The One(s) That Got Away

Get a bunch of car folks together, and they can swap these stories all day—stories about the cars they’ve wanted that they couldn’t quite obtain, for any of a thousand reasons. I’ve seen this phenomenon, witnessed it, taken part in it myself on previous occasions. My story for today isn’t any more special than anyone else’s. But it’s still my story, and the other day it gained considerable, measureable economic poignancy, so I’ll share it here.

I was clicking about the /DRIVE channel on YouTube, and stumbled upon a video where Mike Spinelli filmed himself sitting in his swanky Manhattan Car Club, as he is wont to do. Joining him were a leader of said club as well as a VP of Hagerty Specialty Insurance. The fellas were discussing/forecasting what cars are ready to leap up in value and become collector’s items.

Nothing they said is much of a surprise for anyone who’s been following the market. 356 prices are absurd, air-cooled 911s are absurd, and Toyota FJ40s are truly, madly, deeply absurd. The near-mythical cars from the Japanese “Golden Age” of the early- to mid-90’s are, the fellas agreed, probably about to spike: the NSX, the 3000GT VR4, the 300ZX Twin Turbo, the Supra.

When I saw the Hagerty VP though, I thought to myself, hey, I’ve not been to the Hagerty webpage. Let’s check that out. And while perusing their listings, I stumbled across their year-by-year valuation of the 1993 Porsche 911 Carrera RS America.

That took me back to late 2010, when I was still mourning the loss of my 2003 Audi RS6. I was feeling the pangs of not owning a performance car, and searching high and low online for a suitable replacement. Suddenly, there it was: a not-unusually-worn RS America, on eBay Motors, for some unfathomably affordable price–I don’t recall exactly, but it was very, very attainable. Low-$30k range, maybe $31,500 or so, my memory insists. I was instantly out of my chair, knocking things over, searching desperately for a phone.

A voice on the other end answers the distant ringing! “I’m calling about a 964 RS America on eBay?” I say, trying not to sound too desperate or hopeful, and failing.

“It’s been sold,” says the voice, not without some anguish of its own. And, to make those dreadful words sting significantly more, he added, “but I kind of wish I’d asked for more money–I keep getting calls about it.”

Well of course he kept getting calls about it! An air-cooled, lightweight, special-edition 911? I’m not a smart man, as the guy says in the movie, but I know what a 911 that will appreciate in value is.

I was right, as the Hagerty chart proves. It’s essentially impossible to get an “RSA” now for less than seventy grand, and the super-clean ones are up in the ionosphere at nearly $170,000. So yeah, I’d say that one got away. Real, real far away.

I bet the remorse is significantly greater for the guy on the other end of the phone, though.


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