He left behind medical bills and a very sensible car
March 6, 2009 4:29 AM   Subscribe

What is a fitting end for a ghost car?

My friend died a few years ago without a will, leaving behind a 2001 tan Toyota Camry. Due to the hassle of getting the title (friend had hundreds of thousands of dollars in medical bills), my friend's wife would prefer to get rid of the car, rather than make it legit. Most people probably do not want to buy a car without a title that has an expired registration and environmental inspection that cannot be renewed.

As a result, my friend's wife wants to do something different with the car. What's something cool she might do with it? The weirder the better.

(We're already considering donating it to NPR, assuming they take cars without proper papers.)
posted by *s to Grab Bag (17 answers total)
Most people probably do not want to buy a car without a title that has an expired registration and environmental inspection that cannot be renewed.

Most people aren't illegal aliens or Mexican nationals with the cash for a car yet lacking the credentials to get a fully legitimate vehicle. That's just most people. I don't imagine Texas has many people that would fit into that category though. Not that would suggest selling the car on the black (grey?) market, no, no, I would never tell anyone to find out where the auto market area of town is held every weekend and to go there with the car and sell it for cash while enjoying fresh Mexican food made in some grandmother's kitchen and served out of an unlicenced food stand. Especially because I'm sure that Houston is not the kind of place that such a thing would go on.

Other than that, has she considered donating it to a Community College, High School, or Prison vocational program? Texas has some really good ones out there.
posted by Pollomacho at 4:44 AM on March 6, 2009 [12 favorites]

donate it to a tech school
posted by patnok at 5:45 AM on March 6, 2009

Gift it to someone to use for a Burning Man art car.

about as wierd as it gets...
posted by clearly at 5:47 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

Sell it for parts.
posted by dunkadunc at 6:06 AM on March 6, 2009 [2 favorites]

have a charity event where people can pay money to take a swing at it with a sledgehammer.
posted by lizbunny at 6:26 AM on March 6, 2009

My first thought was (assuming you're not *that* into crossing the Law) donating it to a found-metal / recycled materials artist. I tried to search for one in Houston, but it proved to take more than 5 minutes. Call your local arts council for help on that, I think -- they will probably be thrilled to suggest a donee. Metal sculptors devote a significant part of their time to seeking out raw materials; this would be a welcome boon.

In addition, if she wanted to request a small piece of art from this car for herself, maybe a trade could be worked out.

In the meantime, here are some examples of what cars can be turned into:

- intricate movie projector sculpture (he seems to be in Mexico, but that's a very cool sculpture of a movie projector - check out his chess sets, too, including this auto parts chess set!)

- simple fish, although it sounds like this guy might be based in Houston and makes other things. This page is instructions to make your own sculpture - always an option.

- These robot models are in Thailand, but they were so cool I had to include the link anyway. To apprise you of the scope of sculptural possibilities.

If you don't find a sculptor you like, and the arts commission method doesn't appeal, you could always post a "free" ad on Craigslist and ask for proposals. Accept the proposals for a month, or however long you like, and give the car to whichever proposal you like best.

Suggestion: have someone *other* than your friend's wife do the initial vetting of these proposals; otherwise, the desperation of people who just want a car might make her feel bad that there's only one to give. And if she wants to give it to some unusual cause (like sculpture), or if it's genuinely not safe to drive, that could just lead to guilt.
posted by amtho at 6:37 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Many public radio/tv stations have a car donation program. You get a tax write off and they get the money from selling it etc. I did that with an old car I had and got the double bonus of having it sold to the city fire department as a prop for a public demonstration. Not only did I get a few hundred bucks worth of tax writeoff, but I got to see my car burned and ripped apart by the jaws-of-life. It was AWESOME!
posted by elendil71 at 7:09 AM on March 6, 2009

Seconding Clearly. Mefimail me for more info.
posted by sacrifix at 7:33 AM on March 6, 2009

Wait, if you're in Houston, maybe head to the Art Car Museum and see if anyone wants to make it an even more awesome ghost car.
posted by politikitty at 7:50 AM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

Demolition Derby car.
posted by camworld at 7:54 AM on March 6, 2009

There are ads on the radio out here in the SF Bay Area looking for car donations to help fund the Junior Giants baseball program. If your friend was a sports fan then that might be a fitting destination. But I'd imagine there are programs in many different spheres of interest, one might be a better fit.

Please don't sell it to an illegal, they'll drive it without insurance or a license and any accident they get in will be a major pain in the backside. I know this because I t-boned an illegal when he made an illegal left turn in front of my motorcycle. It was his fault and I could have been badly hurt. I never saw a penny from him and he disappeared shortly thereafter.
posted by fenriq at 10:03 AM on March 6, 2009

Donate it to a fire department training program so they can torch it. That's hot.
posted by yohko at 10:39 AM on March 6, 2009

That's a great car. Will probably last 250K if you care for it.
posted by tiburon at 11:16 PM on March 6, 2009 [1 favorite]

tiburon is right. It's an awful shame to ruin a completely good car.

If you don't want to part it out, at least go to the trouble to get the title and find someone in bad shape who needs a car.
posted by dunkadunc at 2:44 AM on March 7, 2009

Have you considered an entry into the 24 Hours of LeMons?
posted by MarchHare at 2:50 AM on March 7, 2009

Cut off the top with the jaws of life, purchase liner scrap from a pool supply store and use it for a hot tub. Seriously...
posted by Nanukthedog at 9:02 PM on March 7, 2009

Demolition derby!
posted by pompomtom at 4:37 PM on March 25, 2009

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