According To You: The One That Got Away

Courtesy DIA/FCA

Hagerty loves stories about cars almost as much as they love the actual cars and trucks themselves. From a member story of a vehicle passed down from generation to generation, to the famous Ford-powered race car that beat Ferrari, there are fantastic stories in every corner of our hobby.

Recently, though, we wondered about the tales that could have been, particularly in the form of cars that got away. We asked members of the Hagerty Community for their thoughts on the matter. And yet again, you folks did not disappoint.

Hertz, don’t it?

1965 Hertz GT350h
Broad Arrow

@JJC: Early 1967, local Ford dealer had five Hertz GT350’s for sale $3500.00 each. I was in the process of buying a new Camaro L30/M21 at the time for a few hundred bucks less. I couldn’t see the logic in paying more money for a “used” car. Bad investment decision, but I did love the Camaro, wish I still had it. Ah well…

@Squier: In the late 60’s one of my salesmen was driving a Hertz Shelby 350H, black with gold stripes, stick (one of about 90 sticks—before they switched to automatics) as his daily driver. He grew tired of the stick and decided to sell it. I had driven it several times so he offered it to me for $2,500. I had a young family and no place to park it so I reluctantly decided to pass. I kick myself regularly and have a picture of that car as my screen saver on my phone.

No Slacking at Swap Meets?

Volkswagen Karmann Ghia Type 14 Coupé (1959)
A 1959 model.Volkswagen AG

@Mike: A 1972 Karmann Ghia Convertible at the opening of the Iola Old Car weekend in WI about six years ago. Just entered the swap area and this very nice car was up for $6500. I had the cash on me. I walked past after inspecting it and went to the loo telling the owner I would return. When I came back he just took a fat stack from the lucky buyer. Car was worth at least double…

Take Action at the Impound Auction

1969 Chevy Camaro ZL1 COPO front 3/4
At least you didn’t miss out on a ZL1 like this!Stefan Lombard

@David: Had a tip on a ’69 Camaro Z/28 at a city impound auction back around 1985. It was a mess; heads and intake were missing too. It was winter; cold and muddy but I brought a stack of bills. When the auction came to the car the auctioneer passed on to the next vehicle. I interrupted to ask about the Z and the auctioneer said it was already sold. Guess I never really had a chance!

Passed On Perfection?


@Wade: While renting a house and already having too many non-essential vehicles almost 11 years ago, I picked up my still-going commuter car (2005 Civic EX) for $5300. Approximately one week after that purchase, I found in my town a solid blue 1976 Chevy K5 Blazer, on the front lawn of the original owner.

Asking price was $6500 OBO and it checked every box of desirability for me: original condition (zero visible modifications), single ownership, “never seen snow, always garaged” (this was in Maine), 4×4, 350, 4-speed, white removable top, etc. Everything I could lay eyes on was legitimately near-perfect (…or perfect), down to the USA-1 plate on the front bumper. For many reasons, this truck was not an option for me at the time. Yes, I took pictures and yes, I review them occasionally and of course, I hate myself a little more every time. Still the most ridiculously clean K5 Blazer I’ve seen, for sale or otherwise.

I called the land line number scrawled on the cardboard in the window a little over a year later while in a better position but ignoring the impossibility of this thing not having sold in 2013. It was gone, naturally, and I’ve never seen it around.

Appreciate Before It Appreciated

1991 Acura NSX red front
Marketplace/Mathieu Guyot Sionnest

@MtnCamantalope: During my first year of community college, strolling across the parking lot at the end of the day I saw a beautiful red NSX parked crooked all by itself in the back of the lot. I’d never seen one in person before and man, that thing was awesome. I went home and started searching for one of my own. Decent shape they were running $10-12k, $15k for a really nice one. I could have made it work, but it would have been my daily driver. I decided it would be irresponsible and I’d probably crash it anyway (definitely true). I said to myself “wait a few years so you can more comfortably afford one.” Yeah…

Intercepted By Your Bank Account


@TG: A Jensen Interceptor III. My local fairgrounds holds an annual swap meet, and I saw it there—running but not perfect—for 10K. I had never seen one or heard of them before, but I loved it… the ultimate sleeper car. Unfortunately I did not have 10K in discretionary capital at the time and had to pass. I have seen very few since, and none in running condition anywhere close to that price.

