ONES THAT GOT AWAY

Lost or lucky?

CLIFF CHAMBERS

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

Lost or lucky?

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


BRIAN GADOURY - CANBERRA, ACT

1975 BRICKLIN SV-1 “Time magazine named Malcolm Bricklin’s folly one of the 50 worst cars of all time but I thought the gull-winged SV-1 was a cool investment. Mind you, I was only eight and the car was in an overgrown lot behind a Florida motel, spotted while on a holiday to Disney. Dad instead sold me on the benefits of Taco Bell’s 99c menu.”

NOW $ 25,000 $200- 220,000

JANUARY 1995 HOLDEN TORANA A9X HATCH

Mid-1990s Australia was a tough place for anybody trying to sell cars – new or old. The ‘classic boom’ of the late-1980s had gone bust and cars in dealer yards and garages gathered dust. Case in point was this presentable A9X Hatch that in the late 1980s would have sold like a hot cake for the advertised $25,000.

Six years later and this one languished for months before presumably finding a new owner. Whoever paid $25,000 or maybe less then tucked this gem away for 20 years would be enjoying a tenfold return on investment among their rewards of ownership.

NOW $24,500 $55-80,000

NOVEMBER 1990 FORD FALCON ‘CASTROL SPECIAL’

Here is a car that lots of people would love us to find. In 1990 via a mammoth project coordinated by racer and engineer Kevin Bartlett, a very special Falcon two-door was constructed and then handed on to a fortunate contest winner. The car was sighted (allegedly) a few times afterwards but its fate is a mystery. Even a search party organised by Bartlett amongst his legion of motor sporting contacts failed to track down the elusive Ford, so now it’s over to you faithful readers. Is there a once-famous Falcon lurking in your shed or someone else’s?

NOW $14,000 $18-24,000

OCTOBER 2006 HDT VL NITRON

Just weeks after the untimely passing of Peter Brock, sharp-eyed readers could have secured this link to HDT history for just $14,000. Why so cheap? Well, these cars weren’t produced by HDT, don’t carry an HDT build plate and came only with 3.0-litre engines – turbo or naturally aspirated. Most significantly though they all were fitted with the controversial ‘Energy Polarizer’. Brock even appeared in an appalling TV commercial to promote the model on behalf of the Victorian dealer network which sold the cars. Some sources suggest 300 were made but 100 all-up seems closer to the mark.

$16,000 20-25,000 16 $20

NOVEMBER 1991 MG Y TOURER

Open-top versions of MG’s Y Type are among the least common of the British brand’s post- WW2 models and make very decent money.

The Tourer sold fairly well in Australia and this country still provides homes for a lot of the surviving cars. However, back in the 1940s Tourers weren’t the trendy roofless cruisers they are today; they were the cheap version you bought when you couldn’t afford a sedan.

The twin-carburettor engine was also used in the more valuable TC and it’s likely that lots of Y Types were sacrificed to keep two-seaters going. Who owns this one now?

$11,250 $15-18,000

JANUARY 1996 RELIANT SCIMITAR

Reliant built an amazing range of cars, from tri-wheel horrors to these quick and practical load-carriers. The engines were Ford V6 and even with hefty fibreglass bodywork there was enough performance to get HRH Princess Anne – who owned a couple of Scimitar GTEs – lumbered by UK motorway patrol cars. There seems to have been no official attempt to bring Scimitars to Australia but several made their way here anyway and still pop up occasionally for sale. Scarcity and import costs mean local values are double those of comparable UK cars.

$30,000 $350- 400,000

OCTOBER 1986 MASERATI MISTRAL

Maserati struggled financially during the 1960s yet still managed to produce some of the most beautiful cars in the world.

The Mistral was one of Maserati’s more successful products with more than 900 of all types built. The shape, by coachbuilder Frua, was also adapted to clothe a shortlived coupe based on the AC Cobra.

Australia would not have seen many new Mistrals but one was featured as a Modern Motor magazine cover car and others have been sighted here over the years. 4.0lt versions like this are very scarce and the cost of acquiring one is now huge.

$25,000 $45-50,000

JUNE 2003 JEEPSTER

If Willys had just flung a few more bucks at the Jeepster and made it an all-wheel drive, the market appeal of an ‘off-road sports car’ could have been immense. As it was the rear-wheel driven roadster was ugly, overweight and underpowered. It couldn’t get any traction (literally or figuratively) in the market and it survived only from 1948 until 1950. A few might have come to Australia for evaluation but it is feasible that by 2003 this car was the only one existing here. In the USA, Jeepsters do enjoy a decent collector following and some have been seen at US$40,000+.