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The Car That Got Away


When reliving history with classic car enthusiasts, it’s a common theme to hear stories of a car they regret not buying. And for many of these people, that sort of disappointing experience makes a deep impression. Especially if they know the outcome of the car that got away.

For Robert, a lover of Porsches, it was a 1963 Porsche 356 Roadster that got away.

It was Fall 1970. Preparing to embark on their life as newlyweds, Robert and his then-fiancée were debating what type of car or cars they should buy once they were on their own. Robert had recently sold his MGB Roadster, and his fiancée was about to sell her Volkswagen Beetle.

Robert casually mentioned their auto search to a fraternity brother alumnus, who just so happened to own a Porsche at the time.

“This gentleman … had this great car. It was a Porsche Roadster type 356, the predecessor to the 911. I believe this car was a 1963. It was a Roadster, so it’s a convertible top. And this car was in really nice condition. It was red with black interior. Four-speed transmission, a really nice car,” Robert recalled.

Apparently, the fraternity brother’s wife was bringing down the hammer and wanted him to get rid of his sports car.

“My friend’s wife, they either already had a kid or were about to have another kid and his wife says, ‘No, no, no. No More Porsche convertible for our family, we need to get a real car,’” Robert said.

“So my friend says ‘Would you like to buy my Porsche Roadster?’ and I said, ‘Of course I would like to buy your Porsche Roadster!’ And he offered it to me for a thousand dollars! Wow, a Porsche Roadster for a thousand dollars! If I could buy a Porsche Roadster today for a thousand dollars, I’d buy a dozen.”

Robert continued, “But I was 18 or 19, I didn’t know, I couldn’t foresee the future. All I knew was that [my wife] and I needed reliable regular transportation. I wasn’t sure if the Porsche Roadster really would be a great everyday car.”

A Porsche Roadster then might not have been such a reliable form of regular transportation, as cars in the 1960s were typically not built to last.

Robert mused, “Thinking back, I guess I could have said, ‘Why not?’ We ended up passing on the car because we felt like we probably needed a new car for reliability reasons. Stay out of repairs and all that sort of thing. So I passed on the car, it slipped through my fingers.”

To be newlyweds with a fast, fun little car could have been very enjoyable. But the voice of reason usually isn’t wrong. I asked Robert if he knew what happened to the car. Surprisingly, it had a short life with the buyer who stepped up to claim it.

“It actually ended up by being bought by some guy that hung out in our fraternity house,” Robert said. “And this guy, in some alcohol-enthused stupor, wraps this Porsche Roadster around a telephone pole about a month after he buys it. And that was the end of the car.”

To this day, Robert said he thinks about that car and what it would look like now if he had bought it and kept it. He’s convinced that it would be in museum-quality condition. Robert said that would be the kind of car he would still be tinkering with, maybe even with his grandchildren.

He said, “I think about that car frequently. It unfortunately came to a bad end, with a guy who had no business buying it, probably. But that’s what happens sometimes. And I certainly wished that I had the opportunity to buy that car again, certainly for a thousand dollars. As I said, I would buy a handful of them … I would say in retrospect, I rarely ever, since then, had a car that I really wanted to buy and let slipped by. If I saw a car and liked it, I bought it. But that’s a car I really regret not buying.

Well, I guess there’s always a chance that model of car could present itself again sometime in the future for Robert, but he also told me those cars today are probably worth 80 to 100 grand, depending on the model. Eighty to 100 grand! You could buy several average cars for that amount of money.

So that’s another one that got away. And what an unhappy demise!

Do you have a classic car story that you would like to share? I’d love to hear it sometime.

Erika Greenberg is a classic car lover. When she’s not busy working for, she spends time gathering stories from other car enthusiasts to share via podcast or article. If you have a story you would like to share with Erika, you can reach her at [email protected]. Happy driving!


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