The one that got away: 1985 BMW 528i (Euro-market)

As evidenced by the sheer number of vehicles I’ve bought and sold, I’m not very sentimental when it comes to letting them go. Typically, if I’m being offered a reasonable sum of money in excess of my investment, I’m happy to see it go. There are a few exceptions, though; none more significant than my 1985 BMW 528i, which was a rare Euro-market import with the tidier non-US bumpers and high compression engine.

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Famous last words: 1992 Volkswagen Jetta GLI 16v

I have always really wanted to like Volkswagens. Flat-brim hatted “stance bruh” culture aside, VW is one of a very few mainstream car manufacturers that consistently cranks out interesting products. The various generations of Golf GTI and Jetta GLI, Corrado, Scirocco, their seemingly wonderful TDI diesel powerplant and many other offerings would seem to establish them as a true enthusiast company…if it weren’t for the fact that every one of their cars I’ve ever attempted to own has been absolute garbage. One of the most heartbreaking was my 1992 Jetta GLI, the ultimate A2-chassis Jetta with the wondrous 2.0 16V powerplant, lovely Recaro interior, factory BBS wheels and lots of other car nerd-loving goodies. A friend of mine offered it to me in late 2013 for the low price of $1000; it had been sitting for a while, but was in remarkably nice shape. At least it seemed that way. Oh, how wrong I was…

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Nordic blunder: 1991 Saab 9000 turbo

In the fall of 2012, I was looking for an interesting daily driver and winter car so that I could store my beloved Alfa Romeo Spider. I loved the classic Saab 900s I’d owned over the years, and also recently had a great experience with a cheap used Saab 9-5, so another Saab seemed like a great option. After some typical Craigslist searching and poking around on Saab message boards, I found a Saab fanatic in northern Wisconsin who had this really slick 1991 9000 Turbo. He said that it had been sitting for quite some time, but offered to do all of the work to get it running and said he’d sweeten the deal by throwing in some very desirable extra parts, all for a mere $2000. Like most colossal mistakes, it seemed like a great idea at the time.

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Just like Mom’s: 80’s Subarus

I’ve got a lot of fond memories of bouncing around in the passenger seats of old Subarus. My mother, bless her soul, almost always drove older 4WD Subaru wagons and even had two at one point! They were practical, rugged, and she could fix them herself with some basic tools and a shop manual, if need be. Those cars left an impression on me, so I’ve ended up owning and wrenching on quite a few of them, including an engine-swapped BRAT and a very 1980’s XT Turbo.

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Nordic Thunder: 1987 Saab 900 turbo

Late in my high school career, I found a Saab 900 turbo sedan for sale on eBay. The bidding was only up to a couple hundred dollars; I had some cash from my first job and Target and decided to put a bid in. I won it for $350. My father told me to get rid of it as soon as I brought it home, so I hid it at the school auto shop and eventually sold it to a classmate after barely driving it. That felt like a missed opportunity, but a few years later I found another one on Craigslist for $500 that seemed to have few issues. Of course, I bought it, and finally got to experience one of these weird and wonderful cars for quite some time.

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Weird spinning triangles: Early 80’s Mazda RX-7s

A weird and wonderful technical innovation thrown into a charming little sports car is exactly the kind of thing I’m into, which is why I’ve always been a big fan of the Mazda RX-cars. The Mazda rotary engine is a really interesting product; much easier to work on than a typical piston engine, while providing explosive power for its size with an astronomical rev limit. The 1st generation RX-7s depreciated pretty heavily in the 2000’s, and I’ve had a couple of them.

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