Don Martin surveyed the damage and could only shake his head in disgust.
Late one afternoon last week, he heard what he thought were gunshots on his rural property near Coeur d’Alene.
Martin, 87, drove around back to investigate and discovered someone had been smashing the windows, headlights and taillights out of his classic cars.
They got to his Volkswagen Karmann Ghias. They got to the ’55 Ford Crestline, the ’59 Cadillac, the ’37 Packard 120. And they shattered the glass of the 1960 four-door Caddy hard top.
“It’s a nice car – it was, till they busted the windows,” Martin said. “I was pretty mad. I was mad.”
More than two dozen cars were vandalized in all, and the only people he found trespassing on his farm were two boys who had ridden there on their bicycles.
An Army veteran who served in World War II, Martin retired in the early 1990s from a career with New York Life Insurance Co. Collecting and restoring old cars has been a hobby of his for decades, and he has gathered a remarkable assortment dating to the earliest days of the automobile.
He keeps his restored gems – sporty Jaguar Roadsters, a ’65 Corvette, a ’68 Gran Torino, a 1939 Lincoln-Zephyr coupe and many more – under heavy lock. But outside his shops, scattered throughout a grove of pine trees, are scores of old models awaiting restoration to their former glory.
That will be far more difficult and expensive now. The vandalism is extensive and replacing the broken windows and lights will be difficult if not impossible.
“It costs too much. Like these Karmann Ghias, you know,” he said, pointing with his cane in a cold drizzle Wednesday morning. “That one there I was going to pull in and restore next, after I get my Mustang done.”
It appears the vandals took a tire iron or pipe to many of the cars, even doing some body damage. Martin has no idea what the total damage would run – easily in the thousands of dollars. None of the cars he keeps outside is insured.
Martin saw the boys he suspects were responsible for the damage before they took off with their bicycles toward a nearby housing development. He damaged one of their bikes when he ran over it while looking for the trespassers.
Martin contacted the Kootenai County Sheriff’s Office and gave a report, but he’s not optimistic the vandals will be caught and held accountable.
“What are you going to do?” he said. “It’s the parents, the parents! They don’t take care of their kids anymore.”