Hooniverse Asks: If you could have a do-over with any prior car, which would it be and why?

It remains the most entertaining front-wheel drive car I’ve driven. My 2000 Honda Civic Si (EM1) coupe was given to me by a close friend. Yes, it was essentially a free car. They were the second owners and he and his wife loved it. Unfortunately, she was in a fender bender on the highway while commuting to work. This caused front-end damage, blew both airbags, and tore up the carbon fiber hood. She was fine, the car still ran, but it was in rough shape. They didn’t want to simply ditch it for the crusher or part it out, so they handed it over to me.
I fixed parts of it. Well… Friend of Hooniverse Rick Radcliffe fixed parts of it. Other things broke along the way, but generally speaking it was a blast of a beater car. Sadly, I didn’t make much time for it. I’d come home from trips and find the battery dead and the tires slightly deflated. As soon as those issues were rectified I’d spend time smiling and driving the lovely machine. But the cycle would repeat and I knew I should pass the car along.
Were I to receive the car today, I’d do things a bit differently. This would’ve become a proper track car and that B16A2 four-cylinder engine would sing its 8,000 rpm song to the world. Plus, a front-driving Civic is an excellent starting point for an affordable track machine.
Do you have any vehicles you wish you could get back? If so, what would you do differently with the car or truck (or bike)?

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26 responses to “Hooniverse Asks: If you could have a do-over with any prior car, which would it be and why?”

  1. Fred Avatar

    For me it was a 1971 MGB. Beautiful light yellow, chrome wires and reliable only being about 3 years old at the time. It cost me $2000 and being a student I had a hard time paying the loan. So I sold it and got a cheap VW Beetle. I always thought I should of kept it and become a long time owner, collect MGBs for parts and become an expert. Would of saved me a lot of money not buying all those other cars over the last 40+ years.

  2. P161911 Avatar

    My 1996 BMW Z3, M Roadster conversion. I would run away laughing and screaming and never have bought the damn thing in the first place!
    About 2009, I was married with no kids, no car payments, a nice Trailblazer for the wife, and a fun little 4-door 5-speed 1987 BMW 325 for me. My dad is looking for his “old man convertible”, and his been for about a year. He finds this BMW Z3 and shows it to me. I show it to the wife. She says “Let’s get it.” I go for a test drive, this thing is QUICK! It seems to be well sorted and the conversion done well. It is Sunday night, I leave a deposit check with the seller and sign an agreement. The price is a stretch, but I can get a cash advance on a couple of credit cards until I sell the 325. Takes longer than I thought dealing with the banks, I call the seller back Monday night “Oh, I sold the car to somebody else for more money (I paid the asking price when I left a deposit.)” A few angry phone calls and threats of lawsuits later, I agree to pick up the car the next day. I get the car and everything is great. I’m having a ball with it. A couple of weeks later something happens. It is running rough and down on power. Take it to a BMW shop, “you have a catastrophic failure of one of the cylinders. You need a new engine.” I manage to find a junkyard S52 to replace the S52 that is in it. I get my dad’s shade tree mechanic to put it in. My already stretched budget has now dropped about half the purchase price of the car again on another engine. I get the car back, and it is OK, but doesn’t seem as good as before. I drive it for about a year, until it overheats and cracks the head. I get the head replaced at a BMW specialty shop, cost about the same as the junkyard engine. By this point, I now have a daughter and need a car with a back seat. At this point the car goes up for sale, but not before I need a set of front tires, because of the suspension set up, the inner 10% of the front tires wears out 90% quicker than the rest (no it wasn’t stanced, but might as well have been.) After about 6 months of trying to sell it, I FINALLY sell it for a couple of grand less than I paid for it about 16 months before. I’m STILL paying off credit card bills from that car! A car seat would have worked fine in the 325. The Z3 got replaced by the most unfun to drive vehicle, a new (the 5 year 100k mile powertrain warranty was really appealing after the BMW) 2011 Silverado extended cab WT, automatic, V-6.

