All of the Ones That Got Away: Hagerty Classic Cars magazine staff members tell their stories
Jonathan A. Stein, Hagerty Classic Cars Executive Editor/Associate Publisher
Those of us who have been involved with old cars, trucks and motorcycles for life have always hunted for cars. In my case, I’ve been crazy about MGA coupes for 38 years. After my first thoroughly mediocre restoration of a plain-Jane 1500, I went searching for the ultimate coupe — a Twin Cam. After calling all over the place and searching Hemmings Motor News in those days long before the Internet, or even fax machines, I found a pair outside of Atlantic City, N.J. One was restored except for the interior. However, I was $1,000 short and my parents weren’t about to loan me the cash. The other car was a right-hand drive coupe that wasn’t running and needed rocker panels. But I struck a deal for it as a running, driving car. And I waited and waited and finally lost my deposit.
For the next 23 years I was looking, waiting and dreaming. Then in 1999 I was finally in a position to go on the hunt again. I found an almost ideal car in Ontario, but it took me a week to raise the purchase price. The day I called back it was being loaded into a container for shipment to Holland. Another one had slipped through my fingers and it was another year before I finally landed one.
Rob Sass, Hagerty Classic Cars Publisher
I’ve long wanted an elusive Apollo, the Buick-engined beauty with body and chassis constructed in Italy. I called about a great example moments after another man had committed to come see it. Although I was prepared to up the ante and buy it unseen, the seller insisted on giving the earlier caller the right of first refusal. A couple of weeks later, the same Apollo was being offered by the new owner for a lot more than he’d paid for it. To this day I haven’t had another crack at one.
Stefan Lombard, Hagerty Classic Cars Managing Editor
Every day during my stint in graduate school in the early 2000s, I used to walk past a 1983 Volkswagen GTI. It was black with a red interior and sat on pristine snowflake alloys. Unlike most of the first-gen GTIs I’d seen, this one was unmolested. It had the right stance and the original paint still had sheen. I always had reason to peek inside or check it out from some new angle. One day, a FOR SALE sign appeared in the window: $2,200. I had $2,200. Rather, I could figure out a way to get $2,200.
Every day I walked past that little black GTI and thought about how much fun it would be, and so I called on it. The car was owned by two brothers, and had been since new. It was indeed stock, and they’d done all the maintenance on it themselves. While not perfect, everything was up to date, according to one of the brothers. “Wouldn’t hesitate to drive it anywhere,” he said. Really, I could figure out a way to come up with $2,200. But instead I just continued to walk by it, day after day. Until the day it was gone.