Hooniverse Asks: Have You Ever Come Across a Car or Truck You Used to Own?

I look at a lot of cars out there, and I am attuned to particular makes and models that I presently own or have owned. Every once in a while I come across one that I think might actually be one that I at one time owned. It inevitably turns out not to be the case, but my hopes are raised just the same.
Have you ever come across a car you once owned? How’d that feel?
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39 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: Have You Ever Come Across a Car or Truck You Used to Own?”

  1. P161911 Avatar

    My first BMW, a 1988 750iL that I owned in about 2006 or so. It had “issues”. I had traded a 1987 Bronco for the 750. I traded the 750 for a 1979 Ford Ranchero. About a year later I was cruising Craigslist and saw my old BMW listed on there for $1500. That is the closest that I have come to seeing an old car.
    I do have feelings of longing every time that I see a red 1994 Corvette with 6 speed and tan sport seats.

  2. GTXcellent Avatar

    It’s a small town, so, yeah, all the time.
    Now, one that really, really surprised me was coming across my dad’s ’81 Dodge W150 – about 10 years after he sold it, in Fargo, ND. It was absolutely his old truck – same bumper (remember in 1981 rear bumpers were still aftermarket accessories), same topper, same wheels, same cracks in the same bright blue, brittle plastic interior, same rust/paint spot in the box that had been primered. It was his truck. I didn’t have time to wait and see who/what was driving. At least they appeared to be giving the ol’ gal some TLC and not just lugging around a 15+ year old beater.
    I wonder where it is now? Probably the steel in my washing machine. Circle of life.

  3. Kiefmo Avatar

    I owned a panda-painted 2002 WRX wagon for a couple of years. I sold it to a guy who may or may not occasionally come around these parts. He kept it for a few years, fixing what he broke or wore out, until it spun a main bearing and he sold it as a non-runner, ready to stop throwing money at it and move on. I didn’t know any of the latter until I saw my car again.
    So here’s how I encountered it again. I was at a neighbor’s house for a cookout, and we were hanging out in his driveway drinking and shootin’ the shit. This neighbor has a pristine WRB WRX wagon of similar vintage to my older one, and is also the caretaker of an heirloom TR4 as well as whatever Mini his wife is driving at the time. Anyway, he’s got a car under a fitted cover over in the bushes, and I gather from the profile that it’s another WRX wagon. He confirms my suspicion and says it’s a non runner with some good parts and he hasn’t decided what to do with it yet. He goes off to check on the grill, and I go to pull up the corner of the cover at the front bumper. It’s white. So I tell my kiddo who’s nearby to get on the ground, look up under the cover at the rear view mirror, and tell me what color it is. It’s black.
    Neighbor returns from grill, and I ask him where he got this WRX. Said it was from a kid named Andy. I said “No way! I think you have my old car!” He pulls back the cover and sure enough, ’tis unmistakably so. Alcantara seats with “ESX” embroidered. Paint chip in one door jamb revealing past colors the car had been through.
    If I recall correctly, neighbor stuffed in a mildly-built engine with a 2.5L block and 2.0L WRX heads, with the plan of using it as a test-bed to tune the engine before swapping it into his pristine WRB WRX. But in the end, he decided to sell the more powerful, but junkier WRX with the engine making about 350hp or so. I believe it sold to someone whose intention was to tear it up to build an 818.

  4. 0A5599 Avatar

    I traded a 70 Challenger with retrofitted 440-6, Shaker hood, and Dana 60 to a guy for a 1969 Corvette. A few years later I spotted the car at a classic consignment lot I was passing, and even though the color had been changed and much rectification had taken place, I still recognized it from a distance (confirmed when I saw the VIN).
    The owner was selling it to raise cash to buy a ZL1 Camero.

    1. Mark Thompson Avatar
      Mark Thompson

      How come people can’t spell “Camaro”?

