Question of the Week: Tells us about the car that got away

A long drive. Delay at the bank. “I’ll sleep on it.” You can miss out a deal for any number of reasons. If the right car appears at the right price, you’ve just got to get there to claim it.

Life doesn’t always work that way though, which means sometimes, your dream car gets away.

Watching your beloved car drive away after letting it sell or missing the opportunity to purchase can hurt. (Photo- Hagerty)

Car enthusiasts are a lot like fisherman when we think about those ones that escaped our grasp. Even if we don’t need another car, or have space for another car, or have money to pay for another car, we’ll peruse for sale listings as if casting out a baited hook with an already full stomach and fish hold. Who knows what you might catch? It might even justify releasing a few from the current stock.

The best deals seem to be fleeting, like a nibble on the hook but with a pull to set the line goes slack. Even just a little hesitation can mean a miss (and some regret). Tell us below about the time you missed the perfect automotive score.

1967 VW beetle just down the street, driveable for under 2 grand well under.
Those in cali may believe that to be a normal price for one in that good of shape. Here in the midwest, any rustbucket hopeless case air cooled vw vehicle usually starts at 3gra d and up.

When the patina fad hit the vw scene in California, most of us in the midwest couldn’t believe it. Here we are trying to exorcise rust from our rides, and they are trying to ape the look on theirs without rust.

Also, a concours level 1 74 be super beetle, autostick, again for 200 grand.

A vw thing for 3500, just before the last Amelia Isla d auction that drove prices for vw things easy way up.

An electric converted classic vw beetle.

An electric converted bay window vw bus.

A formula vee racing car (in college)

Those are the rides that got away from me before I had any chance of getting my financials in order.

My 66 bug (rest in peace) itself the victim of many hapless fly by night mechanics and the previous owner.

Went to sell it to a friend of mine for 1000 after the previous mechanic stated that it was too much of a basletcase with rust in the area behind the back seat over the engine on the other side (in other words, an area not easily checked.)

Later on, my friend asks for the title. Clearly it wasn’t a lost cause after all.

Of course, I couldn’t find the title so paid any extra 50 bucks to the d m v for the privilege of them printing out another for me in the mail.

As I was graduating HS in 1992, my neighbor 3 doors down offered to sell me her 1973 Mustang convertible. It was in very good daily driver condition and it had been a graduation gift when she got it new, 19 years earlier. My parents advised against it and I listened to them. I regretted the missed opportunity for 24 years and finally consoled myself with a '71 Corvette, but I’d buy the Mustang if it’s still for sale.

Missed out on a 1968 Hertz Shelby GT350 Mustang that was listed on Hemmings for several months three years ago. It was Cherry red with white stripes and an all original interior. Was also signed by Carroll Shelby on the glove box as well; and had plenty of documentation including a Marti Report.
As luck would have it, several months later I found the 1969 Shelby I currently own, and it’s got the same Cherry red paint, and white stripes and with a white interior.

I took care of an ailing wife 24/7 for 10 years. Once a month we made a 50 mile trek to a clinic where she received infusions to fight advancing MS.

Along the way we’d pass this one little used car place that had a Zimmer right out front. Didn’t move for 10 years or more.

I though that someday I’d drop in and get the story, maybe the car too.

A month after my wife passed away I dove up there and…the lot was empty.

I check with the county officials to see if I could find out what happened to the cars but no one knew a thing.

Happy ending, though.

Got remarried a few years later and bought a regular Fiero which I still have.
Honestly, I probably dodged a pretty big bullet but still. :slight_smile:

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Not once but twice. First time was at a dealers lot in 1979 with a friend looking for a mustang. He was interested in a 76 Mustang cobra. Next to it were 2 real Shelby’s One was a 65 GT350R complete with all the racing goodies. for $6500.00 , next to it was a 1970 Shelby in bright Yellow. around the same price. I thought it was too much and was still paying on my 73 Mach 1.
Second time a local repair shop had a pair of 67 Shelby’s . One red, the other blue, the owners sons owned them and had grown tired of them. either one could be had for 6k. And again, by 1981 standards that was a lot of money.

1957 Ford Fairlane 500 convertible non running parked on lawn for years. Around 1975. Talked to brother of owner who I went to school with. For sale? Yes $600.00. I’ll take it. It took a week to come up with cash and locate a replacement engine block. Hired tow truck to pick up on next Saturday. Got there,car gone.Never got explanation.
Around 1985 a 1970 Cuda 440 six pack car I knew of growing up for sale on lawn of owners Mom. Price $1800. Seen while on the way to cash check at local bank. Sold by the time I got back.

In 1966, a 1949 Buick Roadmaster woody wagon in maroon. It had been repaired in my stepfather’s woodworking shop the previous year. It was Huge! But in really good condition with a smooth running straight 8 engine, quiet Dynaflow automatic, good upholstery, wide whitewalls, the radio and heater worked and it was entirely complete.
I am not one for really big cars, but this one captivated me. Still does, whenever I see a '49.
I got the money together to buy it, but when I got there it was driving off having been sold ten minutes earlier.
I’ve often wondered if it survived and where it might be now.

Way back in the early 60’s, a neighbor was selling his '53 Chevy Bel Air convertible. He was getting his first family car, a plain Jane '60 4 door Ford. I was a few years too young for my drivers license but I was working on getting my first car.
My father had previously nixed a '40 Ford Coupe that a kid down was selling for $100 when he heard it had some ‘electrical problems’. Maybe that was a good idea.
We knew the neighbor with the '53 Chevy. I think he wanted $200 for it. My father and the neighbor both agreed that selling a car to a neighbor was a bad idea because of the stress it could put on a friendship. Maybe that was another good idea of my father’s. But I still think about that yellow convertible when ever I see another one from that era.

