By on December 27, 2013


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“You know, I always wanted a…”

Those words are about as common as kudzu at my Georgia car lot.

They aren’t usually reserved for the late model vehicles though. When it comes to the primary drivers, customers are always willing to fork out the money for their dream car.

It’s the second older dream car, or third-string beater dream car that slides down the scale from want to nothingness.

You know what the most popular ‘almost’ car is these days?

Big cars.

The shape or form doesn’t really matter. You have everything from full-sized luxurious chrome ridden mastodons, to bare bones rugged rock climbers whose only real weekend exercises will come in the form of jumping curbs and cutting out the Mini Cooper at the Starbucks.

If it’s big and old, a car lover won’t want to drive it every day. But they will certainly love to have the dream of owning.

Folks love to have the space, utility and luxury of a vehicle that can handle all their 1% jobs. Even if the money is not there… for now…

An older Silverado or F150 that could handle the towing of their imaginary boat. The minivan that can help them become collectors and hoarders. Even the once reviled, but now older SUV, is finally at that price point where car shoppers can kick the tires, daydream, shrug, and walk away.

As the years go by, there are fewer and fewer of those ‘good’ older wonders to buy. For example, up to a few years ago, I used to get anywhere from three to six older 240’s a year whether I wanted them or not. Now it seems like this next year may be my one last good chance to own a well-kept Volvo 240 now that the youngest one is a mere whisker away from the drinking age of 21.

For folks in the car business, the rear view mirror of longing for us long-timers is fading into the firmament of long lost glories such as the 1st gen Lexus LS400 and the Mistubishi Eclipse GSX. When we find them in good shape, we often pay a pretty penny just for the privilege of temporarily owning it.

 

I have been lucky as h-e-double hockey sticks

 

A drop dead gorgeous 1995 BMW 540i that I recently bought. Another 'almost' car that is still looking for a good owner.

A drop dead gorgeous 1995 BMW 540i that I recently bought. Another ‘almost’ car that is still looking for a good owner.

to have the pleasure of taking out near immaculate 20 year old rides, and giving them a few days worth of personal sentimentality before unleashing them to the next owner. Then again, I haven’t sampled everything quite yet.

For some strange (healthy?) reason, I never had the pleasure of buying an early 90’s Range Rover or, on the opposite side of the ledger, a Lotus Espirit. I am sure that either one would be a complete money loser for yours truly. But that doesn’t mean I won’t blow my financials brains out in the near future by buying one.

If it was on a bedroom poster back when I was a teenager, I want it, and chances are you’re in the same exact boat of old-school contentment.

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So what out there represents your ‘almost’ car? We all aspire to the right lottery jackpot and a one of a kind Ferrari. But given your current means and ends, what out there makes you say, “Hmmm… just maybe… someday, that will be mine.”

Just not today.

 

 

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140 Comments on “Hammer Time: The ‘Almost’ Car...”


  • avatar
    -Nate

    In general ;

    Americans will always buy the biggest car they can , given the choice .

    -Nate

    • 0 avatar

      That’s what VW brass thought too, when they rolled out the decontented Passat.

      • 0 avatar
        krhodes1

        And compared to sales of the previous version, they were right. Bigger and cheaper works in this country. If they had a couple big cheap C/SUVs, they might get near their silly targets.

    • 0 avatar
      CoreyDL

      My motto is, if you’re looking from a particular manufacturer, buy the largest one they sold, with the right sized engine for you. I used to say with the largest engine available, but that’s not practical with gas prices these days.

      I’d like an 01 740 iL, and a 96 Fleetwood, and 07 Navigator Ultimate, and a 98 S500/600. Oh and a 79 Town Car.

  • avatar
    redliner

    Call me insane, but I’ve flirted with the idea of a well kept VW Pheaton, or VW Toe-rag with the v10 diesel.

    Something about the discreet luxury is appealing to me.

    …and I don’t even particularly like VAG products.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      I thought about the Phaeton, too. Then I found out how much it costs to replace the air suspension.

      When I’m a little more settled-down, I’d like to maybe look at buying one of the pre-Volkswagen-derived Bentley/Rolls-Royce cars. Even a 2007 Arnage can be had for under $70K, sometimes under $60K. I’d love one of the later Azure or Brooklands models, but pre-owned examples seem to cost as much as a brand-new Continental. Thing is, I’d need a Bentley/Rolls-Royce specialist and there are none to be found in my area. Then again, I do know someone who owns a 1999 or 2000 Rolls-Royce Silver Seraph—and believe me, he could afford a new Phantom if he wanted one. Maybe I’ll ask him what he does for service on his Rolls.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        I love the Brooklands, but production numbers on that one mean that it will likely NEVER come down to the range you can find early 90’s Turbo R’s in.

        Bentlys and Rolls from pre-BMW/VW are owned by crazy people who do the work themselves, or by people who bought them New and will drive them until they die, fully serviced by a dealership or mechanic who has been in business since before the War.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        For the first time in real life, on Sunday I saw a light gold metallic Arnage driving down SR42/Reading Road. I was amaze. Couldn’t see who was in it since it was getting dark.

    • 0 avatar
      WaftableTorque

      The appeal of discreet luxury comes from recognizing it’s alternatives.

      The book “Spent. Sex, Evolution, and Consumer Behavior” by evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller has a chapter on the 4 ways of conspicuous signaling: conspicuous waste (faster, bigger, stronger, pricier, flashier), conspicuous precision (quieter, more comfortable, more reliable, precision manufacturing, details), conspicuous branding (pedigree, heritage, street cred, logos, celebrity branding), and conspicuous rarity (artwork, association with celebrity ownership, historical significance).

      All have barriers of entry, whether it’s limited supply, cost, engineering, or requires a billion dollar fabrication plant. The appeal of conspicuous precision (formerly called stealth wealth by those who like vague adjectives) is that you avoid the hp/0-60/tow rating/newness wars of the wasteful (usually nouveau riche) crowd, while being able to brag about your hi-fi/reliability/dBA levels/buy-and-hold cred. It’s still bragging, but a different sorts.

