Rambler and Studebaker never threatened the ‘Big Three’ in sales volume but they made some interesting cars, some of which were assembled in Australia. The Studebaker Lark was compact and quick yet today only the two-door Lark V8 and Daytona are typically worth more than $20,000. The bigger Hawk coupes in top condition can make $50,000. Locally-built Ramblers lasted until 1978; the Rebel and Matador today still offering a lot of car for less than the price of a V8 Kingswood. The Hornet and American also provide low-cost alternatives to six-cylinder Aussie models of similar age. The two-door Javelin not long ago sold for less than Mustang money but collectors are showing interest and prices have climbed.
With $40-50,000 to invest and a market that’s packed with cars, finding a quality pre-1960s Buick has rarely been easier. 1948-55 models typically cost less than $40,000, with the more powerful Roadmasters up to 50 per cent dearer than Special or Super models. Australian assembly ended in 1948 and later cars could be RHD conversions or remain original. Only when looking at scarce models like the Skylark or a late-1950s Limited hardtop is authenticity going to significantly affect value. A complete restyle for 1959 delivered a larger and more futuristic car that can match the values achieved by Cadillacs of similar vintage.
1960s prosperity saw literally hundreds of Buicks imported, mostly through large Holden dealerships in Sydney and Melbourne, and converted to right-hand drive. Survivors from those times have been supplemented by recent arrivals and ensure plenty of choice for buyers. Among the least costly of the 1960s-70s models are the enormous Electra and Limited sedans and hardtops that in very good condition remain under $25,000. Spending $10,000 more will buy a sporty Le Sabre, Wildcat two-door or classy-looking Riviera. ‘Boat-tail’ Rivs can be advertised at ambitious prices but normally sell below $30,000. First-Gen 1963-65 Rivieras and GS-optioned cars can top $50,000 but that remains less than the cost of sourcing and importing one from the USA.
Lots of stock and lots of buyer activity is encouraging people wanting to sell Cadillacs to boost their asking prices in line with hefty values being achieved in overseas markets. Caddy convertibles of all kinds and ages are doing sizzling business and asking $200,000 for exceptional cars is realistic. Sedans and Coupe de Villes from 1957-60 remain the most desirable of fixed-roof 1950s models, yet in a market that loves Fifties Caddies, $60,000 is seen as decent value for a 1959 Coupe. Cars from the early 1950s look cumbersome when parked alongside a sleek later version and in some respects they are mechanical dinosaurs. However, they have presence and that continues to justify strong prices.
A market laden with faded examples of GM’s premier brand offers opportunity for buyers prepared to spend some money on maintenance and be patient. Among the most common and affordable are 1970s-80s coupes and sedans but it’s wise to avoid diesels and ‘variable displacement’ V8s. If you fancy yourself as Boss Hogg from the Dukes of Hazzard TV series then a big, front-wheel drive Eldorado convertible costs $30-35,000 with the coupe somewhat cheaper. A sudden urge for efficiency gripped US car designers in the late-1970s, resulting in compact models like the 1977 Eldorado Biarritz coupe. These with a 5.7-litre V8 still go well and are packed with prestigious goodies, all for around $20,000.
Chevrolets, alongside basic Ford and Dodge models, formed the backbone of motorised transport in Australia from the 1920s until after World War 2. Lots of Chevs from that era have survived, with only the early-1930s ‘Confederate’ cars now scarce and relatively expensive. Sedans built at local Holden factories during the 1930s and again from 1946-54 offer space for the family and will cruise happily at 90km/h. Just be wary of the brakes. Models from the 1920s-30s are less practical so won’t offer the same value for similar money as a 1936-48 car. If ‘authenticity’ doesn’t matter and you don’t mind a big V8 and some bling in your old Chevy, considerable numbers of early cars have been turned into street rods.
It has been decades since an epidemic of nostalgia-inspired Baby Boomers in the USA went out to buy Chevys the same as they had as ‘first cars’. That was in the 1980s when 1955-57 models soared and became one of America’s and the world’s most popular collector cars. Values have now remained steady for some years and that is helping increase demand for later, larger models and ensuring that more of these are also being preserved. Most costly of the 1958-61 cars are two-door Impala or Bel-Air convertibles and hardtops. These with the desirable ‘409’ V8 can top $100,000. Also enjoying a growth spurt are 1950s Cameo and 3100 pickups which can exceed $40,000.
