Home » What Is The Dream Car That Got Away From You? Autopian Asks

What Is The Dream Car That Got Away From You? Autopian Asks

Aa Dream Car Ts
ADVERTISEMENT

Life is full of fun and weird coincidences that can change the course of your existence, or at least a hobby. One of those coincidences is the concept of the one that got away. It seems everyone has a story about the one that got away, regardless if it’s about a person, a job, an event, or a thing. The Autopian isn’t your therapist, so we won’t be talking about that person who got away. But what about a car? What is the dream car that got away? Is there a car you still search for to this day?

There is just one vehicle I consider to be the one that got away. I was so close to buying it in early 2018, but missed it by almost a week. It disappeared after and my search continues every day. Every day I hope to find that car and even ask people in my communities if they’ve seen it. Somehow, my dream car disappeared.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

What is this car? Well, you know me, so of course it’s a Smart. But it’s no normal Smart. This one is legitimately one of the fastest Fortwos in the world:

That lovely car in the above video was built by a man the Smart community knows as Barney. Our friend Barney used to make the most thrilling tuned Smarts ever put on the road. Barney built a series of turbocharged Fortwos that more or less doubled power and were fast enough to leave European Brabus models in the rearview mirror. His turbo builds turned Smarts into the cars they could have been from the factory.

ADVERTISEMENT

Yet, none of those builds could hold a candle to Barney’s magnum opus. During the 2010s, he lifted the Toyota 5E engine out of a Toyota Paseo, attached a Sprintex supercharger to it, and fitted it into the rear of a Smart Fortwo.

Img 4674

Of course, there was a whole lot more to it than that, but you get the idea. The best part about the engine swap was that the Smart was still a road-legal car. Barney kept the vehicle structure intact and mostly everything still worked from the lights to the central locking system. Sadly, it didn’t have anything in the way of HVAC anymore, but it was a car that you could drive down the road.

Img 4673

In fact, he road-tripped the car to a Smart rally out of state, where I got to see the masterpiece in person. Not noted in the above video is what happened after the car landed from its wheelie. The supercharger’s belt came off, so the Smart lost all its boost. Still, it did a decent time all things considered.

ADVERTISEMENT

Barney eventually sold the car and it came up for sale near me in Illinois. The price was just $4,500, which I had in hand less than a week before it was posted. Unfortunately, I committed to buying another Smart less than a week before Barney’s was posted for sale. I wanted to cancel that sale so much, but didn’t want to burn the guy I was buying my car from. So, I watched as someone else bought Barney’s magical car. Had I waited just a few more days, I could have owned the dream.

Sidxsid
My Smart is on the left in this one!

The car I bought turned out to be a pile of junk, too, which seemingly added insult to injury. It remains the only Smart I have ever sold.

As I noted earlier, I’m still searching for that car. So, if you happen to know of a Smart out there with a supercharged Toyota engine, send me an email at mercedes@theautopian.com. Otherwise, tell me about the dream car that got away from you!

Story images: Author
Top graphic: screen grab via victoryredcolorado/YouTube

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on whatsapp
WhatsApp
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit
Subscribe
Notify of
90 Comments
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
TheNewt
TheNewt
1 month ago

1973 Volvo 1800ES, orange with black interior. My dad bought it after my parents divorced in the early 80s. He held on to the car and told me he was saving it till I turned 16 (this was the mid-80s). I moved in with him and we eventually moved in with his second wife. He never mentioned it, but I’m sure she told him the Volvo had to go. So he sold it. I ended up with a motorcycle instead, which was pretty cool, until it started to complicate the dating situation. Many years later and after my dad passed, I was looking on the web and came across a remarkably similar 1800ES in the same area. I reached out to the owner and he said he had bought it from a “really old guy” and driven it for a while but it was time to sell. It needed some work but it came with an extra transmission. I did everything I could to verify it was my dad’s but due to the 25 or so years that had passed, was not able to. I was ready to make the 1000 mile drive to go pick it up, just didn’t want to without even a vague confirmation. Still wonder if I made the right choice.

Dennis Ames
Dennis Ames
1 month ago

1947 Plymouth Businessman’s coupe. It was in a drive way I used to ride the school bus by everyday. I went and looked at, and the body was great shape, but the wiring was all pulled out, and a Chevy engine had been mounted in it “weirdly”. The wiring scared me away.

Rollin Hand
Rollin Hand
1 month ago

I was poor student, and an E28 M5 came up for sale. High kilometrage, engine beside it in a box, but it was $3,000. I had NO money. I tried to get my dad to lend me the money, resulting in no money.

My heart still goes pitter-patter every time I see one.

