ONES THAT GOT AWAY

CLIFF CHAMBERS

THE CARS WE SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT OR ARE JUST GLAD WE DIDN’T...

Tell us in 60 words the car you should have bought, or were lucky enough to buy!

Send your tale to uniquecars@bauertrader.com.au with ‘Gotaways’ in the title

JOHN COWIE - BUNDABERG, WIE , QLD

1971 FORD GT-HO PHASE III “A few years back, I had first refusal on a minty Phase III that was owned by my girlfriend’s dad. Try as I might, I couldn’t come up with a way of cobbling together $50,000, so instead I agreed that we’d build an extension and renovate the kitchen instead.

I never liked the kitchen then, and I like it even less now.”

NOW $5,250 $15-18,000

APRIL 1990 1946 PLYMOUTH

If American Graffiti venerated hot-rods and white Thunderbirds then the 70s television series it inspired, Happy Days, made heroes out of The Fonz’s Triumph motorcycle and Howard Cunningham’s De Soto. Here we have the cheaper Plymouth version; missing the Happy Days car’s grinning grille but it’s close enough to rekindle some nostalgia.

The conservative Plymouths were built here during the years following WW2 and plenty survived into the 1970s. By 1990 though, interest had faded and only those already in good condition stood a chance of survival.

NOW $3,000 $10,000+

JUNE 1986 TOYOTA CROWN 2000 S

It was great to see in a recent Unique Cars issue that at least one of these scarce and desirable Crowns has survived and is in excellent condition. They weren’t quite a super-sedan for bank managers but the twin-carb, six-cylinder engine with fourspeed transmission pushed this Toyota to 165km/h. They were expensive, though (and not a Holden) so not many were sold which makes today’s values a guess. Overseas sources are no help but let’s just say if you spent $3000 on this car 30 years ago and looked after it you won’t have lost.

NOW $69,900 $180-210,000 6 180

OCTOBER 1997 BMW 3.0 CSL

Nicknamed The Batmobile, these bulky BMW coupes were trimmed to 1270kg for competition use. Race versions won European Touring Car titles and the US IMSA series; boosting BMW’s status as a performance brand on both sides of the Atlantic. CSLs used to pop up fairly regularly for local sale; quite likely ex-UK cars where 500 right-hookers were sold. At $69,900 during the cash-strapped 1990s this car probably brought the seller a few sleepless nights and the buyer a hefty discount. One of them will look at our value estimate and feel quite happy.

NOW $10,500 $170,000- $200,000

SEPTEMBER 1985 LANCIA AURELIA V6

Sensationally advanced and wrapped in a near-ageless body, the Aurelia was too exotic to come Down Under in any quantity when new. This Aurelia probably arrived some time after it was built and hopefully didn’t need too much rust removal before being offered for sale. About 3800 of the V6 Coupes were made and recent European sale listings would bring a smile to the dial of whoever now owns this rare car. Even in tatty condition, Aurelia coupes crack 100,000 Euro (around A$150,000) and top examples by now are pushing a healthy quarter-million.

NOW $36,000 $60- $65,000

FEBRUARY 2004 VN COMMODORE SS GROUP A

Holden’s big red track-warrior appeared on the market just as the people with enough money to buy one were heading for the cave. Massive interest rates saw cars like the VN Group A become luxuries that most couldn’t afford and production that should have reached 500 was halted at 302; the vast majority in Durif Red. Twelve years ago you could find them at half the original $68,000 price and this low-kay car must have seen Tassie airports filling up with potential punters. If it’s yours now, you did well.

NOW $29,999 $60-80,000

JANUARY 1996 AUBURN SPEEDSTER REPLICA

If you’ve fallen in love with the voluptuous shape of this magnificent Auburn Speedster and want one, locally probably isn’t the place to be looking. Head instead to the USA where there have been several companies over the past 50 years building replica Speedsters. You can even still buy a new one, however the price has risen above US$115,000. Harking back 20 years, a fibreglass, Ford-engined Auburn lookalike for $30K might not have seemed a splendid deal but today people would be knocking each other sideways to write a cheque and sprawl behind that long boat-like bonnet.

NOW $18,500 $90-100,000

MARCH 1995 HOLDEN LC TORANA XU-1

According to usually-accurate sources, Holden built 1633 LC Torana XU-1s. So where did they all go? Car sale sites often reveal plenty of LJ versions but not the LC. Did its lack of Bathurst success really discourage preservation? Fortunately the previous owners of this ex-race LC didn’t shirk their responsibilities and, barring misadventure, it should still be bringing enjoyment to someone. A Plum Dinger LC without Series Prod. history was recently offered at $85,000, so should this one not be knocking on the door of $100,000?