Would You Ever Track Down And Buy Back An Old Car You Once Owned?

Illustration for article titled Would You Ever Track Down And Buy Back An Old Car You Once Owned?

Nostalgia is a big deal for me, as it is with any other car enthusiast. It’s about acting on something that was seared into memory as an incorrigible child. With cars, it can manifest itself in truly weird ways, like engaging your Google skills and finding your Eleanor, and buying her back with interest. Having said that, would any of you search and buy back an old car you once had?


I understand that my turnaround time for a car is a bit more frequent than most people, but there are ones that I regret letting go over the years, namely the Porsche 944S that I bought and and almost died in driving home, the Mazda RX-7 FD that I rescued from a decade of sitting a dude’s yard, and the BMW E46 M3 that was so far past it that I’m surprised I didn’t just junk it.

I’m this close to tracking down the owners and emptying my bank account as collateral, but I understand that maybe I’m in the minority here.


What about you - Is there any car that prompted you to go on a fact-finding mission? Answer in the comments below!

Tavarish is the founder of APiDA Online and writes and makes videos aboutbuying and selling cool cars on the internet. You can also follow him onTwitter and Facebook. He won’t mind.

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My first car was a 1996 BMW M3. It was my dream first car and I busted my ass to make sure I could purchase one when I got my licence. I did end up buying it and while that car almost killed me several times and got my in a TON of trouble, it was one of the best purchases I have ever made.

Fast forward to freshman year of college and I quickly realized I was going to have to find more money to be able to go to school. The car, naturally, was the only thing of any real value I had to be able to help out with the tuition. I listed it for sale, sold it on my birthday and then proceeded to cry for the 60 min drive home. I immediately regretted selling the car; I just always felt that I was forced into selling the car and didn’t get to do it on my own terms.

For the next 4 years I thought about the car every so often and would be try to track it down to see where it was and if it was still around. Nothing that serious just a general interest.

Last October (2014), I logged on to BimmerFourms after a many year absence and noticed I had an unread PM; subject line - Your Old M3. The message was from a guy who was interested in purchasing it from another owner had some questions about the car’s history. The PM was 2 years old as this point but I reached out to the guy anyway. He responded and told me he ended up purchasing it. We went back and forth a few times about the car, its current condition and what not. Obviously, I asked him if he still had it/would be interested in selling it; turns out he sold it about a year after owning it to a kid in northwestern AL. This ignited a fire in me to find the car again and, thankfully, I had some decent savings at the time to be able to purchased it back if I did find it.

I called my old mechanic to see if he still had the VIN number (he did) and then found a website that allowed you to track what town and state the car had been registered in. I discovered that since I sold it the car, it had been though 5 owners and traveled from Upstate NY (guy I sold it to) to Westchester to VA, and then to two owners in AL (Current owner and the guy who PMed me). The was car currently registered in Decatur, AL. With this new information I started my search. Message boards, online sites etc. I then popped on to CL. Entered in the some info (1996 BMW M3) and holy shit my heart stopped. There it was, I knew instantly. Cosmos on Modena, lux seats. Roughly the amount of miles that should be on it given my conversation with the last owner. I stared at the add for a good minute before I did anything.

The current owner has listed his cell number in the ad so I stepped outside my office to give him a ring. It went to voicemail but I got a text from him after asking who I was. I responded that I was interested in the car and asked if the VIN on the car was WBSxxxxetc... He responded an hour later with a Yes and at this point I am losing my mind, freaking out. “Holy shit I am about to get my car back.” Later that day we talked about the car and he gave me the full rundown. Nothing seemed overly concerning and I told myself that I HAD to buy this car back. We hung up and I booked a one-way ticket to Nashville (where he was going to school) and scheduled a PPI at a well known shop in the area .

I flew down that Friday, giddy as all hell, shit eating gin, the works. I was getting my car back. Touchdown, check in to the hotel room and wait for the current owner to pick me up. He called to tell me he was in the parking lot and I RAN, literally RAN down. What I met with was utter fucking disappointment. I could tell right way that the body was a lot worse than he described but my initial thought was no worries just some body work, I got a guy for that. Hope in the car to drive to the mechanic, start it up and oh whats that sound I hear? “Oh just that normal VANOS tick.” he tells me. Anyone familiar with the M/S50 engines knows about the tick. This MUCH more than a simple VANOS tick. My enthusiasm starts to die. We head to the mechanic and as we are driving I could also tell something was wrong with the diff/driveshaft as well as the steering. Might have had something to do with the drag strip marker on the window. Starting to get sad again.

At this point, I still want the car and hoping the mechanic will give me good news and I can just bargain with the kid to get the price down. Come back an hour later and have a private convo with the mechanic. I think we know where this is going. He tells me point blank “You sir need to walk away from this one.” Turns out pretty much everything in the car needed to be replaced. I am everything from suspension to drive train to everything. While inside I am just sad, externally the owner could tell I was pretty furious how much he lied to me. Made it real simple for him; ill give you $500 for the. Naturally he said no, I went back to the hotel booked a flight home and got hammered with my friends.

Ended up buying a 99 M3 the need weekend with a 1/3 of the miles.

TLDR - Forced to sell prized possession, tracked it down 5 years later, went to buy it back, was lied to about the condition, got drunk.