Chevrolets were a common sight on 1960s Australian roads and it is no surprise that locally-built Impalas and Bel-Air sedans survive in quantity. That hasn’t stopped prices surging past $30,000 or owners continuing to tip money into refurbishing these cars. Fully-imported two-door Impalas typically cost 50 per cent more than a local four-door, with convertibles above $50,000. Once local assembly ceased in 1970, imports of North American Chevrolets continued and very good examples survive in the $1520,000 price range. For something different at similar money to a mid-1960s Bel-Air, hunt down one of the scarce Monte Carlo coupes. For practicality with a classic edge in the $30-40,000 price bracket, try a C10 pickup.
These Chevs might be called ‘compact’ or ‘mid-size’ back in their homeland but when parked beside Aussie models of similar type they are pretty substantial. Smallest are the Nova sedans but even they can have V8 engines and cost around the same as a 5-litre Holden Premier. The Nova SS as raced by Norm Beechey is keenly sought in the USA and costs $60,000+ here. Similar money buys an SS-spec Chevelle, sometimes with the big-block ‘396’ engine, but expect to pay $150,000 for a scarce LS6 ‘454’. El Camino utilities weren’t commonly seen here as new cars but recent imports have filled the void and $30-35,000 buys a good 1969-73 SS version.
Camaro values took close on 40 years to achieve significant gains. However as each year passes demand grows and the money being asked for excellent cars climbs as well. SS396 coupes make US$60-70K in North American sales so there’s no reason to doubt that six-digit local prices will not remain normal fare whenever a ‘big-block’ is offered. Post-1973 cars are less common than they once were, however values remain generally on the low side of $25,000. IROCs and Z-28s from the late-1980s are affordable and $20,000 for a 5.0-litre IROC convertible in decent order should attract interest. The bland 1990s cars aren’t doing much at all and we wait to see if the release of brand-new Camaros sparks interest.
Early V8 Corvettes are scarce in Australia with few arriving new or in recent years. Based on US values, $150,000 will soon be typical for single-carb cars and those with factory fuel-injection could cost double that amount. Similar mega-money is available for mid-1960s C2 models with 427 cubic inch engines, however C3 cars of the same capacity still cost $120-150,000 and offer worthwhile pickings for shrewd investors. Chrome bumper C3s continue to generate prices 30 per cent above the money being achieved by post-1973 cars, of which there remain plenty in the market. Among the models worth watching are the Silver Anniversary and Pace Car from 1978 and the 1982 ‘Collector Edition’ hatchback.
LOTS and LOTS of affordable Corvettes here, with more destined to arrive following changes to the Motor Vehicle Standards Act. Values for 1984-96 cars have increased during the past five years; growing appeal due in large part to late-1980s cars not needing RHD conversion to achieve full registration. Six-speed manual cars are generally regarded as superior to the earlier ‘4+3’ manual models. Corvette’s first major post-C4 styling shift came in 1997 and these cars, again due to compliance costs, are hard to find and relatively expensive. Anyone contemplating a spend of around $100K will be better off with a post-2004 model and preferably the feisty, 7.0-litre Z06.
The USA is definitely the place to head if you want a Hemi Chrysler from the 1950s. Local pickings are slim and importers seem wary of speculating in the market for ‘letter series’ Chrysler 300s. Later models with the proprietary 383 cubic inch engine offer lots of car and quite interesting styling for remarkably little money. Best buys from this era include 1968 models with concealed headlights at under $30,000 and convertibles for $20K more. Treating the neighbours to a conspicuous display of opulence doesn’t have to be expensive either. A chrome-encrusted 1950s Imperial with Hemi motor and all the trimmings can cost less than $35,000.
Once again we are left asking ‘where did all the VF Pacers go?’. The car that brought performance motoring to the impoverished wasn’t a huge seller when new and while we know some cars survive they just don’t appear in the numbers they once did. Suspicions are that $30,000 will buy a VF in excellent order with the more accessible VG sedan and Hardtops $10-20,000 more. One of the world’s best-kept automotive secrets must be the E48 Charger, offering similar performance to the E49 but at half the price. V8-engined E55s are scarce and now consistently priced in the region of $100,000. E38s at $130-160,000 are holding their ground.