    • 0 avatar

      Don’t. I have a car guy neighbor up the street who got one new. All they say about a VW dealer and a Phaeton was, sadly, true.

      He replaced it with an E class diesel, for two years…and now

      He loves loves loves his CLS 550.

      I want a Z3 with a six and manual. I’ll do the rest of the mods myself.

  • avatar
    jz78817

    give me a well-kept (or restored) 1971 Mercury Cougar XR-7 Convertible.

    not even remotely kidding.

    • 0 avatar
      Willyam

      Perfect! And sometimes in a weird non-red color (why are all the survivors red with white tops?)

      I have to add in the “big” Mustang, and the early 70’s fat Charger. Also, the colonnade cars, specifically the 428-equipped Grand Prix in silver, black wrap-around interior, that I passed on for my 301 red over red ’80 model. It was just barely out of my price range, but I’ve never forgotten it.

    • 0 avatar
      cdotson

      Growing up somewhere between 1988-1995 a neighbor down the street had one of these Cougars. Yellow, with black interior and black top. He loved to leave it parked outside on nice days in the circular drive in front of his white house with 2-story pillars on the front porch and it cut a rather striking pose. I’m pretty sure he restored most of it himself in his garage too.

    • 0 avatar
      violent_k

      I can point you to a brown one in Amherst, Ohio, if you’re looking.

  • avatar
    PrincipalDan

    Any Lincoln Town Car with Cartier designation.

    Ford Crown Victoria LX Sport or at least one with the handling package. Mercury Grand Marquis LSE.

    Any Cadillac Fleetwood Brougham (as long as it doesn’t have a HT4100.)

    Any other V8 RWD domestic sedan from old B-body to LX cars to Chrysler M-body.

    Jaguar XJ sedan, damn the reputation they are gorgeous.

    Lexus LS sedans all years.

    I’m starting to see a pattern here.

    • 0 avatar
      gearhead77

      Not much love for the big GM cars, but I’d love me a Town Car. 95-97, last of the big square cars. No faux roofs or anything, just Cartier trim in black, emerald green or white. Maybe a Crow. Vic optioned to the hilt, but I wouldn’t want a “mere Ford “to be taking up 20ft of my driveway. Me next sedan, if I was going to buy one, would be a Chrysler 300 from 2012 on up. I’m really impressed by those cars.

      I also have Rover lust, but that would have to wait.

    • 0 avatar
      Wheeljack

      A black on black 1997 Town Car Cartier with the dual exhaust option and handling package would be tits. End of an era.

      • 0 avatar
        PrincipalDan

        @Wheeljack, all the Cartier’s (and Ultimate Town Cars) had factory dual exhausts. The damn shame is that more Grand Marquis didn’t come with dual pipes from the factory.

        @Kyree, true XJs of the 2000s are better built because of the Ford influence but I guess I worry what it would cost when something did go wrong especially living in a rural area of NM. Even if a big luxury sled is a 2nd or 3rd car it really needs to be able to load up the family and drive to Wally World. For me that’s much of the appeal of a big damn car.

    • 0 avatar
      Kyree S. Williams

      What’s funny about the previous-gen XJ is that, despite its reputation for being characteristically-British, it surely is more reliable and preservable than the W220 S-Class and E65 7-Series, and certainly more than the W221, W222 and F01.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        You paint BROAD strokes with the e65 sir. While the first ~2 model years are a pain, post 06 lease specials (no optional gadgets!!!) aren’t terrible if you are prepared to buy the kinds of special tools that any serious car work on something built in the last 7 years requires.

        Then again, you can find parts for the Ford XJ’s at any Ford yard – so much of that car was parts-binned. It is rapidly becoming the C4 Vette for the cheap-hairpiece crowd.

      • 0 avatar
        CoreyDL

        2011 XJ Super Portfolio! Mmmm.

  • avatar
    Astigmatism

    God, but that’s a beauty. My family lived in London when I was a teenager, and as a company car my dad got a 540i that we immediately took on a 2,000-mile circumnavigation of the European mainland, thrashing it across the Autobahns, up and down the Alps, across northern Spain and Italy… If I had an extra space in my garage, Steve, I’d be on a Georgia-bound plane right now to pick her up and put her next to my Acura. But unfortunately I don’t see a 20-year-old Bimmer as a commuter.

    • 0 avatar
      Battles

      I’m commuting two 23 year old W124 Benzes just now. Neither of them is as good as this Beemer.
      Get on the plane!

      • 0 avatar
        WhatDaFunk

        I DD an E34 535i. I don’t do it any more, but I was commuting 70 miles a day three times a week for about two years without issue. I think the V8s in the 540 aren’t as reliable as the I6, but it’s an awesome car for commuting: big enough to fit full size adults in the back, but not too big, smooth comfortable ride, good power, and the suspension is plenty capable for some spirited driving in the twisties. Only drawback is that the gas mileage is atrocious.

        I’ve often lusted after the 540i, since it has the extra 2 cylinders and an extra gear, though this one is an automatic so, that could be a potential deal breaker, I know it would be for me.

  • avatar
    Cubista

    A neighbor across from me when I was a kid had a 1973 Gran Torino black-on-black fastback that I thought was really sharp, especially as a dumb pre-teen in America with no sense of “the world” I thought it was the model of the V8 Interceptor driven by Mel Gibson in the “Mad Max” movies.

    I always wanted either the 1972 or ’73 model of that car, with the fastback (not necessarily with the vinyl roof), but then Clint Eastwood came out with that movie a few years back and pretty much did for that car what “The Fast & The Furious” did for Toyota Supra Turbos and FD RX-7’s.

    • 0 avatar
      kosmo

      As a kid, I was denied car ownership to save for college, instead being allowed to share the family second car, which was a used 72 Gran Torino. Dad considered it perfect for a teenager, because it looked great, and had NO power. 1972 was the pit of the emissions control strangulation before car makers started figuring it out.