  5. Kiefmo Avatar

    Come to think of it, I’ve seen a sold vehicle again more often than not.
    I spotted my wife’s recently-sold Odyssey the other day around town. There are a million look-alike silver Odysseys around, but I recognized the pattern of dings and paint scuffs unique to ours.
    My first vehicle, an ’88 Ram 50 (imported for Dodge!) was sold to a neighbor’s kid for a pittance because it was our extra vehicle and they weren’t well off and really needed a vehicle. So I saw that one all the time before aforementioned kid drove it across the country to Seattle, where she finally came out (we all knew, but small town GA being what it is…).
    I understand she returned to GA in the last few years, but without my old pickup. So someone in the Pacific Northwest is now enjoying a truck that once hooned dirt roads (and explored plenty of ditches) in the hands of a teenager who thought he had a starring role on The Dukes of Hazzard.
    My second vehicle, the Geo Prizm, was sold to a kid at church for a pittance, but not before my brother drove it for a while. Saw that plenty afterwards. He painted the steelies black and tinted the windows, but that couldn’t hide the fact that it was a silvery-blue granny car.
    My third vehicle, a Saturn SL, I sold to an older Indian guy at the company I was working at. He bought it for his college-aged daughter, which was interesting only because aforementioned daughter was rail thin, and the SL had a manual steering rack. Aforementioned daughter later got a job at the company, and I saw it regularly after that. It was obviously mine because of the stupid aftermarket turbo muffler and absurd 3″ tip.
    My fourth vehicle, a Volvo 960, was purchased from a lady at church when her much-higher-mileage 960 blew a headgasket. She bought mine with the idea to drive it while hers was getting fixed, then give it to her son, but she liked it more than her older one (it was a rareish special edition with the most amazing seats in the world), so she gave the older one to her son instead. Anyway, saw that plenty afterwards, too.
    My fifth vehicle, a Mazda Protege, I never saw again.
    My sixth vehicle, a Toyota Cressida, I never saw again, and it’s probably in Mexico right now.
    My seventh vehicle, the WRX, appears in another comment.
    My eighth vehicle, a Rabbit Convertible, appeared on the side of the road (definitely mine with the shoddy-fitting vinyl top and black 15″ steelies), then on an extortion letter from a tow lot wanting $800 to get it out of hock (evidently, the new owners never registered it, so I was the last known owner). I laughed as I shredded the letter.
    My ninth vehicle, a CBR250R, I’ve never seen again.
    My tenth vehicle is still in my possession and will be for many miles to come, gods willing.

    1. P161911 Avatar

      RE: the Rabbit, ALWAYS do a bill of sale and keep a copy. Never know what kind of shady characters will buy cheap used cars. I know of at least one other person being contacted by an impound lot months or even a couple of years after a car has been sold. Usually just impounded, but you never know, wouldn’t want an old hooptie still legally in your name to be found at a crime scene.

      1. Kiefmo Avatar

        No worries. I have never not done a bill of sale AND taken a photo of it with the purchaser’s driver’s license.

      2. mdharrell Avatar

        “Never know what kind of shady characters will buy cheap used cars.”
        Actually, I know precisely what kind of shady character I am.
        With that in mind, Washington (and I believe many other states) has a nifty form attached to the title itself, at least for titles issued within the last couple of decades, designed to be detached and mailed to the Dept. of Licensing by the seller at the time of sale. A similar form can be completed online as well. It essentially says “I sold this to this person on this date. Don’t bug me if it ends up at a crime scene and/or on fire. It ain’t mine no more.” I’m paraphrasing, but I would have greater respect for the DoL were that in fact verbatim. Under state law it relieves the seller of future responsibility for the vehicle.

        1. Fuhrman16 Avatar

          Minnesota has the same thing. I know it helped me stay out of trouble when I sold my 4runner.

          1. Wayward David Avatar
            Wayward David

            As does California. I filled one out in January when I sold my old Taurus to a friend instead of junking it (his idea, took much persuading). Glad I did; a week later the car was in impound, never to be seen again.

        2. P161911 Avatar

          Nothing like that here in Georgia. But we don’t even require a title for a vehicle over 20 years old, tag receipt is fine.

          1. mdharrell Avatar

            Oh, I’ve encountered Georgia’s casual approach to older cars. The Microcar Museum in Madison never bothered to do any paperwork for what is now my KV, then sold it locally to a guy who also never did any paperwork, who then sold it to me. Consequently it arrived here with a handful of decades-old French documents and a handwritten bill of sale from that guy.
            The State of Washington was not favorably impressed. I’ve got a title now, but I had to wait three years for it.
            Then again, I’m still going through the same wait for a title on my three-wheeled moped from New York, as apparently that state didn’t title mopeds back in the early ’80s, which is when it was last registered. Ditto for my one-wheeled trailer from Texas, as Texas apparently didn’t title trailers under a certain size at the time, either…
            The surprisingly sympathetic State Patrol officers at the local station in charge of inspecting VINs for out-of-state vehicle transfers are getting to know me, which I guess overall is an okay thing.

          2. Alff Avatar

            Will Washington issue plates while the car is in title Purgatory? Three years is a long time to have another car motionless in the drive.

          3. mdharrell Avatar

            Hey, three years isn’t all that long to have another… Oh, right, your question:
            Yes, they issue the plates immediately. It’s even possible to transfer possession to someone else during that period and, mercifully, the clock does not reset to another full three years of waiting. The only difficulty would be finding a buyer who doesn’t mind waiting for the remainder of the ongoing period before (hopefully) receiving a title, and who doesn’t mind taking the risk that someone else will dispute the claim to ownership in the meantime.
            I’ve never purchased or sold anything in the middle of this process, though. So far I’ve always been the one to start the clock and to wait it out.