Jacob Rippey
Jacob Rippey
1 month ago

Toyota Trekker (talk about a real holy grail for Toyota people!). It was a project. Needed a little rust repair, a little fiberglass work, some interior sprucing up, paint, and an engine, but it was a Trekker for 1200 bucks! Dude was going to part it out, and I offered to buy it at the 1200 dollar asking price, and the dude’s friend swoops in a scoops it up. Lame!

CUlater
CUlater
1 month ago

1966 Mustang V8 turquoise coupe with a white roof with two tone turquoise and white pony interior and factory A/C. It was in great condition but 14 years old at that point. I wanted something ‘newer’ and ‘more unique’. Newer and more unique like a 1976 Cosworth Twin Cam Vega instead. Sigh. I still get angry at myself when I see similar equipped ’66es.

Last edited 1 month ago by CUlater
George Millwood
George Millwood
1 month ago

BMW 1602 in 1975, I rejected it because I wanted a 2002 but it was a peach.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

There was a gorgeous 09 Mazdaspeed3, sadly listed for $16k. Sad because that’s about $15,915 more than I had to my name at the time. This was 2010, 2011ish I think. Sigh.

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

I left a note on the windshield of a beautiful blue 1970 Buick GS Stage 1 offering to buy the car if the owner was ever interested in selling. This was in the late 70’s so the car wasn’t an icon yet. The owner got back to me about two years later. I’d started university and while I had the money; about 2 thousand IIRC I felt I did not have the time to spend on the car and regretfully declined the opportunity. I have been kicking myself since. The car was cherry with about 35k mikes, and totally stock.

VeloVirtue
VeloVirtue
1 month ago

VW Squareback back in the late 90s. Somehow my dad talked me out of it. Granted it didn’t run and who knows what was wrong. I still want one.
The other was back in 98, a 84 Volvo 245 that was so clean but teenage me couldn’t get that money together fast enough.
I like long roofs….

Otter
Otter
1 month ago

22 and just out of college, working at a bookstore, finally landed a real job and needed a car. The oddball lot in my hometown had a red Porsche 356B listed at $8k, but I took the safe option, an ’87 Integra for the same money. It was a fun and reliable companion, but who knows how differently my life would have gone if I had taken the risk.

Daniel MacDonald
Daniel MacDonald
1 month ago

Probably two for me, when I was in college circa 2004ish saw someone selling an unfinished ’68 Camaro project for $1800. Was in the middle of an engine swap and minor resto and the owner was trying to get out of it which made me suspicious, worse yet they were swapping in a pickup truck 305. Of course I really didn’t have the money anyways…fast forward to 2012 I’d just moved to Seattle and needed a “new” car, a guy was selling his ’76 BMW 2002 in seemingly good running and driving condition and with decent paint and interior for like $3600. I hesitated as it almost seemed to good to be true for a cleaning running driving 2002 with updated interior and only one minor spot of body damage but by the time I decided to move forward with it someone else had grabbed it. Always kinda regretted that one, with minor work that car’s easily worth $15K+ now and was a riot to drive.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago

The one that got away? The car I wanted the entire first fifteen years of my life: my great-uncle’s 1966 Impala coupe. Bought new. Black over red vinyl, 283, three on the tree. My cousins, his granddaughters, used to argue with me over who would get the car when we turned 16. Well, being girls whose dad was a wealthy farmer, they had no interest in such an old jalopy by the time they became teenagers, so I was the last man standing. About 3 months after my 15th birthday, we were visiting, and I was steeling myself to have a man to man talk with my uncle about the future of the Impala.

When we pulled up, it wasn’t there, and neither was my uncle’s daily driver. I asked my aunt if the car was in the shop.

“No, he got rid of it.”

“WHAT?!?”

“He didn’t think any of you kids wanted that thing anymore.”

“WELL, NOBODY ASKED ME!”

The worst part? Despite being a notorious skinflint – my mom said “he could squeeze a nickel ’til the buffalo shits” – he didn’t even take money for it. He was a barterer from a long way back, and he traded it for something stupid like a lawn mower and four tires. This was in 1987, and the cash value of those items couldn’t have been $150. I was prepared to offer him my life savings of $400 for the car.

So now, every time I see a 1965-68 Impala, especially a black one, I turn and face in the general direction of southwest Georgia, shake my fist, and mutter towards his grave, “God DAMN you, Uncle John A…”

James Carson
James Carson
1 month ago

I had a 68 SS 396, auto. It was white with a blue interior. It was a pretty decent ride.

Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

That sucks and made for a great story and sucks.

Joe The Drummer
Joe The Drummer
1 month ago
Reply to  Mechjaz

It was exactly this, except with red interior:

http://gtcarlot.com/colors/car/23925607-5.html

Last edited 1 month ago by Joe The Drummer
Mechjaz
Mechjaz
1 month ago

That’s, man, that’s frustrating. That might be my favorite car of that era, and red inside? Whoo. Uncle John what the hell were you thinking?

