ONES THAT GOT AWAY

THE CARS WE SHOULD HAVE BOUGHT OR ARE JUST GLAD WE DIDNíT...

CLOFF CHAMBERS

Lost or luchy?

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 ĎGotawaysí in the title

1974 FERRARI 365 GT4 My local Caltex service station mechanic always had a red 365 GT4 on the hoist, my mate at the time worked there and always said parts to maintain the car were always hard to get hence it was continually living on the hoist. The owner was getting sick of it but I loved that car, I wished I had bought it!

TONY TRIFALDO - WARRANDYTE VIC

JULY 1987 AMC GREMLIN

How does a car-maker with no money for development or tooling add a new compact model to its range? Simple, they just chop the back end off a bigger one. From the centre pillar forward, the Gremlin is a Rambler Hornet, as built and sold in Australia during the 1970s. This car was a six-cylinder manual brought to Australia by importer AMI for evaluation. No, said the bean-counters and it was sold, eventually fitted with a V8 and returned to the USA about 15 years ago. There it survives in fine condition and still RHD under a new coat of the original Big Bad Orange paint.

NOVEMBER 2004 FORD ESCORT RS1600

Finding one of these Escorts still alive in the UK is a challenging task. Early XR3 versions arenít too tough to locate, so too the brutal Cosworth providing you have the money, But an RS1600 Turbo? Around 8600 were made and they shouldnít really be that scarce but maybe the allure of 100kW and plus some pop and bang acoustics from the turbo attracted the wrong kinds of people. Recent enquiries in the UK revealed very few left at all and prices if you do find a good one climbing. Whether this one has survived or even remained in Australia we have no idea.

DECEMBER 2003 MATRA MURENA

Yes, itís got three seats and two doors but it isnít a ute. Matra is best known for its Le Mans cars but during the 1960s-80s it built lots of sporty coupes. Murena was the last of them; Talbot powered and successor to the very successful Bagheera-Simca. A few Murenas made the journey to Australia but there was never a serious attempt to sell them here. All were built LHD and cars converted arenít common even in the UK where several were seen recently at low prices. With parts still available, a zinc-dipped chassis and fibreglass panels we hope this car might have survived.

NOVEMBER 1990 VW KARMANN-GHIA

Canít afford a 1950s Porsche but admire the concept? At current prices an early 356 is horribly expensive but the Volkswagen version is still relatively cheap and more practical. Way back in 1953, the Ghia design house displayed a sporty Beetle and two years later the Karmann coachworks was building it. They sold in droves, especially to the USA. A lot came new to Australia and more as recent imports. This one looked to need some minor TLC and in a strong pre-recession market it was reasonably priced. Whoever bought it will certainly be smiling now.

NOVEMBER 2004 MERCURY MONTEGO 428CJ

Back in 1969 when Nascar raced real cars the Mercury Montego and Ford Torino Talledega were dominant in their nationís major production-based championship. The competition version of the Montego Cobra-Jet was called the Spoiler - due to the dinky little adjustable wing bolted to the boot - and it came with a 429 cubic inch engine. Only 3200 of the street-spec Cobra-Jet were made and while values spiked about a decade ago, recent sales have seen CJ428 Montegos bumping along in the US$50-55,000 range. Landing one here will cost considerable more.

DECEMBER 1999 VF VALIANT AMBULANCE

With the greatest respect towards the many fine people who participated in Endeavour and various other fund-raising automotive events we do hope this rare Valiant ambulance did not wind up sign-written and wearing dust lights. There is a strong support network for those devoted to preserving historic emergency vehicles and survivors normally are documented. However, some in-depth delving revealed not one VF just a Queensland-registered VG with a different roof and window design. Hopefully this classic ambo does survive somewhere.

MAY 2004 ROLLS-ROYCE MULLINER PARK WARD SALOON

Not even serious celebrity ownership in the person of the late Lord Louis plus a period in the keeping of The Batty Bhagwan has done much to enhance the value of this very elegant Rolls-Royce. We suspect that the asking price back in 2004 was ambitious, however it should have been moved along for somewhere in the $40,000s. A decade later when offered for auction in Melbourne the very same car achieved an estimate of $38-48K and any mention of Indian mystical ownership had disappeared from its history file. Is it still in Australia?