Wednesday, January 1, 2014

The Automotive Incomplete Pass

Being a "car guy" means constantly thinking about the next acquisition; What do you need? What do you want? What have you simply stumbled across? Watching the crazy Duke-Texas A&M bowl game on New Year's eve got me to thinking, what were some of the cars I had almost, but not bought over the years? Call them incomplete passes...

1960s VW Beetle

During the search that led me to the Mercury Capri, I seriously considered buying a Beetle that was for sale, if I recall, in a grocery store parking lot near my college apartment. I have no memory of the color or anything like that, only of the newer cassette deck installed in the dashboard. That may have been the reason I wanted the car, maybe the only reason. Anyway, luckily Dad was a VW aficionado and quickly talked me out of buying what was apparently a tired, rusty, clapped out Bug with a nice stereo. Thanks again Dad.

1983 Audi Quattro Coupe GT

You know how you can buy something even though a little voice is telling you, "this a bad decision?" Graduating from college I wanted a VW GTI, but could not find one in the Sacramento area. A used Audi coupe seemed like a decent substitute and I was actually test-driving one at Neillo VW-Porsche-Audi when I mentioned to the salesman what I really wanted. To be honest, the Audi seemed slow and heavy with only 110 horsepower. Well, the salesman  mentioned that they had an '84 GTI in the back. The dealer's wife had driven it for a few months and just returned it. An hour later it was mine. A close call for sure.

1991 Nissan 300ZX

In 1989 the all-new Z was a thing of beauty. And with 222 horsepower from a 3.0 Liter V6, it was fast too. Motor Trend's "Import Car of the Year," and Automobile Magazine's "Design of the Year," I wanted one badly. All that stopped me was the price... But then the salesman mentioned the idea of a lease. I had never even heard of leasing a car, and didn't actually care about the details. But then a hangup, an apparent problem with my credit. The lease offer was withdrawn and I left the dealership, tail between my legs. Later I discovered that one of the credit reporting companies had merged my history with my father's. Apparently Nissan Credit did not believe I had gotten a BankAmericard in 1962 - a year before I was born. It was however all a blessing in disguise, as a few months later I was transferred back to Europe. Most leases will not allow you to take the car out of the country and I would have had to buy out the remainder at a fairly big loss. So thanks for your incompetence TransUnion, I guess.

There have been other incomplete passes since the Z, mostly cars I'm glad I didn't buy. A 1992 VW Corrado for example, nice car but the interior just seemed cheap. And a first generation Honda CRV, I was all for it but Lynne didn't like the car. She thought it was too buzzy and thin-doored. She was right of course. Recently I missed out on a locally advertised 1968 Porsche 912. Underpriced for the current market and in original Irish Green with low miles, I could have made some decent money flipping the car. But just as I went to see it the seller received a significantly-over-his-asking-price offer and I was out. So close...

What was your automotive incomplete?