      I was seldom, if ever, allowed to drive the near perfect 68 Buick Wildcat, which had a 430 with 4-bbl, a car which Dad still mentions to this day that he misses, though not the 12 mpg part!

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        I had a ’69 Riviera with that same engine… Your dad’s longing for that car is totally understandable and justified

      • 0 avatar
        Wheeljack

        “NO power” depends on the engine. A buddy had a 1973 Gran Torino with a 2-barrel 351 Cleveland all through high school and college and it could more than defend itself. All we did to it was re-time the engine, plug the vacuum line to the EGR and put 8mm silicone iginition wires on it and it accelerated with surprising alacrity. Some gas-magnum shocks, 60-series radial tires and a smaller diameter steering wheel woke up the suspension/handling and made it relatively fun to drive for such a big car.

  • avatar
    Syke

    Any Jaguar. Any non-SUV Porsche.

    The former, I’ve always chickened out. My two serious hunts for one both ended in my buying a BMW. And both were good experiences.

    The latter, I actually went and did it. And had a wonderful four year ownership. And once I’m tired of the Solstice, I’ll be looking again.

  • avatar

    X-Type. Could’ve bought a few of them over the years. Not sure I want it now, but who knows. I have lower, more easily attainable fruit to pick first. I’ll never part with my E30, and I do see a Datsun Z car in the near future. Doesn’t have to be perfect, and it won’t be for long until I move on to the next car. I just need to prevent myself from replacing the daily-driver with something awesomely expensive.

    • 0 avatar
      bball40dtw

      I’ve always wanted a 240Z. I should have bought one a few years ago when the prices were better and I lived in Arizona. I’d have to store it in the winter now. Salt will eat those things alive.

      On a related note, there is a guy down the street from our cottage in Northern Michigan that has a yellow-orange Datsun 510 that was used in SCCA Trans-Am races back in the 70s. I ask him every year if he’ll sell it, but he alsways says no.

      • 0 avatar
        Cubista

        God, the 240’s are dear. Cheapest one listed within 100 miles of where I live is a ’93 with over 180k miles on it, bone stock (rarer still) and $6500.00.

        You can get a Scooby Rex that’s 10 years younger with comparable mileage for less.

        • 0 avatar
          bball40dtw

          240SX? I was refering to the 70s Datsun Z-Cars, but I like the 240SX as well. That’s another one thats impossible to find. If you can find one with a SR20DET swap, its probably beat to hell. If not, it probably needs one.

          • 0 avatar

            Same here! The Datsun styling back then was very simple but still had an aggressive touch to it. I see them in the tri-state area here on CL without kiddie mods fairly often at or below the $5k mark.

            Not sure why Cubist is comparing it to an econo Subaru box-mobile though, they’re two completely different types of cars.

          • 0 avatar
            Cubista

            Sorry…can’t brain today…I haz a dumb. I misread the “Z” on your post.

            BlueBrat I was mistakenly comparing the late ’80’s/early ’90’s SX to the WRX for the sake of resale pricing…a small sedan w/ AWD and more power can be had for less than a RWD coupe that’s twice as old. I wasn’t thinking about the ’70’s era Z cars…haven’t priced one of those in forever.

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I still want a 240SX and do the SR20DET swap. Plus Silvia badges and front end.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            CA instead of an SR, but you can buy this one today:

            http://www.vadriven.com/forums/import-asia-65/1988-silvia-ks-model-2-tone-|-near-perfect-|-64k-miles-|-light-mods-rhd-legal-479180/

          • 0 avatar

            This reminds me, I never understood what was the point of doing Silvia front end thing. Is it lighter than the native nose? By a big enough margin to matter? Did it create downforce like Elise nose? Or what?

          • 0 avatar
            bball40dtw

            I just like the look of the Silvia S13 front end. If I had a 240SX, I may not do the front end swap because of the rarity of pop up headlights now.

            Bumpy-

            That car is beautiful.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            A lot of ’80s Japanese sporty cars had both fixed and flip-up headlight options, as different models or submodels.

            Over in JDMland the hatchback S13 was the 180SX with flip-up sealed-beam lights, while the coupe S13 was the Silvia and had the nose with the fixed headlights (either halogen, projectors, or projectors+foglights). The US only got the flip-up lights on the 240SX, because the Silvia lights were a bit too low to satisfy FMVSS.

    • 0 avatar
      WhiskerDaVinci

      My mother had an X-Type wagon when they were new, and we really liked it. Everything that you saw and touched was Jag, which means the interior was a fabulous place to be. It was also very comfortable. But most of the mechanicals were Ford, so it was quite reliable, and didn’t cost my entire college fund to fix when it did break. One of the few times it had trouble was while we were on vacation, and the town we were in didn’t have a Jag dealer, they did had a Ford dealer though. They knew exactly what it was and what to do, for far less money.

      They aren’t particularly expensive to buy and run either, so they aren’t that far out of reach for most people. Go for it, if you see one in good shape.

      • 0 avatar
        ellomdian

        Mom had an 04′ (non wagon), and I will regularly defend the X-type at a legitimate price point as a wonderful small car, but if you think all the touch-points were Jag, you have been in some SHITTY Jags.

        The Seat leather was crap, the radio was crap, the steering wheel was crap, the trim was crap. So much god damned chromed-plastic, and the ‘wood’ felt like it had a half-inch of clear coat. The only good things about that car were the v6 and the AWD. My brother’s 03 5-series made it feel like a Playschool toy.

  • avatar
    Lie2me

    The best way to f-up a good fantasy is to go out and accomplish it, at which point it is no longer a fantasy, it is your reality and we all know reality bites. I’ve bought a few fantasy cars and they were pretty disappointing. Now my fantasy car is fast, utilitarian, reliable, fun, cheap and good looking. If they ever build such a vehicle I’ll be first in line behind everybody else

    • 0 avatar
      Battles

      I disagree man, I’m living the dream with a couple of 90s Benzes.

    • 0 avatar
      jhefner

      Audi 5000s. Yes, some fantasies are best left on the printed pages; and in your mind. But even today; that is a great looking sedan.