It’s those kinds of trades that make it possible to go from a paperclip to a house. Someone has to turn over an Impala for a lawn mower somewhere in the sequence.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

A VW dune buggy that belonged to good friends of my spouse. They used it in a residental development in the forest to go get the mail and groceries. Since I was a Type 3 person, I noticed the engine was a type 3, and the buggy was purple, my favorite color. I didn’t mention to the owners that would love to buy it off of them. Some years later they moved and obviously I didn’t get it. They would have sold it to me cheap.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

A ’61 VW sunroof bus. It was abandoned about a mile from my house but hidden well at the end of a dead-end road. I researched the property trying to find the owner of the property. Turned out to belong to someone who was famous, and for that reason unreachable. A few years later I talked to the new owner of the property to find out that since the bus had no transmission, the owner though it had no value, so sent it to the wrecking yard. All I needed to do was to leave a note in the bus, and it would have been mine.

Knowonelse
Knowonelse
1 month ago

A ’64 VW Type 3 Ghia. I spotted it under a tarp probably about 15 years ago. I talked to the owner and got nice backstory, but they wouldn’t sell. I stopped by a few times over the next dozen years. The tarp faded and ripped over the years. I handed out resources for restoring it along with my contact info. The original owner died, and I talked to the kid, who didn’t show much interest in the car nor in selling. I kept trying though and handed out the info again. The last time I was there, the house had been sold and no evidence or knowledge of the car. Bummer. It was about 3 hours from where I live, so I couldn’t get there often, only when I was in the area visiting a sibling.

Abdominal Snoman
Abdominal Snoman
1 month ago

I wanted to buy this sooo bad and then swap it onto a raptor chassis, but I found out about this auction too close to the end to do my research, figure out logistics, etc.
https://bids.auctionbypearce.com/auctions/29594/lot/3655526-1940-41-lincoln-continental-coupe

(Why not do a swap on a smart yourself? It’s generally not that hard to do a drivetrain swap except on your first failure, and your second barely successful attempt… 🙂 By then you’ve usually learned what mistakes to avoid.)

Andrea Petersen
Andrea Petersen
1 month ago

I was around about 24 or so when a Ferrari Mondial strangely popped up at a vaguely sketchy used car lot near me in Denver. I kept eyeballing it every time I drove past and it was the first time I ever saw a Ferrari that made me go “yes, that is the one I want in my garage.” I looked it up and the dealer was asking something like $35k iirc. Mind you, this was over a decade ago. Trouble was, I didn’t have a garage. I was shopping for a house at the time so a garage would happen soon, but that also meant I didn’t have money to blow on a “cheap” Ferrari. I haven’t seen a Mondial in the metal since then, and it remains the one that got away from me. That being said, in the intervening years, I’ve discovered that the highest I really want to climb on the Italian ownership tree is Lancia, so really, I just want to get my hands on one for a day, enjoy the experience, then give the owner a hug for giving me the experience of a dream car.

John Metcalf
John Metcalf
1 month ago

In college I was looking for a car as I was transitioning from local internships to those out of the state. I had big hopes of finding something interesting and went to look at various small British roadsters (probably good I didn’t end up with any of those.)

Toward the end of my search, I went with my friend to test drive a mid-60s I-H Scout. It was a little rough, but ran. My friend, who I trusted on things auto, talked me out of purchasing it. Months later I found my 1980 Civic wagon which became my first purchased vehicle.

I don’t regret the Civic purchase—if last me 50k miles and never left me stranded (I learned how to change fouled plugs on the side of the road.) As I look at Scout prices today, however, I wonder if I would still have that one I test drove all those years ago had I bought it.

Probably not. I moved to Japan after college and it’s likely the Scout would have been sold, just as my Civic had been. Sigh*

Manwich Sandwich
Manwich Sandwich
1 month ago

When I think about this question, I think about “What is a dream car?”. And also, what were my dream cars of the past, but aren’t anymore. And what were my dream cars and still are. And what are my new recent dream cars.

But that’s a big separate discussion.

There are two types of dream cars I’ve missed out on… general dream cars that used to be cheap in the past, but are now expensive. Stuff like the Ferrari 308 GTB/GTS. 1st gen V8 Mustangs or first gen Porsche 911s. Oh and the 1st gen Tesla Roadster as well… which got somewhat cheap to buy used in the mid-2020s, but has also recently gotten expensive.

And the 2nd type… my current dream car… The Tesla Model S. A Model S in ‘100D’ or the even newer ‘Long Range’ trim, either red or blue, with either a black or cream interior, with the premium sound, without the sunroof (it’s just another source of problems and on cars that had sunroofs, I’ve never actually used them), with the coil spring suspension (air struts and the system that drives them are another potentially expensive failure point) and 19″ wheels… for under CAD$40,000.

