so about every six months I would trade cars, and back then the prices of cars were so cheap,” he said.
Stoltenberg, 76, has owned English sports cars, different Oldsmobiles and Chevrolet models, and a mess of brands that were cut from circulation. He even built some of his own with different fiberglass bodies.
The only Cadillac he ever owned was a 1941 convertible.
“That was in ’54, way back when I was still in high school,” he said, laughing. “It looked like a cool car to me, cruise around with the girls. I could get a whole bunch of them in there.”
He bought his first car, a 1936 Chevy, at 15.
“You could buy a car for $50 when I was that age,” he said. “Cars now, you can’t even look at one for $50.
“My wife thought I was kind of crazy when I told her my hobby was fixing up cars and selling them, because I really couldn’t afford to keep them.”
So Stoltenberg only kept two or three cars at a time. He also bought and flew airplanes, and even raced for a year in 1959.
“Racing’s an expensive business, because you wear out your car real fast, and you wear out your tires real fast.”
To this day, he keeps a 1953 Chevy in his garage that he bought from a cousin last year. The radio, heater, and windshield wipers do not work, but fixing it is what makes it fun.
“I really enjoyed the hobby over the years. It always gives you something to do,” he said. “You don’t have to look for things to do, because you know you got something to work on out there.”