      • 0 avatar
        Lie2me

        Makes a nice wagon too

        • 0 avatar
          Trend-Shifter

          I have an Audi 5000 sedan and a wagon!
          Living the dream! Well, I say that when everything is sorted. I say other things when I am wrenching on it.

          Picture link: http://www.flickr.com/photos/29396384@N05/8733757012/

          The 5000S Quattro sedan gets driven 110 miles a day when commuting to and back from work. The Avant is the wife’s get around car.

          • 0 avatar
            jhefner

            My other favorite from that timeframe is of course the Taurus. I think the 5000s was a better looking sedan than the Taurus; but the opposite was true for the wagons. Just my opinion.

            I also put roughly 110 miles a day commuting in my Taurus wagon; it is so comfortable; still very quiet, and very easy to drive in freeway traffic.

          • 0 avatar
            Lie2me

            You’ll have to tell us about that Pinto sometime, an unexpected part of the mix

  • avatar
    bumpy ii

    Oh, this is easy: R32 Skyline GTS25 sedan, 5-speed, solid roof, dark blue pearl. Might be an original, might end up building a clone.

    Good luck dumping the BMW. Hope you have documentation for the replacement engine.

  • avatar
    kuponoodles

    1989 Integra.
    back in 1998, as a college freshman making $5 /hour. My buddy was willing to sell his to me for $500. But, alas it was red, 2 door and stick, so my dad and sister said F-No! to the insurance.
    can’t find those anymore as they are all rusted away

    1984 50th AE edition 300zx but resprayed with Shiro’s super white and rims
    Digital Dash, Body sonic seats, bitching betty’s door’s ajar.
    Was stationed with a guy who had one, he wouldn’t sell it. Ran like sh!t but it was drop dead gorgeous.

    VW corrado: but ever since that Top Gear Episode, it’s in BMW fanboi asking prices…. one day.

    Toyota Previa- Supercharged Minivan? sure it’s still slow but the concept makes me chuckle.
    Also rarity. No sane human being would’ve kept this in pristine condition… but should be able to score one less than a G

    Gray import
    Altima bluebird SSS ATTESA LTD
    someone must’ve brought one over… please??

  • avatar
    Toad

    M35A Bobbed Deuce. A military 6×6 with the back axle chopped off and a military trailer cargo bed put on the back.

    In pictures: http://www.ccsurplus.com/truck/366

    Overpowered, overkill, overindulgent, etc…a pickup on steroids and crystal meth. You can find them on craigslist for $8k to 15k. Way more fun than a F150 for a less than a third of the price.

    It just seems like a lot of fun. If I had room in the driveway and wanted to piss off my neighbors I’d be driving one today. But since I have no room and nice neighbors it will have to wait.

  • avatar

    A LaForza. I remember seeing one in a car mag when I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted one. I’ve got a saved search on eBay for them. I saw one come up for sale at a US Marshall’s auction and thought about going – and then saw the same one pop up on a NJ dealer’s lot and thought about looking at it – but I could never justify it.

    A Range Rover would be #2.

  • avatar

    Hummm, guess I’m different than most then. The cars I have always wanted and not bought tend to be small and there are a few. My almost car though will always be a Fiat Tipo.

    The first time it got away was when I was buying my first car. I looked long and hard at the Tipo and was almost buying it, but then there was a rash of fires in the cars. Using that as an excuse, I ended up buying a more rational Fiat Uno. In the end, the solution to the fires was very cheap and easy, but that scared me away.

    Fast forward a couple of years, looking to sell the Uno, an uncle decided to sell his Tipo. The fire problem had gone away and the car had proven to be reliable, not to mention a very nice ride. Talked to uncle agreed on price. When I went to pick it up, he increased the price. I got very angry, went out and bought a brand-new Fiat Siena out of spite. The Siena was more expensive than what uncle was asking for the Tipo, but I was so angry.

    Now I regret never buying the Tipo. Got away from me twice.

  • avatar
    Stuck in DC traffic

    Land Rover Defender 90 – I like oil leaks, rust and frequent electrical issues. Having owned and 4 wheeled a Disco one, I miss the famed British reliability in my life. That said I could only handle 4 years of disco ownership but I still miss it.

    Audi S8 – I can buy it now, I just don’t want to fix it with my money.

    Ferrari 308 GTS with fuel injection and euro bumpers – Again I could actually buy this now, they are surprisingly cheap for what they are. I figure I can get some engine noises recorded and put a big stereo in my garage and pretend it runs while I just stare at it’s beauty (while wearing my Hawaiian shirt and Detroit Tigers cap of course).

    • 0 avatar
      joeaverage

      Watched a red 308 pass by at an intersection recently in my small town. Definitely about the least expected car around here short of a Lamborghini. I still like the 308. Never driven one but I like it’s old Ferrari looks the same as when I was 12 and Thomas Magnum was racing around on the family TV.

  • avatar
    ArBee

    I have long borne an unfulfilled love for the 1963-71 Mercedes SLs, preferably a 250SL in white. Manual or automatic, I don’t care.

    • 0 avatar
      fincar1

      I still have good memories of the clapped out 1964 230SL I owned for a year. It had 100k miles on it and needed everything but still provided a good Mercedes driving experience.

      …but then there’s also my old 300L hardtop, parked in the LeMay museum…the other day I was mm’ing over a Spanish red on black one I saw on Craigslist.

  • avatar
    joeveto3

    Porsche 928
    Porsche 944
    Porsche 911 air cooled
    Early-ish Lincoln Mark (III, IV)
    Town Car
    Audi Fox
    Audi 4000
    Early Cougar
    Ferrari anything
    M3
    G Body with t-tops
    3rd gen F body with 350 you and t-tops
    4th gen F body with LS1 and t-tops
    C6
    240z
    300z

    And a hundred more….

