What's The Car That Got Away?

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Photo: Mercedes Streeter

Cars may be appliances of transportation for many, but for others, cars hold a place in our hearts. Sometimes you find “the one” and for whatever reason that car slips away. What is the car that got away for you?

I’ve told the story about the two Volkswagen Passat TDI wagons that I let go. However, I never really said why I let the mildly broken first one go despite knowing the fix would likely be easy.


I got the first Passat TDI wagon for only $600. The car had no rust, an interior with barely any wear and the cleanest engine bay I’ve seen in any used car. The catch? It had a turbo underboost problem. The seller blew thousands of dollars having his local Volkswagen dealership try to fix it to no avail.

I asked a couple of my VW mechanic friends about the issue and received two wildly different answers. The first said that the car likely just needed a cheap boost pipe. The other said that the camshaft lobes on my engine were trash and I needed to dump the car immediately.


I diagnosed the issue as being likely the former boost pipe, but I really wasn’t in a place where I had the motivation to replace even a free part. Between getting laid off and a failing, unhealthy relationship that I was in, I just wanted a car that worked. I got rid of the Passat for a car that didn’t immediately need any repairs.

I was crushed when its new owner told me that the fix was just that stupid hose. Thus far I’ve not found another Passat like it.


Do you have a car that got away? Are you still searching for that car hoping you’ll get another chance at it?