How to cope with seller’s remorse

How often have you sold something and even at the moment of the transaction known it was a mistake, at least emotionally if not monetarily? I have to admit that this has happened to me on far more than one occasion.

Looking back, I think the very first time I had an acute attack of seller’s remorse was in the early 1980s. I had been the proud owner of a 1952 Dodge M series weapons carrier, an old military vehicle. I had bought it surplus for $800, which matched its mileage perfectly as it had 800 miles (1,287 kilometres) on it. I drove it for several years and restored it to exactly mimic a Korean War truck used by the 101 Airborne, the Screaming Eagles. That truck and I had many adventures. But when I moved back to the Toronto area, it seemed not quite as sensible a choice of transport as when I had lived north of Kitchener-Waterloo.

I don’t remember who bought it, but I do vividly remember it being driven away, up the road and out of my life. It was replaced by a lightly used six-month-old Volkswagen Sirocco, undoubtedly the worst car I have ever owned, but that is another story.

I had a string of I-don’t-care vehicles for years after. It was not until I had established the restoration business that I ended up selling another vehicle I have since always missed. It was another truck, a 1942 one-ton Fargo stake truck, one of six produced for the civilian market in 1942 and delivered to a farm near London, Ont. All the rest of Fargo production that year was military trucks.

It was a lovely thing, much fancier than its Dodge counterpart and very art deco in design. It wasn’t fast, but it didn’t care how much it carried — it still did 72 kilometres an hour. It was a lovely creature, but I had moved about 50 km from work at the time, so I didn’t use it. It sat forlorn outside the shop as I didn’t have inside storage room for it. The weather soon started to have its way with the old thing and, after putting only 10 km on it in an entire year, I sold it — for its own sake.

Of course, not a month after selling it, I came across a property that I couldn’t pass up and ended up living less than four km from work, an easy drive for the old girl, but, alas, too late. I still have pangs. I would love her back as she could be put to work hauling hay and doing chores back on the farm. I am 50 km away again but in the opposite direction. With a farm, I could really use a good old stake truck. My vintage long-wheelbase military Land Rover, which I almost sold, lives there (are we sensing a theme here?) and does fencing duties and small tasks around the property. This keeps it healthy and useful and I have an excuse to keep it.

My next lost love is a car, but one that Ettore Bugatti called the world’s fastest truck. It was a 1929 4.2-litre Lemans Bentley and perhaps the greatest vehicular love affair of my life. I acquired it with a partner and there’s the rub. If I didn’t have a partner, then I would never have sold it. However, if I didn’t have a partner, then I would never have bought it, so I guess having it for a while was better than never having it at all. The car was like a great green leather-covered train with Union Jacks painted on the sides. I revelled in driving it well above the speed limit wherever we went, quite simply hoping for a ticket so I could go to court and brag to the judge, “Yes, Your Honour, I was doing 110 in an 80, but it was in a 1929 Bentley!”

My partner never got the car, which always surprised me as he usually had great taste in both art and cars. At his urging (nagging), we sold it. We got somewhere around $250,000 for it, but I hated the sale. I hate it even more now on a more mercenary level. If I were to get the opportunity to buy it back, I would have to pony up almost $1-million and that is not happening any time soon. I could have sold it for the same amount and that would certainly have taken the edge off the pain of loss.

The last breakup I had was with my supercharged Lotus Exige, a car that is about as far from being a truck as it’s possible to get. While I traded it for a Lotus Evora, a great car in its own right, the Evora is civilized and refined, a luxurious sport car. The Exige was a little savage, hard to get into and out of, featuring a Spartan interior, no real vision out the window as the engine is in the way and with a suspension that is painfully unkind to full bladders and intolerant of mistakes. It was, in short, a driver’s car, and I missed it the moment I penned the deal on the new Evora.

The one consolation is that, unlike lost love with high school crushes and old girlfriends, you can promise yourself that one day you’ll have another just like the one that got away.

The 1942 Fargo one-ton stake truck.
Photograph by: David Grainger, for National Post