Classic cars we wish we’d never sold

| 16 Jan 2019
Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Ever get the feeling there are so many fabulous classic cars but so little time? Or, more likely, limited resources and a lack of garage space.

It’s the same story for classic car owners and enthusiasts the world over.

Sometimes you’re lucky enough to have several classics at one time, then circumstances change and there’s that difficult decision: which do you part with?

So, which classic cars do we at Classic & Sports Car wish we’d never sold? Scroll down for our stories, then enjoy a few tales from you, our readers. Violins at the ready…

Alastair Clements, Editor in chief – MGB GT

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold
Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

I’ve owned and loved a lot of much more interesting cars over the years, but the one I wish I’d never sold is my 1980, rubber-bumpered MGB GT.

At least part of that pining comes from the heavy rose-tint to my backward glances – after all, it was my first sports car, and bought from my late and much-missed cousin – but it was also, in so many ways, the perfect daily classic.

I’ve yet to find an old car that is more comfortable for a man of my generous stature, it was endlessly practical, fun when it needed to be, sounded great and had a brilliant Webasto roof.

Tragically, it was taken off the road shortly after I sold it, never to return; VMA 520W, where are you now?

Jack Phillips, Deputy editor – Mazda MX-5

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

When your Mk1 Mazda MX-5 disappears on someone else’s flat-bed truck (“Engine’s sweet as a nut”) to become an unwilling donor, a wave of regret instantly washes over you.

Yes, its sills were rotten and uneconomic to replace, but you don’t notice that when you’re nestled in the driver’s seat.

It was only a parts-bin ‘Monza’ special edition – sans stickers – but a year’s top-down motoring (whatever the weather) for under a grand? It should have been longer.

Mick Walsh, International editor – Frazer Nash Le Mans Rep Rep

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Since childhood the spartan cycle-winged post-war Frazer Nash has been a favourite machine, but I never imagined I’d be able to afford one.

Then various Replica projects based on rusty Bristol donor cars started appearing, first built by Dick Crosthwaite, and then as kits by Werner Oswald (WOK). When I spotted one built by ERA guru David Morris for sale with Beaulieu Cars in May 1998, I rushed down to do a ‘Case history’ for C&SC. Within a few miles of the test on New Forest roads, I’d started planning ways to raise the funds to buy it.

Through various means including giving up my company car and borrowing scary amounts of money, I found the hefty £30k and so began two and a half years of memorable motoring.

Highlights included the first Goodwood Revival and C&SC’s ‘Poor Boys’ West Country trip to compete at Wiscombe Hillclimb.

Time ran out when my wife demanded a new kitchen and 991 EPC had to be sold. The ‘Rep Rep’ vanished to Belgium for exactly what I paid. I’d love to buy her back, but the £100k-plus is now way beyond my budget.

Martin Port, Art editor – Morris Mini

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

I don’t want to use the word ‘regret’, for the simple reason that almost every classic we’ve sold on has led to something equally, or more, enjoyable and opened up a host of different experiences.

If I hadn’t sold my Morris Traveller, I wouldn’t have bought an MGB. If I hadn’t sold that, then I wouldn’t have enjoyed several years of Porsche 912 ownership, and if I hadn’t had to dispose of that, then I may never have discovered my passion for old Land Rovers (wishful thinking for some, I know).

But the one classic I wish we still had is the 1968 Morris Mini MkII SuperDeLuxe that we bought for Mrs P. It had been living in a motor museum in Cheshire, and although far from perfect or original (it had a later A-series engine fitted for starters), it offered a driving experience that nothing has since.

Had I learnt that welding wasn’t some dark art 15 years sooner than I did, then I like to think that I may have tackled the rotting floors and inner arches myself instead of putting it up for sale.

The fact that the buyer promised to restore it before then stripping it of its registration and turning it into a replica of a Works car before selling it again, further compounds what might be interpreted as ‘regret’.

James Mann, Photographer – Mercury Monterey

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold
Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Back in 1982 I got a job in Orlando, Florida, when I was just 19 years old.

Whilst there I bought a 1967 Mercury Monterey we christened Moby Dick as it could swallow up to eight people going to the beach, four across each bench seat.

