The flesh is weak.

Those of you with a weakness for shopping (or collecting or, worse, both) will know WTF I'm talking about.

At some point you subconsciously decide to get X and you're pretty much on an inexorable path to getting X, even if the better angels of your nature are trying to tell you there is no damn reason to...or better yet, plenty of good reason to not pull the trigger.

As you know, I'm a sucker for Italian sports cars of a certain vintage. The combination of rarity, appreciation, speed, beauty and (surprise!) efficiency just hits me where I live. Seeing as how a harem of concubines is something which TFBIM (an NRA Lifer) looks upon with great disfavor --aside from the negative tax implications--and unchecked consumption of assorted mood-ameliorating compounds, legal or otherwise, are deleterious to one's physical and fiscal health. Therefore, I must have some sort of outlet that at least gives the faint appearance of deviltry and decadence. So, I go for cars.

When the good news as re. the Big Spring Project hit, I was tempted to buy a lowball Ferrari (no, that's not an oxymoron) because, regardless of my being somewhere between "mildly enthusiastic" and "meh" on Ferraris, the various Ferrari clubs host the best events. The most beautiful venues, wonderful food and wine, top-shelf stuff all around. But, frankly, I'm not a Ferrari guy. The entry-level ones don't make my pulse move, and the ones that DO make my heart quicken (due to speed, beauty, or both) are ferociously expensive. And that's without having to pay for maintenance. The received wisdom is that if you can't afford an expensive one, you sure as Hell can't afford a cheap one. ($20,000 engine rebuilds are the norm.)

On top of that, even IF I bought one of those $30K cars AND it needed no more than routine maintenance, there is that eye-dagger factor with which to contend. It seems very flaunt-y and I don't care for that. However, I drive around in one of my current cars and it's all thumbs-up and smiles and waves and people stopping to ask me questions or engage me in conversation about the car. The fact I can buy a car that has 90% of the goodness, with none of the downside, for 40% of the price of a bottom-feeder Ferrari makes my rationalizing easier. Throw in an average of 20% annual appreciation and it becomes a no-brainer.

So, the point--and there's one buried here somewhere--is that I feel that inexorable pull to buy something. I haven't looked around very seriously, or otherwise made much of an effort, but I just know I'm going to wind up with something. I may hem and haw, I may backtrack, I may waffle or equivocate but the die has been cast and I'm powerless to resist.

The problem with this sort of car buying, as opposed to TFBIM going to one of five dealerships within a three mile radius, and driving off the lot with the automotive appliance of her choice, is that when one decides on a certain (i.e., old, rare and weird) car, the chances are quite high it'll be nowhere near where you are. By way of example, the first of my "recent" ridiculous purchases was in Cleveland, the second in Phoenix, the third (i.e. the car that sucked) in Philadelphia and the fourth in New York City. The next one could very well be in LA or Denver or Boston or Seattle. If you're in this, you have to travel. It's a fact of life.

Anyway, I want something that screams "classic." Not, you will note, "modern classic." Something that harks back to an earlier time. Something, y'know, iconic. The problem is that these sorts of cars have been appreciating at an annual clip of 20% and many of them have reached Officially Ridiculous Prices. Especially if this is yet another damned car. So that limits the choices right there.

I was commenting along these lines to both the lovely and gracious blackbird and the lovely and gracious SL because I had seen a car on eBay that I almost bid on. Well, perhaps "car" is too strong a word. "Rusted out shell and carcass of a former automobile" is perhaps closer to the mark. The price for a car that would need, um, everything redone was too rich for me when the time came for me to bid...and as it turns out it sold for almost $30K. THIRTY THOUSAND DOLLARS. FOR A RUSTED-OUT HULK. As I mentioned to bb & SL, assuming all the bits and pieces were there (sh'yeah, right) it'd cost at least $80K to restore the car properly, which would leave the proud owner with a car worth, on the open market, $65K (for a tidy loss of $45K).

Things are tough all over. Jaguars--at least the ones worth collecting--are exorbitant. Equivalent Porsches are in nosebleed territory, as are Maseratis and even the (few really) good American cars have taken to orbiting the price ionosphere. So, to help my rationalizing mind, I can add the "let's not miss this opportunity" sort of thinking.

It's a sickness I tell you.

-J.

Comments

Katy said…
I'm thinking that you like to watch the Barrett-Jackson on television... or are you one of those people who actually *go* to the auction to buy something?
Major Bedhead said…
That's a sweet ride. Much nicer than a Ferrari any day.

The car I've been lusting after for forever is a '68 Super Beetle. Convertible, all chrome options on it, running boards, Kandy Apple red with a cream rag top and interior.

I don't care if it has the engine of a Singer sewing machine. I want one.

Either that or a Woody.
Joke said…
I used to watch the B-J auction on TV all the time, but in the last 3 years or so, the focus has been on muscle cars which couldn't possibly interest me less.

And only a lunatic would buy a car at these auctions. The trick is to buy them off the classifieds and sell them at auction.

-J.

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