Dodge was a conservative participant in the Australian car market right up to 1958 when it suddenly morphed from middle-class to upper-echelon with the arrival of the Custom Royal V8. Australia only saw four-door versions back then but some hardtops have swelled the ranks since the 1980s. Prices asked for 1960s Dodges remain generally lower than for Chevs and Fords of similar age, with Phoenix four-doors offering keen buying at less than $20,000. Early cars, especially the vintageera Tourers, offer decent value and $30,000 will buy a Six in top condition. Local body-builders during the 1930s supplied some coupe and roadster bodies for Dodge chassis but these are now scarce and double the cost of a sedan.
Fully-imported Dodge models were once rare on Australian roads but that changed during the 1990s with lots of new arrivals. The Polara and Monaco, usually seen as pillarless four-door hardtops, are a step up from the local Phoenix and with prices boosted accordingly. Then comes a big jump to the ranks of Dodge’s genuine ‘muscle’ cars; the Coronet R/T, Superbee and Charger. Had TV and film producers not deified the Charger with roles such as the General Lee in Dukes of Hazzard and the ‘bad guys’ car in Bullitt, values might not be where they are today or climbing as fast. However, here we are with early Chargers – especially R/Ts – tapping on the window of $100,000 and unlikely to go backwards.
Exchange rates and the cost of RHD conversion have kept prices of Dodge Viper V10s high. Changes to import laws and regulations governing full registration of specialty cars will hopefully help older Vipers to become more viable. The SRT10 Ram pickup still must be converted though and that will continue to discourage imports and keep prices for trucks already here quite high. Challengers with 318 or 383 cubic inch engines remain consistent in the $50-75,000 bracket but very few of the 440 cubic-inch R/T versions appear in our market. Those when available can better $150,000. Last year’s spike in Dart values has corrected itself and these more exotic versions of our VF-VG Valiant Hardtop are worth a look.
Almost 50 years have passed since the Bolwell Brothers showed their V8 Nagari to the world. How appropriate is it also that we now group the Nagari alongside fibreglass-bodied tributes to another great sports car; the Shelby Cobra? We couldn’t find any Nagaris for sale during our survey and just a couple of the Holden-engined Mark 7s. However we suspect values when one does appear will reflect heightened interest. Kits for the building of brand-new Cobra replicas remain available however that hasn’t eased demand or affected the prices being sought for existing cars. Replica GT40s are also available from a number of sources or ready-built, with wellsorted older examples costing upwards of $120,000.
So where did all the Falcon GTs suddenly go? Values for some of our surveyed models are up considerably on 2017 levels but with fewer cars available and no reports of confirmed sales for some versions, prices being sought may not reflect the actual market. One feature of this market that hasn’t changed is the number of GT replicas available, coinciding with an extreme shortage of unmodified Falcon and Fairmont V8s. XW GTs have been in short supply for a while and the money being asked for the those cars offered was unusually low. Given the publicity generated by Phase 3 sales it came as no surprise to see some XY GTs being marketed at prices above $200,000.
Market focus in this segment has been all about GTHO Falcons and one Phase 3 in particular. That car with enough ‘provenance’ to fill its sizeable fuel tank was promoted as being worth A$1 million and after some auctioneer urging did just that. A couple of equally worthy cars then fell short of seven digits, perhaps encouraging owners to keep their HOs in the shed and wait for the market to stabilise. We don’t think the averages showing for Phase 1 and 2 cars are representative either, but that can’t be tested until more appear in the market. One Falcon perhaps worth another bid when sold at $390,000 was an XC ‘Bathurst’ Cobra. One of just 30 cars made, these XCs are exceptionally rare and help maintain values of lesser versions in the $150-200,000 bracket.
They are out there we know, however our survey revealed not one RPO83 GT on sale or being auctioned. We suspect, given recent events, that the next outstanding and verified RPO Hardtop that does appear could be headed for $500,000 but for now perhaps satisfy your yearnings with a basic XA GT. These are scarce too and at $150,000 represent attractive buying in an unpredictable market. Two-door XB GTs are smart-looking as well and bring 50 per cent more than the sedan. We haven’t divided our numbers into manual and automatic but history suggests that a verified four-speed XA or XB will outsell an equivalent automatic. We only saw one John Goss Special this time around and suspect $150K is top of the market for these.
