Raised Hopes

It was almost too good to be true

MORE OFTEN than you think, deals turn out to be too good to be true. Maybe it’s your expectations or the questions you ask. You might think that after a period of time you’d have those questions down pat. In theory, in this digital age, most people can just email you photos. Sometimes those photos don’t tell the whole story. Other times, people don’t have a camera phone or digital camera, so they say, “Just come see it.”

We can control the questions, but we have no control over the answers, particularly if a seller has his or her own definition of “unrestored” or “original.” I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that a car is “all original," only to find out that it was repainted, retrimmed and rechromed. But sometimes you don’t find out the truth until you arrive. In one case, I spent a day going to see a “Porsche Speedster,” and it was just a fiberglass replica.

In the case of a 1950 Allard J2X, I received a call from the owner’s stepson, who said Dad was ready to sell. Based on experience, I didn’t get my hopes up.

I arranged to look at the car in Texas with the camera crew from Chasing Classic Cars. I opened with, “I’m Wayne and I’m here to see the car." It was a nice meeting; we had lunch, and I learned the car’s great history. The owner even took me out in the Allard, but he gave me a terse “no” when I asked to drive it.

Back at the house, I asked how much he wanted for the car. He looked at me as if I had three heads and said, “This car is not for sale, and there are several people in front of you if it were.” Meanwhile, the stepson turned green before my eyes; apparently several family members thought it was time for Dad to sell.

I was sick. The car was exactly what I wanted and we had gone all the way to Texas thinking I was being offered the car.

The happy ending came three months later, when the Allard owner called and said, “I’m going to say one price and your answer will be 'yes' or 'no.'" I said “yes” without hesitation. I think I won over the other 30 suitors because I built a good relationship with the owner. I paid top dollar, but, like many high-performance cars, the Allard has appreciated over time.

Ultimately, it worked out perfectly, but for a while there, that Allard really seemed too good to be true.