If you’re familiar with ACC, then you know that we’re all about value. Every Market Report and car profile that appears in these pages tells you the price paid for each car at auction.

Was this car, at this price, on this day, a good deal? Will it be a good deal tomorrow, or next month, or next year?

Our reports take an educated stance on these value statements, and we use decades of data and market analysis as our tools to tell it like it is.

We all want to get a great deal on something, but it’s just not always the case. Yes, I’ve bought some great stuff for under the money because I was in the right place at the right time. I’m sure we all have. But in reality, getting the better end of a transaction is always a 50/50 gamble. Sometimes you win, sometimes you lose. But hey, you can’t win them all, right?

Oddly enough, some of my worst purchases have actually turned out to be the best overall buys I’ve ever made.

Tools of the trade

Back in the fall of 2005, I walked into a local branch of my credit union and plopped down in a loan officer’s office. My goal? Refinance my 2001 Chevrolet S-10, which I didn’t completely own yet, so I could pull out $4,000 in equity to buy something my longtime girlfriend Kristina was dead-set against: a brand-new Snap-On roll-cab toolbox.

Now, I was spending money I didn’t have on something I really didn’t need, but to me it wasn’t a bad idea. I was working as a mechanic, and the box I was using just wasn’t big enough for all the pry bars, screwdrivers, wrenches, sockets and air tools I’d acquired. Or at least, that’s what my friends at the auto shop and my Snap-On dealer wanted me to believe.

I was fresh out of college, broke — and serious about wrenching. It didn’t take much of a shove from my friends to send me down the stairs of debt for a shiny new red toolbox with a stainless top, even if Kristina had made it clear that she thought it was the dumbest thing I could possibly do.

The bank was more than happy to extend my loan terms and my payment amount to front me that money. I walked out of the branch with cash in hand, just waiting for the following Tuesday, when Eric, my Snap-On preacher, rolled into our parking lot for his weekly tool sermon.

I plopped down that $4,000 and traded in my Home Depot-sourced setup for a Candy Apple Red KRL722 roll cab that Eric had been dangling in front of me for months. I buzzed in anticipation for the rest of the day, waiting for him to return and unload it.

Later that night, after the shop closed, Eric, the older mechanics and I all stayed late as I organized my stuff in the new box. Kristina even came by to see it, despite her obvious objection and not-so-subtle concerns. To her, a potential wedding ring had just morphed into a couple of hundred pounds of stoplight-red steel.

Why did I buy that?

Later that summer, I was promoted to service writer, so I started spending all my time in the office. My roll cab became a well-waxed ornament in the corner of the shop, perched and locked under its black Snap-On cover. A few months later, I moved to Sports Car Market magazine, and the box came home to my garage, where it became a weekend shrine to my days as a mechanic, full of tools that had once belonged to my grandfather, then my dad, and now to me.

Around that time, I realized that Kristina had been, as usual, right all along. I considered selling the box and paying off the truck, but I couldn’t make myself do it. The box was just too useful despite its excess. It held all my tools, in one place, ready and waiting for me. So I kept it, used it when I could, and sold the truck to pay it off.

Fourteen years on, it’s still the place where I’m most organized, from my basic hand tools to receipts for the engines I’ve built. It’s where I go for spare parts, custom tools I’ve made, and for presents I’ve wanted to keep hidden from family members at Christmas. It’s where I kept Kristina’s wedding ring long before I asked her to be my wife. It was the last place she’d ever look.

It has now moved with me three times, most recently just this past summer, and it’s now perched dead center in my garage between my ’66 Caprice and a ’79 C-10 short-wide that I’m building. Kristina still grumbles at the box to this day, but it has always been the center of my car life — now it just looks the part.

As for value, well, considering the circumstances back in ’05, it was a pretty stupid buy. Call this one well sold. But I think it also fits the definition of very well bought, too.

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