There have been many that got away, but as far as my having "had every intention of buying and it just got away," . . . nope, there aren't any. I bought 'em all!
But I do have a story of a particular car that almost
got away from me, a car that I wanted for about seven years before I finally bought it:
My favorite car in the world, Lotus Esprit S1 chassis no. 454H. PART I The story begins in 2000:
I first saw 454H in a photograph on a yahoogroup for Lotus Esprit owners. It had been owned by the same gentleman for many years, he having bought it directly from the original enthusiast owner, and had been meticulously maintained over the years. It was a rare color -- Oxford Blue -- and looked, in my opinion, majestic on the Esprit S1's arrow-like form. The interior was trimmed in brown and cream leather, and just looked absolutely stunning with the blue. On top of that, it had air conditionng, which is a rare dealer/importer conversion on series 1 Esprits. I wanted it.
But the gentleman had owned it since it was only a few years old, and didn't show any signs of being ready to sell, so I could only dream of owning it, while I enjoyed my red S1 (I never liked red, just bought my particular car because it was the best condition one I could find). Photos of 454H in the hands of its long time owner, circa 2001
So there it was, the Oxford Blue S1 . . . maybe some day I might find something similar. Fast forward to 2003:
The long-time owner of 454H was deciding to sell his car. He was restoring an Elan, and both wanted the extra cash and did not have the time and attention to devote to the blue S1. And his price -- well, it was in my opinion well underpriced. If I recall correctly, he did that on purpose to ensure that the first person to look at the car would buy it, rather than having to deal with tire kickers. I wanted to buy it, but I didn't have the money at the time. If I did, I would have bought it first and worried about selling my red S1 later. But it was a moot point; I had no money, and the car sold locally to the first person who saw it.
And so the car went.
Soon thereafter, the car's new owner appeared on the yahoogroup. As it turned out, he was as enthusiastic about it as could be, and he lavished money on it. He sure seemed to love it. It looked like he'd be keeping it for a loooong time. I could only hope that he doesn't disappear with it, and that he would take as good care of it as the previous owner. . . . Fast forward to 2005:
454H's owner has spent well more than the car's purchase price on maintaining it. He's a perfectionist, and takes it to the British car specialist for every little thing that deviates from perfect. He's tired of spending money on the car. He offers it to the yahoo group for the same attractive price at which he bought it. No takers, as they all already have their S1s and S2s! I still have no money. Frustration. I wonder what will happen to it. Shortly thereafter, the car is on eBay. Ugh. There it goes, to never be seen again. I watch the auction . . . his reserve is ridiculously low, and it sells for stupid money.
And so the car went. 454H circa 2003
Soon thereafter, history repeated itself, and the car's new owner appeared on the yahoogroup. He was a very sharp guy who obviously knew how to take care of the car. I was glad to see that the car was in good hands. Maybe some day he would sell it . . .
Over the course of the decade, I became more and more involved with early Esprits. I serviced quite a few of them, and picked up another one, a project car, of my own. I put up a small web site with my cars, and between my two cars and my forum participation (and a little bit of word-of-mouth), people started coming to me when they wanted to buy or sell an S1. Fast forward to 2006:
In the fall of 2006, I got a random email from the car's owner. He had just quit a career as a journalist and went back to school to pursue an engineering degree. . . . and his wife had just become pregnant (not planned). He was going to have to sell the car. He recognized it was a special example, and didn't want to see it go to just anyone; he wanted to make sure it went to a good home. He knew I was connected, so he asked if I could help.
Wow. What do I do? What do I say? Do I tell him of the secret lust for that blue Lotus that I have harbored for the past six years? Of course, I still didn't have the money for the car
, which now was frustrating me to no end. So I tried to find him a buyer for the car. At least I would know
(not just be aware of) who it would be going to, and maybe I would have first dibs on it the next time it would be for sale.
I found a serious, interested buyer in Miami. This gentleman was a former S1 owner (and a 308 GT4 owner), and was always interested in buying another S1. We arranged a deal. I was about to see my favorite S1 go to yet another owner. I was jealous, but at least it would be going to a good home, and I would have an inside line on it. . . . But the deal fell through at the last minute. Fast forward to 2007:
I had finally come into better financial times. My white Esprit S1 project was chugging along. I was planning my wedding -- my fiancee and I were to be married in July. We agreed to use the white S1 as our wedding car. I was starting to get nervous about whether the car would be ready on time. So nervous, in fact, that I was starting to look around for a backup car. A blue 308 GTB with cream leather turned up for sale . . . wow, was that beautiful! I was seriously interested in the car, but it looked like it was going to sell for more than what I was willing to pay. Then the thought came to me: "I wonder what ever happened to that blue S1. . ."
So out of the blue, I emailed the owner, asking him if he still had it. ... Yes, he did, and he really needed to sell it, why, was I interested or did I know someone? I sat there for a moment just to take in the whole situation. Here it is, available to me, and I actually have the money to buy it. I've been lusting after this car for years. But how serious was I really? I never had to face that question before, because I never had the money when the car was available. Now it was time to put up or shut up. If I wanted the car, here was my chance.
I wrote him a quick email, and we took it to the telephone.
"How serious are you?" he asked me.
"I wouldn't have gone this far if I weren't," was my reply; "I've bought and sold quite a few cars myself, and I try not to jerk people around."
He could not have been happier -- In his words, he could not have hoped for a better person for the car to go to than me. Here it is, Tony, here's your chance
I thought to myself.
Needless to say, I bought it.
Went down to Orlando in May of 2007 and saw it in the flesh. It was everything it was supposed to be, everything I expected it to be, and everything an Esprit S1 should
be. Wish fulfilled. I didn't think there was a car anywhere in the world that I liked more than this S1.
My fiancee and I were staying at a hotel in Orlando. The seller, with whom I have become good friends, at the time was gracious enough to let my fiancee and I take the car for the night to the hotel. Our first night with 454H; we were to complete the transaction the next day. One of my favorite photos, that my wife-to-be took of the car outside of the hotel while I was checking us in. The mood of this photograph is exactly how driving the car that evening felt.