Don’t Judge Me

1969 Pontiac GTO Judge front three quarter

@MeJ: I guess mine was a ’69 GTO Judge. It was the 1990s and I owned an ’80 Corvette. I saw the Judge and inquired about a trade. The guy said the car had been there for a while and said it was doable. I thought, “Okay, I’ll be smart and think it through the weekend.” Sure enough, I decided it was a good deal, and a much more collectable car. I drove out ready to make the deal and—drum roll please—of course, it was sold.

@James: While traveling as an auditor in the late 90’s for a major bank that financed car dealerships, I would always drive by this body shop that had a 1971 Pontiac GTO convertible for sale in their lot for a few thousand dollars. I said, one day I’ll stop in and buy that vehicle. Then the department was sold and so went my job. I never saw that vehicle again. I also never knew that GM only made 17 of that model. Dohhhhh!

Don’t Check Facebook on Vacation?


@Bernard: This one wasn’t too long ago, on FB marketplace a few hundred miles from me, a pristine 2002 Miata with the LSD and the bigger of the available bodykits, unfortunately I only saw it due to being on vacation. By the time I could talk to my bank about getting the money it was in the wind.

The $5,100 AC Cobra

1964 Shelby Cobra Gooding Amelia 2024
Andrew Newton

@Danny: It was 1987 I was coming home from a golf tournament through Pine Hurst N.C. I saw a sign for 1966 Cobra for sale for $5000. I stopped, looked, and it was an AC Cobra. The man would not take a deposit. I was an hour away from home had to get a trailer and come back to get it, and he said that would be ok.

When I pulled back into his driveway another person was loading it up on another trailer. He had offered him $100 more. I was mad and disappointed but what can you do? He showed me another car he had beside his garage he said he would take $500 for it. It had a rusty floor board and I had no desire for that rust bucket. Would love to have it now because it was a 1955 Porsche 356. Live and learn.

But They’d Rather Crush It


@BMD4800: Mid-1996, I was a poor college kid in Phoenix. Desert Valley Auto Parts was clearing out their less popular inventory and had them in line for the crusher. I spotted a ’63 Wildcat coupe with right quarter damage behind the door. I asked about it, the counter guy said it ran and drove, but no one wanted it so they were going to crush it. I asked the price, $2,200. All the cash I had to my name was $1,900. I offered $1,800. They said no. I offered $1,900 cash, they said no. I said I’ll go apply for a credit card and pay $2,200. Nope. Cash, or it was crushed. I watched them crush that car and swore I would tell everyone I could about that day: Desert Valley Auto Parts in Phoenix.

A “Minor” Problem With A Unimog

1959 Mercedes-Benz U411 Unimog front three quarter
Broad Arrow

@Jeff: Around 20 years ago I had a handshake deal on a 1961 Unimog 404 Swiss Troop Carrier with only 14,000 KM. It was in excellent condition, including all the canvas. It even had the original tool kit with it (tools as in shovel, axe, etc). I was soon to purchase a 40 acre parcel of land where it would have been very handy. The seller had it priced at $7500. I told him I wanted it, but needed to arrange financing. We shook on it and a deposit was not needed (my mistake).

A few days later when I had the money and I contacted the seller, he told me that he had someone come by with cash and due to the urging of his wife, he sold it to that guy instead of waiting for me. I saw the same Unimog listed at a dealership a few weeks later for $17,500. So what did I do with the cash earmarked for the Unimog, I bought another vehicle of the same vintage but of the opposite variety, a 1961 Morris Minor.

“No Way”

Ferrari 250 GTO front three quarter

@Brett: I know most will say “no way”, but when I was 12-13 and visiting my uncle outside Cleveland, my dad and uncle would go golfing. My cousin and I would go along and search for lost golf balls to sell later. On the ride to the golf course, I saw a car in a field on a trailer and I told my dad that it was Ferrari. My dad and uncle blew me off but on the drive back I made them stop.

I waded back through the weeds and there was a ratty looking faded red car on trailer with a roll cage an grooves cut in the hood that you could see the velocity stacks sticking up from the V-12. I was now convinced it was a Ferrari. My cousin and I knocked on the door to the house closest to it, and a lady came to the door with a couple small kids around her, we asked if the car was for sale. She said her husband generally never sells anything, and that was it.

