If you’re like me there’s been at least one car you wanted so badly that you knew you were going to die without it. Yet, here I am!
For me it was a Z/28 Camaro, but it’s not a simple story. A local guy had a Shelby GT350, and I was just amazed by the way it handled and accelerated. But my Mustang dreams ended abruptly when I saw a commercial for Sunoco gas and there was Mark Donohue driving a dark blue Z/28 up Pikes Peak. He was shifting at 8,000 rpm and I was astounded that any car could rev like that.
This was 1968 or ’69 and I was 16 or 17, going to dealers and lusting for my own Z/28. Mine was going to be dark green with black stripes, have a black interior and roll on the dog dish wheels. I just wanted to be able to shift at 8,000 rpm and hear that engine. Being in school with only a part-time job, the only place I could buy a Z/28 was in my dreams.
There were other cars that got away, too. When filming at the Auctions America sale of the Lee Roy Hartung Collection last November, there was a wild and unrestored BMW Veritas with a Spohn body. I’m kind of into motorcycles, and on Saturday I ask a serious bike collector: “What’s the one motorcycle you’d buy if you were buying today?” He tells me and I go into the auction and I start bidding on the Thor. I look up to see who I’m bidding against and it’s the guy who gave me the tip. I get the bike and I feel awful.
The next day the Veritas comes up and the bidding starts at $50,000 and I bid $55,000 and it keeps going up. I’m up to $110,000, a friend bids $120,000 and someone else bids $130,000. The motorcycle guy is the other bidder and I have to cede the Veritas to him. I remember telling the camera, “That was the right thing to do, but if I was bidding for someone else blood would have flowed.” It broke my heart, but I had to let it go.
More recently I wanted a 1932 Ford with 10 years of Bonneville speed tags. I called the guy on a Thursday and said I’d be there Saturday morning. Something came up and by Monday it was gone. But that’s the car business.