    1. Zentropy Avatar

      Interestingly, I had a 1987 BMW 325, 4-door, 5-speed, and I’d love to have it back.

    2. neight428 Avatar

      I bought an ’01 Silverado new that replaced a ’94 Bronco that was beginning to have more bad days than good. It had a 5 speed manual behind the 4.3 V6, but that did not make it any more enjoyable to drive. I think that gearbox was designed by Caterpillar.

      1. P161911 Avatar

        I like to say the 4.3L V-6 in my Silverado offers the fuel economy of a V-8 (it is true the 4.8L LS based V-8 got the same or better mileage), with the power of a I-4 (the I-4 in the 2011 Colorado was only 5hp less).

  3. neight428 Avatar

    Does not buying them in the first place count as a do-over? I’ve had several of those.

    1. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

      If that counts, I have the ultimate Tuesday answer…

      1. neight428 Avatar

        I may be speaking of the inverse, but I guess it works either way. In my case, all I can say is that disco era Corvettes are cheaper than Novas for a reason, and trying to work under the cowl of a 4th gen F-body nearly drove me to take up archery or stamp collecting as a hobby,

  4. P161911 Avatar

    Oh, and I should have kept the truck I had before the Silverado. It was a 1989 Ford F-150 extended cab, long bed, 5-spped, I-6, 2WD. I didn’t NEED 2 trucks, but if I had it now, I could still use it to do truck things and sell the Silverado and get a somewhat fun car. I looked a while back to try to find a similarly equipped truck, I found ONE, purple one in California, I’m in Georgia.

    1. neight428 Avatar

      If I had to do it over again knowing what I know now, instead of cursing myself in 1992 with a 1986 Mustang SVO as my first car, I would have picked up something akin to your F-150 and not worried about having a “cool” car in high school. In retrospect, the most it did for me was make me a better mechanic and cyclist.

  5. tonyola Avatar

    If I had the money back in the mid-’80s, I would have sent my beloved 1984 CRX 1.5 5-speed off to Straman for a convertible conversion. By all accounts, Straman did the job right. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/37dc2a02ffe639501bdc070e13552c959f7b8721283ffb885ac490824f61f4ec.jpg

    1. P161911 Avatar

      I’m surprised, the even look decent with the top up.
      Often the aftermarket conversions have tops that look like they were done by the same people that did the Lotus 7 top.

      1. salguod Avatar

        I’m surprised at the effect that putting the top up has on the wheels.
        I have a friend with a yellow ’87 Straman Si. He and I spent Sunday afternoon attacking the fun roads of Hocking Hills. That Si and my RSX Type S are surprisingly well matched in the corners.

  6. GTXcellent Avatar

    My first truck – 1970 Chev CST10.
    Instead of beating on it like a dumb-assed 16 year old, I’d have fixed the only real issue (rusted out rockers) and given it a fresh coat of hugger orange/white and had a very enviable cruiser. So many regrets.

  7. Zentropy Avatar

    I’d have kept my ’87 BMW 325 4-door, instead of trading it for carpet.
    My wife and I were in the process of moving for her first “real job” after education and training. I was driving a beater E30 (that I loved dearly) with about 210k miles on the clock, but it was accumulating “issues”, and after I hit a deer (and a raccoon), cracked the windshield, and painted the hood flat black because of clear coat failure, my wife decided it was time to let it go.
    As bad luck would have it, the guy installing living room carpet in the house that we were selling asked about the car, so we made a deal. The Bimmer for the Carpet. Cue the foreboding music.
    I dated my wife in that car– we drove home in drenched seats after leaving the sunroof open while getting ice cream. I commuted 1400 miles per week in that car. I didn’t have sex in that car, but might have considered it, had it been an estate. Regardless, it was a sex-worthy car.
    If I were to do things over, I’d still have it, and it would now be sporting an S52, a like-new royal blue metallic paint job, and Alpina rims. But alas, it’s likely scrap metal now.