About 10 years ago I saw an article about Innes Ireland being reunited with the Ferrari 250 GTO he raced back in the day with pictures of a faded red car, in a field, on a trailer, in a field of weeds, in a rural area outside Cleveland. Needless to say, the memories all rushed back, as there was the car. The one that got away. Go Google the article for Innes Ireland 250 GTO, it is a great read and some of the ones that come up have old pictures of the car.

@Gary: In 1984, I was offered a very nice Ferrari 250 convertible (I don’t recall which version) for $25,000. I had just started working full time and had just bought a house and it didn’t seem to be a prudent decision to buy a Ferrari. The seller was even willing to take monthly payments over three or four years with no interest added. By 1989, that car was worth more than $500,000 (to my recollection). Clearly I didn’t make the right decision. Nowadays it would probably cost nearly $25,000 to rent one of these for a day!

@Harry: Early ’70s, needed a car to drive 35 miles to work and back. Wound up in a Renault agency in West Chester PA, looking at R5 Le Cars. The manager had a car on consignment for $10K—a Ferrari Fantuzzi Special, V-12 red, beautiful, but it had no top—built as a spyder. I couldn’t see parking it in the street at work every day, rain or shine, so wound up with new Le Car. It was a bunch of fun to drive, but it certainly wasn’t a Ferrari.

Come Back, ‘Cuda!


@Ed: It hurts just to think about this car even today, though I lost it back in the mid 80s. It was a crushing blow that just gets deeper each year I see prices for just a rolling chassis of this car continue to climb.

I bought mine from the original owner for about $600. It was dark blue in and out, a 318 2 bbl auto, bucket seats with console, and only 1 dent under the driver’s side rear frame channel. It drove fine for about 3 yrs, then wouldn’t start and I couldn’t get inspection to renew plates. Then my apartment complex made me move it, I so moved it to my dad’s house. Then a neighbor called local city on it for not being currently licensed. There was no place found to store it, it was almost impounded, so I had to let it go to a junk yard for $50!

Now the kicker: it was a base example of my dream car…. a ’71 Barracuda with a perfect grille & straight sheet metal. Still got the production code sheet from the back seat. I need a stiff drink and tissue paper now.


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Read next Up next: The Barn Find Hunter Visits the AMC Dealership That Time Forgot


    For all you Cuda lovers, mine never got away…after our marriage my wife wouldn’t let it go…that was in 1976 and we are still showing and enjoying it today 48 yrs later.

    Thanks for sharing. I’m so glad to hear you are enjoying your car. Your story helps ease the pain of the previous stories.

    Thank the Lord Jim, you’re one lucky man. What year cuda do you own?
    I found the pics of that Cuda I had back in the 80s, even the bumpers were straight & the interior was pretty much prestine. Shoudve sent the pics with my article respones but couldnt figure out how to attach them?
    And Marianne, good luck with your 64. Ive owned about 6-8 of the 64-65 cudas over the years, in various states of condition. Most I bought for parts & stripped cause virtually none of the chrome or body panels are reproduced, so I have a horde of extra parts & pieces (includimg 2 spare rear windows), Currently own 3 = a slightly customized 65, a stripped 65 Formula S, and a complete spare body 64, s well as a mostly original 64 Valiant Signet 200. Mopar or No Car !!!

    I was at a car show a few years back and saw a black Cuda with white stripe in the distance. Told my daughter we had to go look at it as I had one just like it in the late 70s. When I was looking at it I told the owner I had one exactly like it-he said it was mine as he bought it from me and even remembered where I lived.

    Ok, I’ll start. My 1971 Boss 351 Mustang. My father made me sell it after a speeding ticket sent me to court.

    My 67 GTX was a great car. But I was caught by the cops speeding, No ticket…told me to go home. The next morning the chief came to the house (He knew my dad) and told him the car was gonna kill me! Pop says ‘The car goes or you go’ Sold it for $500 and got stiffed for $150 at the notary.

    1970 Mach 1, M code, 4 speed, locker, shaker, spoiler, slats. Bought for $1200 around 1980 with big dents in the quarters. Married, new baby, sold a year later for $1800. Didn’t really know what I had at the time!

