Regrets – we’ve had a few, but then again, too few to mention. Actually that’s not strictly true – it seems we all look back on our catalogue of car purchases with some degree of regret. There are cars we regret selling. Cars we regret not buying. And cars we regret buying. PetrolBlog’s latest feature has certainly struck a chord with many of you, leading to an outpouring of tales of regret.
The PetrolBlog Regrets bandwagon is gathering pace. Hot on the heels of the Corrado, MR2 and Rover 75 is another regretful tale from the criminally under-followed Twitter legend, Chris Barker (aka @Bateman1972). It’s a bittersweet story filled with deep regret and loss. Actually, scrub that, there’s nothing sweet about it. Not from Chris’s perspective anyway. Read on to find out more.
My tale of regret centres around a car I did actually purchase, rather than one I missed out on. Although the regret factor is as stratospheric as Robin Brown’s, albeit for a very different reason.
Many of my friends might be surprised to learn that there is – to this very day – only one car I’ve regretted buying, despite being the proud owner of a Diamond White Ford Escort XR3i, a pleb-spec Subaru Impreza WRX STi (complete with what can only be described as a draughts board painted on its roof)and an Audi 80 coupé that was essentially held together with Araldite and a prayer.
No, my chapter of automotive woe was of far more epic proportions than any of the above-mentioned, and still haunts me to this very day every time I stare out upon any object finished in Salsa Green metallic. Admittedly, it’s not a regular occurrence, on account of general taste and decency in society being upheld in certain quarters.
There’s the first clue. Salsa Green. How about Flash Red and Jazz Blue? And then there’s a hue and saturation of visually arresting yellow with the power to detach your retinas in a Tom and Jerry fashion, the name of which escapes me. Yes, I’m referring to the limited edition run of Volkswagen Golf GTi in the mid-1990s of course, that’s logged in history as the Colour Concept; A special cache of sub-model that encapsulated every bile-inducing shade of extremist colour under the sun, whose manufacture couldn’t be logically explained at the time and certainly can’t some 16 years on. Perversely, and by contrast, there was an extremely minimal Diamond Black Colour Concept too. A black Golf GTi with a black leather interior that would obviously give architects another option away from a Saab 900 Turbo. Or possibly not.
It shouldn’t have surprised anyone at the time, as let’s not forget VW had been the brains behind the Polo Harlequin, shortly before they treated us to the Golf Colour Concept. A car that sported every colour you’d never opt for in the Volkswagen brochure, all under one roof. Or in the event; painted on to every panel of exterior bodywork. An overall effect that was as bewildering as it was stomach-turning. This act of auto-sabotage was repeated on the Golf too, such was the adjudged sales success of the Polo Harlequin. 112 finding homes with the style-vacuous in the UK before production mercifully ceased in 1998.
It was also around this time, that the powers that be at Vee-Dub decided in their wisdom to celebrate the appeal and longevity of ageing rockers, Pink Floyd and The Rolling Stones, by immortalising them on the European Tour Edition Golf; culminating in the Bon Jovi model in 1996 to add the final insult to automotive sub-design injury. So Volkswagen were no strangers to making bold statements that had – believe it or not – been given the thumbs up by focus groups somewhere down the line.
But I digress.
This was the first and only time in my life to date, that I decided to buy a car as an investment. A potential future classic that could only increase in value and acquire that ‘much sought after’ tag historically reserved for knackered old big Mercs and anything which starts with the first line, ‘Austin Healey…’ Well, subconsciously, and more-readily as a defence mechanism should anyone question my choice/eyesight/sanity (delete as you think applicable).
After much research and waiting I stumbled upon ‘the one’ in the car buyer’s bible as it still was in the early 2000s, the Auto Trader. The paper version that is, as the internet didn’t exist back then. Not in the rural backwater time had forgotten that I called home any road. A 2.0-litre 8v 1995 model on an ‘N’ plate, which, whilst benefitting from all the hallmarks of a standard GTi of that vintage, was also bedecked in a fully colour-coded Recaro leather interior and matching gearknob and handbrake gaiter. Even the VW logotype facing you on the steering wheel was resplendent in the exterior colour choice. In the case of my car, Salsa Green. This, alongside the Freakishly Illuminating Yellow variant, was – according to legend – the rarest of all the Colour Concept beasts. Not so much as a smear of dried Turtle Wax residue on the outside, nor a crease on the leather-bound insides, this one-owner (a nun if my memory serves me correctly), FSH, low mileage model ticked all the necessary boxes for £2,200, and I was chuffed to my proverbially northern meatballs with my acquisition.
That was until approximately five weeks later.
Having endured a cavalcade of verbal abuse, ridicule and blasphemous outpouring from people I hitherto had considered ‘friends’, I stood resolute in the face of this onslaught and pootled around town in my Sinus Infection Green Golf with my head held high. Touching the ceiling high, given the limited option rake of the supposedly sports seats. Surprisingly not a single girl perched their derriere on my passenger seat during this honeymoon period, and bizarrely my friends chose to meet me at destinations as opposed to travelling with me for those first few weeks. Then it suddenly dawned on me.
Damn near five weeks to the day after I had bought my Atrociously Green Golf GTi Colour Concept, I walked up to it outside the house and the full, unabridged horror hit me. I had exchanged money for a hideously coloured car, through choice, in broad daylight. I hadn’t been blackmailed, physically threatened nor temporarily drugged. After struggling to grasp why I’d chosen to commit such an act, I sought refuge and momentary respite away from passers-by and neighbours in the driver’s seat. But really, there’s nowhere to hide when those seats are the most startling shade of radioactive green the world’s ever encountered, trust me.
I did what any mature adult would do faced with this situation. I shouted a lot, punched the steering wheel (which in turn set off the alarm, just to draw even more unnecessary attention to myself and my EXTRAORDINARILY GREEN CAR) and cried. Half an hour later I’d penned a For Sale ad and was scouring the Yellow Pages for a counsellor.
Two, long, awkward, embarrassing months passed, without a single response to my plea for anyone to step forward and put me out of my misery. Surely there were some serious ‘collectors’ out there, scouring the small ads for a future classic. A much sought after one I hasten to add. But, no.
Finally I approached a friend of a friend who bought and sold cars to help pay his way through Uni, who I had on good authority, knew his motors. Having said that his initial response was a blank face, followed by one of those coughs that you know disguises laughter. He was hard pressed to identify my Colour Concept, believing it at first to be an idiot-spec, pimped Golf rather than something that had rolled off the production line in all this gory. Naturally he then immediately appreciated its worth and agreed to take it off my hands; slapping some used and suspect bank notes totalling £800 into my palm and walked off. This time doing considerably less than before to mask the sound of his laughter. And with it, nipping in the bud my fledgling career in automotive investments.
Car: 1995 Volkswagen Golf GTi Colour Concept
Reason for selling: Social exclusion otherwise
Strength of regret: 9/10
Possibility of buying another one: 0/10
PetrolBlog wants to hear your regrets. Get in touch with us at the usual address and fill PetrolBlog with regret. You know it makes sense.
Images courtesy of vwvortex.com