    • 0 avatar
      NoGoYo

      YES. A metallic blue IROC with T tops is something I’ve wanted since I was a kid. Fortunately the IROCs that are left, unless they’re already in the hands of total idiots, seem to get a bit more TLC. It’s usually RS models that I see with the sh*t kicked out of them in 2013.

  • avatar
    Panther Platform

    PrincipalDan, gearhead, and Wheeljack – I like your taste in cars. I’m a proud owner of a Grand Marquis LSE.

  • avatar
    Psychometrician

    I know how to fix things that break, but love having my current cars under warranty so that things DON’T break, and if they do someone else will fix it but still…

    My “first” car was a Mustang. Under the back seat was the build order, dated April 64. It had no backup lights and a generator. I didn’t really know until much later how early it was. I was driving it one night and completely lost the brakes. Since it had a manual I was able to stop it by downshifting it to first and stalling it out. The brake line had broken just above the muffler, and the fluid was already draining onto the muffler and burning by the time that I had gotten out to see what was wrong. By the time the fire engine got there it was totally engulfed.

    I had just rebuilt the engine with a short block 302 (in place of the original 289). That car was temperamental, constantly overheating and sometimes refusing to start, but if I ever came across a V8 Mustang with a generator and no backup lights, I would be sorely tempted. If only…

    • 0 avatar
      Russycle

      I had a 65 Mustang, and even without a leak I twice managed to overheat the drums to the point where they had no stopping power left. On steep hills of course. Good times.

      Mine didn’t have backup lights either.

      • 0 avatar
        joeaverage

        My first car was a ’66 and we lived on a TN mtn. Lost the brakes twice on that car. Was LUCKY to reach the intersection and have the “seas part” so i could run the red lights. Drums overheated easily too. The hydraulics problem was a single circuit hydraulic system common on cars before 1967. Any leak and the whole system went down. Stupid way to engineer a car. To this day good brakes are high on my priority list. Don’t care if it can go fast but it’s gotta stop every time.

        Miss that old Mustang. Darn thing was in a rush to return to the earth. Rust, rust, rust. Bought a ’64 1/2 convertible but never restored it. Came home in boxes and went away in boxes. I think the next owner still has it in his basement – still in boxes. If I had the space…

        I like the first gen Mustangs but I’d want to update the suspension with swaybars, better bushings and better brakes. oh, and a five speed manual b/c a three speed manual isn’t enough gears.

  • avatar
    -Nate

    I see we’re drifting into dream cars , my dream car is also an almost car :

    1937 Chevrolet Businessman’s Coupe with later , full pressure oiling 235 I6 engine , other wise stock .

    A few years ago I drove by Memory Lane junkyard looking for Metropolitan Nash parts and Lo ! there it was in the driveway : ’37 Chevu Buss. Coupe in original black paint , black & yellow Ca. license tags , a true turn key old man’s car , $7,000 .

    I ran away before I could get closer than 10′ to it because I knew once I touched it , it’d be mine .

    SWMBO told me as we drove away , why didn’t I want to buy it if it was so special , I oughta just go buy the damn thing .

    Like you said , I doubt my teenaged dream car would please me in the flesh as much as my current crop of odd but perfectly suited me me daily drivers all are .

    -Nate

  • avatar

    For me it is a first generation Audi TT. BEFORE they tacked on the spoiler because some Germans couldn’t control the car in the triple digits. That was about 6 months into production, I believe. Yeah I know they are unreliable and mine would be 15 years old, and the pricing reflects that, but it is just such a gorgeous car. I might even be willing to take a FWD model as long as it doesn’t haven’t that spoiler.

  • avatar
    replica

    97-01 Honda Prelude. It just never seems to fit in my life, but I’ve always wanted one.

  • avatar
    Land Ark

    Easy, a Fiji blue 1989 Chrysler Conquest.

    If I’m allowed 2, then I’d also get a first gen Infiniti M45.

    And I have to say I did take a bit of a swing at this very topic when I bought my ’06 GTO. I went in search of something rather impractical and not-easily-justifiable. I may have wound up with the least of that on my list. Though the fact that it’s currently parked in my driveway under a cover until Spring may say otherwise.

    • 0 avatar
      doublechili

      +1 on the Conquest (or any of its siblings). That was such a cool car, especially the over-the-top-in-a-good-way fender flares.

      I used to own a ’91 Audi 200 Turbo Quattro and then sold it. Big, sharp, rare, squared-off AWD sedan with a MT. I now regret that. Does wanting it back qualify as an almost car?

  • avatar
    sobamaflyer

    The short list?

    ’92-’94 500E
    ’59 MGA 1600
    ’95+ NSX

    Almost 4 years ago I bought a 911 needing some love, thousands of hours in the garage later I can say sometimes the fantasy ISN’T f’d up by accomplishing it. I’ve never owned a car this long and I have no inclination to move on to the next on the list…….Just need a bigger garage :)

  • avatar
    drylbrg

    A 928S4. My brain keeps me from doing it but my love for GT cars keeps the desire going.

  • avatar
    seth1065

    944 non red vert
    500e Merc wagon both stick

    • 0 avatar
      sobamaflyer

      I was foolish enough to pass on a stupid cheap non-red S2 vert a couple of years ago (as I was neck deep in an engine rebuild). Passed it on to my boss, he snapped it up and still taunts me about it.

  • avatar
    Toy Maker

    DODGE VIPER. The show did it for me.

    And also a Porsche of some sort.. I was given a 911 toy when I was about 8 and it was the first realistic, true to scale toy car I had.

    With working doors and hoods and steering rack, it oozed sophistication and even though I didn’t really like the shape of the car, I found myself thinking ” One day, I want to be good enough to appreciate and own one of these.”

  • avatar
    ajla

    Jaguars.

    Ram SRT-10

    Examples of the Maserati Quattroporte are beginning to get pretty cheap too…

  • avatar
    MRL325i

    I always wanted an E30 and I got a convertible one several years ago. Now I want to add an E39 M5 (silver/silverstone) to the garage.