    My first car was a 1970 Dodge Dart Swinger 318, nice paint chrome wheels. Learned some real lessons on that car. Broke off a wheel stud because I had never heard of left handed threads. Anyway, sold it and bought a 73 Nova SS 350 and then sold that and bought a 77 TransAm, red just like Hooper (without the rocket!). Stil have the TransAm but would love to have the Dart or the Nova back.

    16yrs old, $4,000 budget. In the Kansas City Star classifieds in 1980 was a 1958 (or ‘59?) AC Aceca. I had car books and knew immediately this was a rare car. Asking price was $6,000. It was all there, faded paint, running, driving, and unmolested. I begged my dad for a loan. “You’ll never get parts for it and do you know how hard it is to paint aluminum”. Suffice to say, No loan.

    68 chevelle 397/375hp 4speed In 1972 ,1st year out of high school .Price ? $1600 from a dealer I worked for

    Must be a typo, “396/375.”
    My neighbor had a 70 Chevelle SS396.
    It was easy to burn the tires while backing out of the garage.

    Back in 1966-67 my father had an opportunity to purchase a very slightly used 1966 Corvette convertible (sky blue, white convertible top, 427ci/425hp, 4-speed, factory side pipes,15k miles) for $3,200. He went to the bank and inquired about financing and then went to the dealership to buy it. It had been sold that morning!! Still on of my favorite cars of all time!

    While in high school in 1976, I had the opportunity to buy a Sky Blue 1970 Oldsmobile Cutlass Convertible with the matching rally wheels. The owner was a family friend and wanted $1,200…it might as well have been $12,000. I ended up buying an Army green 4 door Chevy Impala for $125 instead!

    In 1968 when I was 17 years old there was a 1952 Jag XK120 DHC for sale for $3,000 in excellent condition. I saved my money for that entire summer working at the local golf course. When I finally saved what I thought was enough money to make an offer, I found that the car had sold two days earlier. Surprisingly, the car staid on the lot and the new owner just repriced it at $4,000–well beyond the reach of a seventeen year old. I ended up settling for a 64 MGB in rough condition. Still, no regrets. I’ve been an MG owner ever since (with a 57 Jab MK VIII squeezed in there), and currently drive a 62 MGA.

    Hey Steve, another amazing European car cheap! In 1966, my buddy’s brother (we were 20, he was 26 or so) bought a real barn find 1955 Mercedes Gullwing, silver with red interior, for the same money…$3000. Buddy got to have it for a day or two and he picked me up for a glorious and unforgettable ride. True story. We went to the small Mercedes dealership in DeKalb Illinois for gas, and everyone in the dealership came out to gawk. Hard to get in and out of. Lost touch after university, but those cars can be seven figures today.

    Some time in the early 2000s I came across a 89 Lamborghini Countach, anniversary model for $85,000, owned by a local guy in the music biz. The car had about 5000 miles on it and had recently “had $8000 in service work done.” I had no garage and a new wife who was complaining about the service bill for such low miles, and speculating as to what the future maintenance costs would be. I had the cash in my pre-marriage account but sadly listened to my wife and I passed on the car. It’s a solid $500k now. But I am still married . . .

    Jay Leno says his Countach is about the most unreliable car in his collection, so you were smart to pass

    Mine was a 1968 Shelby GT500 for $4500
    Just outside of my price range in 1978.
    Little old lady owned it!!

    Was it Lime Green? I knew a lady with one who was supposed to let me make an offer when she was ready to sell it. Somehow that didn’t happen and one day when I asked she said that she sold it.
    I wasn’t happy, but what can you do?

    In 1983, I was looking for a project car. The Auto Trader paper had three Shelby’s newly posted.
    I went to see all three. I bought my 68 Shelby GT500 for $5500. Most if not all of my family did not say too much, but I could tell they were not happy with me buying a gas guzzler old beat up car. I still have it and show it and drive it every weekend. It was just a gut feeling.

