Every family has a story of “The Car that Got Away” — or they should have one, at least. Mine involved missing out on a car whose value then increased eighteen times over. My family had what some say is the most collectible sports cars ever. One of only 167 built. One that often sells for well over a million dollars nowadays. We just didn’t get a phone call in time ... Read the full article on Hagerty.com:
Back in the 1960's when my 1957 Pontiac Catalina convertible was fairly hot stuff, I was perusing a used car lot that I knew had a regular turn over of new GM cars, 4 speeds usually, that the owner would use to street race the local teens....so cool stuff was on the lot...as I looked around a mechanic approached the sales Mgr and said" What do I do with this car we just got in, it won't hold paint for crap!" I turned to see a Mercedes 300SL aluminum bodied coupe with crappy paint....I got on the phone (rotary dial in a phone booth) and said to my dad the Dr., I thought that he might be interested....."We don't need a foreign piece of crap in the garage!" He hadn't been to Elkhart Lake yet, and neither had I.....
Late 1960's. Ferrari 250 GTO. $7,000. Ex Rodriguez bros. My dad turned it down. Ex racecar w too much bondo used to repair it he said. I think the car was shown a few years ago at the Louvre by Ralph Lauren.
In the late 60's as a teenager we lived in a large 14 story apartment building in a ten building complex in Vailsburg (Newark, NJ). It was sketchy back then and much more so now. A resident would park his faded red 300SL gull wing in the huge unfenced and no access control parking lot. Cars were stripped and stolen on a regular basis. It was still there a couple of years later when I moved out to go to college. Never went back and have always wondered what happened to it.
My story took place in 1973 and involves a red/black/black 1962 E-Type roadster. It was early in the summer of my 16th year and having paying job and a lifelong obsession with cars I was perusing the classifieds and came across the above car with an asking price of $875. I didn't have the money, but had saved up $560 from my first real job. It was my expectation as well as my parents, that I would't buy a car till I could pay cash. However, even then, the price seemed low, and so I wasn't expecting much of the car, but I was curious. I fully expected to find a car sitting in a field with corn (I grew up in Kansas) growing up through the middle of it. I gathered a friend and we drove over to take a look. The owner lived in a trailer park and as we drove up we saw a beautiful XKE setting on the car pad. I assumed this was his "keeper" and he must want to sell his "parts" car. I knocked on the door and he answered and pointed to the car on the pad and let us know that was the car for sale. He showed us a pile of receipts for work already completed. The only thing I could see wrong with the car is the door panels were in the trunk, even though they looked fine. It was beautiful, long and sleek, sparkling chrome wire wheels, but I didn't have the money.
So I thought about it for a few days and came to the conclusion that this was too good to pass up. I approached my parents about the possibility of borrowing the remaining money from them. I pointed out I had a job and had been saving money steadily. It took a few days, but they acquiesced. Yes! I could see myself motoring down the road in great British fashion.
They asked about the car and I described it and as I did my mother's smile melt from her face. Why would I buy a 10 year old car? It had to be junk, would never run, would end up being a piece of junk in the driveway. Bubble popped, but gears turning. It took another three or four days, but I convinced her that we could take the car to a shop and let them go through the car searching for any problem areas. Yes, she agreed! I was going to pilot Sir William Lyons finest.
My Dad stated he would drive over to look the car over on his lunch hour. He as for a description and I described the gleaming red paint and black convertible top. My mother was aghast, " A rag top? You can't have a rag top, you'll kill yourself!" Mind you, I had a restricted license and had been riding a motorcyle on the street since I was 14. Another couple of days passed before I presented a solution, a roll bar. I pointed out to them that I had been a fervent seat belt wearer since I started driving (not so much due to concerns for safety as much as my main transportation being equipped with a bench seat that I would slide across if I cornered in my usual aggressive hit the apex method and didn't have the seatbelt holding me in place). My dad backed me up, I did always wear my seatbelt and the rollbar would protect me in event of a rollover. She relented.
The next day we were all to go over as a family and look the car over. During the two weeks since I had first seen the car I had driven by and seen it was still available. I called the owner late on a Saturday morning only to be told he had sold the car earlier that morning. Defeat. The obstacles I'd overcome only to see the bubble popped on last time.
Later that summer, again perusing the Sunday classifieds, I came across an ad that described a car that sounded like the same car, asking price $1450. A week later, same ad, asking price $1650. This price was way out of my range as $1.65/hr flipping hamburgers at McDonald's did not lend itself to a growing car fund quickly. The following Sunday there was no ad and I assumed the car had been sold, however the next Sunday, three weeks after being offered at $1450, it was again in the classifieds, this time at $1875. Again, curiousity drove me to go take a look. It was the same car, only now the door panels were in place. I pointed out that I had looked at the car earlier that year and asked why the price was changing weekly. He just laughed and stated he kept finding the car was worth more than he originally asked. I don't know if people were offering his asking price only to have him turn them down. It didn't matter, this is my "one that got away."
In 1967, my uncle purchased a 1967 VW Deluxe Microbus new from the dealer he worked at. It was the kind with the sliding ragtop and 21 windows. At some point, it became his father's bus (my grandfather). I have fond memories of riding in the bus over the years. By 1986, I had a 1967 beetle and kept trying to get my parents and grandparents to let me buy the bus from him. It needed work and they refused. One day in the late 80's, my grandfather sold it in the local paper thrifty ads for less than $250. Fast forward and today VW buses like that one are $100,000 in restored condition.
Yea, woulda, shoulda, coulda. From the Hemi Cuda Convertible I turned down, the dumbass with a 260 Cobra that wanted to trade it straight across for a mustang fastback and the guy that had a Gullwing with this goofy custom bumper around the perimeter of the car that wanted $2500. Ahhh the 70s
My dream is an offy midget the only chance I ever had was an old sp outdated sprintcar with a much bigger offy many years ago ( at the Portland swapmeet for $ 7000) I turned it down now I am pining my years away thinking what I missed everyday I am thinking that by some magic that I will find one of them Little Growlers and cherish it to the end of my Days