Regrets: I Have a Few

By J.G. Pasterjak
Mar 9, 2018 | Chevrolet, Ferrari | Posted in Columns | From the April 2014 issue | Never miss an article

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I have a few regrets when it comes to my automotive loves–but, then again, too few to mention. I will anyway, though.

These regrets come in two flavors. Flavor one is the sweet deliciousness that lasts on my tongue of loves fondly remembered. My 1999 Corvette fixed-roof coupe fits squarely into this category.

Like most folks with a Y chromosome who like to pee standing up, I was genetically predisposed to want a Corvette at some point in my life. It was inescapable. I think the moment I knew was when I was reading a test of the then-new 1986 Corvette in Road & Track back in high school. It was a comparison between the ‘86 and a big-block Stingray of ‘69 or ’70 lineage–the exact year escapes me.

The C4 had been granted GM’s Tuned Port Injection the year before, and for 1986 it gained a few horsepower and even sharper handling according to the R&T scribes. Still, the numbers it produced–power, torque, gearing–were not nearly as impressive as its decade-and-a-half-older counterpart.

But when the magazine’s editors ran the cars through the battery of performance tests, the new car outpeformed the old car in nearly every measurable way. In my mind, the message was clear that GM was building a car that was more than the sum of its parts. My desire was fueled by that knowledge.

When I finally got the chance to buy my own, I had specific features in mind. I wanted a low-option performance model, and the 1999 fixed-roof coupe I ended up with fit the bill perfectly. There was nothing present that didn’t have something to do with going fast or handling well. I spent a couple years beating up on it at NCCC autocrosses and found that it was still a car that added up to more than the ingredients would suggest.

When I parted ways with it, it went to another active NCCC member. I missed it, but realized it was time to move on. As much as I loved it–and continue to love Corvettes–I’m just not a Corvette guy. I’m not sure what that even means, but I know it’s not me.

So where’s the regret?

Turns out I bailed too early. When I sold my Vette, the non-Z06 C5s still competed against their Z06 counterparts in the SCCA’s Super Stock Solo category. While my FRC had its own place to run in the NCCC, it was outclassed and outpowered in SCCA action.

Until the year after I sold it.

That’s when the SCCA Stock Class board moved the non-Z06 C5s to A Stock, where they became a highly competitive, if not dominant, force. While I’m okay moving on from the Vette, I’ll always regret that I missed a shot at adding to my Solo Nationals trophy collection. It’s a small collection, but I’m proud of each piece of hardware in it.

I feel like the Vette and I dated, parted amicably, then found out her new boyfriend totally got her to do some freaky stuff that I never even thought to ask about.

Takeaway message: Never put off the freaky stuff.

My next regret proves–or at least reinforces–the old adage that it’s dangerous to meet your heroes. The flavor is a bit more bitter.

I had always been a huge fan of Ferrari’s 308 GT4. You know, the weird, mid-engined, four-seat wedge that was just sexy enough to be Italian, but nerdy enough to be cool. I loved the fact that it eschewed typical Ferrari curves and swoops for origami edges and square corners and slanty lines. And it still made that ferocious OHC V8 snarl when the throttle opened past the fun zone.

One day I got the chance to drive one, and it was like finding out that one of the “Sesame Street” muppets was a PCP addict.

It was just … bad. I’d heard about weird Italian driving positions and odd ergonomics, but when I finally got behind the wheel, the seat/pedals/steering relationship seemed almost comically unusable. The pedals hinged through an arc that made it seem like their attachment point wasn’t even inside the car. The steering was heavy and slow, and the wheel tilted up and away like in some sort of van that only delivers disappointment.

My apologies to any 308 GT4 owners out there. Actually, I think it’s Ferrari who should be apologizing, but they probably won’t, so I will.

Only recently has my memory of my 308 GT4 encounter faded to the point where I have the hots to drive one again. Every time a picture of one comes across my desk, I find myself pausing for a few extra moments to ogle the creased lines and futuristic wedginess.

But I’m not going to heed that siren’s song again. I’m beginning to enjoy the fact that I’ve forgotten how bad the reality was. I’m even starting to enjoy the lustful fantasies again. If someone offers me a drive in their 308 GT4, I’ll just politely decline, not wanting my daydreams to be sullied yet again.

Okay, not really. I’ll drive the ass outta that thing. Maybe I was just stupid or high on paint fumes that first time I tried one. I just know that if I don’t try again, I’ll live to regret it, and I’ve got enough of those already.

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View comments on the GRM forums
foxtrapper UltimaDork
3/2/15 4:33 p.m.

