I’ve never been much of a risk taker, and over the years I’ve test driven quite a few fun cars and actually came very, very close to buying a few of them that I wish I had bought. My rational brain areas won out over my emotional brain areas at the last moment. I got to wondering how common this is.
Cars I seriously almost bought:
MGTF (year unknown) as a hobby car
MGB (used) as a second car
Triumph Spitfire (new) as a primary car… it was the '70s… I was still single at the time
Miata (new) as a second car
MG Midget (used) as a hobby car
Mazda 929 (new) as a primary car… wife got mad at me. I would definitely have bought this one.
For the record, the Spitfire was the best Brit ragtop I’ve ever driven, bar none.
Back around 1967 or so, the local Ford dealer took a '50s era Bentley in trade, and–there it sat on their used car lot. On a Sunday, I decided to take a closer look at this big old British beast. To my great surprise, the car wasn’t locked, so I was able to sit in it, lift the hood, and get a pretty good idea of its overall condition.
The leather upholstery hadn’t been properly taken care of, so it was heavily cracked, and the paint could have used compounding & waxing, but the oil looked clean, and the engine compartment was fairly sanitary-looking. Just for the heck of it, I phoned the Ford dealership a few days later to inquire about the price of the car, and while I don’t remember the exact price, it seemed pretty cheap for what it was. I think that they really didn’t know what they had on their hands, and were selling it for way less than it should have been priced at.
Because of the relatively low price, for a few days I actually contemplated buying it. Then, I phoned a Rolls dealership in nearby Manhattan in order to inquire about the price of a new exhaust system, and the cost of a new generator–just to get an idea of how much someone might have to spend in order to keep a car like that running.
Since the quoted price for a new exhaust system was about the same price as the Ford dealer was asking for the car, I decided that this was probably not a good candidate for purchase.
I found a mid-'60s all white Rolls Royce for sale once in the '80s by a limo company (they were liquidating) for a dirt cheap price. They rented it for weddings. It was a cool car, but definitely would have cost a fortune to keep running.
I think these end up on the used market for dirt cheap prices simply because they can’t unload them. Everybody realizes they’re not practical to own unless you have almost unlimited financial resources.
One that I passed on still bugs me to this day. Back in about '71 I heard a rumor about a Corvette in an outlying small city and roughly where the car was at. One Sunday afternoon I drove the 40 miles out there and tooled up and down the streets until I got a glimpse of it while looking down an alley.
The car was a 40k miles '63 Corvette, red on red, with a 327 and 4 speed. The car was straight as could be except the paint was dulled a tiny bit, and had been sitting for 2 years as the owner lost interest and family life took over with a 4 door sedan.
He wanted 1100 bucks for it and I said I’d think about it and get back with him. Passed on it because it didn’t have the big block…
I’d physically kick myself repeatedly in the hiney if I was agile enough so I have to make-do with doing it figuratively…
I feel the same way about that Spitfire.
Back in 1990 or so I tried to buy a 67 Coupe DeVille with 60,000 original miles for $300-$600.
A buddy and I were having a pizza and perusing the local classifieds when he saw an ad for the car, said it had to go, first $300 takes it. He ran to the pay phone, found out the car had been in a garage for 5 years. His mother bought it new, she died, and he was in town just for the week settling her estate. He had to get the car out of the garage to sell the house and just wanted it gone. Not a scratch inside or out.
Two other guys got there the same time we did. They had first look at the car, agreed to the $300 and went to get the money. When they left my buddy and I took a closer look and I said the car would run. We jumpered the car and poured some gas in the carb and it started and ran beautifully. We offered him $400. By that time the other guys got back, and the bidding started. We topped out at $600, other guys drove home in a car that I got started for them.
There are a lot more cars that I shouldn’t have bought, but did.
My memory is dim on such things,I never actually had much disposable income(due to the financial policys of my employers),a time or two a comment was made on why I purchased only cheap vehicles(it never occured to this Guy that was all I could afford) but I did walk on a sweet deal over a couple dollars a month on the payment,otherwise I never worried about it,its only a vehicle and I’m no longer young,this does have the makings of an interesting thread
A good friend of mine was in the process of selling me his 1983 Porsche 924 when he got a call telling him the car could not be registered in the U.S. He had just recently returned from Germany and brought it with him. I think he wound up parting it out because the cost of bringing it up to U.S. standards was astronomical.
A 1963 Jaguar E Type coupe. I had a sales job and car allowance and this car had been won in a raffle, but the owner traded it for a US luxury car, and the dealer just could not sell it. He offered a huge discount, but I could not get the thing started in February, and in sales that’s deadly. So I passed it up and kept my Pontiac Catalina hardtop.