  8. 0A5599 Avatar

    My high school car was a van something like this one must have been during better days.
    I learned that there is a type of young woman that apparently doesn’t care that shag carpet in the back had become cliche. My do-over would be to learn that sooner.

  9. Peter Tanshanomi Avatar

    I bought it for $600 in 1995, drove it for eight months, and got $500 for it on trade with a shot head gasket and broken turn signal switch. I wouldn’t have been able to keep it running; I didn’t have a garage, or tools, or spare cash. I soooo should have figured out a way to keep it.

  10. Citric Avatar

    I know it’s not an exciting answer, but I had a 2013 Hyundai Elantra GT I want back. And if I got it back I would take a different route home so it would not get killed by a Dominoes driver. I took that thing to Arizona and back, I loved that car and it had plenty of life left in it, and I’m still bitter that a serial stop sign ignorer killed it.
    I think I’ll resent losing it forever.

  11. wunno sev Avatar
    wunno sev

    I think if I’d kept the 5-speed ’97 Maxima SE that was my first car, which I owned from very-late 2009 to mid-2011, I could have maybe skipped the next seven. it was comfortable, reliable, capacious, and reasonably quick, and it was a car for which one could have ambitions – there was a sizeable Maxima aftermarket, and they can look good if restraint is exercised. funny thing is, even today it’s hard to find a clean 5-speed Maxima for the $1500 I paid nearly ten years ago. not sure how that worked out so well for me.

  12. Alff Avatar

    I would have chosen to remain blissfully ignorant of Subaru ownership

  13. Tank Avatar

    Too many to go into detail, either being too poor or not having the time, The 1983 Corolla Wagon free car, the 1987 Corolla AE85, The 1982 RX7 I traded it for, the 1985 Chevy K10 that I ended up having to use as a daily… All these cars deserved more time and love than I gave them, I miss the 83 Wagon the most.

  14. HoondavanDude Avatar

    I regret just about every car I’ve sold or traded in. If I could keep them all, I would. Odd…but even the Ford Taurus I was gifted in college has a special place in my heart. I suppose nearly zero operating expense over 50k miles can be endearing. That car was ugly (1996) had design issues…but it was also bulletproof.

  15. Douche_McGee Avatar

    Probably the bone stock ’89 Foxbody LX hatch that I bought in 2001.
    I set it up for drag racing – scraping up sound deadener, adding drag shocks, big and littles on Welds. And I added c-clip eliminators in the rear, with 4.10s
    On the street with the big and littles, it handled like shit. And I was also running the older bias-ply M/T ET Streets, so it handled especially bad. I remember one day I put the stock tires up front, and the car felt like a Miata by comparison to the car with the big and littles.
    I should’ve just set it up for handling. I did all that – added Twisted Wedge heads, intake and a cam and only ran high 12s, because that day I was running Nitto Drag Radials, and they spun so easily.

  16. njhoon Avatar

    I wish I had my 70 Chevelle back. Well because 70 Chevelle… I got rid of it because it needed a new trans, & rear and while ‘I didn’t have the money’ I could have come up with it and the thought process of I can always get another.

  17. JayP Avatar

    I would have kept my ’88 5000 quattro.
    Got $1700 in trade towards my new 1997 A4 quattro.
    At the time, there wasn’t a good online community to support old Audis. And I was in an apartment without a garage.
    Today, that 5000 would be worth 10x the A4.

  18. going broke fast Avatar
    going broke fast

    For me it would be the 1991 BMW 325ix. It’s just my opinion but the BMW E30 is by far the best looking BMW series ever and the 1991 325ix is the best of the E30’s. I’ve owned five other BMW’s and none of them are in second place in terms of appeal. BMW never will but I wish they would go retro with these. I’d be first in line. Alas these cars are very old and the newly learned term” NLA” becomes problematic when trying to find parts for the existing cars in need of repair.