I could probably go on for pages about specic cars and specific opportunities missed, but really would miss the mark. The really big bullseye.

And that would be that for far too long i was smart,thoughtful, conservative, and intelligent. I didnt go buck wild and enjoy for myself various delightful and wonderful cars, motorcycles, planes, boats, etc. Oh, I'd look at them at the shows, drooling over fenders. But i didnt buy them. There were a few wild ones, like my 750H2. But far too many were CX500's, Cavaliers, and other cautious, safe, and soul suckingly dull machines.

NOHOME UltraDork
3/2/15 4:38 p.m.

mazdeuce PowerDork
3/2/15 5:01 p.m.

My dad and I saw a DeTomaso Pantera once when I was about 14. He just looked at it longingly and said "I almost bought one of these. I married your mother instead".
It took me a long time to understand why both things couldn't happen, but I never lost that part of me that said I wouldn't pass on something as awesome as a Pantera.

NOHOME UltraDork
3/2/15 5:04 p.m.
mazdeuce wrote: My dad and I saw a DeTomaso Pantera once when I was about 14. He just looked at it longingly and said "I almost bought one of these. I married your mother instead". It took me a long time to understand why both things couldn't happen, but I never lost that part of me that said I wouldn't pass on something as awesome as a Pantera.

I did pass on the Pantera and bought the Miata. Like I said, no regrets there! Dodged a bullet. Nice looking bullet, but still...

skierd SuperDork
3/2/15 5:05 p.m.

I need to buy a Ducati already...

Also, this relates to a favorite art book of mine:

Photographs Not Taken

All about missed shots or deliberately not taken.

Junkyard_Dog SuperDork
3/2/15 6:49 p.m.


Ya know what I'm sayin'?

JacktheRiffer Reader
3/2/15 7:53 p.m.

All the cars and projects that I have missed are probably in farbetter handa. So i get to enjoy seeing them but not have to worry about taking car of them. Only one I wish i could have snagged would be the mercury comet with the cyclone package. That car was beautiful.

Storz Dork
3/3/15 5:41 a.m.

Selling this is my biggest

bobpink New Reader
3/3/15 8:37 a.m.

Not having an Alfa Romeo in the stable. Keeping an eye out for just the right GTV6 to remedy this.

itsarebuild Dork
3/3/15 9:25 a.m.

"I feel like the Vette and I dated, parted amicably, then found out her new boyfriend totally got her to do some freaky stuff that I never even thought to ask about."

Quotes like this are why I know this forum is my home....

friedgreencorrado UltimaDork
3/3/15 4:12 p.m.

I think I do have a regret. Being a marque slave for so long. My brand was my brand, and it was like they were my favorite college football team. I was a Triumph Guy, and then a BMW Guy, and then a VW Guy. I've driven a lot of different stuff, but never really owned/lived with some of the best cars of my generation.

I think I only realized this last week when Mr.K died. A car guy my age that's never owned an original Z? Or even something like a clapped-out Z31? I'm an idiot. If I could do it over, I'd change it up more often and try to sample as much as I could of everything that's out there.

KillerB New Reader
3/3/15 8:35 p.m.

When I first got married and we bought a hose at 21 years old, a work colleague needed to sell some cars to help pay for his future wedding. So the final deal was he offered me his Sunbeam Tiger for $750.00. This was about 1975, my daily driver was a reliable '71 MGB (still have it) and I didn't want to give up my one car garage to project car. Boy, was that a big mistake !!!

Clarty New Reader
3/3/15 8:47 p.m.
KillerB wrote: When I first got married and we bought a hose at 21 years old,

It's only proper to get married before buying yourself a hose.

dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/4/15 7:18 a.m.

Trading my 1975 Formula 400 for a 1965 T bird. Yes the 75 has 225K on it been driven across the country 2x and to FLA 6 or 7 times. IT was clapped out. The T bird was in excellent condition. A couple points off being a show car and I loved and cared for it for many years eventually passing it along to some one else in as good or better condition than I got it. Lots of very different types of fun was had in both cars. Loved both cars but I have never wanted the 65 back. On the other hand I at least once a month I spend some time searching for a "replacement" 75 formula 400.

kb58 SuperDork
3/10/18 5:58 p.m.
KillerB said:

When I first got married and we bought a hose at 21 years old...

Hey whatever, that's one very liberal marriage!

Appleseed MegaDork
3/10/18 7:04 p.m.

Class X or Class Y? Bah! The road in front of my house has no sanctioning body.