The Falcon GT returned in 1992 and during subsequent years has captivated next to no one. Even people who doggedly preserved pristine EBs have failed to recoup their $62,500 outlay. ELs do a little better and one did make $75,000. Less common than a GT and possibly the best bargain in the EB-EL range is the 200kW ED Sprint which still sells for less than $30,000. Ford’s most serious tilt at HSV dominance came with the AU-based TE50, Despite being scarce, the 5.0-litre cars have never generated big money however that situation changes for sellers of TE Series 3s. These were still AU-based but use a locally-developed 5.6-litre ‘stroker’ engine and will usually make at least $30,000.
FPV models built since 2003 offer a diverse range of opportunities and something to suit many budgets. BA and BF GTs weren’t built in massive numbers (about 3500 all up for the BA) yet demand is a long way from matching supply so values are low. Get the GT-P with uprated brakes if possible. The one collectors agree has a future is the BF Anniversary GT which sold new for $72,000 and hasn’t quite returned to that level yet. With only 200 made it certainly should. In more of a pickle long-term are the BF Cobras with owners asking big money but sometimes settling for a lot less. Six-cylinder turbo Typhoon sedans and the Pursuit ute in the vicinity of $20,000 are worth a punt if you want cheerful Aussie performance.
The market for older US Fords is strong, with plenty of available vehicles and prices remaining consistent. Anyone who thinks that century-old vehicles are irrelevant hasn’t been to a gathering of Ford T Model enthusiasts, nor those who dote on their A Models and early V8s. Mid-1930s V8s continue to realise significant money and $100,000 is viable for open-top cars in outstanding condition. The post-WW2 Ford market is strong as well with later-series Customlines and fully-imported Victoria hardtops offering good buying at $30-50,000. Side-valve cars from the early 1950s lag a little in performance but there are engine modifications that help them keep pace with the later ones.
These, apart from the Compact Fairlane, are US-market Fords which Australia rarely saw as new cars. As such, most in the market are relatively recent arrivals and likely to have remained LHD. Falcon Sprints might have seen their day as front-running Historic race cars but they are still an interesting alternative as hobby vehicles to the very common Mustang. The Fairlane GT shares its looks and some panels with local ZA-ZB Fairlanes and only costs $10,000 more. You will also pay about $35,000 for a 351-engined Torino which is significantly below the current cost of a similar-looking XA Falcon hardtop. The Ranchero pickups are mostly recent arrivals, based on mid-sized Ford passenger models and sell for under $25,000.
An interesting mix here of locally-built and full-import 1950s-70s Fords with fairly consistent pricing across a range of years and shapes. Four-door Fairlanes will usually be the local ‘Tank’ version built right-hand drive and with 5.8 or 6.3-litre V8 engines. Later 1965-73 cars in good condition cost around $20,000, with 1962-64 models including massive station wagons up to 50 per cent more. The 1961-64 two-door Galaxie hardtops found fame in various motor sporting arenas and even without 427 cubic-inch engines they can still bring $50,000+. The market occasionally unearths late-1960s Galaxie Hardtops at $25-30,000 or ‘big block versions at $40,000+. Sunliner convertibles came in a couple of body-styles and restored pre-1959 cars cost $50-60,000.
Need a classic that can be practical as well? Here’s one. Ford’s F Series pickups have been in continuous production for 70 years and must be the most popular vehicle on US roads. Yet despite being made in their millions, lots of F-Trucks are gaining in value and already collectible. The pre-1952 F1 isn’t common here and typically costs $40-50,000, with 1950s-60s F100s easier to find and $10,000 cheaper. F100s were sold here during the 1970s-90s in big numbers, serving often as police vehicles, ambulances and available with 4WD. Restored examples in close to stock condition will cost $20,000+ however it is possible to find a rough but roadworthy pickup below $7000.
No massive surprises here, with Thunderbird values during the past five years moving at 4-5 per cent annually and only the 1960s convertibles making better than average gains. That doesn’t include the very rare Roadster which in the USA costs $50-60,000 and double that here. Owners with post-1966 cars who have been hoping for some time for value growth are doomed to ongoing disappointment. $30,000 is about top-of-market for a suicide-door Landau. Similar story with the two-seat Baby Birds of the 1950s which once upon a time were matching prices with 1950s Corvettes before inexplicably stalling.
