We all have stories about the one that got away. The girl (or guy), the fish, the house and in this case the car. But sometimes with a few decades of perspective that turns out to have been a good thing.
Mid 80’s, I was 16 or 17 driving home from downtown with a friend when we passed a Dodge dealership.
“Hey, wasn’t that an old Road Runner there beside the building?” We circled back for a closer look.
It was not a Road Runner. It was a 1971 GTX, a car we’d read about but never seen in person.
We got out and examined the car in detail. It was badged as a 440 six pack, but under the hood the 440 was wearing an Edelbrock Tarantula intake with an enormous Holley four barrel carb. It had the Air Grabber hood, pistol grip shifter for the four speed, and Dana limited slip rear end.
It also had jacked up rear springs, G60-15 rear tires on chrome kidney bean rims, rear quarter rust and the general appearance of being ridden hard and put away wet. But to us the car practically had a glowing aura around it, and the rising chorus of angel voices told us what we must do.
Just then a salesman came around the corner, to see these two shaggy haired teens crawling over the GTX. He started it up for us and it ran well with a lumpy idle and a bit of blue smoke. He told us that they weren’t sure what they were going to do with the car, but might let it go for $1,200.
Twelve hundred dollars! Between the two of us we figured we had that much money. The rest of the afternoon was spent checking bankbooks and counting change, but in the end we came up short.
We approached our parents, and you can imagine how that went. My friend’s father called the dealership and gave them a blast over trying to sell such a powerful car to a couple of kids with no money. My friend did get some benefit out of the fiasco because his father later helped him obtain a $150 Chevy Impala which was a much more appropriate first car.
In reality we may have crashed the GTX within minutes, or sunk all our future college money into it, or fought over whose car it actually was.
I’m 51 now and I could afford a GTX if I wanted it badly enough, but these days my automotive tastes run cheaper and slower. That way I can have my classic car enjoyment along with the other things in life that matter more. Now I mostly look back on the episode as an enjoyable memory, a little bit of “What if?” but with considerable relief that we didn’t succeed.
What’s the one that got away from you, and do you have any regrets?