For a lot of us, i’ll bet it is the car we wished we had never sold. Mine would be first new car, a factory order 1966 Buick Skylark GS 4 speed convertible. Still have window sticker, order paperwork, and a few fading polaroids. And memories.

1995, Sold my all original, excellent 1970 350/350 11.5 to 1 V8 Corvette. Still sad over it, wife and I had our first child and the car simply did not fit our lives / budget anymore. Still miss that car.

1968 Porsche 912. Had been used as a racer and need some carb work. I offered the guy $3k, about $1500 less than what he had it listed for (the car stalled on my test drive so I knew it needed some work). He would only come down to $3500 and I was a poor college student and couldn’t come up with the extra $500. My loss as it was in great condition and now would be worth well over $10k!

It was 1968. I was still two years away from being draft eligible and had a brand new unlimited drivers license in my pocket. I had been working part time at the full service island of the local gas station/garage/junkyard in the small town I grew up in. Heck back then all the islands were full service. Both of them! I had saved up $50 and had to have my own wheels. I went looking and spied a 1959 Plymouth Golden Commando two door hardtop at a local used car lot. Not just any old Plymouth as this one had twin four barrel carburetors, swivel bucket seats and a push button transmission! Wow! How much I asked. $150 was the reply. I showed him my $50 and asked if I could make payments. His laugh was loud and shook the building and of course he said no. I was devastated! He said I do have a 1959 Plymouth I will sell you for that $50. Maybe it won’t be so bad? Then he took me to the back of his small building and there was a 1959 Fury four door sedan that was tan with a red hood and one white fender and a primered door. Times were tough back then and that extra $100 could have been $100,000 to me. Needless to say I bought the old half way repaired Plymouth sedan but it took me several years to get over losing that Golden Commando. I wonder where that car may be today???

A 2001 BMW Z3 Coupe. Bright yellow, black interior, at a Houston BMW dealer maybe 10 years ago. I drove it, got my (now ex)wife to come down and drive it, we went home and talked because, @ $15K, it was significant money AND more than we’d paid for her last car brand new. She said go ahead, I called the dealer early the next morning, someone had bought the car sight-unseen and they were shipping it out of town. Never really admitted to her how much I wanted that car.

Three tries! I was about to graduate from college, and there was a '65 Alfa Giulia Sprint GT on a used car lot in Baltimore. When I decided to do a deal on it, I drove to the lot in time to see the new owner drive off in it. Second attempt to buy an Alfa was while in Germany in 1968. The new GTVs were beautiful, and I did a deal with the Alfa dealer in Pirmasens, only to be told that the car was illegal in the US. I had to pass, since I was going back to the US in a couple months. Third was a used '69 Berlina in the brand new Alfa dealer’s showroom in Spokane, WA. My wife and I decided to buy it only to find out that it was sold the day before. I finally ordered my first Alfa that same day - a new 1971 Berlina. It was the first Alfa sold by that dealer.

I have a couple but they pale in comparison to the late Innes Ireland’s story in R&T of selling his race car, a Ferrari GTO for $9k back in 1969 (I hope I recall the details correctly). He said that he needed the money and after all, it was just a used race car.

1968 Mustang GT 500.
Was a repo at a local credit union in 1973. It had a dead battery and a right front flat. It was in fair condition. I was 22 at the time and the “gas crises”? was in full swing. The credit union wanted $500. I thought to myself, only some idiot would buy such a gas guzzler due to high gas prices and no gas at all some days. So I passed on it. I was the short sighted idiot.

Alas, twice in one year. Sold my 1963 Split-Window Coupe for the downpayment on our first house, in retrospect, we parlayed that house years later into $600K. Several months later, curiosity, looked at an original 289 Shelby Cobra. Way more money than I could afford at the time, a bargain looking back. “Always a dollar short and a day late”

I live in New Orleans and had been talking with Paul Adams up in Boothbay Harbor, Maine for a couple of months. He phoned me and offered me his 1916 Cadillac Model 53 Touring car along with the enclosed 24ft trailer and equalizer hitch for a modest price. I accepted and offered a wire transfer of the funds, and said that I would start driving that same evening. He insisted that I couldn’t come up there in winter without a 4-wheel drive (my Suburban was 2WD), and he and his wife would be on the road until late May - but that the car was mine. He insisted “My word is my bond” but that he would hold it until then and insisted that I not bother with payment while they were on the road until May. When I phoned him in May he claimed they had decided to keep the Caddy for his son and would not sell it - period.

A month later my family was on an AACA Sentimental Tour in Staunton, Virginia where our 15-1/2 year old grandson was driving his first National Tour. A dear friend from Stockholm, Sweden was excited to show me photos of his newest purchase - You Guessed It ! The very car that Mr. Adams swore they were not selling- and the friend paid almost triple the amount they had offered me - even without the trailer and equalizer hitch.

To this day it still hurts - when a man gives his word I believe he should keep it - and I even told him I would have been willing to pay more but he swore it was not for sale - period!

Another loss was the 1958 Imperial convertible in Utah- after extended negotiations I missed out because the seller didn’t keep his word. Sold it out from under me while my cashiers check was on the way by express mail.

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