I’m guessing that when most people hear the expression, “The one that got away,” they probably think about a person. Not to insult the ladies from my past, but for me, it’s all about rides! I’ve owned what my wife describes as an “obnoxious” amount of vehicles over the years. But, for almost every car that I’ve successfully purchased, there’s one or two that I walked away from for one reason or another. Some of these I place in the “dodged a bullet” file (there’s some ladies in there too). Others though, I regret to this day.
The regrets… (I’ll limit the article to my top 3)
3.) 1992 Acura NSX coupe. I was in middle school when the NSX debuted and was splashed across the front of my Dad’s car magazines as “Japan’s Ferrari.” 13 year old me was instantly sold on the idea of exotic car looks and performance with Japanese reliability. That feeling didn’t go away. Zoom ahead to 2002; I was 24 and running a group of radio stations based out of Tifton, GA – and finally making a little money. And there it was… a silver NSX in the used lot of the local Chevy dealer. $24,500 was written across the top of the windshield; a bargain in my mind considering they were $60k + new. I remember having to talk the salesperson in to letting me test drive the car by touting my position with the radio stations. At 10 years old and more than 70,000 miles on the odometer, it wasn’t perfect; worn seat bolsters and some paint chips, but it was awesome. The original 3.0 V6 with the 5-speed manual was still full of life. I was sold. Unfortunately, the finance company wasn’t. It seems a fairly young man with little credit history and almost no money down didn’t exactly qualify to finance a 10 year old vehicle, no matter how much I NEEDED it. I can still feel the internal sting when the salesman returned from the finance office and said, “Well, no luck there, kid. How about we look at a V6 Camaro?” “How about you slam your head into that door until you realize how much you just insulted me?” OK, I didn’t actually say that last part… but I wanted to. My silver NSX would be worth somewhere around $50k right now.
2.) 1983 Delorean DCM-12. Let me preface this one: I know these were crappy cars. I know they weren’t very fast. I know they didn’t handle well. I know they were only held together with Elmer’s Glue and dreams. I know about John & his coke. I. DON’T. GIVE. A. $%&@! This car sits it my head next to the Magnum P.I. 308 (personal fav), the A-Team van (I have this one at work!), the Duke’s Charger, and that kit car thing from Hardcastle & McCormick; these are cars from my childhood that I will forever lust after. I hope you understand. If you don’t, cram it in your Flux Capacitor and crank it to 1.21 gigawatts. This was 2006 and I heard through the grapevine about a guy selling a Delorean in the Lake City area. A couple calls and a quick road trip later, and there it was…in its stainless steel glory. “Hmmm.” It wasn’t great. As I looked over it, I noted the bald tires, sagging bumper, rough idle – and to top it off, the seller kept referring to it as if it were perfect. He was asking “fair condition” value for the car, and he was being pushy. I hate that. I fully admit that opening that driver’s side Gullwing door sent a bolt of November 12th, 1955 lightning straight up my spine, but the interior looked worse than the outside did. I respectfully explained to Mr. Pushy that it was going to take at least a few thousand dollars to make the car right again, BUT, if he would knock $2,000 off the price, I would try to get the money to buy the car. He balked at my offer- and I walked without even driving it. He was asking $20k; it would be worth around 40 today. I should’ve at least drove it.
1.) 1968 Ford Mustang Fastback. $8,000. That amount of money haunts me. It was 2012 or so, and my father and I had traveled up to Auto Quest in Tifton. We weren’t looking for anything in particular, just an excuse for a nice drive and checking out some cool old rides. The old man that runs the place greeted us as usual and we made our rounds through the cars. Auto Quest is always a great mix of American muscle and European sports cars with a few odd balls sprinkled in. There it was, a teal colored 1968 Mustang. Plus side: beautiful paint, great condition inside and out, manual transmission, low miles, and best of all, a white interior. Negatives: It was a 200ci straight six with a 3 speed instead of 4. The asking price… $8,000. Even then, that was an absolute steal for a fastback, despite being two pistons down from what everyone wants. For reasons I don’t understand, and still torture myself over, I walked away from the deal. It was the 6. Was I insecure? I imagine myself ditching the six pot, cutting out the shock towers, and dropping in a new Coyote 5.0 with a 6-speed. Or maybe I would have just enjoyed the originality and left it as a clean, laid back cruiser. Either way, it would have been a wonderful car, and the classic Mustang fastback that I’ve always dreamed of owning. I dare not even look up what that car’s value is right now. The memory of $8,000 pains me enough.