Datsun310Guy UltimaDork
3/10/18 7:43 p.m.

I had a decent 1966 Datsun Roadster that I thought I would regret selling.  Back in 1996 we were going through some lean income years and I sold the Datsun to pay a few bills and put the money towards a piano so my 1st grade son can start taking lessons.   My wife kept telling me I would regret it some day but she didn't tell me not to sell it. 

My son played a few other instruments through the end of high school and still plays a French horn in his church Orchestra today. 

My high school daughter has played for 9 years and is in percussion in her high school marching band along with Orchestra and Jazz band. She is one of those kids I have to ask her to stop practicing as it is late and I'm going to bed.

In the end I helped foster the musical talents of my two kids - Datsun's come and go but I only had a few years to mold these two knuckleheads.  

iceracer UltimaDork
3/10/18 7:59 p.m.

Oh man.   I wouldn't know where to start.

Don49 HalfDork
3/10/18 8:25 p.m.

There's the 289 Cobra that I passed on in 1969- $3,500. Or how about the Lamborghini 400GT for similar money? Then there is the 68 Roadrunner that I sold to my brother for peanuts, who then beat the crap out of it and ruined the car.

Appleseed MegaDork
3/10/18 8:44 p.m.

Don wins this thread. Who else had the opportunity to pass on a Cobra?

docwyte SuperDork
3/11/18 11:17 a.m.

I regret not buying a Henna Red '88 M3 in '05 for $5500.  It had all the typical mods, H&R/bilsteins, swaybars, full supersprint exhaust, plus an Autopower rollbar. That M3 today is easily worth $30k.

Instead I bought an '88 944 Turbo S, that I also regret selling...

mad_machine GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
3/12/18 12:05 a.m.

My regret was a nicely kept, but by no means perfect, Lancia Fulvia Zagato. Funky little Italian hatch that I just did not find attractive looking until long after I passed on it. I would still love me some Italian V4

GTXVette SuperDork
3/12/18 8:08 a.m.

In reply to JG Pasterjak :

If you get this Chance again,   GO FOR IT

    It's Only Freaky the First Time.


Turbine GRM+ Memberand New Reader
3/12/18 8:58 a.m.

I don’t regret buying my urs6, but I definitely regret how I treated it. I bought it before I went off to college, and cut corners on a lot of the repairs in an attempt to save money. 

I’m finally in a spot where I can afford to put money into it, but undoing all of my old mistakes and catching up on deferred maintenance is killing me 

jdoc90 New Reader
3/14/18 7:41 p.m.

The wonderful thing about having a grandpa who came straight fromItaly in 1913 is that i am Italian car proportioned from birth .I fit in all of them just fine and they feel natural to me lol You poor anglo and other genetic recipients . I picked up an  1987 alfa spider for pocket lint so I could use my dna to best effect .It seems to work incredibly well .The feel of the car , The sound , the response , are all as promised .I also owned an 88 milano .I would have married it if they let me :D viva La Italia ! 

snailmont5oh HalfDork
3/15/18 1:27 a.m.

In my first year of college (89), I had taken ROTC as a class (the idea was to do well and score a shcolarship, but my ass wasn't up to their standards).  The instructors were a Major and a Sergeant Major (I think).  Both of them were super cool, but the Sergeant Major was a car guy. Well, he got promoted while I was in his class. Apparently, his promotion came with a transfer, and he, for some reason, didn't want to take his rust free 306/4-barrel/4-speed Mustang Cobra II with him. He offered it to me for FOUR HUNDRED FIFTY DOLLARS. I was in college, and I didn't have $450, and I couldn't afford to insure it, so I had to turn him down. He must have really wanted me to have it, because he sold it to someone else for over a grand. 

That's not the only one, but it's one of the biggies. 

MadScientistMatt PowerDork
3/15/18 7:43 a.m.

Now I'm wondering how an "exotics vs something silly" showdown might look like. For example, how would a Ferrari 308 GT4 compare against a Neon SRT4 on track?

classicalgas New Reader
3/16/18 4:43 p.m.

I still regret not snagging the Iso Grifo I was offered (for $1500! ) after the owner got the bodywork estimate for a minor accident (over a grand, in 1979) I've owned some fun cars and bikes (Ducati's,  and Alfa, , an Alpine, four x1/9's and a Spitfire) and driven many more (I restored vintage cars and worked as a foreign car mechanic) A Morgan +8 probably tops my list of production car favorites I drove but didn't own, but Tom Carsten's  Stovebolt special beats them all on pure sensation and  sex appeal. 

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