November Contest – The One That Got Away

Note: This contest is now closed!

So, our November contest? Well, think about this. We all have those stories, those used-to-haves or near misses. We all can tell tales of “the one that got away.” Sometimes they are cars that would now be worth wheel-barrows full of money. Sometimes they are cars that saw us through tough times or good times or were just near and dear to our hearts. There are cars that we had that we had to let go of due to growing families, or career changes, or simple changes in fortunes. There are other cars that we almost bought but that slipped through our fingers or were snatched from our grasp.

I used to have a yellow Triumph TR250. Sure it needed work, but it was solid and fun. But this was 1987 when I was newly married and we need a “real” car for daily commutes in heavy traffic. I traded in at a dealership who probably had no idea what they were getting. I wish I knew what happened to that car, but then again, maybe I don’t want to know.

2002 MINI Cooper S - Contest - The One That Got Away

I also had a 2002 MINI Cooper S. Yup, one of the new BMW MINIs that you either love or hate. And I loved it. It was one of the first ones sold over here. An unknown party had pre-ordered it and then decided not to purchase it when it arrived. Their change of heart was my good fortune. I bought it on the spot, no negotiating, no specing out colors, no hemming and hawing. And I love that car. I drove it and loved it until economies changed and we needed to eliminate the monthly payment. That was over 10 years ago and I still miss it.

There are a few more, of course, but I will leave you with just those two for now. Maybe I will talk about the others on some later date. By the fire. With a drink. When I am old(er). Anyway …

All this reminiscing is fun, but more to the point, we want to hear your stories. What is you “one that got away”? And to entice you to tell your story, we are making this our November content. You will not be judged on the value of the car in question or the quality of your prose.Portable Car Jump Starter If you send us your story, by email or comment below, you are entered. We will draw a winner at random from all of our entries at the end of the month.

What can you win? What is your prize for reliving this past misery of losing out? How a self-contained portable jump starter? These things are great. They can jump start your car when needed, but can also recharge a cell phone or laptop. I have used them on cars as small as my Spitfire and as large as a Chevy Tahoe.  Due to availability and change models, the one pictured here may not be the exact one the winner receives, but it will be a model of at least this capability. It will be brand new and shipped directly to the winner in time for the cold winter months.

If you have a picture that we can post with your story that would be great, but it is not required. This contest will run through November 30th, and we will announce the winner in the first email of December.

So send in your story. Again, you can post it in a comment below or email it to me at [email protected]. You must also be a subscriber to the newsletter, so make sure to do that if you are not already.  Everyone who has submitted an entry will be put into a random drawing. When the name (email) is selected it will be checked against our newsletter subscribers list. If there is a match, bingo!, we have our winner. If no match, we will select another random person from the comments and start over again. When we have drawn out someone who given us a story and subscribed, we will send them an email of congratulations and request a delivery address.

Note: This contest is now closed! Thanks to all who participated. Congratulations to our winner, Grayson Byfield. I believe the prize is headed to Birmingham, Alabama. Not too bad for winter there, but the jump started should still come in handy. Again, congratulations to Grayson and good luck to him on his hunt for his forever-classic! -Michael




  1. I have two that I let get away. There was an MGA sitting and one of those “you sell it” lots on the side of the highway. The price was $1500. I saw rust and never even called on it. I know now that the amount of rust was not extreme and could have been fixed. The other was a yellow Triumph GT6 that a lady had for sale at a local garage. She wanted $6000 for it and I passed it by. I still wish I had gotten that car!

  2. I was drafted in 1971. The day before I was to report, Dad took me to look at a sports car he found. It was a FIA Cobra. The shop that was selling it wanted $2500. I had saved 1600. Dad offered to advance me the rest but I declined,not knowing where I would be in 6 months. Adding to that I had a 16 yr old brother that may have torn it up.Hind sight is 20/20. BYW I never sell my sports cars. I’ve had a B since 73.

  3. My lost car was a 356 Porsche 1600 Super. It belonged to my brother who was a regional sales manager for Sunoco. Because he needed a bigger car for hauling literature and samples he visited his local Ford dealer who offered him $200 trade-in for the Porsche. My brother called me and said I could have the car if I paid him the trade-in valve offered by the dealer. I drove from Pittsburgh to Cleveland that weekend and gave my brother the $200 but his new car hadn’t come in yet so I would have to wait until the following weekend to get the Porsche. In the interim he rear-ended a Cadillac and totaled the Porsche. Not only didn’t I get the car but I never got my $200 back either.

  4. My lost car was actually one I had. I bought a 1967 Sunbeam Tiger MKII off the showroom floor. I drove that car for five years logging 85,000 miles.

    In 1972 I traded it in for a 1972 Mercury Capri.

    Little did I know that I had one of only 536 MKII Tigers produced. I still kick myself for losing that car.

    I kind of made up for it in 1981, buying a 1965 MKI Tiger which I still have.

    Nothing like hindsight….

  5. We’re relocating to SW Florida soon with our honeymoon car, Rolls Silver Spirit and a Austin Mk IV Mini and other almost. collectibles, but, about the one that got away(among several others)a few years ago down here in paradise. we found the place of our dreams…on a deep canal for our Regal cruiser, pool etc. After our offer was accepted by owner and bank we were advised to part with one of my cars or the Regal. Immediately my Series 2 E type Jaguar OTS was chosen for a quick sale to a well known collector / dealer in Missouri. Shortly after the transaction was finalized on the E we were informed the lender pulled out of deal and property wound up in court. Alas…no water front home and almost as bad …no nice E type in the garage either . Next time a story about my T35 Bugatti and a host of others that will leave you crying or yawning .

  6. I was sixteen and bought my first car, a 1962 MG MkII, for $500 from a friend. I drove the car for about a year, loving the rush of powering through a corner or just cruising down the road. Then (being a 17-year-old) I traded it in for a 1966 Chevelle (it was nice, but the MG had been great). So, 45 years later, I found and bought another ’62 – this one I’m keeping!

    • No! Not a Chevelle! I am sure lots of young men went the same way though. Glad you got another MGA and good luck in the contest.

  7. The one that got away for me, and still smarts, was an MGA Twin Cam Coupe. In 1988 I bought it, along with an extra Twin Cam Engine, for $4000. It was a running car, a driver, with a Texas Title with an assigned number rather than a Chassis number on the title. It did not have the Dunlop knock offs any more. It frustrated me as I knew that the Dunlop Disks and knock offs were hard to find and could cost around $1000. That coupled with the fact that I did not know the Twin Cam engine I sold it. But here is the kicker. I sold it with the extra engine for the same $4000. Well, duh, I could have sold the car for $4000 and kept the engine. How many guys end up with an extra Twin Cam engine in 1988?

    Fast forward to the present and that is why I refuse to sell an Arnolt-MG coupe and am restoring it instead.

  8. This is a tough assignment for a lifelong British car guy. It wasn’t the MGA I had in high school 50 years ago. Good car, but just didn’t have any oomph. Made me dream of a TR3. It wasn’t the Frogeye or the two Lotus Europas. Wonderful cars, but just downright scary to drive in traffic. Punters would nearly drive into you to ask “What the hail is that thing?”

    My detour into Germanland yielded an Opel GT and two BMW 2002s. All great cars on their own, but were sold when their time came – usually to fund a home down payment.

    It wasn’t the E-type coupe I spent 7 years restoring. The ’06 Mini S is close to the top, but the yummy sport suspension didn’t agree with my wife’s stomach and the lack of haulage space when she shifted from pottery to canvasses ended the 4 year ownership.

    The one that I wish I had back – and did try to buy it back – was the red ’65 TR4 with chrome wires and overdrive. I started bringing it to the BCCC shows from 1990 onward. It was at a high school reunion 15 years ago and a couple of the old buds were talking cars, of course. They both wantedaTR3. Ihadoneonthe80s,butithadtogoaswellsoIsoldthem on the advanced creature comforts provided by a TR4.

    Since I was considering selling the TR4 I suggested we form a pact and sell the car to each other, but no one was allowed to make a profit. They agreed to my price and I sold it a month later to Guy #2. That guy’s job forced him to move where he didn’t want to take the TR4 so he sold it to Guy #3. About a year into Guy #3’s ownership, I decided I wanted to buy it back saying so and sent him an email just to see if he was up for it.

    In the meantime, I had to go to a weeklong training course in Japan. The hotel had no internet access. So during the week I spent in Communication Hell, he took the car to Hershey and sold it. He said he emailed me and he did. I found the email when I got back. One good thing did come out of the deal. I included a set of steel wheels with the car which neither Guy #2 or Guy #3 liked. Guy #3 kept the wheels when he sold the car “outside the family” so I was able to get them back and they are now on my TR3. . . which isn’t getting away.

    • Ouch, that one hurts. Tack that car down!! And I had my time with BMW 2002s also. Liked them, but just didn’t do the same thing for me that British cars do.

      Good luck!

  9. My story is sort of the opposite of the one you mentioned in the article where the car was traded in at the dealership.

    Last year I bought my 1970 MGB from a used car dealership. The car was originally traded in by a woman in 78 as part of a upgrade to a newer car. The owners (two brothers) must have recognized that the car would maintain value as they kept the car in the dealership’s ownership, during which time one of the brothers used the car, eventually parking it in his garage, where it became a shelf, buried for years. Eventually the brothers decided to retire and close the dealership which involved liquidating the assets. One of which was the MGB. So 37 years after it was traded in, I bought it.

    There was actually more to the story – as it almost got away. It seems the brother who had taken the car home didn’t want to sell it.

    On our way home from visiting the grandkids my wife and I went to look at it. After taking it for a short drive, back in the dealership office, I presented an offer to the two brothers. The brother who hadn’t taken the car home had to step out leaving me to further discuss it with his brother who said he wasn’t sure they wanted to sell it. I told him I would call him in a few weeks to see what their thoughts were. When I did call the other brother answered and I told him that I would like to come back and totally inspect the car but needed to know if it was indeed for sale. He answered in the affirmative. My son and I drove there and post inspection we were all standing outside when the brother who said over the phone that it was for sale asked me what I thought. I told him he already had my offer and that was how much cash I had in my pocket. He reached out, shook my hand, and said “You just bought yourself a car”. Looking over his shoulder I could see the face of the brother who had taken the car home drop.

  10. My tale is rooted in my youth and stupidity. There were many regrets. Till now I have refrained from dwelling, because it is too upsetting. Maybe reading about others will console me. Except for the fact that every car I missed or lost or let go, someone else got. So now I feel bad again. But no more, for I sell nothing! I will be buried with my cars.

    There was the TR5 I could have bought from my older brother, but I was a little early in my car culture mentality, or maybe I just hated the Mustard color.

    So I bought and restored with my dad an MGA. Sold that one for $125. Ugh

    Or my perfect 75 Spitfire with the factory hardtop, killer sound system with custom speaker boxes and a huge sidedraft Weber that I spent a year tuning to perfection that I sold when my 1st child was born. Oh no.

    All the triumphs and Jags we had in our group that we beat to death and sold for pennies. What???

    The best (worst) of all was the Ferrari Lusso we passed up for $3000 because it needed a clutch! @#^*(%$#.

    I want to thank you Micheal for this opportunity to walk down memory lane. I feel much better now. Not.

    • Personally, I would rather have the TR5 than the Ferrari. Makes no financial sense, I know. But that is just me.

      Good luck!

  11. I guess they have all gotten away so far. I have just started looking for a project car but haven’t bought one yet. Looking for MG or Triumph. Not sure what, just something to work on over the winter and have fun with. So, hoping this lets me enter the contest as my current car, though not British, occasionally needs some help starting. Thanks!

  12. My cars that got away were the cars I had to leave behind in the UK when we emigrated to the USA in the late 70’s. We had a Mini Countryman and a Renault 8, both rather proletarian vehicles but fun in their own ways. The Mini was the classic go kart 4 seater, great fun on back roads. I had a 30 mile drive to work on back roads and it used to take me 30 minutes. That included going through one small town also. Tires didn’t last long though! The Renault was our luxury car! unbelievably comfy compared to the Mini. Quite modern for a 1964 car, reclining seats, dashboard air vents, even 4 wheel disc brakes. Even if I had been able to bring them it would not have been worth it. The dreaded tin worm had been eating them for too long. If my employer, Cosworth, had not allowed free use of welding equipment and access to sheet metal fabrication I would have had a hard time keeping them safe and legal. I was sorry to see them go and wonder how long the buyers managed to keep them going. Happy memories.

  13. The one that got away was a 1952 Vincent Black Shadow motorcycle. I swapped a Norton 19S and an incomplete basket case Velocette KSS for it back in 1968. I was a Junior in college then. I did some restoration on the Vincent and spent all the money I had to have the engine overhauled. It followed me to graduate school, and I used in for daily transportation until the end of 1973. My oldest daughter was born them, and thinking I might need some cash, I sold the Vincent. It took six months to sell, and I only got $1175 for it, which just covered what I had in it. Today that bike is worth well north of $100K. I have pictures of that bike hanging in my garage next to my MG TD and the Morris Traveller. My life’s pattern is to sell the valuable vehicles before they rise in value, and hang on to the ones that never go up in value. So it goes.

  14. Congratulations to our winner, Grayson Byfield. I believe the prize is headed to Birmingham, Alabama. Not too bad for winter there, but the jump started should still come in handy. Again, congratulations to Grayson and good luck to him on his hunt for his forever-classic! -Michael

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