ONES THAT GOT AWAY

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

Cliff Chambers

1983 VH COMMODORE SL/E I still have the magazine clipping at home from the old ma magazine Auto Car Supermarket, it was a blue shadow-tone VH SL/E, 5.0 wearing a nice se set of 17” ROH ZR6 wheels for $8K. It haunts me still that I never pulled the trigger on it.

DO DOMINIC DANELLO - SHEPPARTON, VIC

$350$ 4 400,000 NOW $94,888 $9

OCTOBER 1999 AC ACE

We remember this gorgeous Ace with its supercharged engine from a feature many years ago where it charmed everyone and won the day despite being on the same ballot paper as a genuine AC Cobra 260. The Ace was of course the forerunner to the Cobra and intended primarily for UK sale with 2.0-litre Bristol or 2.6-litre Ford engines. This car had been surreptitiously equipped with a Toyota five-speed gearbox which (sorry purists) contributed in a major way to driver enjoyment. This was quite likely the only supercharged Ace in Australia and has been sold again within the past few years.

$2500-3000 $2500 NOW $1750 $1

JUNE 1990 MORRIS MARINA STATION WAGON

British Leyland which owned the Morris name desperately wanted to take a slice of the ‘Repmobile’ market from Ford’s Cortina and thought the Marina was the car to do it. Let’s be polite and say the Marina had some ‘issues’ and its chances of winning a sales race against Ford’s undefeated champion were zero. Australia did sell a few Marinas but we never bothered with the wagon. Nor did buyers elsewhere, because when looking world-wide for a wagon similar to this one the closest we came were some tidy sedans and a van that someone hopefully offered in Malta for 200 Euro.

$22 $22-25,000 NOW $ $6000

JANUARY 1996 HOLDEN FC SPECIAL

Twenty three years ago this tidy and unusual FC could have been yours for around the money people now pay for a rusty wreck. The market since the 1990s has moved so far that cars once ranked as basic fare are now in demand. This one would appeal more than most thanks to those little splashes of colour down its flanks. They were known when popular many years ago as ‘Flashlines’ and normally found on FB and later model Holdens. How they came to be on the sides of an FC is a mystery. Perhaps someone simply found a set in a shed.

$7 $75-85,000 NOW $48,000 $

JUNE 2000 1951 BUICK ROADMASTER

Look in the mirror as one of these monsters looms up and all that would be missing from an apocalyptic scene is the ‘Jaws’ music. The Roadmaster was the biggest and most powerful of 1950s Buicks with an engine 30 per cent bigger than the standard cars and over 200kW. They were too expensive to be seen here in any quantity however this car could be RHD and an original import. Buick built 12,900 Roadmaster coupes in 1951 but our US auction tracker showed just two cars sold since 2012 so they are very scarce. Where did this one go?

$10-$10-12,000 NOW $5500 $

JUNE 1993 NSU Ro 80

The grand-pappy of every slippery automotive shape since the 1980s was an absolute disaster when released and eventually sent brave little NSU broke. Felix Wankel’s rotary engine was a marvellous idea just very hard to get working properly, especially if you were a car-maker with minimal money. Like most Ro 80s, this one has had its original engine replaced by a 12A Mazda motor and no harm in that if a transplant keeps a rare car running. Unique Cars a couple of years back offered a running Ro 80 with its correct mechanicals in place for just $12,500, so preserving history seemingly isn’t going to make you money.

$20-24,000 $20 NOW $6900

APRIL 2004 VH COMMODORE SL/E

It wasn’t long ago that $7000 would buy a very tidy, sensibly upgraded SL/E. So where did all of the affordable early Commodores get to? Surveying for the Unique Cars Value Guides every year turns up a huge range of cars but SL/Es have been a lot harder to find since 2016 than they were a decade ago. The values of these cars took a long time to gain momentum and the $6900 being asked for this car was pretty typical money in the market of 15 years ago. Theft was a big threat to SL/E survival as were rust and big accidents. If this one survived all of those perils it will be worth considerably more than in 2004.

$110-130,000 (Restored)

NOW $7000

JUNE 1993 XR FALCON GT

Readers who were of car-buying age in the early 1990s might remember seeing ratty and neglected Falcon GTs fronting el-cheapo car yards or in classifieds at prices half of what they had been five years earlier during the first ‘boom’, Today you will be hard-pressed to find an XR GT with rust and ratty paint. Very unlikely also to find one with its original numberplates. This car, revived and presented in showroom order will now generate lots of market interest and six-figure pricing but a little twinge of nostalgia wonders whether it should not have been left ‘as is’.