          4. Vairship Avatar

            You of course have the benefit of owning vehicles where it is unlikely anyone else will dispute your claim of ownership…

        3. Vairship Avatar

          And of course Washington State is kind of a shady place. Which is why all the sparkly vampires live there.

  6. Alff Avatar

    Not mine, my mother’s. She had a ’68 Camero RS/SS, leased new when my dad worked at the dealership. The three of us passed it on the freeway in the 80s, still sporting the same plates but looking a bit rough around the edges. It was the first time either of my parents had seen it since letting it go in 1969 or 70.

  7. Citric Avatar

    My dad has the best story of this, actually, though I was there when it happened. Once, we went to a local heritage day, and one of the things was a display of antique cars. Among them was a black 1948 Monarch that my dad thought looked familiar. It was originally his grandfathers, and it also happened to be the car he and my uncle would drive to parties before they bought their own cars. It wasn’t technically his car, but it was the family ride anyway. The owner is there and giving rides to kids, so my dad starts asking who he bought it from and stuff, and turns out there was only one owner between my grandfather and the current owner so it was definitely the family car, decades later – he sold it in the ’50s, this happened in the ’90s. The whole ride then was my dad telling this guy the various adventures he and my uncle got into with the car.
    So in short, this happened to my dad after a good 40 years.

  8. dukeisduke Avatar

    About a year after I traded my ’78 Audi Fox on the ’68 Bonneville 4-door sedan, I saw the Fox parked (in the fire lane) in front of a Target store in North Dallas. It was still wearing the same plates, and still had the same two cracks in the windshield, on the driver’s side.
    Nowadays when I need to sign up for a Carfax membership (like I did a couple months when we bought my daughter’s Forte Koup), I look up our old cars. The last Previa is off the road now, issued a junk title in 2015, and my ’95 F-150 had a reported front end collision with airbag deployment last August, so it’s probably done.

    1. Hatchtopia Avatar

      I wish I had thought to record the VINs off of my old cars just so I could look them on Carfax. Oh well.

  9. tonyola Avatar

    These were common in South Florida until fairly recently – even in light metallic blue. My car was identical to the pictured car except mine had fake wire wheels. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/6f5a23b3c9dcb7c58e57ad4b11534fd80bcb9d73d10e29b8053f8b9bcd4238f6.jpg
    However, it’s been a long, long time since I’ve seen one of these in stock form. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f707d1395789d08a14dac1680083561baef95d5b5fbdce10c4d590d9e47ffeac.jpg

  10. Smaglik Avatar

    I’ve been a long time lurker on this site, but this topic finally got me to chime in. Back in 08-09 or so, I owned an 87 635csi. Delphin grey metallic. I drove the piss out of it, putting 40k miles on it in under 2 years, and fixing all the broken bits. Because i have car ADHD, I sold it to a guy out of Colorado Springs, even though it was in awesome shape.
    Two years later, on a whim, my ex and I weekend in Denver (home is Flagstaff). On another whim, we road trip to Breckenridge one day. After arguing about lunch, we walk a mile to a soup place, which, honestly, was pretty good. We’re sitting there eating, and a delphin grey 635csi pulls in the lot. My eyes follow it, noticing the jankily installed spoiler (factory piece, but I did it myself in a poor decision to save $50). The driver walked into a ups store. I went out to the car, and it was my car, the spoiler and shift knob sealed it. I waited around to speak with the guy, and he immediately started asking about all these problems that it had. I couldn’t help, but I noticed it had only moved about 1000 miles since I sold it, sadly.
    In town here, I still see a Honda accord (07 v6 sedan with the manual) I used to own. I know where it parks on campus. I met the owner in a meeting last month. He still loves it.

  11. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    Sort of. I sold my ’61 Chevy panel truck to a co-worker. It was badly in need of work, and this guy was a nuclear engineer who restored classic Buick Rivieras as a side business. The truck disappeared for about a year, and then showed up in the parking lot at work looking absolutely beautiful. Sheet metal was 100% straight, with a later, smooth Chevy hood (It had a homely, equally incorrect early GMC hood on it when I bought it), chrome Cragar SS wheels in place of the steel white spokes it had worn, and a Vegas Gold metallic paint job. He let me drive it. Inside The cracked floor pan was welded up, new seat mounts, rebuilt steering box, new bushings in the floor shifter. It was glorious. I wasn’t even jealous because there was no way I could have saved it.

  12. ptschett Avatar

    For a short time in the early ’70’s my grandfather had a pale yellow ’70 GTO with a black interior and black vinyl top. He sold it to his brother-in-law and my great-aunt drove it for awhile before they sold it. (She once mentioned that her students said they liked riding in her car because she made the tires squeal.)
    The summer of ’99 or 2000 I was riding around with my dad on a parts run and we see this well-kept, pale yellow w/ black roof ’70 Goat parked outside the quickie lube place. My dad stopped and got permission to look through the glovebox; he found registration cards from when my great-uncle & -aunt had that car.

  13. mwh191100 Avatar

    Living in the Caribbean, cars are turned over quite often as people come and go. It’s also not uncommon to be recognized everywhere you go if you have a bright yellow Ranger, or a Hulk green Wrangler. A few years ago I bought a ’99 Pajero off a stranger somewhere on the other side of the island, then later sold it for a newer car. One night, I was hanging out with a group of friends looking at facebook, when a picture pops up from several years ago of my friend’s brother, and my old Pajero in the background. The brother had apparently lived on the island many years back and drove the same Pajero (plates stay with the cars so I could confirm). Stupid GDI engine on that thing smoked like a carolina BBQ.

  14. Spin Avatar

    Does seeing it in a scrapyard count? I went back to pull out the driver’s seat for my desk at home

  15. mdharrell Avatar

    My previous cars generally have disappeared without a trace, which probably says something about my choice of vehicles, but there was this one time when the next owner stuck a cage in it. The next time I saw it, I raced it.

  16. Fred Talmadge Avatar
    Fred Talmadge

    Both of my pickups I saw all the time. I met the owner of a Sprite. A few others I got emails and pictures. My first car 1959 Ford Fairlane I sold to a friend of a friend’s mother, who promptly blew it up and sold it to a guy up the street who rebuilt the motor.

  17. JayP Avatar

    Sold the ’83 5000s to a guy who knew a guy who knew my dad.
    The suspension was shot meaning the toe would dart in and out all of the sudden. $200.
    About 3 years after we sold it I spotted it on the interstate an hour outside my home town. Not that many old Audis back then, still had the SCCA sticker on the back.
    The new owner had added a turbo front spoiler which is something I wanted to do but was $300 from the dealer.

  18. Ed Avatar

    A couple of years after I sold my 1985 Trans Am I saw it on I-95 driven by a middle aged couple. It still looked great and made me miss it even more. Then a few years after that I spotted it again in another city about 70 miles away. Happened to be driving by a Firestone tire place and saw it sitting there. I doubled back to double check and sure enough, it was my old Trans Am. It no longer looked as good as the last time I had seen it 🙁

  19. sunbeammadd Avatar

    I used to see my Peugeot 206 around from time to time. Each time I saw it it looked a bit more dilapidated than the last time. Then it vanished.

  20. Borkwagen Avatar

    Yes, but as a Craigslist ad, being parted out thanks to a blown head gasket; there were tell-tale mods (mud flaps, rare set of AT Italia 5-spoke wheels) that identified it as my old car. I also saw the wheels in a used car ad a few years after seeing the car being parted on, installed on a completely different car.

  21. salguod Avatar

    In high school I drove a very rusty 76 Camaro which I fixed up (read: applied much bondo) and then sold. A couple of years later, while junk yard shopping for parts for the 80 Monza that replaced it, I came upon my old Camaro in Spuds junkyard. It was clearly mine by the half hearted patch panel riveted to the passenger fender and the unfortunate synthetic fur headliner I had applied.

  22. Fuhrman16 Avatar

    Yes, with four of them. Two of them, the ’93 Chevy Caprice and ’95 Dodge Dakota, were given to family so I saw them quite regularly and it didn’t bother me that much.
    I spotted my ’86 Toyota 4runner, which had a very distinctive Grateful Dead sticker on the tailgate, in a parking lot in Fargo while Christmas shopping a couple years ago. I really didn’t car for the truck that much so it also didn’t bother me, but I was a little curious of who currently owned it, since the guy I sold it to apparently abandoned it or something (I don’t remember the details, but a received a call from the police about it).
    My ’92 Saab 900S was a different story. I had really regretted selling it, and the guy I sold it to delivered pizzas, so I saw it around town about once a week. But as fate would have it, it ended up ditching Minnesota for warmer climates out west and I was able to buy it back from him.

  23. ElricN Avatar

    Only once. Found my old 2004 Buick LeSabre Limited at a buy-here-pay-here in Jacksonville, NC, about three months after I traded it in.

  24. Mark Thompson Avatar
    Mark Thompson

    I sold a ’97 Honda XR650L to a guy who works in my office building. The bike was 4 years old and had 15,000 miles on it. I was the only owner up to then. Still ran and looked good. About a year later I run into the buyer at a local bike shop. He says, “check this out” and leads me to the service area. There’s the bike, engine out. Apparently the countershaft sprocket bearing failed…probably due to me keeping the chain adjusted on the tight side of the spec. Sorry about that.