"As of Friday, ten thousand three hundred and forty nine!"
That was the answer to an off the cuff question I had asked Dale Matthews one day when he was over at my place checking out a '36 Roadster I had just bought. In fact, when I texted him a photo of it, he was over in thirty minutes. You see, Mr. Matthews is a bit of a fan of 1936 Fords himself, especially Roadsters. If you know him, you're likely familiar with the story of his own 1936 Roadster, "Rodney," the subject of The Iron and Steele Podcast episode #49.
The question I asked Dale was, "About how many cars do you think you've bought and sold over the years?" There was no "About" about it, he knew exactly! And that is a great example of just how Dale Matthews is.
I've known "of" Dale for decades. He has been around for approximately one thousand years, buying and selling antique cars. When I was in my early 20's, I would go to his store, Memory Lane Motors and drool over his inventory. Of course, I was a snot-nosed kid with $338 in the bank, but I would roll into his place, which is like stepping back in time to a much nicer era, and daydream like crazy. I'd ask specific questions and in general, waste everyone there's time. I wasn't going to buy anything. And of course, Dale knew that. But rather than kick me out, he would humor me and graciously answer whatever questions I had. Looking back and knowing him a little better now, maybe he was just being a smart businessman. I may not have been a buyer then, but it was possible that I could be in the future. If that was his thinking, he was right. Or maybe it was just that Dale Matthews was simply being the plain old nice guy that he is.
It's tough being a car dealer. It's even more difficult to be one of those AND have a great reputation. And while he has bought and sold more old cars than anyone around here combined, I can honestly say that I've never ran into anybody that didn't like Dale Matthews. If you've met him, you'd understand why that is.
After decades of buying, selling and trading old cars of all kinds, you can probably imagine that Dale has collected a story or two. I would bet he has thousands of interesting stories bouncing around in his head at any given moment. And if he ever reaches back into the vault, pulls one out and starts to tell you one, do yourself a favor and listen closely, because you're in for a treat.
Dale is a fantastic storyteller. But if you're not fortunate enough to have the pleasure of hearing his tales firsthand, you're in luck: A few years back, he sat down and wrote a book called, "Every Deal's Different - The Dale Matthews Story." In this book, he gives a little of his back story and then proceeds to tell more than a dozen of his favorite stories of buying and selling old cars. Every one is amazing and to be honest, I wish Dale would spend a year just sitting in his office and writing his memories down before they're lost to time.
So, the short version is: Dale Matthews is a living legend and we should all be trying to get every story we can out of him while we can. I will do my best to get as many to you as I can through my podcast. In the meantime, you can pick up a copy of Dale's book for yourself and get a head start. I promise you will enjoy it! It can be found here: Memory Lane Motors.
Be sure to listen to Dale's story, "Rodney The Roadster" on my podcast! You can find it wherever you get your podcasts by searching "Iron and Steele." Here are the Apple and Spotify links: