Like many people in this hobby, I’ve bought and sold my fair share of old cars. But not all the cars I’ve let go have let go of me, and there are certain ones I came to regret getting rid of—for practical reasons, for their cool factor, or, more often than not, simply because of the nostalgia they filled me with.
The first car I truly loved was a beautiful green 1966 MGB. I bought it in 1967 when I was 15. The owner—a friend of my dad’s—damaged it by running the engine out of oil. I had planned on rebuilding it myself, but to reward my good grades, Dad surprised me with an engine rebuild at Candy Poole’s Sports Car Shop, which was just down the road in Glastonbury, Connecticut. Before reinstalling the engine, I detailed the engine bay, and I was so proud of my work that I left the hood off all summer.
One day a woman stopped in to see Dad about a car he was restoring for her, and she fell in love with my MGB. She offered to trade her 1966 Corvette straight up, one heck of a deal for me. My father warned that I wouldn’t be able to get insurance, but I went ahead with the trade anyway. I regretted it immediately, because he was right: I couldn’t afford the insurance. I garaged the Corvette and bought a $50 Volkswagen as my daily driver. Once a month, Dad would let me use a dealer plate so I could drive the Corvette.
During my senior year of high school, Dad told me he wasn’t going to pay for my college tuition. He reminded me that I had that Corvette sitting in the garage. I took his not-so-subtle hint and sold it for more than double what I had in it, and I was able to pay for two years’ tuition. Letting that Corvette go was hard; I can’t imagine how tough it would have been had I been able to drive it.
Several years ago, a dealer friend told me he’d just gotten a one-owner 1959 Alfa Romeo Spider Veloce. I loved the little Italian ragtop and bought it immediately. I’d planned to keep it, too, but a regular customer of mine wanted it so badly that he kept tossing out offers until I agreed to sell it. After a year, he told me he was going to trade it in on a new Ferrari. Instead, I paid him the trade-in value. Having bought the Alfa twice, I learned my lesson and won’t ever let it go again.
For a long time my dad restored cars for a Model A museum. When he decided to sell his 1939 Ford Standard woody wagon to the museum, I helped restore it first, which included hand-sanding much of the original wood. In the center of the back of the car was a great dealer decal for Bowen’s Garage in Eastford, Connecticut. It declared: “Sold but not Forgotten.”
After some time, the museum closed. Most of its contents were dispersed far and wide, but the owner offered the Ford woody back to my dad. He passed.
Years later, I was visiting a private collection in Massachusetts and—lo and behold!—there was a 1939 Standard woody. When I walked around the vehicle and saw that dealer decal, I jumped at the chance to buy “my car” back. I even bought a wooden canoe to put on top.
Eventually, I sold the woody at auction so I could buy another car. The Ford went to a collection in New Hampshire, but I lost track of it when the collection was sold off. I’ve always wished I had that woody back.
There was another car from that Model A museum that I always wanted to find again. When I was a kid, Dad would go to Ford dealers to buy new-old-stock parts. One time, he saw a nice Model A 400. At $500, it was expensive for the early 1960s, but he bought it anyway. He eventually sold it to a doctor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. But later, when he was searching for cars for the museum, he traveled to Michigan and bought it back.
When the museum closed, the Model A 400 seemed to vanish. I spent several years trying to find it for my dad. After a long search, I tracked the Model A to Texas. The widow wanted to sell the car, but the sons refused to let it go, probably because it was so important to their dad. Which was the same reason I wanted to have it. Some day.