It had the powerful 390 cu in V8, powered brakes that would send you through the windshield if you more than breathed on them and air-con – all for $500.

The spring on the hood had failed and it was so heavy it was tricky to lift, but the thick sheet steel gave it tremendous build quality and that gorgeous, under-stressed V8 whooshed us along the freeway to Daytona Speedway and Cape Canaveral to see the shuttle launches.

I sold it to a German who didn’t put oil in it and blew it up in three months. I wish I’d shipped it home!

What classic car do you wish you’d never sold?

We asked you on Facebook and Twitter – here are some of your replies.

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Japanese history student Andrew Pliagas misses his beloved Cedric

“My fascination with Japan and its automotive culture goes back years,” says Andrew Pliagas. “I loved the Cedric for its place in the history of the Japanese car industry in the United States and for the excitement of discovering it survived; as far as Nissan and I are aware, mine was one of three confirmed to still exist from that original, small shipment of Cedrics to the United States.”

He bought his 1964 Nissan Cedric with 40,052 miles and it was pretty complete, beneath some surface rust: “The original upholstery (blue and seemingly patterned after my great-grandmother’s living-room furniture) was intact and largely unweathered.”

He explains he sold it to guarantee its future. “I couldn't afford to continue renting a workspace, and the car lacked many parts, so I turned to Nissan North America for help, who were eager to acquire it for restoration and a place in their heritage collection.

“I think it deserves some time under their spotlight having beaten the odds and survived as long as it has.” Let’s hope there’s a happy ending for this classic.

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold
Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Eighties delights: Paul Hartshorne’s 911 and Tracey Jackson’s Pontiac

For Paul Hartshorne, it’s his very original 1989 Porsche 911 Carrera targa Sport that he misses.

“I loved this car because, even 15 years ago, it was a head turner, especially with the roof off. And once you got used to how to drive it, it was so rewarding and cornered really well,” he says, adding that “the exhaust was understated but unmistakable”.

Sadly, it had to go, as he explains: “My wife (at the time) wouldn’t drive it as it was fairly basic without power steering or ABS, so reluctantly it was chopped in for a BMW 330CI E46: nice but no 911! It’s still on the road now somewhere, doing around 1000 miles a year – but, sadly, not with me at the wheel.”

“I would have her back tomorrow,” says Tracey Jackson of her 1986 Pontiac Fiero SE 2.8 V6, “as we knew we would never see another because of their rarity.” But the biggest reason the car’s missed is the fun factor.

“I even named the car ‘Dippy’ because that was how I felt every time we went out in her,” she tells us. “One of the most amusing memories was at a local car show, when a photographer jumped in front of us just as we were leaving and said, ‘I’ve never got a photo of a gold TR7.’ Chris, my husband, giggled and replied, ‘You still haven’t, it’s a Pontiac Fiero!’”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

The Suzuki SC100 ‘Whizzkid’ is one reader’s pick

Talking of rarities, Tom Barrett still yearns for his long-gone Matra Bagheera. “I bought it for myself for my 18th birthday – I’m now 51! You just never see them any more.”

The Citroën GSA is another French classic that one of C&SC’s Facebook community wishes he’d not parted company with. “I loved the handling, its quirkiness and the comfortable ride,” remembers Eric Winterbottom.

And unless you’re a regular reader of C&SC, as our Editor in chief is a long-time owner and enthusiast, you’re not likely to see many examples of the Suzuki SC100 ‘Whizzkid’ on the road, which must bring back great memories for Ewan Bell.

“My Whizzkid is the car I most miss,” he laments. “I was 17 years old, it was my first car, it was rear-engined and rear-wheel drive, had a 998cc engine and was as light as a feather – it went go anywhere and it did flat out all the time!”

Rob Wesselink, meanwhile, misses his Reliant Kitten: “It was the first car that I bought and was a lot of fun to drive, with very, very direct steering. My father thought it was dangerous, because he was used to driving large Mercedes and BMWs with more indirect steering.”

