My Favorite Regrets
The same goes with automobiles. You passed by a rural road or a car lot to see something that caught your eye.
Regrets – we all had a few.
For example, how many times did you miss asking someone out for a date? The sad part was that you found certain object of interest with another person a week or so later – on Facebook. The relationship status was changed and the photos were too much to bear to the point of possibly unfriending at least one of them.
How about the time you waited to see when the gadget you had your eye on was going to be reduced in price? You waited months because you could not swing the high cost of being an early adopter. Every one of your friends got their gadget to the point of posting their glee on social media sites. When the device you wanted got discounted, the new version was just hitting the shelves.
The same goes with automobiles. You passed by a rural road or a car lot to see something that caught your eye. You even made the effort to stop by where this car was sitting to get a closer look. Somewhere deep inside your brain was an indication that your interest was piqued. When it came to pull the trigger on the buy – you walked away.
It still bothers you that you never got that one special vehicle you saw months before.
This Five Faves was inspired by a question asked in yesterday's Motorama Live Twitter chat. Someone in the chat asked the question whether we regretted not buying a certain vehicle – and why. This brought up some interesting answers from everyone – including yours truly.
In fact, I did come up with five vehicles I regretted not getting – and why.
1981 SAAB 900 TURBO: Sometime in the mid-1980s, I noticed a gray four-door sedan at a car lot next to the Taco Bell on the corner of Reseda Boulevard and Vanowen Street in Reseda. This particular sedan turned out to be one of my favorite vehicles of my high school years – a Swedish, front-wheel-drive turbocharged sedan. It had dark red velour interior with all of the Saab trimmings. The bets part of it all was sitting next to the ignition switch: The ZF three-speed automatic gearbox. It meant that I could drive it. Why did I not get it? The price? It lost a lot of its value to begin with. Secondly, I feared that it was at this lot for some strange reason – mechanical failure, a post-accident reconstruction, repossession…who knows? I walked away, perhaps smarter that I did not have to deal with replacing the turbocharger a few months later. But, owning a Saab would be the supreme experience for a semi-mature Reseda boy.
1987 FORD ESCORT: In 1987, I was ready to move from Reseda to San Rafael and wanted to buy a new car. This would be my first new vehicle purchase. Normally, I would do my homework and select my car properly. Actually, my homework was done thanks to a rental of the same model by an Orange County dealership for the week leading to my relocation. I actually settled on a three-door popularly equipped hatchback – automatic, air conditioning, etc. There was one problem – I questioned whether I needed a car. I also questioned the payments and the down. In the end, I backed out of the deal and returned the rental Escort. In the end, I settled for a Nissan Hardbody pickup. The Escort would have been better on fuel on the end.
1980s MASERATI QUATTROPORTE: Every time I commuted through Seven Corners in Northern Virginia in the late 1990s, I was distracted by a fabulously-looking sedan. This stately, big blue Maser sat front and center on the dealer lot. It was a sight to see – right where Arlington became Fairfax County along US Highway 50. It sat for a year or so. I would do some shopping at a nearby strip mall and would walk across the street to see the Maser. The lovely saddle interior was delicious. It had the Chrysler automatic on board – even more tempting to drive! However, I never had the nerve to ask "how much." I had feared there was a boatload of problems lurking underneath its stately exterior. Masers of that vintage were not known for their reliability. Repairs alone would have put me in poverty. Perhaps the gas pump bills would be my undoing, if I actually had bought that Quattroporte. Had I known how much that Maser cost, that would be the difference between staying on the bus and enjoying something rather unique and luxurious.
1991 FORD TAURUS GL: This would have been my new car, if I did not settle on the 1991 Acura Integra. The Integra did change my automotive game, but what if I did not want it be changed? What I wanted to settle in for a nice sedan that I knew would serve me well. Within the Bay Area and beyond, I checked out several Ford dealers looking for a unique GL sedan. My checklist was full in looking for one with the V6, split seats, AM/FM/Cassette stereo, air conditioning and so forth. At a dealer in Sebastopol, I found the perfect one in a medium tan metallic color. Since it was in a small town outside of Santa Rosa, I knew that I probably would not get a good deal if I bought it in San Rafael, Colma or Burlingame. Oh, and it was a 1990 model – how foolish of me to not see I could get an even better deal. Perhaps I was destined for that Integra after all.
LATE 1980s MAZDA 323 SEDAN: In the aftermath of the Integra, I went looking for a replacement. At a Ford dealer in Novato, I noticed this white 323 sedan that looked quite good. Its brown-ish interior sported an automatic in the console and simply looked quite good. That was until I saw the odometer – about 90,000 on the clock. They wanted more than I could justify for the car. It would have satisfied my need to get around, but I feared the worse in terms of repairs and maintenance for an aging car. Mazdas were also not known for their longevity beyond certain six-digit mileage limits. Then again, it was a Mazda. What was not to like about them?
2010 HONDA CIVIC: This one might not have been a regretful purchase (or lease) if it weren't for circumstances beyond one's control. After all, the idea of leasing a vehicle during a Global Economic Crisis and resulting layoff from the day job certainly changed things. I had my heart set on getting new Civic sedan. Something of a commuter and fun road trip car that was good on gas and so forth. Certainly it would challenge my credentials of being a car person – and this was well before my automotive media career took off exponentially. Then again, how many automotive journalists own really cool, fast, and desirable vehicles? A few, perhaps. I was sold on the Civic's record off reliability, lower cost of maintenance and operation, and the comfort it gave a big guy (I was bigger back then) over the miles. Alas, I was laid off and the economy got screwed. Oh well…
All photos by Randy Stern, unless otherwise noted