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The Rare Car Tune-Up Tester That Sold For Hundreds On Pawn Stars

Have you ever spent time imagining items you might randomly find somewhere to bring into the Gold & Silver Pawn Shop and sell for big bucks? If you're like us, your mind may wander to, say, an original copy of the Declaration of Independence hidden behind an old picture, as written about in the New York Times. Or perhaps a rare misprinted nickel you just happen to get as change at the grocery store, per the Fun Times Guide. It's unlikely, however, that you've ever dreamed of getting your hands on a car tune-up tester like the one seller Paul brought by "Pawn Stars" recently.

It was so big, he couldn't get it through the front door. Corey and Rick had to look it over in a storage area around the back. Made by the Sun Electric Corp. in the late 1970s, the once-ubiquitous item (at least among car mechanics) has moved into the realm of rare. And that boded well for Paul, who hoped to cash in and make a decent profit.

"I need to sell it because I just don't have the room for it," he said. "I'd like to get $600 for it. But I might consider a little less."

It's a period piece — and still useful, to boot

With its dials, gauges, and oscilloscope screen (for measuring voltage output), the tune-up tester was aesthetically interesting to look at; plus, it offered an irresistible glimpse into the past. Rick pointed out that decades ago, this was top-of-the-line technology, saving mechanics countless hours diagnosing car troubles. It was "pretty futuristic stuff for the time," he said.

A former mechanic, Paul knew that from personal experience. He also knew the outdated tune-up tester was sometimes the best equipment to turn to — even today — which was why he'd purchased the item with real intent ten years prior. "Every once in a while, you run into a problem and you just can't figure it out," he said. "You can take a scope like this and put it on there and you can fix exactly what your problem is."

That gave Corey an idea. Why not hook it up to an older car and see what this thing could do?

A test run proved its worth

Paul showed them how to swing the arm out from the top of the machine and hook the cables and wires up to the nearby Volkswagen Beetle they had on hand. Rick started up the engine and the oscilloscope display began to flash. Pressing buttons, Paul killed some cylinders, showing Corey he could even turn the car off that way.

"I'm impressed," Rick said. "It's definitely cool that this thing still works." Still, he had to be realistic. A tune-up tester wouldn't be an easy item to sell. He'd need to find a pretty specific buyer, a mechanic who could use the equipment.

When Paul started the dealings at $600, Rick low-balled him with an offer of $200. It was clear Paul hadn't intended to go quite so low, but when he got the price up to $275, he agreed to make a deal. Corey thought Rick was crazy to buy it at any price, but Rick stood by his creative decision-making. He even said he had a buyer lined up.

In the end, Paul was pleased to have the cash, too. "Since I'm in the middle of moving, it's gonna come in handy," he said. Not to mention, he just unloaded one unwieldy item he won't ever have to move again.