ONES THAT GOT AWAY

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

Cliff Chambers

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. VOLKSWAGEN T1 DOUBLE CAB It was sitting in a paddock, the worse for wear and missing its split windscreens. I knocked on the front door of the farm house. Yes it was for sale. “A couple of hundred will do it mate.” It was COC – cash on collection. Months passed before I got back and when I did it was gone. Some other bugger had taken it away on the spot. HARV YALUK - MERIMBULA NSW,

APRIL 1990 RENAULT FUEGO

This Fuego certainly was special. Special enough to attract the attention of a copper on a bike who wanted to give it a ticket – quite rightly – for ridiculous window tinting. Your scribe worked at the time for the Renault distributors and had collected the ‘White Knight’ from the foyer of a Sydney cinema where it had been used to promote a James Bond movie that co-starred a few Renaults. None were Fuegos but that didn’t trouble the importers. Any residual desirability would by 1990 have evaporated and achieving $19,500 or anything close would have been a big ask.

AUGUST 1991 SUNBEAM TIGER

Would you believe...? Yes, this is the car made famous by Agent 86, the immortal Maxwell Smart. Max never died but the Tiger was sadly killed off after Sunbeam became part of the Chrysler Group and there wasn’t a Mopar V8 scrawny enough to fit the Tiger’s cramped engine space. This one has a 260 cubic inch (4.2-litre) Ford motor and they get along quite nicely. Several Tigers were privately imported to Australia; among them a few red ones so we hope that this tidy example is still with us and making good gains for its current owner.

DECEMBER 1994 1966 FORD MUSTANG 2+2

The Fastback Mustang in profile looks less balanced than the ‘notchback’ version but that hasn’t stopped enthusiasts from turning 2+2 models into the most desirable of fixed-roof Mustangs. Sharing its shape with the racy Shelby GT350 certainly helped. This car, selling almost 25 years ago for $13,800, was fairly priced but no bargain. The same vehicle, with routine maintenance and probably some paint, would by now have put the better part of $50,000 into its owner’s pocket and you can’t go griping about growth like that.

FEBRUARY 1985 AUSTIN 3-LITRE

Seen one of these before? We hadn’t either before last year’s ‘Austins Across Australia’ display turned up an absolute cracker. The elongated 1800 with its quad headlight front was mechanically very different from its ‘parent’ with an-line six-cylinder engine driving the rear wheels. Hydrolastic suspension was retained and the ride was exemplary. These big Austins were never contemplated as viable for Australia – we had the Kimberley – and any that have arrived were private imports. Cheap back then and today seen as an ‘emerging classic’ by Austin enthusiasts.

OCTOBER 1989 CITROEN DS23

Checking the credentials for ‘Presidential’ Citroens revealed that only cars matching the specification of one supplied to 1970s French supremo Giscard D’Estaing could claim the title. A car similar to this one was supplied to a French Ambassador during the 1970s and sold off upon his return home. Perhaps this is the same car, however when it was advertised in 2012 as a ‘Pallas Prestige’ the roof colour was black and the distinctive fluted mudguards weren’t evident. The vendor of that car was seeking $90,000 but ‘Presidential’ DS23s sold recently in Europe suggest pricing below $50,000.

JUNE 2003 JAGUAR XJS MANUAL

Built with a Ferrari badge, this 2+2 would today be knocking on the door of $100,000. However as a Jaguar and one that did suffer some durability issues, even a scarce four-speed manual XJS will find $40,000 a struggle. Production of fourspeed cars from 1975-81 totalled 352 units and some came to Australia. One was converted to a Group C racer by John Goss and involved in a spectacular start-line crash at Bathurst. Other surviving cars here and in the UK pop up occasionally but haven’t followed E Types (as yet) to stratospheric levels of appreciation.

MAY 1996 1962 OLDS STARFIRE CONVERTIBLE

Looked at purely as an investment, this two-tone Oldsmobile with its roulette-wheel hubcaps, leather trim and power everything doesn’t match the value growth enjoyed by more common Chevrolets. But then you look at the price and the style and the features and no one could say the buyer got a bad deal. Around 7150 Starfire convertibles were built for 1962, compared with over 34,000 two-door Hardtops, yet values stuck at around US$20,000 don’t reflect scarcity. Very few would have come to Australia as new cars and this might well have been the sole survivor.