Cars I Could’ve, Should’ve, Kept

Memoir of a Life Restoring Classic Sports Cars

Cars I Could’veby Jackson Brooks


“No regrets.” The cars that have gone through the author’s hand would amount in today’s dollars, in his estimation, to a cool 30–40 million dollars. No wonder then that a, sometimes wistful, look back at a 40-year span of owning and selling classic cars is on the mind of an author who was in his 80s when he wrote this book.

Some of his cars are, by today’s standards, the very cream of the crop, each one capable of funding a comfortable retirement. But money, or even value, was not the driving force for this author (valuations in 2005 dollars are relegated to mere footnotes at the end of each chapter). Rather, being possessed of an artist’s eye—but self-critical enough to realize that he himself should not be one (he went into the neon business instead)—he appreciated the esthetic appeal of certain cars, learned about them, and sought to acquire examples that spoke to him—no matter the condition. He learned to restore them to a sound, drivable and presentable state, but not with investment or the show circuit in mind. He specifically does not see himself as a “collector.” Some cars were bought and fixed up simply for the experience of having the pleasure of driving them for a while, and then sold to repeat the experience with yet another car.

This book describes a good 30 of these cherished memories in detail, and many more in passing. Coachwork enthusiasts will be eager to see photos of the flamboyant De Mola (Belgium)-bodied 1930 Alfa Romeo. He gravitated towards sports cars, especially those of an Italian persuasion.

As an aside, this is one of the enlightened few books that recognizes that fact that not all Lucas (or Smiths) parts are created equal, i.e. poorly, but were built to whatever price point a manufacturer needed to have met. Index.


Copyright 2015, Sabu Advani (

Cars I Could’ve, Should’ve, Kept
Memoir of a Life Restoring Classic Sports Cars
by Jackson Brooks
McFarland, 2007
263 pages, b/w illustrations, softcover
List Price: $29.95
ISBN-13: 978-0786428106

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