Without doubt the Bullitt factor has influenced demand for 1967-69 Mustang Fastbacks and values during the 50 years since the film appeared haven’t slackened. GT390s now seem locked in at $100,000+ while 4.7 and 4.9-litre Fastbacks are $60-70,000. First Generation V8 coupes are maintaining the gains achieved during the past five years. K Code versions with 30kW more power than an A Code bring the best money. The revised shape change unveiled for 1969 seems to no longer concern buyers and prices for 1969-73 notch and fastback cars have increased. Post-1968 convertibles at around $45,000 offer a little more car than early models for less money.
Mustangs built at the peak of Muscle Car activity make great sense for anyone keen on fun and ensuring their investment carries minimal risk. Cheapest in this group but among the most striking are 1971-73 Mach 1 cars with almost flat Sportsroof styling. More costly but a favourite of collectors across the world are Cobra-Jet Mach 1s that currently cost $100-120,000 in Australia and US$55-70,000 in their homeland. Boss 302 prices have climbed as well and that’s also in line with the money available at North American sales. The market for Shelby Mustangs in this country is small so the increased number of cars on offer was encouraging. Money being asked was fair as well.
Ford’s move to replace its entire FPV range with one US-made model (the Mustang) has brought kudos to the brand and upset some applecarts in the used Mustang market. Businesses that once made a living from importing basic cars must now focus on the versions Ford doesn’t bring in (not yet anyway) and volumes are significantly lower. People who five years ago paid $100K for Mustang GTs now cannot sell them for anywhere near the money they owe because a Ford dealer will supply a 2019 car with warranty for less. Asking prices for the Mustang Cobras that Ford tried to sell from 1999-2002 are generally excessive; $20,000 for a coupe more realistic than the $30,000 often asked.
Unless you count the famous car that managed $2M-plus at auction, VH HDTs are scarce and like VC versions, not matching the money being paid for later HDT products. Best performers by far are the VK Group A SS ‘Blue Meanies’ which despite surviving in greater quantities than some other HDTs are the only ones registering sales at around $300,000. Below $100K is a clutter of models including VC and VH Group 3s, the VK SS and Director and VL-based Calais LE. Up to $150,000 will buy a VL Group A with its Polariser in place or a VK Group 3. The Statesman-based WB Magnum remains ridiculously cheap at less than $50,000.
The clamour to own a first-series Monaro has diminished and values for the highprofile ‘Bathurst’ cars remain at close to 2017 levels. The numbers of GTS327 and 350 cars being offered to the market has declined so finding one could mean waiting. Helping fill the gap is a decent supply of smaller-engined V8s including a couple of outstanding HK GTS V8s advertised at around $200,000 and a plain-wrapper Monaro with factory V8 at $100,000. More concerning is the number of ‘repowered’ cars in the market at prices approaching the money being sought for genuine ones. These often began life with six-cylinder engines and, while certainly attracting interest, they don’t carry sufficient provenance to justify their $120,000+ pricing.
HQ-HZ Monaros (aka GTS) are climbing in value and bringing cars that haven’t been seen for decades onto the market. Just make sure the one you might be considering is genuine. Most valuable and obvious as targets for fraudsters is the GTS350 which needs special attention. Plenty of 4.2-litre Monaros in years past had their engines ‘upgraded’ for no other reason than a 5.0-litre was easier to find. Now their owners might lose out on concerns over authenticity. Excellent two-door HQs have pushed prices above $100,000 and are dragging sedans into the $60,000 bracket as well. The GTS350 as noted is only for the brave, but don’t ignore the Premier-based LS which can cost 30 per cent less than a GTS with the same engine.
When considering how few A9X Torana Hatchbacks might survive, it came as no surprise to find just one in our sample with a sale price of $500,000. What did perplex was the decline in numbers of LX SS Hatchbacks and their relatively low (with one exception) asking prices. SL/R 5000 sedans as expected were knocking on the door of $100,000 and dragging LH-LX cars with transplanted V8 engines to more than $50,000. Six-cylinder Toranas are in general quite hard to find, with XU-1s particularly so. The value gulf between LC versions which don’t have a Bathurst 500 win and the LJ which does remains significant. However it’s still feasible to find a genuine and good-quality LC or LJ GTR at under $75,000.
