ONES THAT GOT AWAY

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

Lest 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

MITSUBISHI 3000GT A friend of mine once owned a red Mitsubishi 3000GT. I instantly fell in love with that car with its twin turbo 3.0 litre, AWD drivtrain. It ticked all my boxes on paper but was a maintenance nightmare at the time. Now I have the difficult task of finding an un-modified version in one piece.

DOMINIC SANTINI - MINTO, NSW

NOVEMBER 2007 TOYOTA SUPRA 2.8

$20-25,000 NOW $10,000

Anyone who has seen an early-1980s Celica tottering around on ridiculously skinny rubber will understand why Toyota went all Schwarzenegger with the rims and wheel-arches for its six-cylinder Supra. Even with more rubber on the road, MA61 Supras make 134kW and were a handful. Despite looking mean, the MA61 did nothing of note in motor sport and collector interest remained muted until quite recently. Today, good cars pop up regularly and prices have climbed. Given its role as a cruiser not a competitor, the auto tranny in this one shouldn’t be an issue.

JANUARY 1996 CITROEN DS23 SAFARI

$25-30,000 NOW $10,500

First glance at a Safari would cause most people to visualise a car crossed with a basset hound that would belly out on every speed hump. Then you remember that these cars use hydro-pneumatic suspension and at the touch of a button can gain 15cm of clearance. Also recall that a DS sedan won the 1974 World Cup Rally and was robbed only by bad luck of the first London-Sydney Marathon. The Safari has a massive load-space and for a decent one back in 1996, $10,500 was very reasonable money. If you want one now, start digging in the back pocket for treble that amount.

MARCH 1996 1957 CHEVROLET CORVETTE FUELIE

$210225,000 NOW $49,990

1996 Australia was being strangled by recession and significant cars were being seriously underpriced just to get a sale. We reckon this fuel-injected ’57 was worth around A$65k at the time, but then you look closer and the steering wheel is a metre to the right of where it should have been. RHD conversion hurts the value of significant LHD vehicles and we would almost bet that this car would have been switched back to original. If so, that $50,000 outlay represents an even bigger bargain for subsequent owners who can expect a ’Vette like this to sell for upwards of $200,000.

JUNE 2000 STANDARD VANGUARD SIX UTILITY

$6500-7500 NOW $4900

How about this load-carrier from 1960 that sounded more like a sports car? Like the topselling Holden ute the Vanguard had six cylinders but added dual carburettors, a four-speed gearbox with overdrive and a 140km/h top speed. This one also had the factory-fitted heater and optional radio. Vanguard utes used Australianmade bodies on chassis sourced from South Africa and although they weren’t officially sold in Britain some did make their way there. Condition hopefully helped this example achieve the asking price, however values haven’t moved a great deal.

JUNE 1993 VAUXHALL VISCOUNT

$8-12,000 NOW $8000

With its own Holden Premier kicking plenty of sales goals, Holden didn’t need any help from the toffee-nosed Vauxhall brand and dumped it in 1965. That didn’t deter a few diehard Vauxhall fans from showing up after extended UK holidays with a near-new one as unaccompanied baggage or stop Brit High Commission diplomats driving them. This car hopefully remained in Australia, thus avoiding the rust that afflicted most big Vauxhalls and sent them to a sudden but glorious death in UK ‘banger’ racing.

MARCH 2004 MERCEDES-BENZ 560SL

Ending the existence of its long-serving 107 Series cannot have been easy for Mercedes-Benz, especially since six and eight cylinder versions were still selling well. Fuel was an issue though and this 5.6-litre behemoth which must have gulped massive amounts of Premium on its way to morning coffee or Myers. As was typical of big-engined SLs, this car had seen minimal use and hopefully has stayed that way. Today, a vendor would be silly to set a price without a ‘1’ at the front or accept less than $90K for what should rank as a very desirable example of a very collectible Benz.

OCTOBER 1999 FIAT 124S

$14-18,000 NOW $4500

Fiat really changed its relationship with the Australian market in 1968 when the utterly lovely 124S coupe was launched. Lots were sold here but within a decade most had suffered rust to such a degree that repairs were uneconomic.

This car, having survived in one family ownership and averaged just 5000km a year for its entire life, might have avoided the problems that afflicted other Aussie-delivered 124s – and European ones – and it may still be with us. Finding a Fiat of similar type in good condition has become difficult but prices remain very reasonable.