The One That Got Away


I saw this tweet the other day and it got me thinking about the one that got away.


Two years ago to the week, I had the opportunity to purchase a 1970 Chevrolet C-10. Not just any old C-10, one that had the right amount of patina and that had been semi-restored. I first noticed the truck on Portland’s Craigslist with a high selling price. At the same time, the truck was on eBay with a high reserve and didn’t sell. The second time it was listed on eBay, the reserve price came down a few thousand and although I didn’t bid to his reserve price, the owner messaged me and we started talking. After a couple of telephone calls about the truck and trying to line up our schedules, I hopped in my car and made the 3.5 hour drive down to Salem, OR to take a closer look at the truck.

According to the owner, Jerry, he purchased the truck from a seller in Vancouver, WA who brought it down to the Portland Swap Meet. The previous owner had performed a lot of work on the truck including swapping the ’67 front-end, replacing some of the body panels, cleaning up some of the rust, getting the motor running, putting the 20″ wheels on it, installing a Dakota Digital dash, among other improvements. After going over the entire truck and taking it for a 30 minute test drive, everything checked out. I was going to buy this truck. Jerry and I agreed on a price. I explained that I was going to pay him half in cash and the other half would come from a cashiers check from my credit union (at the time, my credit union had a special on used auto loans that made it too good of a deal to pass up). He was fine with this. We shook hands and then I drove back home.

The following day I went to my credit union to begin the process of obtaining the loan. I completed my end of the paperwork at the credit union and then had to send copies of the completed forms to Jerry for him to complete. When Jerry returned the paperwork, I sent it to the credit union, and within minutes after sending it to the credit union, I received a call from the Loan Officer who was working with me. There was a problem.

The truck was not registered to Jerry. It was still registered to the person Jerry purchased it from who lived in Vancouver. The credit union was not going to issue me a loan and cut Jerry a check for a vehicle that wasn’t registered in his name. I had a couple of options: ask Jerry to go register the truck in his name so we could complete the purchase or take out a personal loan to purchase the truck. The latter option came with an interest rate nearly four times the special used auto loan rate. Hard nope. It was going to have to be the first option.

Asking Jerry to register the truck seemed like a reasonable request. He wanted to get rid of the truck, I was an able and willing buyer, and I thought he would understand, and he did, but he didn’t want to go through the process of registering the truck in his name. I offered to pay for the registration fees and he refused. I even offered to pay for the registration fees and throw in an additional $100 for his time. He still refused. An extra $250 and yet he still refused. All he wanted was the money for the truck.

I couldn’t tell if Jerry was being stubborn or if there was something shady going on. If this was an all cash deal, he would have just signed the title over to my name and it would be done. But wanting to pay him with cash and a cashier’s check via an auto loan, this wasn’t going to work. With him unwilling to register the vehicle and my unwillingness to use a personal loan, the deal was dead.

A couple of months later, the truck reappeared on eBay but body work had been done and the truck was sprayed in flat black primer. All of the patina and character from the truck was gone. This truck was no longer for me. But to another buyer, they were just a paint job away from a show-ready truck. The truck ended up selling near what he was originally asking.

In the last two years of keeping an eye out for C-10’s, nothing has come close to this truck that I could have had. I still give myself a hard time for not dipping into savings or cashing out some investments to purchase the truck. To most people, it probably makes no sense to go to these lengths in order to purchase an old, clapped-out truck. But these trucks, in decent condition, are increasingly harder to find. The nice ones have become collector vehicles and they don’t get driven on the roads except to shows or for fair-weather cruising. To me, these trucks look better than newer trucks on the road today. They drive perfectly fine for daily driving. I still think about the test drive I took and how well it handled for being a 47-year old truck and how responsive the throttle was. You can’t replicate the sensation and experience of driving these classic trucks.

Next time…

Buy the truck. Buy it and then go get fucking avocado toast. Drive and enjoy the truck like there’s no tomorrow. You age quickly, the old people are lying to you and blaming you because they feel bad they stole your future and shit all over what they didn’t steal.