V8 and turbo-six Commodores are vanishing quickly from the general market and hopefully this doesn’t mean the numbers of surviving cars are diminishing as well. However it is almost certain that rusty or neglected vehicles are being sacrificed as sources of parts. VB-VC 5.0-litre SL/E models can make $35,000, however most currently sell $10,000 below that level. Hopeful owners of modified cars have pushed asking prices for VK-VL V8s to almost the same level as Calais versions and VL Turbos continue to make gains. Among the cars performing strongly are ex-police pursuit models which with authentic presentation exceed $40,000. A smallish sample didn’t accurately reflect averages for the VL Calais Turbo which should be closer to $40,000.
Early Commodore SS models have managed to creep up on almost everyone, except those of course who recognised the potential in these bargain-priced V8s and hid a few away for the future. Recent versions have more power than the VN-VS cars but are also more common and a lot less expensive. Moving to the Monaro which returned to Australian roads in 2001, the market is still awash with CV-8s and lastof-the-line CV-8Zs. Spending $20,000 will buy an early V8 in usable condition but buying a pristine ‘survivor’ in a rare colour will quite likely cost double that amount. Could they move at the same rate as 1960s-70s versions? Perhaps, but a lot will need to disappear before that happens.
Owners of very early Clubsports might manage a restrained ‘whoop’ of celebration, however there is still no joy for those hoping to cash out of their later models. VN-VP Clubbies now manage $30,000+ (still well short of new-car prices) but later versions hover at 2016 levels. That is despite the effective disappearance of HSV itself and nostalgic influences on other products of the ‘old’ HSV. A low-km 297kW Z Series at $25,000 could be worthwhile, as should a Maloo for $5000 less. HSV’s performance utes traditionally sold in smaller numbers than their sedan equivalents yet scarcity isn’t being reflected in the value listings. With average kilometres and frequent use in mind, an average E-Series Maloo should be costing less than $25,000.
HSV’s prestige models weren’t specifically built to serve as performance cars but they use the same engines as the ‘sporty’ versions, include a lot of cushy gear and remain relatively cheap. An early Grange will be hard to find but, unlike the wine, not yet expensive. Cars from 12-15 years ago sell at a quarter of new price or less, with $20-25,000 now buying a Z Series Senator with the same 300kW engine as a GTS300 that costs twice as much. The E Series Senator with 307kW is a little dearer but for your $25,000 it’s a plush, powerful car that can be used daily. And don’t worry too much about the ongoing depreciation Statesman/Senator VQ-VT $18,580  Senator VTII-VZ $20,045  Senator E 2006-08 $26,040  Grange 1996-00 $11,250 
Two-door Holdens with HSV badges enjoyed brief but spectacular life-spans.
Reviving the GTO nameplate in the USA carried hopes of export earnings but HSV versions were never destined for that role in the USA. Nor were the Americans going to get the swish and quite pricey HSV GTOs which today still struggles to recover the original owners’ outlays. However it is doing better than the GTO which is priced typically at around $50,000 but quite often sells for considerably less. The one still to watch is the all-wheel drive Coupe 4 which is scarce and significant and looks headed for $100,000. The W427 has been likened to a locomotive and in financial terms is building up steam before heading off in pursuit of those GTHOs and A9Xs. If you have one, perhaps hang onto it.
With an exceptional VL Group A selling at $340,000 and a couple of others in the region of $200,000 there should have been a stampede of owners looking to cash in. As yet that hasn’t been the case even though other scarce HSVs from the 1990s are moving. Prices for all the GTS variants are up as is the impressive VN Group A. However it remains cheaper than the more common VL. HSV built 135 of the VP GTS, 277 of the VR and 221 VS versions so these cars are scarce and almost certainly underpriced. The GTS300 is easier to find but prices are climbing as buyers – including one who bid $77K to secure VX Build #001 – acknowledge these turn-ofthe-Century supercars.
If the Jeep of your dreams is going to be used rather than preserved, then explore the market with eyes wide open and a firm hand on your wallet. The $20,000 being sought for WW2/Korean-era military Jeeps is fair enough, however CJ-7/CJ-8 V8s at $25,000 need to be offering a lot more than nostalgia to justify that money. A CJ-5 or CJ-6 is cheaper and also delivers the classic Jeep shape, the 1990s Wrangler with stock six-cylinder engine works just fine in sand and on rough tracks and good ones sell below $10,000. If you want beefy looks and a big V8 with consumption to match, the last of the Grand Wagoneers combines flashy paint and interior luxury with offroad competence, all for around $30,000.