Rob enjoyed the Kitten for some years, but after getting a job, and after the introduction of the MoT in the Netherlands, where he lives, he reluctantly accepted that he no longer had the time to fix it. It was parked it in a barn at his parents’ for a while, then sold.

“When you get older sometimes you regret the things you did decades ago,” says Rob. “I still miss my little yellow Kitten.”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold
Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Richard Cradick bought his Mini with just 27,000 miles on the clock

When Richard Cradick responded on Twitter, he reminisced about another diminutive classic: his MkII Mini, known as ‘Tiny’. 

“It was one of those cars you should never let go of, a two-owner car with only 27,000 miles on him when I bought him. He was cute and original and absolutely the epitome of ’60s cool,” he says.

“Unfortunately personal circumstances dictated that I couldn’t garage him and frankly I needed the money back then. I knew I would regret it, but he needed a bit of restoration, which at the time I wasn’t in a position to entertain.”

It was the purchase of a house, meanwhile, that forced Simon Arnold to part with his Volvo P1800E, bought from the forecourt of a dealer in Southend in 1980.

“It never let me down, both on long-distance trips abroad, including six months in France where I commuted each weekend from Paris to Calais to see my girlfriend, who came over on the ferry,” he remembers. “It looked like it belonged in St Tropez not Shoeburyness.”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

David Palmer's 'Westie' – he hopes to own another one day

It’s his Austin A90 Westminster that David Palmer wishes he didn’t sell. “The Westie had a back-to-front four-speed column change which took a little getting used, to but once mastered became a loved eccentricity of the car,” he tells us.

“Cornering was something that it did with a style all of its own. Living in Wellington New Zealand at the time – which is very hilly with many hairpin bends – I learnt to take risks and push the Westie beyond what it was really designed for.

“The best feature, though, was a glovebox lid that doubled as a picnic tray which was often used to eat fish and chips in the evening parked on a west coast beach watching the sun set over the sea’s horizon.” 

In fact, this sounds like a hard-working car, but one that never got stuck or required assistance: “The Westie towed trailers full of gravel and caravans full of holiday provisions, and on occasion was used to pull out tree trunks from my orchard. She always had the ability to start a conversation with a stranger in car parks and petrol station. One day I will have another one of my own.”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Find out why one reader has owned this DeLorean twice

Ian Titley’s passion for the DeLorean was only fuelled by Back to the Future and as soon as he started work in 1991, he began saving for one.

“Two years later I had enough money to buy UOA 596Y. It was previously owned by the Patrick Car Collection in Birmingham,” he recalls. He loved taking it to shows and finally have the car he’d always wanted. But about nine years later, he’d not used it much, so put it up for sale.

“It sold very quickly. As I saw it going down the road, I instantly regretted the decision to sell.”

Fast forward five years and he wanted another, so went to eBay – and the first he saw was his old one! “I made a cheeky offer and about a week later the car was back in my garage.” Happiness was restored.

“I had another fun five years or so with it when one day I decided to take the car for a quick run to my Dad’s house to see how he was," he says. “I was about half a mile from his house when I noticed a car in my mirror flashing me. I pulled over and this gentleman approached me to say he had been looking for a good-condition DeLorean for some time to add to his substantial car collection but had not found one yet. He asked to look at mine and about two minutes later I had sold the car – again!

“I wasn’t overly bothered at that point, because I’d been thinking about buying a more driver-focused car. When it came time to hand over the keys, though, it was a different story. I really didn’t want to let the car go, but too late, the deal was done.

“He phoned me out of the blue about 12 months later about a few things and mentioned he might consider selling it at some point in the future. I’ve got first refusal on it, so who knows, I might end up owning it for a third time!”

In the meantime, he’s enjoying his Caterham 420R – “I guess in a perfect world, I would own both. They do completely different things and do them well!”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Adrian Feather’s 1955 AC Ace

For Adrian Feather, it’s his 1955 AC Ace – which once appeared on the cover of C&SC magazine – that he most misses. 

He describes it as “a wonderful long-legged car” and continues that “it had the original AC 2 litre engine, which was very smooth running”.

And, Adrian recalls, it was one particular trip that cemented the Ace’s place in his heart.