You see, my 2008 Honda Fit is getting long in tooth in the form of increasing rust and other minor issues.

And thus, I’m looking to upgrade to a BEV in the coming months. I have a spreadsheet full of potential candidate vehicles… mostly Teslas and mostly Model S vehicles.

And every so often I’ll see a Model S 100D in a spec close to what I want go on sale for a great price and it’ll be gone shortly after.

So I’ve had a few dream cars get away from me recently.

But I expected that to happen. And I’m okay with that.

And that’s because I don’t want to go electric until after I get my electrical service upgraded and the 50amp plug is installed in my garage making full overnight charging feasible.

And that’s scheduled for mid-May.

Also there is another part of me that just wants to keep driving the Honda Fit until the wheels fall off (figuratively) because that’s what I’ve always done with my cars and a part of me gets a kick out of being frugal.

So I’m not really kicking myself for not on jumping on the deals that I missed since used BEV prices have been dropping nicely lately and thus, I know there will be even better deals that will come along in the near future.

On a related subject… there is one dream car that is still affordable now, but likely won’t be in the future… the Honda S2000. You can pick decent examples of these up for the around $25K still today as there are a lot of them still around.

But I predict that in 10-20 years, the value of the S2000 will go through the roof.

I would love to buy one, but even if I set aside the funds, I have nowhere to store it. No doubt I’ll probably regret not buying one at some point in the future.

SkepticalDad
SkepticalDad
1 month ago

Many years ago I was a college kid with a 1970 VW camper so ratty I couldn’t even get a girl to step inside it, much less spend the night. Parked for sale near campus was a straight and running 1965 split-window single cab VW Transporter pickup, priced at $800 (that I didn’t have). I’ve thought a lot about that truck as I see the crustiest possible surviving models going for $20K+ these days…

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 month ago

Older restoration, but still BEAUTIFUL silver early 1960s Maserati 3500 GTI with 4 speed. Had the original lucas fuel injection, and it actually worked! Car didn’t seem to need anything and was for sale at a classic car place.

This was in ~2001, when people forgot about Maserati entirely and all of their classics could be had for reasonable prices.

This one was for sale for high $20ks/low $30ks….OG Ghiblis were about the same price at the time, in good condition (except verts which were much more rare and pricey)

Now? 3500 GTI’s sell for $150k-$200k……..so do OG Ghiblis….crap

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago

Yes, the OG Ghibli is another car that has shot up well beyond my range. And I still think it’s one of the most beautiful cars of the century.

Bizness Comma Nunya
Bizness Comma Nunya
1 month ago
Reply to  EXL500

Totally agree, they are gorgeous

Cerberus
Cerberus
1 month ago

A lot of great cars I missed. On the low end, there was a mint ’67 Volvo 144 and an aeroback ’78 Caprice with a 327 I was beaten to. In the mid range, there was a ’69 Charger 440 the guy upstairs from me was selling for $6k that someone owed him for the metal work he did on it. Had to wait for the bank to open the next morning, but the guy paid him off that night. On the higher end, there was a fully restored Euro bumper Maserati Khamsin and Alfa Romeo Montreal both passed due to house demands (buying for the former, upgrading it for the latter).

Bryan McIntosh
Bryan McIntosh
1 month ago

Back when I was about 18 or so, my dad heard about a 1992 911 Turbo that had a pair of dead turbos but was otherwise perfect. It sold for about $8,000, but unfortunately I hadn’t told him that was one of my bucket list cars so he didn’t even think to make an offer on it and only told me about it a couple of months later. I wasn’t angry or upset with him at all, but mildly disappointed that I missed the chance of having one of my dream cars in our family.

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago

When my aunt quit driving she wanted to give me her 1971 Riviera.

At the time I was still in my salad days, I lived in NYC, and there was rot showing in the rockers. I did the sensible thing and declined.

I hate being sensible sometimes.

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago

Not that I was in the market for one and it got away, but the second generation CRX Si was a car I figured I’d get one day. Now the few good ones left are $30-50K. So not an option.

Hamish48
Hamish48
1 month ago
Reply to  EXL500

I had one. It was a terrific little car. I wish I had never sold it, but you always do that looking back, don’t you?

EXL500
EXL500
1 month ago
Reply to  Hamish48

Yes, which is why I intend to keep my 2015 Fit forever. Since I’m almost 70, forever isn’t, well, all that long.

Autopizen
Autopizen
1 month ago
Reply to  EXL500

Similar. 2013 Fit Sport. Just wish it would quit puking up spark plugs.

90
0
Would love your thoughts, please comment.x
()
x