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Ross Hicks

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Originally Published: 9/1/1998

Some collector car dealers specialize in cars of a particular era -- '50s Chevys, perhaps, or muscle cars from the '60s.

Ross Hicks specializes in just about everything. "I've had a little bit of everything," said Hicks, the owner of Ross's Valley Auto Sales in Boise, Idaho. "I'm not into high-priced cars like big-block Corvettes. Most of my cars are under $10,000."

Hicks has owned his own dealership for a year, but has been in the car business for a dozen years. He was a used car sales manager for a Cadillac dealer, but used to buy collector cars and antiques on the side and sell them. "I found that I was getting more and more into it (older cars)," he said. "I was making more money doing that part time, so I quit my job about three years ago and bought a pickup and car trailer and started attending auctions."

Most of his operation is what Hicks describes as "your basic used-car lot" with 40 to 50 cars on hand, since he buys cars that are traded in to the Boise-area dealers where he used to work. But he tries to maintain a steady inventory of collector cars.

"I've got a '23 T-bucket street road roadster, a '55 F-100 street rod pickup, a '66 Lincoln two-door hardtop," he said. "I have a 1950 Chrysler New Yorker that's completely restored that I'll probably take to Sun Valley (the Silver Auctions premiere sale this month).

"I've been doing a lot of street rods recently -- a lot of people like them. They have the old car look with a modern drive train. Some have air conditioning and power steering."

"Mustangs were hot for a while, GTOs were hot for a while. Right now, street rods are kind of the in thing."

Hicks and his wife, Kristin, usually attend one Silver Auction a month. He says his bidding strategy is simple: try not to get emotionally involved with a car. "I will go to a sale and the auctioneers give me a bad time because I go around with a notebook and write down every car's pluses and minuses," he said. "I don't know what car I'm going to buy until I buy it."

He also handles consignment sales. "A lot of cars that I buy and sell I've owned three or four times," he said. Hicks said a good proportion of buyers are "looking for cars to drive every day. Around here, people really use their collector cars. They're not afraid to drive them."

Hicks agrees that one advantage of being a collector car dealer is limited competition, because the cars tend to be unique. "When you have a collector car on your lot, what are the chances of one or two other dealers having that same car?" he asked. "Most collector cars are one of a kind -- they have their own personalities, their own degrees of restoration."

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Ross Hicks
Ross's Valley Auto Sales
6512 Fairview Ave.
Boise, Idaho. 83704
(208) 376-5974
Owner: Ross Hicks
Age: 36

Type of vehicles: used cars of all kinds, collector cars, mostly under $10,000.

Business history: three years as an owner, 12 years in the auto sales business.

Favorite cars: "1 had a 1919 Model T that was all original, you had to start it by hand. I've had Corvettes, I've had street rods, '50s Chevies. I just get a big kick out of them all."

Quote: "The profit in this business is pretty much from my regular used cars. The collector cars are primarily for enjoyment."

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