There are dozens of used-car lots in Joplin, but there’s none quite like the Public Park & Sell Auto Mall at 4241 S. Main St.
Nowhere else in Joplin can you find a 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood or a 1960 Ford Thunderbird on the sales lot. How about a 1949 Diamond T truck or a 1950 Ford Custom? These vehicles are often in mint condition suitable for collectors since many of them were once owned by collectors. Some are restomods, a classic car that has been restored but modified with modern parts and technology. The vehicle looks the same until you look under the hood.
“If it rolls or floats, I have got it,” said Michael Webb, owner of the auto consignment mall. “If I don’t have it, I can get it.”
Webb has even sold some airplanes, but his specialty is the Chevrolet Corvette. He has three models on his lot now with more on the way.
“I have sold cars all over the world,” he said. “Australians love American cars. I have sent Corvettes to Australia. I have sent a Mercedes back to Germany where it was made.”
Recently, a client asked him to find a Thunderbird for him. Webb found the desired model in a collection. Two weeks after delivery, the client decided the car wasn’t for him because he was too tall to fit comfortably in the front seat. The car is now on the sales lot. Webb can have as many as 50 vehicles on his lot at any time. It’s not just cars. He sells trucks, vans, recreational vehicles, travel trailers, boats and lots of motorcycles, including some vintage models.
Webb got his start in auto sales about 55 years ago when he worked on the used-car lot at Frank Scott Dodge, B and Main streets. From there, he specialized in Corvettes. When the property at 4241 S. Main became available, he jumped at the chance to open a public park and sell. That was six years ago. His business has now become the place where local collectors — and there are many of them in Joplin with substantial collections — go to move their cars.
It’s also become a place for collectors to look for cars or trucks they might want to add to their collections.
“This is a great location because it’s so close to Interstate 44. We have thousands of vehicles pass by here on Main Street every day,” he said.
Some people stop by just to look at what he has for sale on the lot. It’s like a car show that gets refreshed every week with new vehicles.
Not all of the cars are classics. Some are drivers. Some don’t even work. If there is something wrong with a vehicle, Webb will disclose the problems to a potential buyer.
Webb operates a website that displays the vehicles he has for sale. Unlike some auto sales lots, the cars you see advertised are the cars you get. There is no bait and switch with phony photos that misrepresent what is for sale. Webb handles all of the advertising and paperwork associated with the sale.
Prices for used cars have skyrocketed over the past year or so. Webb said that is because of the computer chip shortage. Auto makers do not have enough chips to manufacture new cars.
“Because of the chip problem, it’s hard to get a new car. That’s caused used-car prices to double,” he said. “That’s why the used-car market is so strong now.”
There are times when Webb gets a car he really likes, making it difficult for him to let them go to a new owner. The Cadillac is an example of that.
“This 1940 Cadillac Fleetwood has a flathead V-8 in it. It has the original interior and two spare tires,” he said. “It was owned by a gangster in Reno, Nevada, who lost it in a poker game. When you ride in it, you can’t even hear the engine, it’s so quiet. I love to drive this car.”
It could be your Cadillac for $30,000.
The April Third Thursday, with a theme of public service, will kick off at 5:30 p.m. this Thursday in downtown Joplin.
Small businesses, artists, nonprofits and others who would like booth space at Third Thursday can apply via downtownjoplin.com/thirdthursday. Signups close the first Monday of each month prior to the event.