Almost bought a Chrysler 300L back in 77. It was in beautiful shape…and the car came with an extra set of fenders, seats, rear differential…and much more. The guy selling it use to work at a Chrysler dealership and bought all the spare parts he could when the dealer was getting rid of all parts more then 10 years old and wasn’t selling. Asking price was about $2000. Which wasn’t bad considering all the goodies. It was one beautiful vehicle.
In the late 70’s a Jensen Interceptor showed up on the local Datsun dealer’s lot. Asking $9000. I thought it was a very cool looking car but I was still in school, had no money and I thought even simple parts would be a nightmare to obtain. A year later it was STILL there with a $4500 price tag. I was still in school but working alternate semesters but it was still out of range. I had NO idea this car had a Chrysler 383 or 440 engine; easy driveline parts at any rate. By the time I had graduated, it was gone.
The next lusted-after car was an Alfa Romeo Sprint Veloce coupe, in black, with a 2 liter, twin cam engine. It sounded fantastic and squirted away when the engine got up on the cams. It was priced very cheaply (I don’t remember how much) and had fairly low miles. When my wife noticed some rust ON THE ROOF… I looked more closely and determined the rust was from the INside OUT… I ran from this car, reluctantly, but I ran!
in 1981 i looked at a 1967 ferrari 275 gtb owner wanted $15k. had new paint job that i did not like. bought a 1980 vette instead. yep, that was dumb
The cars I passed on are too many to mention.
Here are a few highlights from way back that I kick myself for:
1957 Studebaker Gran Turismo Hawk with a blower $600 in 1969
1950 Jaguar Sedan $600 on the same lot as the GT Hawk
(I bought his '64 Corvair for $300)
1963 Vette convertible, Looked good and ran well, but needed a top. $1500 in 1973
1957 T’Bird with 11,000 one owner friend miles $4000 in 1974. Wife said NO. Ditched wife later.
1975 Jagual XKE V-12 $5000 in 1980
1959 MGA Twin Cam $900 in 1982. I had $700, he wouldn’t budge. I should have.
1969 AMC AMX 4-Speed 390, NICE! $1600 in 1985.
1957 Nash 327 V-8, factory air, $700 in 2001. It needed a battery to run, and brakes to drive.
Back in 1963 I took a pass on a Checker Marathon. The Checker belonged to the university where I was a graduate student. It had been traded by the institution at the local Ford dealer. I turned it down for 2 reasons:
The oil pressure gauge indicated about 25 psi at idle, but did come up to about 50 psi when I stepped on the accelerator. I said something about the oil pressure to the salesman and he said that it was probably the gauge. I thought it might be main bearings.
The Checker would have had many different drivers. I was worried that it might have been abused.
Looking back, the Checker was probably o.k. The oil pressure was within specs and the university did maintain its fleet better than many private owners. Checkers were very durable vehicles back then. Had I bought that Checker, I might still be driving it.
I’m perpetually “almost buying” a parts truck for my F150. The logic is sound: buy a low-rust non-runner for $600 or less; squirrell away all the good parts, make a trailer out of the aft end and sell everything else for scrap.
I’d have myself a trailer and lots of parts for less than the cost of a equivalent used trailer–the problem is lack of time for new projects. Still, weekends find me perusing Clist, looking for deals.
I’ve found it much cheaper to look than to buy. Two cars I thought about in the early '90s were a '66 Mustang with V8, 4 sp, and disc brakes. But I didn’t have a good place to keep it. I also looked at a '79 BMW 528i, but it was really rough. Glad I passed on it.
I so wanted to buy my bosses 68 mgb-gt. He offered to sell it for the trade in value, but needed it done within 10 days as that was when his factory order was being delivered. The loan process in the olden days was slow. He traded it in on a Sat 10 days later and I got the loan approval on Mon. afterward, so close but no mgb gt 4 me.
I almost bought a Fiat 124 Spyder in the early 1970’s. It was a pretty fun car to drive,. especially on the winding mountain roads of Colorado. I would have gone through with the purchase if the owner hadn’t been so cranky. I had a cashier’s check in hand, but I had to give up on the idea b/c he was being so unpleasant to deal with. Turns out later I find out his wife was making him sell it, and that was the reason he was so cranky. He didn’t really want to sell it I guess. A few weeks later I decided to buy a Ford 4WD truck instead, which I still own and drive. I doubt I’d still have owned the Spyder.
My dad had a Fiat 124 Spyder. I have a lot of fond memories of driving that car.