Media Life: 1940 Placer County car featured on Discovery Channel

“Antiques Roadshow” for cars appraises Newcastle resident’s Pontiac
By: Gus Thomson, Reporter/Columnist
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Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at

or 530-852-0232. Thomson is a state and national award-winning reporter who writes for the Auburn Journal.  

It didn’t take long for Newcastle’s Paul Ricci to find his classic car shipped to L.A. for showing on the new Discovery Channel show “Sticker Shock.”

The show’s producers were looking for a vehicle with some road history and some back story.

Ricci — who lives in Newcastle and works as a fire captain in Santa Rosa — noticed a Facebook post looking for interesting cars with interesting stories. He answered the call, providing photos and filling out the one-page online application. A producer called the next day with more questions and Ricci got another phone call soon afterward to let him know he and the car were in.

The show shipped the car to an abandoned Firestone tire plant in Los Angeles County’s South Gate and Ricci was flown down for a day’s shooting that included an appraisal a la PBS’ “Antiques Roadshow.”

Ricci was told not to do anything special to the car before its appearance on “Sticker Shock” this past week, including a thorough examination to determine its potential value if it were to be sold.

“The car’s already special to me but it’s interesting to hear from the pros what makes it special to them,” Ricci said.

The Pontiac has been part of Ricci’s life since 1996, when he picked it up for $4,000 as a parts car and then realized that he had something that he couldn’t break up — or break up with. The car had just two previous owners and one 1993 paint job but little else. The original mohair upholstery was — and is — intact in the interior. The engine is original as well.

Value in the past

The value of the Pontiac was pegged at about $15,000 and $26,000 for insurance purposes.

The advice from the “Sticker Shock” experts was not to monkey with a good thing.

“They told me that it’s only original once, so it should be kept preserved scratches and all,” Ricci said

The blue Pontiac was one of six autos featured on the episode but could have easily had one whole show devoted entirely to itself.

“Sticker Shock” could have started with a re-enactment of the time at a car show about 10 years ago when he looked up and saw a man next to the car crying.

“This was my dad’s car,” the man said.

The man said he was the son of the original owner and the tears had come after looking at punctilious note-taking on regular oil changes and other service items in his dad’s distinctive handwriting. Ricci had displayed the man’s logbook at the Santa Rosa show.

The Pontiac’s “Sticker Shock” price tag is not be astronomical but there are other ways to value a vehicle nicked and scratched by the miles. Ricci describes his car as the Toyota Camry of its day — a common sight on 1940s highways and byways but not particularly eye-catching.

Today, it’s historically significant just because it was so much a part of everyday life for Americans during the war years — a comfortable family car that has stood the test of time and is now getting a moment in the spotlight courtesy of Discovery Channel.

More back story

The Pontiac makes an appearance on “Sticker Shock” Episode 2 at 27 minutes.

Left on the cutting-room floor was another story that’s continuing today. Paul took his high-school sweetheart to the prom in the car, his own father dressing up and acting as chauffeur. The high-school romance turned into a lifelong adventure, with Amy Ricci now his wife. Fast forward to 2018 and Paul is now driving his own daughter to the prom — in the 1940 Pontiac.

Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at or 530-852-0232.