Buying Cars By Accident

The 1972 Citroën Méhari

I have tried to keep the number of cars in my collection to a reasonable number. I. Really. Have. Tried.

But friends and circumstances are conspiring against me.

Was it really my fault that the 1972 Citroën Méhari I’ve always wanted was crossing the block at the same instant I arrived at the Silver auction in Fort McDowell? It was the fickle finger of fate, to be sure.

And the 1961 Alfa Romeo Sprint Speciale? I was simply in Fort Lauderdale to film episodes of “What’s My Car Worth?” I hadn’t looked at the Auctions America auction catalog, hadn’t registered to bid, hadn’t set up a pre-approved loan with J.J. Best — I’d done all the right things to avoid buying a car. But when someone came running over and said, “There’s a really cool blue Alfa sitting over here, and I know you like Alfas,” it was kind of out of my control.

We’ve Had Our Road Trip

Actually, I do have some sense of collection-size propriety. For example, I just sold the recently purchased 1964 Volvo 1800S to an SCM contributor on the East Coast. I doubt I’ll ever find a better black/red bull-horn 1800S, but I was out of space in the garage. More to the point, I was out of money, and the SS had to get paid for somehow.

Before I sold the Volvo, I asked Alex if she thought it was okay. She replied, “Dad, we had a great road trip in the car, and when will we do that again? Go ahead and let it go. And we can start planning on where we want to take the SS when it’s finished.”

Her logic is correct — the first road trip you take in a car is usually the best. The car is new to you, and if you’re really lucky, you have flown to a distant place and you’re driving it home on great roads. The first few hundred miles you put on an old car that is new to you will always be special. The experience will linger like memories of a first date or a first kiss.

Room for Another?

But the siren song of the Alfa goddess is singing to me again. I’m checking in today for the Modena Cento Ore, which starts in Rome. My co-driver, Lilly Pray, and I leave tomorrow morning. A good friend and SCM contributor who lives near Modena will meet us on Saturday night when the event is over.

“I’ve got a really great 1300 Junior Z that I think you should look at,” he says. “You don’t have any Zagato-bodied cars in your garage, and that’s a serious issue for an Alfa guy.”

I’m looking at the baited hook he is dangling before me. I haven’t snapped at it yet; I’m fully aware that even though “looking” is supposed to be like catch-and-release fishing, I tend to hook myself when I get involved with stuff like this.

I’ve already told myself I have two wonderful coupes: the step-nose 1967 GTV and the 1958 Giulietta Sprint Veloce.

Also, there’s no back seat in a Junior Z, so no place to take kids if I’m with another adult on a trip. “Remember the 1967 Giulia Super four-door,” whispers the Alfa goddess.

I even tried to dismiss the Z by telling myself, “They kind of look like stylish Honda CRXs.”

Luckily, as the Sprint Speciale is being the money-vacuuming machine I thought it would be, my options for buying the Junior Z are limited — as in, nonexistant. However, when I mentioned this to my friend, he replied, “Don’t worry, I like to trade.”

I quickly offered the Méhari and some cash, but for some reason he didn’t seem that interested. It looks like, despite myself, I may have slipped the hook.

I thought I was going to Italy to drive in a rally and enjoy the scenery, food and camaraderie of fellow enthusiasts. I should have known it was all just an excuse to look at another Alfa.

 

Keith Martin

Keith Martin has been involved with the collector car hobby for more than 30 years. As a writer, publisher, television commentator and enthusiast, he is constantly on the go, meeting collectors and getting involved in their activities throughout the world. He is the founder and publisher of the monthly Sports Car Market and bi-monthly American Car Collector magazines, has written for the New York Times, Automobile, AutoWeek, Road & Track and other publications, is an emcee for numerous concours, and has his own show, “What’s My Car Worth,” shown on Velocity.

Posted in Keith Martin

0 comments

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *