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The past | Off Kilter


Last updated 2/2/2022 at 11:59am

(die Vergangenheit, le passé, el pasado, Az elmúlt – double points if you know what language this is – hint – it is related to Genghis Khan and his travels – see answer below.)

We’ve all thought the following: “if only I had done this vs. that.” Or, hindsight is 20/20. We’ve all been there. We’ve all wanted a “get out of jail free card,” or “another at-bat,” or a “second (third, fourth, etc.) chance.”

What these recriminations are all about is the fact that we’re human and we screw up (regularly). I’ve heard just about all the expressions:

- he/she turned out to have feet of clay.

- I can’t believe I actually did (or said) that.

- Why didn’t (so and so) do (say) this instead of that.

Now here are some of the things many of us wish we could travel back in time for a do-over.

That car that I sold too soon:

The Ford AC Cobra: (developed by Carol Shelby to fight against Ferrari at the 24 hours of LeMans and at the 24 hours of Daytona in the 60s) was available with both the small Ford V8 (the 289 cubic inch engine) and the big-block 427 cubic inch engine. It was also built (second generation) as a coupe. Reason: the roadster was considered virtually undrivable down the Mulsanne Straight at LeMans, where speeds reached 200 mph. Only a handful of coupes were built – with the 427 engines. Although the Cobra did not win at LeMans, the other racecar built by Ford the GT40, did defeat Ferrari – taking first, second and third at the 1966 LeMans race. Now the AC Cobra coupes, after LeMans, were offered for sale to the drivers, including Pete Brock (who not only drove the car, but helped design it) for approx. $4,500 each. Pete Brock would later relate that: “I did not have the $4,500 at the time.“ A few years ago, one of these Coupes sold for almost $10 million.

Any early BMW – especially the 328 convertible (from pre-WWII): These cars were considered very expensive at the time. In that era’s dollars about $5,500 for a new one. Only a few hundred were built as the price was considered way too high for the market. Today, they change hands (if restored) at antique auctions (such as Barrett Jackson, Mecoms, etc.) for half a million dollars or more.

Vintage Pontiac GTOs: The standard American Muscle car craze was started with the early to mid 60s Pontiac GTO. For only a few hundred

dollars more than the Pontiac Tempest (upon which the model was based) you could get the convertible with a 400 cubic inch engine and a 4-speed manual on the floor. Perhaps $4,500 (out the door). Today, a restored ‘65 GTO like this routinely brings a couple of hundred thousand dollars.

Any 60s era Ferrari: Some, such as the Ferrari 250 GTO have sold for over $50 million! However, these cars were virtually “unobtainable“ even when new and priced at only $25k or so.

Other “things we let slip away“: Now there are many other tangible items that have become worth a fortune. Things such as genuine Tiffany Lamps, letter openers, and leaded glass shades. We all can recall things we either “gave away,“ lost somewhere over time, or worse, broke. Imagine how you’d feel today if you found grandma’s Tiffany cufflinks – but in pieces stuffed in some drawer.

Last, let’s talk about the “personal“ things we let slip away: One of the ones I will never forget is dating a young woman (many many years ago) who was the heir to the Macy’s department store family/fortune.

While I’m certain she did not consider me any prize, nor did I her, I think back as to what life might have been like living in one of the Newport, R.I., cottages along the ocean. These homes were gigantic – and typically only occupied for two months during the “season“ of July and August.

You know what? I would not have “sold my soul“ just to have access to these riches. Nor probably would I have been invited to do so. (Groucho Marx quote: I’d never join a club that would have me as a member!)

Re: Az elmúlt: It is Hungarian, one of my forebearer’s native languages. As Genghis Khan and his Mongols conquered a great deal of Europe and Asia, they went as far east as Japan, and as far west as Hungary, and as far north as Finland. So there is a distant relationship between Hungarian, Japanese and Finnish. What I know is in looking at all three languages, all to me, are indecipherable!


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