“My fondest memory with the car is of taking my then fiancée (now my wife of 46 years) on a 10-day return trip from our home town of Westcliff-on-Sea in Essex to John O’Groats in Scotland in 1972. I still have the expense sheet – petrol costs £24.28 (!), bed and breakfasts £17.15 (covering six nights!) etc. Total outlay £51.96. Those were the days!

“Although the weather was atrocious for most of the time, we never put the hood up, because when I did the windscreen kept steaming up – and situational awareness was severely compromised.  

“I joined the HSCC and attended many race meetings during my period of ownership, mostly accompanied by my friend of many years, Brian Joscelyne.

“Apart from an accident when I was rammed by an XJ6, the only trouble I ever had with it was a water pump failure over an Easter weekend, on my way to the Lake District. The factory was closed – my dilemma was solved by my late friend Alistair Munro, who allowed me to take the pump off his Ace to lend me for the weekend! Those were great motoring days!”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Here's Mark Shipley's E-type

Mark Shipley bought his Jaguar E-type as a non-runner in 1982, when he was just 21 years old.

“At that time, E-types were in abundance in southern California,” he recalls. “I found this one as a non-runner in a Simi Valley backyard and trailered it home, nursing a hangover from the previous night’s party!”

Although tired mechanically, there was no rust anywhere, so Mark did a quick mechanical restoration and ran it in a state of “arrested decay” for the next few years.

A proper restoration followed, with Mark completing all of the work himself, and he used it regularly for close to a decade after that until in 1998, “in a moment of weakness”, he sold the car to a gentleman who was shipping cars out of the US. 

“Twenty years on and I still miss it terribly,” he says.

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold
Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Mike Roeder shares the tale of his much-missed 2CV, while Gavin Hawkes remembers his Elite

Mike Roeder has enjoyed many classic cars over the years, but it’s a Citroën 2CV that he still pines for.

“It was built in the UK using a shell donated by a friend’s mum,” he remembers, “and driven all around the UK and Europe for six to seven years.

“Eventually the issues of insurance, MoT and storage overwhelmed me. I had always intended to bring it back to the US with me, but when the time came to do so, it was after 9/11.

“The news was full of ‘Freedom Fries’ and customs was frowning on frivolous importation of modified vehicles, let alone from France via the UK, so I sold it.”

And it's a Lotus Elite S2.2 that Gavin Hawkes wishes he’d not sold: “After ‘restoring’ the car for over two years, including a full engine rebuild, and pretty much replacing every moving part, I enjoyed the car for over 10 years.

“It was fast, noisy, 20mpg but I loved it. I enjoyed many trips from Essex to Devon in it, but if I still had it now I think there would be many points on my licence! ‘Preventative maintenance’ is vital when you own a car like this (it never let me down), but with two young children I just did not have the spare time any more.”

But he's delighted it is still on the road: "The DVLA shows it has recently passed its MoT so I hope the current owner is enjoying the car as much as I did.”

Classic & Sports Car – Classic cars we wish we'd never sold

Michael's parents, John and Carole Arnold, with the much-loved Lotus 32 © Coterie Press

Finally, here’s something rather different, a 1964 Lotus 32 Formula Two car, one of 12 chassis built and bought in 1966 by Michael Arnold’s father, John.

“It then spent many years a flower planter in his then girlfriend’s mother’s garden to hide it from his mother,” Michael explains. But come the early ’70s, it was ready to race: “He’d built it with whatever would fit or he could make including an alloy body and a 1000cc F3 engine.”

Monoposto racing followed, until an incident during a practice session with the F2 cars and two famous names, Jochen Rindt and Graham Hill.

The car then went into storage until the ’80s, then Michael’s father restored it to its original F2 spec – the fibreglass body was found hanging on the wall of a lawyer’s office in Ottawa, Canada, as a piece of art! It was sold “to a good home” in 2008.

“When it went, a little piece of family died,” Michael tells us. “We know it’s still around and we can see it, only it was an Arnold for over 42 years and we all truly miss it.”

Want to get involved and share your story?

Tell us which classic you most regret selling by joining in on the Facebook thread below:

Or have your say on our Twitter channel: