5 March 2013

Sometimes you can only dream

If you’re like me there’s been at least one car you wanted so badly that you knew you were going to die without it. Yet, here I am!

For me it was a Z/28 Camaro, but it’s not a simple story. A local guy had a Shelby GT350, and I was just amazed by the way it handled and accelerated. But my Mustang dreams ended abruptly when I saw a commercial for Sunoco gas and there was Mark Donohue driving a dark blue Z/28 up Pikes Peak. He was shifting at 8,000 rpm and I was astounded that any car could rev like that.

This was 1968 or ’69 and I was 16 or 17, going to dealers and lusting for my own Z/28. Mine was going to be dark green with black stripes, have a black interior and roll on the dog dish wheels. I just wanted to be able to shift at 8,000 rpm and hear that engine. Being in school with only a part-time job, the only place I could buy a Z/28 was in my dreams.

There were other cars that got away, too. When filming at the Auctions America sale of the Lee Roy Hartung Collection last November, there was a wild and unrestored BMW Veritas with a Spohn body. I’m kind of into motorcycles, and on Saturday I ask a serious bike collector: “What’s the one motorcycle you’d buy if you were buying today?” He tells me and I go into the auction and I start bidding on the Thor. I look up to see who I’m bidding against and it’s the guy who gave me the tip. I get the bike and I feel awful.

The next day the Veritas comes up and the bidding starts at $50,000 and I bid $55,000 and it keeps going up. I’m up to $110,000, a friend bids $120,000 and someone else bids $130,000. The motorcycle guy is the other bidder and I have to cede the Veritas to him. I remember telling the camera, “That was the right thing to do, but if I was bidding for someone else blood would have flowed.” It broke my heart, but I had to let it go.

More recently I wanted a 1932 Ford with 10 years of Bonneville speed tags. I called the guy on a Thursday and said I’d be there Saturday morning. Something came up and by Monday it was gone. But that’s the car business.

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