ONES THAT GOT AWAY

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!

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

CLIFF CHAMBERS

1955 CADILLAC FLEETWOOD Growing up in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray as a kid, I remember the neighbour down the street had the flashest car in town. It was a beige ‘55 Cadillac that was so huge his garage tilt door was on a permanent angle to house the thing! The car and house are long gone and now I want one...

EDDIE VLASIC - GEELONG, VIC

JUNE 1990 FIAT REGATA WEEKEND

The mid-1980s saw Fiat in huge strife with a drab product range and appalling build quality. Regatas came here in small quantities and needed to be heavily discounted in order to sell any at all. A hundred or so found owners here and we imagined a few from that number might have survived. Apparently not. While there were reports of Regata sedans being sold, of the Weekender there was nary a trace. One in decent condition popped up in Holland but it was the one. So has the Regata Weekender really become extinct in Australia? If not and you have one please send a photo.

$4500-5500 (Maybe) NOW $11,000

OCTOBER 2007 HONDA INSIGHT

Australians are known as early adopters but it seems we will not have a bar of electrically-powered motor vehicles. The Insight with its way-out styling was seen as the harbinger of a new automotive age but from 2001-04 a pitiful 45 examples of the ZE1 Hybrid were sold here. Changing to conventional styling in 2010 did little to help and the four-door was axed after selling a total 1229 cars. Will the early Insight acquire a cult following once electric/hybrid cars become typical? Quite possibly? Did this one sell for anywhere near the $14,990 being sought? Highly unlikely.

$7-9000 NOW $14,990

DECEMBER 2001 MAZDA RX-3 COUPE

Very few cars featured in these pages will achieve a tenfold increase in value. Of those, only a very select group manage that level of growth in the space of 20 years, so please congratulate Mazda’s RX-3 Coupe. These cars have been an enthusiast favourite since the 1970s and never far from the limelight as show, race and road cars. They were star performers in the annual Bathurst 1000 and that alone helped keep prices climbing. Five years ago, cars in similar condition to this one were worth $35,000 but demand from the international market has sent values surging.

$90-100,000 NOW $11,000

NOVEMBER 1990 1961 FORD FAIRLANE

The sharp-eyed among you will have already spotted $1000 worth of XR GT wheel-covers adding a bit of bling to the car nicknamed ‘The Tank’. Ford’s local big-car line skipped one complete model sequence – jumping from the Customline that had been superseded elsewhere in 1957 straight to this shape. Tank Fairlanes served as VIP transport for politicians and mourning coaches for funeral directors but rust had by the 1980s trashed most of them. A survivor in this condition – and especially a white one – would have been scarce. Hopefully it survives.

$18-22,000 NOW $6900

AUGUST 2008 PORSCHE 996 GT3 RS

Porsche throughout the long history of its 911 made a habit of periodically adding RS or ‘Rennsport’ versions to the range. The lineage began in 1972 with a ‘ducktail’ version of the 2.7-litre 911S that would hit 240km/h. Move 32 years ahead and while the shape was still demonstrably 911 a GT3 like this was rated for 310km/h. Out of the box in Australia they cost $288,000 so this one five years old and discounted to below $200K was a bargain. At a recent overseas auction, one hit 359,000 Euro (about A$560,000) but here you might still find them under $500K.

$450500,000 NOW $199,000

AUGUST 2003 FORD XY FAIRMONT 250

Elsewhere in this issue you will find a Guide to buying the cars of which Australia can be very proud. Most interest in XY Fairmonts currently rests with V8 versions but here is a six-cylinder performance Ford that someone using their instincts back in 2003 should have bought. XYs with factory four-speed gearboxes were rare when new and today would be less common and also vastly less expensive than a genuine XY GT. Spend $40K today on a Fairmont in this condition and there’s a strong chance of it continuing to make money.

$35-40,000 NOW $9800

AUGUST 1989 RENAULT R8 GORDINI

Back when giving cars an award for just doing their job properly was a new concept, the Renault R8 was named Australia’s very first ‘Car Of The Year’. Most people will never have seen an R8, much less owned one however they were pretty special for their time. Best of them all was the Gordini version which had four disc brakes in an era when most cars had none and could keep XU-1 Toranas honest in top-level rallying. One was offered locally at $75,000; a figure that’s comparable with the Ł45,000 available in Britain. Certainly confirms how much of a bargain this car was in 1989.

$65-70,000 NOW $8750