The Unexpected Jewel 2

This post is the second (and different) part of the situation you sometimes find yourself in – a random discovery of a car that you suddenly buy. This is “the unexpected jewel 2” part of that equation.

A few weeks ago, I wrote about happening upon a car while I wasn’t looking for a car, that I just had to buy, because it wasn’t that expensive, and the price/value ratio was just so compelling, I couldn’t pass it up. It’s not that it was a great car I lusted after; quite the opposite. It is a basic daily driver.

“The Unexpected Jewel 2” is about unexpectedly running up on a car that you want. And, sometimes, you really want it. Even if it hadn’t been on the list of cars you were thinking about buying before.

Now, this has happened to me many times. I don’t always progress toward my car ownership goals in linear fashion, you know what I mean? If I’m looking for a car, and I see something I want at an irresistible price, well, I can pivot in in a hurry. I still want the car I originally went looking for; that doesn’t change. What changes is my immediate action – I will move on the new window of opportunity with this previously unknown vehicle, and save the original target for later, when I will go after it in a more deliberate fashion. I’m flexible.

Here is an example.

In 1999, I went to look at a 1994 BMW 540i that had high miles, but was supposed to be “perfect, inside and out”. It wasn’t (shrug). It happens, right? I’m wheeling out of the subdivision, and a guy is backing a 1992 Alfa Romeo 164 out of his garage, and it has a “For Sale” sign in the back window. I throw out the anchor, and stop right next to his driveway.

Conversation ensues. This car is perfect, and has only 43,000 miles on the clock. The guy bought it new, and obviously took care of it. But, his wife hates the car with a passion. She hates the way it looks, inside and out. She hates the way it drives. She hates that it’s not a Honda. She hates that it is a 5-speed. She hates that they paid so much for it. There is nothing she likes about the car, and she wants it to go away.

Alfa Romeo sells cars in the United States now, but they had pulled out of the U.S. market in 1995, and did not return to the market until 2008. When they ceased sales in 1995, residual values of the big expensive 164 sedans dived off a steep cliff. The guy selling his 164 sedan in 1999 was acutely aware of this, and was resigned to selling the car for a low price.

I bought that perfect 164 at a very good price; $4700, to be precise. This was a car that sold new for almost $40,000. In 1992!

And, despite my own misgivings about buying any used Italian car, it was rock-solid dependable. I drove that car for years. And I loved that car.

Yup, this is the other side of the coin, the unexpected jewel 2 side, the one you just love to have work out. You just have to be prepared to pivot, that’s all.

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