    Back about 1980 the local sports car dealer had a 246 Dino on the lot. I don’t remember the year, but it was yellow with a tan interior. Price was firm at ten grand. I was ready to buy until I found out I was being laid off from my job later the same week. Should have bought it anyway…

    In the mid-80’s, I was working in Phoenix, knew the local Ferrari dealer from someone I worked with. I told the dealer one time in a conversation I would be interested in a Dino. Well, a few months later, he called me and said I’ve got one coming in. When it arrived, I went over to the dealership and looked at it. White with black interior, no A/C, and according to the dealer, the transmission “probably needs something”. Price was $21k, sold as-is, which means I would be on the hook for any tranny repair. I passed. Never got another call, and I moved to Northern California, where the lack of A/C probably wouldn’t have been that big a deal.

    1970, and I’m just back from Viet Nam, working for Bank of America on a training program making $600./month. On the showroom floor of Bob Wondrie’s Ford on Colorado Blvd., Pasadena was a Shelby Cobra FIA 289 – flared fenders, Hildebrandt wheel and Webers for $5,000. It was spectacular! I gave them a deposit but was number two and didn’t get it. But it would have been my daily only driver,

    When I was in High School in So Cal I wanted a ‘Cuda. Found a ’70 Hemi in LA for 4K. Could not afford it and the paint was bad. Plus I figured I’d probably crash it. So I bought a perfect 340 ’70 ‘Cuda for 2K. Pistol grip 4sd. Exhausts just glass packs dumping in front of the rear axle. Very light car, manual steering and brakes, no AC. Would beat everything. Still have it! But boy I wish I bought the Hemi!

    Put on an Edlebrock Trans Am car aluminum intake manifold. Worked at a machine shop, 3 angle job by myself and ported the heads. Advanced the hell out the new electronic distributor

    I was 16 in 1974 looking for car. Basically a mopar freak. Found a red AAR cuda white interior, 4 speed, rally dash. Perfect shape. $3500. Of course my father stopped me saying too much car. End up with a 318 Dodge Demon auto. Followed by a 70 340 duster 4 speed. By 18 a 1969 porsche 911T targa. The lost mis guided youth.

    Just last summer I stopped at a friend’s garage sale. He’s an elderly guy with a really nice never rusted 1955 Chevy resto-rod. A really pretty car, good paint, laser straight body, new interior, 350/350, disc brakes, etc. I said “Hey when are you going to sell me that ’55?” He looked at me and got very serious. “I didn’t know you wanted it. I just sold it this morning to a guy who came to the garage sale. I just wanted to find a good home for it because I rarely drive it anymore.” He had sold the car for $15k, easily half of what it was worth. I missed that deal by a few hours. The good news is that the new owner didn’t just flip the car but is using it as it should.

    ONE that got away?! Only one? I’ve been into cars since 1960 (well, before that; I just didn’t have a drivers license!) and I’ll bet it’s more like one-hundred! And, that includes cars I actually owned free and clear: 1935 Packard 120 coupe, 1955 Nomad (and a dozen other ’55-57’s I can’t afford now), my bought-new 1970 Datsun 240Z (sold back to NISSAN USA, anyhow), 1962 cherry unrestored Studebaker GT Hawk, 1967 Jeepster Commando (almost like new), first-car 1955 Chevy DelRay post, fast and customized in 1959, 1965 Tempest coupe-low mileage stick\/V-8, 1951 Ford Custom club-coupe in cherry red, 1958 Chevy big-window half-ton, just repainted red and white, and… ?! To say nothing of the deals I had to forego for life/family reasons. Oh well… Wick

    I was walking around the auction park at Kruse Auburn years ago and spotted a Silver Ghost that had run through the sale and not sold at a high bid of $63k, talked with the owner and told him I wanted the car but needed to call my wife first. Her response: “Why call me buy the damn car!” When I rushed back to the car not ten minutes later, the owner was driving it with a well-known dealer from St. Louis, who had just bought the car! I still remember the chassis number and later even met the man who bought the car from the broker at a Motor Region dinner a couple of years later.

    My story is in the late 70’s, I looked at a 58 Corvette where the seller wanted $4000. I wanted a bargain and offered $3000. No deal and I’ve regretted it since.

    Great topic! Mine is the ’58 Tour de France (ex-Hastings Harcourt) car I would frequently drive past here in Santa Barbara in the late ’60’s and early ’70’s. I bought an unrestored Model A Roadster and the TdF sold for $1800 in the mid-70’s. Arrgh!

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