  • avatar
    Dimwit

    I’m sick. I want either a Connie Mk III or IV. Humongously small, ridiculous build quality, marshmallow springs and all. You know you would feel like the king of the goddamn road looking over the acre of hood.

    Of course, 3 weeks into it I’d want to do a Leno and start upgrading things. Put a Coyote in it or even the 6.2. Electronic ignition. Upgrade the suspension so it “handles”. One can dream.

    If it wasn’t that, it would be a mid sixties GM intermediate convertible.

  • avatar
    mypoint02

    E36 M3 – two door, manual – as it should be. Unfortunately, it seems nearly all of the examples I find that meet my creteria have nearly 200k miles and/or look like they could appear in the installment of “Fast and Furious”. The search continues…

  • avatar
    Midway1095

    I got both of mine. A 1981 Chrysler Cordoba and a 1988 Chrysler New Yorker Landau Yep, I’m an odd 39-yr-old bird.

  • avatar
    Ryoku75

    I think that people are holding onto Volvo 240s more than anything, I see plenty of 90’s models, largely sedans, prices are certainly going up for them. For the longest time they were my “I always wanted a…” with parts prices scaring me, but then it became my “I finally got it”.

    Now, my current desire is to get a naturally aspirated Nissan 300zx and upgrade it with brakes and suspension from a turbo model, theres also a few others:

    1960’s Chevy Nova or Pontiac variant
    1960’s Dodge Lancer
    1960’s Ford Falcon
    1950’s-1960’s Volvo PV or 122
    1960’s Plymouth Barracuda

    Of course, if I regularly drove any vintage cars I’d upgrade the brakes first thing with maybe wider wheels and better carburetors, but I’d keep the radio and everything else period correct.

  • avatar
    Maymar

    A pre-BMW era Land Rover Discovery is one of those tantalizingly cheap, infinitely cool vehicles that I can in absolutely no way justify, especially with 15mpg (if I’m lucky) on $1.50/litre premium, and knowing that, as relatively stout as the mechanicals may be, there’s always the looming threat of some high dollar repair.

    Saab 900/9-3 (at least a 3/5-door model) – similar to above, but without the fuel economy woes. Although, with the gigantic hatch and all-day seats, it’d be the perfect car for me right now. Except the all-day thing sort of goes with a car I know will be running every day. They’re getting scarcer by the day though, even in a Saab-friendly city

    Mazda RX-8 – these are starting to dip below the $5k mark, which is sorely tempting for a car that drives absolutely brilliantly (from what I hear), but is just usable enough to get spousal approval. But again, 18mpg on premium and expecting it’ll spend a day or two a year out of commission makes it a non-starter for now.

    Yes, there’s a very long list of cars that tempt me with astonishing depreciation, but make absolutely no sense for someone who does 40k kms a year. I really need a different job.

    Incidentally, earlier this year, one of my clients had a later E34 525i (a ’94, I think?) – solid, ran fine, had ~180k kms on it, and they wanted $1000 for it. Even with the slushbox, I was extremely interested.

  • avatar
    WhiskerDaVinci

    I’ve always wanted a Mercedes-Benz W140 CL600. I have quite the attraction to well designed boxy cars, and at least to me, this is one of them. I know that they won’t be remotely reliable, Mercedes Benz and V12 together usually don’t equal reliability haha. Sadly they didn’t make or sell huge numbers of them, so finding them in good shape is becoming quite difficult.

    I also would love a 2012 Saab 9-5 Aero. My husband worked at a Saab dealership for two years up until they went bankrupt. They were never busy, so I’d occasionally pop over in my free time and the manager would let us take out whatever we wanted for a while. The cars had to be run anyway, so we might as well do it haha. The 9-5 Aero was always my favourite. It was quite powerful, fast and handled really well. It was also comfortable and very well built, I loved it. I was going to buy one when the dealership liquidated, but I wasn’t quick enough. They’re quite hard to find second hand, but I occasionally go hunting.

  • avatar
    jimbob457

    Great topic! I think most car enthusiasts have ‘almost’ cars. I have it so bad that I occasionally daydream about owning a car I once actually owned – a ’73 Eldo convertible. Bought it in the mid-’80’s. Owned it about two years. Ended up selling it to a Swede for just what I paid for it.

  • avatar
    Russycle

    Any Jaguar. Had one once, will eventually have another.
    Occasionally a gorgeous red Lotus Esprit appears in my neighborhood. If it ever has a For Sale in the window I could be in very big trouble.
    So much interesting Detroit iron from the early 60s, and I don’t mean muscle cars. But I have too many commitments already…

  • avatar
    theonewhogotaway

    Easily a V12 XJ-SC

  • avatar
    DGA

    E39 M5. Always wanted one, just can’t bring myself to spend the money on a 3rd vehicle. But who knows I always wanted a ’96-’98 K1500 so I sold my little Nissan Hardbody, that was a second vehicle for a long time and got the ’96 GMC. Could not be happier.

  • avatar
    NoGoYo

    Here’s a really old choice, but I would definitely buy one given the opportunity:

    The 1981-83 Imperial.

    One of the most unique looking cars on the planet and way better than the Seville and Continental “bustle-backs” it was similar to, and the old 318 can easily be ditched for modern Hemi power.

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Lexus LS430, still has the elegance and grace of the 400. Or Jag Xj, the last year it still looked like a Jag. And just for the heck of it, 68 Impala 4-door hardtop with fuel injected crate motor.

  • avatar
    zeus01

    My first car was a big American car. (1973 Chev Impala Custom coupe, L48 350, Rochester 4-barrel carb, concave rear window, handled like a pig on roller skates and drank fuel like it was tax-deductible). That cured me. Thirty-some-odd vehicles later I’ve never wanted a large car since, and I’ve driven several others (not my own of course) including Jaguar XJ-6 & 12, Lincolns, Caddys, etc.

    I have however wanted some exotic rides: Porsche 911, Shelby Cobra 427, Ferrari Dino, among others. But even if I could have afforded them (and at the time I couldn’t) I couldn’t have justified the expense given the wiser (albeit, comparably mundane) investments with which to park such funds.