Australians during the 1950s and 60s imported Cadillacs in considerable numbers however the sight of Ford’s luxury Lincoln on local roads was unusual. Pre-1967 models remain scarce however they aren’t as yet outrageously expensive and even a convertible should cost less than $50,000. Anyone in the market for a big, flamboyant ‘land yacht’ and with $25,000 to spend can take their pick from fourdoor Town Cars or the two-door Mark III-V Continentals. Mark V versions came in a range of ‘designer’ models with features and attributes in tribute to such prominent names as Cartier and Bill Blass. The local market doesn’t seem impressed though and prices for basic and ‘designer’ cars are similar.
Local assembly of Mercury models shut down in 1948, so by 1967 when dealers began importing Cougars the brand was again a novelty. Cougars arriving here new were RHD converted, however those imported since the 1990s are predominantly left-hand drive. Sitting above Cougars in the Mercury Muscle Car standings are the Montego and Cyclone, which we rarely see in this country, however for something different they are worth a look. Just one popped up in recent sales and although priced at $70,000 that is unlikely to cover the cost of buying and importing a US-market Cyclone. Full-sized Monterey and Park Lane models offer interesting alternatives to the Ford Galaxie and at very similar prices.
America’s oldest automotive brand was killed off in 2004, having not made a car of any significance in decades. However, the 1950s and ‘60s were amazing times for Olds, with some of the most spectacular models on the market. Locally we didn’t see many 1950s versions and the few that do pop up are expensive. Look instead at the mid-1960s with 4-4-2 Hardtops and Cutlass 88s in the $25-40,000 price range. Fans of brute performance will likely need to trek overseas and spend US$100K on a Hurst from the early 1970s. For something with history in its favour and a distinctive shape, the front-wheel drive Toronado is appealing as well.
Big, finned Plymouths were cheap fodder in the USA but super-cool prestige cars in 1950s Australia. Then came the 1961 credit crunch and the end for official Plymouth imports. Due to cost we also didn’t see the Sport Fury which today is still scarce and double the price of a Belvedere. Plymouths that appeal most to performance car lovers are the Road Runners, especially when fitted with 7.4-litre engines and perhaps a ‘six-pack’ of carburettors. These can make $150,000, with early ‘383’ versions around $70,000. The late-1960s Satellite and GTX were scarcely seen here as new cars and recent imports will usually be LHD. Also worth a look and priced below $30,000 are Fury two-doors, also from the 1960s.
Plymouth’s 1970-72 ‘Cuda range is home to some of the USA’s most fearsome performance cars. And when pitted against Australian models with smaller engines and less performance they don’t look over-priced. Allowing for the exchange rate and import costs, a 440 Six-Pack ‘Cuda Hardtop or single-carb convertible can clear the wharf here for $170,000, or around the price of an E38 Charger. Hemis are considerably dearer. Not to be overlooked either are 1967-69 Barracudas that came as a coupe or convertible and with V8s ranging from 273 to 383 cubic inches. Demand for these cars is growing and $70,000 realistic for a good Formula S 340. Early, Valiant-based 1964-66 Barracudas at $30,000 are fair value too.
Performance-oriented Pontiacs have been popular in Australia for several decades and offer plenty of choice for buyers. Starting at the top of the price tree we find early GTO hardtops at $65-70,000, with post-1967 cars slightly less. Excellent GTO convertibles are worth a lot more than $47,000. Recent Trans Am price movements centre on 197481 ‘Bandit’ cars that since 2012 have surged by 50 per cent. Pre-1971 Firebirds are up by a similar proportion, with some topping $60,000. While the bulk of 1980s-90s Firebird/ Trans Am models are struggling, look for 5.7-litre GTA versions that sell for around $30,000. V6 Turbos are very scarce in Australia but offshore will cost US$25-40,000 even before import costs.
Pontiacs for many years were viewed in this country as ‘prestige’ models and in some cases they were. While cars sourced via Canada were assembled here, fully imported US equivalents came with bigger engines and lots of luxury touches like electric windows and air-conditioning. When new they cost a lot more than the local Parisiennes but now the price gap has narrowed significantly. Local cars currently cost around $25,000 with a fully ‘loaded’ Bonneville or Grand Prix hardtop slightly above $30K. Similar money, should you be keen on a GTO lookalike, will buy a Le Mans hardtop. Looking back to the 1950s, a V8-engined Strato-Chief sedan at $30-35,000 will be cheaper and superior in most respects to a Chevrolet 210 of similar age.