Four lessons about the one that got away

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Car for sale Gabe Augustine

It’s the reality most car lovers must live with—we once loved a car that for one reason or another slipped away from us. Last week, we asked on the Hagerty Forums for your stories about the ones that got away, and from those responses, we pulled out a few lessons we think will keep you regret-free in the future.

Sadness oozed from the 79 responses we received. We’d like to keep everyone from going through that once—or worse, twice—by distilling what we learned down to four points that you can hang on your fridge or garage wall or tape to your forehead. Follow these simple guidelines and your life will be filled with the automotive ownership and stories you want to tell, not the sore spots we’d rather not talk about.

Never let go

removing a car cover
Brandan Gillogly

Like a fictional man clinging to a door large enough to support both his mistress and himself (notice I wrote fictional), things are easier if you never let go. If a car is that special to you, you will find a way to keep it in your ownership. Finding storage space that is not in your garage or the money for a down payment on a house are not the greatest reasons to let go of the car that means a lot to you. It might not seem so bad in that moment, but you’ll regret it in no time.

Buy it the first time you see it

Car for sale
Gabe Augustine

Chances are if you walk away to think about it, the car will be gone—even if it sat there for 10 months and moss was starting to grow from its delicate areas. Unless you are into some really strange automotive stuff, there is someone else hunting for the same cars as you are. With the advent of the internet, the car world got a lot smaller, and the ability to find the car of your dreams is a bit easier, which means there is someone else eyeing the same car. Buy it as soon as you can or you may miss out.

Keep tabs on the car—and buy it back when you have a chance

Beetle in the garage
Gabe Augustine

A common story was told by those who sold a beloved car to a friend (or someone they believed to be a friend), only to watch that friend sell it off after a short time, and the car was then gone forever. If you do freeze up and have to let go of a car, keep in touch with the owner and express your interest to purchase it back if they ever sell. Understand the market might shift a different way than you wish during their ownership, but if presented with the chance to get the car back, remember tip #2 above.

Replace it with the closest thing you can

Model A in the garage
Gabe Augustine

Last but not least: the consolation prize. We recognize this one is a hard sell sometimes, because in certain situations, the VIN matters. But if the experience is what you miss, a car of identical spec can give you all the enjoyment of the car you lost, if you can look past the ID number. Whether your beloved car got wrecked, or the market went up when your bank account went down, a vehicle with the same paint color, seats, and steering wheel can be a time warp to the good times you had before you let the car go. If you sold something really rare, maybe a re-creation is the best route. Start with a good donor and build up the exact spec you had—originality be damned.

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