    I did get addicted to Mazda rotaries though, and owned a total of six 1st-gen Rx7s. While lacking the snob appeal of the exotics they certainly fit my requirements, and proved reliable enough to be daily drivers. Hard to find one now though that hasn’t been worn down to the nub.

    Even now I can’t justify the expense of a stable of expensive exotics. But I WOULD like to have a stable of not-so-common (or reliable, expensive or mainstream) cars to take out for weekend gatherings. Most are under 10 and decidedly NOT high-performance. All MUST be equipped withn manual transmissions:

    1988 Bertone X1/9.
    1985 Mazda RX7 GSL-SE (pristine and un-modified).
    1981 Mazda RX7 GSL (stock in appearance only- until you open the hood to reveal a normally-aspirated 20B).
    1970 Datsun 240Z (absolutely stock, no mods).
    1984 VW Puma. (Brazilian sports car, styling borrowed er, stolen from the Porsche 911).
    1969 Opel GT.

  • avatar
    Stumpaster

    I guess I am lucky to have owned BMW 2002, crashed friend’s BMW 525i, and driving my 240 for the last five years. I got the bug out and am looking forward to getting a spanking new car.

  • avatar
    Mikein08

    My “almost” car was a ’69 (or was it a ’68?) Dodge Super Bee with a 4M and 383. I had the deal all made with the dealer. All I had to do was convince my father, who held the title to my existing car, to sign over the title to me. He wouldn’t do it. Sigh …

  • avatar
    Atum

    The “almost” car my family had was a Toyota Venza. The one Dad and I looked at at Team with the 1AR-FE was really nice, and we even went through USAA financing. But it was too much, so my mom bought a RAV4.

    By the way, where is your dealer? From that post Bertel wrote in July, I put your IP into a search, and you’re apparently painfully close to me. Is it that GTA Auto Sales on Macland, as it has some pretty interesting looking rides.

  • avatar
    05lgt

    S2000. I was in the process of buying one (more like shopping for the right one at the right price) when they announced that my place of employment was being shut down. It isn’t what it was then, but I can’t see one without thinking about the car not driven.

  • avatar
    hgrunt

    944.

    I think nearly every car guy has thought about it.

  • avatar
    RollaRider10

    Love to some day have a Citroen C6, but since they were sold in hundreds and not thousands here Down Under, I doubt I ever will.

  • avatar
    flatout05

    Good call on the 944.

    My “almost” fantasy vehicle is an oddly attainable one: an old (but not too old) work truck with patina, but no rust. Say an early-’90s GMC longbed. I would lower it a couple inches, mount NASCAR-style steelies with beefy tires, and drive the snot out of it.

    Will I ever actually do this? Not a chance.

  • avatar
    Athos Nobile

    In my case, it would be

    E34, 540i; M5 or DOHC 525i
    W124, 300E; 500E
    Early LS400 / Soarer, with sorted exhaust. They sound GLORIOUS.
    1st Gen Range Rover
    V12 W140
    Almost any 02+ Holden Caprice/Statesman, V8 of course.

    I have an extensive list of cheaper cars too, but won’t put it here.

    What I am doing is collecting them as wallpapers and cycling them in my computer. When the time comes to fulfill the promise, I’ll follow my wife’s advice: rent, don’t buy.

  • avatar
    rogerquad

    Ok, I will bite. Have not posted before, so do not know if it is appropriate? What are you asking for the 540? If it were a touring, I would be very jazzed but this is a teen clean e34.
    There is a very fun old tractor auction around here every spring where I almost bought a Porsche diesel tractor (shoulda jumped on that one). Anyhow, they added old cars/trucks quite a few years back which has been the perfect low cost entry into my indulgence in the “I ought to have one of those” derby. So far: ’65 Fleetwood brougham , mid ’70’s jeep pickup, ’66 Imperial crown vert (Omaha shriner I believe), ’87 bmw 524 td, ’84 Riviera… they were all drivers and enjoyed them all for a few years, sold on for modest profit. the bmw is the only one I still have(just bought in june). the only regret is the crown vert, it was sweet to cruise around town and out on I-29. Was a solid driver with tiny speck of body rust, but had sat in storage for a good while and really deserved a thorough reheb… That was not in the cards at the time(had 4vehicles under covers outside and 6 others in various garages around town) when I didn’t even have inside storage for all the herd, let alone 30ish k to sink into the Imperial…

  • avatar
    honda_magna85

    I’ll give my two:

    Ever since i was 10 or 11 years old I’ve wanted a chevy stepside pickup. Any year from about 1964 until 1987 (when they changed the body style) would do. Bone stock, straight 6 or maybe a 350, 4 on the floor. Sure, they aren’t all that expensive, but it wouldn’t be anything except a sunday driver.

    More expensive, but equally lusted after, is a De Tomaso Pantera. There is a local cruise in during the summer on Tuesday nights and local elderly couple brings theirs down. Purchased new, a 1974 i believe. Ever since i saw that one in the flesh Ive been dreaming about having one.

    Someday…

    Good thing i got into motorcycles, i can afford to have a bunch of them, and they will all fit in my garage.

    • 0 avatar
      jz78817

      “Ever since i was 10 or 11 years old I’ve wanted a chevy stepside pickup. Any year from about 1964 until 1987 (when they changed the body style) would do. Bone stock, straight 6 or maybe a 350, 4 on the floor. Sure, they aren’t all that expensive, but it wouldn’t be anything except a sunday driver.”

      and if you need to work on the engine you can just climb into the bay and stand on the frame.

      • 0 avatar
        NoGoYo

        Damn right, my mom’s boyfriend owned a ’79 C20 with a 250 inline six and he always jokes about how he could replace anything by climbing in next to the engine.

        • 0 avatar
          -Nate

          My Shop Trucks are always Chevy/GMC pickups with the I6 , currently a 1969 C/10 W/ 250 CID I6 & TH350 slushbox , PS , I added factory PB and am building up a 292 CID I6 & TH350C for it now .

