ONES THAT GOT AWAY

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

FIAT 130 COUPE For a good six months I would see a silver 130 Coupe parked outside a garage in metro Melbourne. I always wondered why such a beautiful car would be left outside in the weather. I had the best intentions to approach the owner and rescue the Fiat but all of a sudden it vanished to my horror! MARCO TORONTO – TOORAK VIC

JUNE 1990

CHRYSLER ROYAL PLAINSMAN

Last year when profiling the Royal we identified its heritage as a North American Plymouth with modifications for Australian consumption. However, there was never a US station wagon version and the unique Plainsman bodies were built at Chrysler’s Mile End factory in South Australia, They were spacious and handsome but not hugely popular and poor sales prevented production of an AP3 version. In addition to the 156 AP1 models (of which this is one) there were 224 of the AP2 Plainsman sold including 32 with V8 engines. A few from both series do survive, perhaps this car is among them.

MAY 1986

KOUGAR JAGUAR

The first Kougar was built in 1976, using a wrecked 3.8-litre S Type for mechanical parts and the 1950 Healey Silverstone as inspiration for its body design. The UK company changed hands in the 1990s and still exists. It produced a Mark 4 version of the Kougar which it sold as a kit or complete car. A few Kougars did find their way to Australia, most likely as complete used cars to avoid the certification issues that accompany a kit. The US Kougar market is strong, with some cars priced above $50,000 and one selling at auction for US$68,000. Locally they are likely to bring less.

MAY 1991

SAAB 96

School excursions to Canberra were usually drab and chilly events, made bearable by the wealth of oddball cars to be sighted on practically every street of our nation’s capital. The majority arrived courtesy of overseas embassy staff and this Saab would almost certainly have been a ‘Diplomatic Import’ that had been sold off when its keeper returned home. Later versions of the 96 were officially sold here but they were the Ford V4powered version and not the amazing two-stroke that ran at the front of so many European rallies during the 1960s. Hope it remained here.

OCTOBER 1985

MGB V8

Going back to Unique Cars first year we find an MG that was never officially sold in Australia but still found its way here in decent numbers. The MGB V8 was built only as a hatchback GT with a Rover V8 where four cylinders were normally found. Why wasn’t it released in Australia? Well, the 3.5-litre GT would have cost more than a Falcon GT and wasn’t going to frighten any Aussie muscle cars off the road. Plus Leyland during 1973-75 had enough problems. Harvest Gold seems quite popular as a B V8 colour so there might be more than one still on Aussie roads. Who’s got this one now?

MAY 2002

BRISTOL 412 TARGA

Bristol has finally closed its doors after 70 years of building the most contrary of luxury conveyances. The original design was German but the brand came to represent the height of British automotive snobbery. That said, when more power was needed the manufacturers were happy to adapt a range of Chrysler-sourced V8s. Bristols do pop up occasionally for sale in Australia, however local demand is reflected in the lowish money they generate. Look to the UK and a trophy-winning 412 currently on offer for a more realistic price comparison.

JANUARY 2001

FERRARI 365GT 2+2

These ‘family sized’ Ferraris were bullied a bit when younger, with derogatory nicknames like ‘Queen Mary’. Despite costing a lot more when new than their sexy sibling, the V6-engined Dino, 365GTs today command less than the Dino or 365GTB Daytona supercar. Never mind. Values are finally on the move with two 365GTs currently offered in Australia at prices close to $500,000 and others in various places overseas where vendors ask even more. As one of the 52 genuine RHD versions, this car would have in 2001 and today, appealed to markets in the UK and parts of Asia as well.

DECEMBER 1997

FORD CONSUL CORTINA

Doesn’t look very special or significant does it, yet the original Ford Cortina ranks with the most important cars of the 20th Century. From 1962660 Ford sold more than a million of them but just a tiny fraction of that number survive. And, yes, a lot of base models were turned into replica GTs. At $2250 in 1997, this car quite possibly had some undisclosed problems. If not, it was the buy of the year for some fortunate Ford enthusiast on the hunt for an unmolested Mark 1. If it survives, in original condition or even as a ‘tribute’, the price will have jumped by more than a little bit.