Remembering Jimmy Buffett, car guy
Don’t need to feel important or famous
No limos or my little Nash car
One lucky man
With my feet in the sand
Tonight I just need my guitar
In the wake of the passing of legendary troubadour and businessman Jimmy Buffett at the start of Labor Day weekend, hundreds of thousands of words have been written about him, his legacy, his music, and the escapism his songs and concerts brought to millions, from toddlers to great-grandparents.
It’s been reported in dozens of stories that Buffett, along with his friend and fellow singer-songwriter, Jerry Jeff Walker, fixed up Walker’s 1947 Packard and then headed south from Coconut Grove, presumably on Florida’s A1A highway. A1A ends at mile-marker Zero, right next to the water, in Key West. Jimmy stayed in Key West, while Jerry Jeff returned to Coconut Grove.
But Buffett had a few other cars along the way, and, because Buffett was a storyteller, it should come as no surprise there are stories attached to each one.
Fellow journalist Terry Boyce posted his reminiscences on social media shortly after Buffett’s death: “Although we never met Jimmy Buffett, we did long ago play a small part in helping him obtain an example of his high-school car, a 1963 Ford Falcon Sprint Convertible.
“It was in January 1983, while I was working as Editor of Classic Sixties magazine for Dobbs Publications in Florida, that Buffett’s friend, the late photographer, author and publisher Tom Corcoran, contacted us. He was looking to help the singer/songwriter find a Falcon Sprint Convertible like the one he’d driven as a teenager.
“A sportier and scarcer version of the 1963 Falcon Futura Convertible, the “1963-1/2” Sprint, with its V-8 engine and bucket-seat interior, was a real “Classic Sixties” type of car. We quickly put together a brief notice for the February 1983 issue. Quoting Buffett through our conversation with Corcoran, it asked the readership to be on the lookout for such a convertible. A photo of Buffett seated in a 1966 Mustang and waving a fistful of cash was also provided by Corcoran, who photographed album covers for the singer.
“We received a letter from Oregon reader and Falcon enthusiast Ron Boesl, advising us that he’d found a Falcon Sprint Convertible for Jimmy—who had inspected it at Boesl’s home in Portland, before calling later to confirm he was purchasing the car. The following evening, after the deal was done, Boesl and the Sprint’s newly former owner, Andy Pass, also of Portland, were Buffett’s guests at Buffett’s concert in Portland, a memorable conclusion to an amazing couple of days.
“We ran Ron’s account of meeting Jimmy Buffett and arranging for him to view the Falcon Sprint he’d go on to purchase as a letter-to-the-editor in the April 1983 issue of Classic Sixties. Ron also provided a photo of him with the famed musician and Boesl’s own Falcon Futura convertible, which was similar to the Sprint.”
Seventeen years later, in 2010, Buffett gave the car to Ty Houck, owner of Ragtops Motorcars in Palm Beach, Florida, to sell. Ty consigned the car to the Auctions America sale, held in the Fort Lauderdale Convention Center March 26–28. There was a good bit of presale interest in Buffett’s turquoise-colored ride, mostly unmodified except for a surfboard rack/roll bar contraption that would be covered if the top was up. The car sold for a healthy $39,600. At the time, Hagerty’s Cars That Matter price guide, precursor to the Hagerty Price Guide, listed the car in #2 condition (Excellent) at a value of $28,200.
Ford Falcons seem to be a theme in the Buffett stable, as there are reports of a few others spotted at different times.
The same is true for Porsches. Houck remembers getting a call from Buffett asking for assistance, as he was stranded by the side of the road in a Porsche 356 close to Houck’s place of business in West Palm Beach. By the time Houck arrived, there were multiple fans seeking autographs from the unfazed Buffett. Donny Gould, a senior car specialist at Broad Arrow auctions and a long-standing resident of South Florida, also remembers a red 911 cabriolet with full whale-tail that Buffett drove in the mid-1980s. More Miami Vice than full laid-back Key West, it would be interesting to see where those P-cars are today.
Although I am sure there are other cars that entered and exited the songwriter’s life, this sampling should give anyone a smile knowing that Buffett found fun and satisfaction in the world of old cars.
And that “little Nash car” that Buffett sang about in his song, “Tonight I Just Need My Guitar”? That was a 1958 Nash Metropolitan that Ty Houck sold to Jimmy Buffett many years ago. Resplendent in—what else?—white over turquoise paint, you’d think this would be the perfect mode of vintage motorized transportation in Key West.
Buffett sold the Metro back to Houck years ago, and he sold it on to another collector in Maryland. However, fear not! Houck just called me to let me know that he will be getting the car back on consignment soon.
Interested parties can reach out to him on the Coconut Telegraph. Tell him Dave sent you.