          Where you alls when I bought a remarkably clean 1976 GMC 2500 in 2010 ? I needed that long bed behemoth for _one_ job and the original paint , no rust and 292 I6 / Muncie SM465 all for $700 sealed the deal on the spot .

          Very little worked so I rebuilt the running gear from bumper to bumper including ball joints , wheels & tires (stock steelies & hub caps of course) , spent a month or two scouring the junkyards cherry picking dashboards until I was able to assemble one with every gauge including a nice quartz clock….

          Rebuilt the bench seat with black super hard foam so one could ride in it for 20 hours and not be tired / sore , I even found an original DELCO AM/FM tape deck for it ~ in all I dumped $3,700 in Jobber or below Jobber co$t parts , dual fuel tanks , new glass ,on and on…

          NO ONE wanted to buy it after the _one_ job (drove it nearly to Canada and back) so I donated it to charity ripoff for a lousy $500 tax write off .

          I knew someone was lusting for it but not I ~ my drive way’s too short to fit a long bed .

          GREAT trucks , work like the devil on pennies , dead easy to fix , easy to drive , great heaters and good fresh air ventilation too .

          -Nate

          • 0 avatar
            NoGoYo

            Me, I want an 80s F250 4×4 with the 300. A tougher than nails go anywhere truck for sure.

          • 0 avatar
            bumpy ii

            2010 was a tough time to sell play vehicles of any sort. If you’d held onto it until the last year or so, you could have flipped it for a nice chunk of change. C’est la vie.

  • avatar
    Zykotec

    Any hardtop sedan (or wagon) with a big block, and a sofa up front. Don’t even care if it’s a Ford, GM or Mopar. The 70’s baroque tasteless kitchyness and complete lack of anythign that german car lovers want just makes them perfect to me. Until one day I suddenly find money to pay for the gas to run something like that I’ll keep ‘enjoying’ my CRV, which tbh only shares roomyness and easy of use with one of those dinosaurs. (it’s not very cheap on gas, but does a lot better than 8 mpg…)
    PS, I also dream of owning something lightweight and nimble, that likes to rev a lot, like my brothers Integra Type-R, but so far I’ll just have to keep ‘testdriving’ his car once a year.

  • avatar
    bryanska

    DeLorean.

  • avatar
    Lorenzo

    Actually, I’d just like my old ’68 Mercury Montego MX back. I’d even take it with a 2bbl 302 (mine had a mechanic-installed 4bbl 351 when I bought it). The burble may not be there, but the driving dynamics and interior space will be worth it. And yes, it would be my daily driver.

  • avatar
    V6

    I got mine a couple of years ago – 96 E36 323i Motorsport sedan, completely stock and tidy. Unfortunately as it was a JDM model with the Jatco transmission, the impending failure of the transmission made me nervous and i also spent many thousands on it in 18 months before i sold it, which i regret and would love to have it back.

    i’d still really like a Mazda Millenia or 00 facelift ES300 – i think they’re both some of the best looking Japanese sedans ever

  • avatar
    Mandalorian

    F-250 King Ranch. I have never had a truck bigger than a 1500. The idea of putting a cowboy hat on the dash and crusing the majestic west is a dream.

    At this point I really have no need for a truck that big, but who knows.

  • avatar
    geozinger

    When it comes to cars I almost bought here’s my story: In mid 1992 I was still fairly new to the Atlanta area, but after our move and acclimating to the area with my wife and daughter, I’d put together a few bucks and was ready to take advantage of the local market for a “nice” third car.

    I ran across a fairly un restored 1973 AMC Javelin AMX, 360 4bbl, autobox, rally wheels, light blue with white T-stripes, 1/4 vinyl roof and white interior. At the time, I think the car was less than $4K. I spoke with the owner, spoke with my wife, found a storage spot for the car (as I didn’t have the room on my property) and started the buying process.

    Later that same week, my wife showed me the result of a pregnancy test. I was a daddy again…

    No AMX for me. No worries, I’m glad with what I got instead, almost 21 years later.

  • avatar
    Yoss

    I’m still kicking around the idea of a last generation Riviera. They were new during my late high school, early college years. I always thought they were good looking cars. Of course I already have five vehicles in my stable, two of which need restored. The Riviera would have to be my daily driver. Extra maintenance….premium gas…. so many other vehicles that get better mileage… that awful ’90s GM paint. Last but not least, I’m really feeling the urge to simplify my life and I know this car would work against that.

    Still, there’s a beautifully maintained, relatively low mileage one just an hour south of me for a decent price.

  • avatar
    Andy D

    Late 30s GMs,business coupes and sedanettes. A 47 Dodge business coupe. A ’47 GMC pickup. A series 3 XJ6 in dark green metallic and tan leather. A hot, rust free BMW E 28 tuner. A 6 cyl, 3spd, Jeep J10 PU.

    My latest Ute is a 94′ Ranger long cab. 245 cl of push rod Ford Cologne V6 part time 4wd . Dubbed, the Rat. It is a total heap. There isnt a good panel on the whole truck. It runs reasonably well for a 20 yr old Ford. I.m a function over form guy so its ratty appearance doesnt bother me. Over time the wet dog aroma has faded and the 70$ Dual stereo comes out of 3 speakers. In terms of time and money , I should have taken about a 3oo$ loss and driven it straight to the crusher. Instead, I spent too much time and money on the clutch, brakes, frame, Pickups are code for muscle cars. A single seat pickup is a 21st century 3 window coupe. I have the larger more common 5 window coupe. The Rat’s OK running engine has 2 1/2 times the HP of the 60 hoss flathead V8 of the 30s. Mechanically, it is fine,mostly. It is my first standard shift in 30 yrs. So I would love a Ranger long cab, 4wd/5spd twinstick in much better shape than the Rat.

  • avatar
    PandaBear

    I wanted a 1st gen Honda Insight with Manual transmission, those are real cool, also the last gen Supra (although doesn’t have to be TT), and an RV to park at work for a lunch time nap.


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