ONES THAT GOT AWAY

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

CLIFF CHAMBERS

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

NISSAN PULSAR GTI-R When I attended TAFE in the early 2000s one of my fellow classmates drove a champagne coloured GTi-R it was such a great car with its AWD turbocharged drivetrain and I loved it more than he did. He never modified it and the last time I spoke to him he had sold the car for $10K as it needed some cosmetic TLC. I wish I knew it was for sale. ANDREW RAMONE - ROCKELA, QLD

FORD SKYLINER RETRACTABLE

DECEMBER 1999

Six electric motors, ten telescopic rams. 200 metres of wiring and more possibilities for electro-mechanical disaster than in a dozen conventional convertibles. Yet lots of people did and still do want to pay big money for Galaxie Skyliners (aka Retractables).. These weren’t sold new in Australia and most arrived quite late in their lives. They remain popular in the USA and a decent proportion of the 12,915 cars made in 1959 have survived. Top money seen recently was US$89,000 for a restored car that, like this one, came with the keenly sought ‘Continental’ spare wheel.

TATRA T603

MAY 1985

These do not grow on trees but the local population of T603 Tatras is at least double what it was in 1985. This was confirmed a few weeks ago when a similar car to this one but in black and with standard wheels made big money during the Gosford Motor Museum sell-up. Tatras in the European market and the USA where interest has swelled are bringing increasing amounts of money, although not quite the $134,000 achieved at auction in 2018 by a ‘shark fin’ T87 model. Given scarcity and a growing following, the T603 certainly seems headed in that direction.

JAGUAR MARK V DROPHEAD

MAY 2001

An uncle of mine many years ago came to show us his brand new Morris 1100 and crow about conning the dealer into giving him Ł375 ($750 in the New Money) as a trade-in on his old Drophead Jaguar. Anyone seen how much Morris 1100s have been selling for recently? By contrast, top examples of the elegant Mark V soft-top hit six figures some time ago and values remain there or higher in markets across the world. Even in 2001, $80K wasn’t excessive for a car with trophies on the shelf and had it not sold here an overseas buyer would have been swift to pounce.

STUDEBAKER STARLITE

JULY 1989

Controversial but much admired, the Raymond Loewy ‘backwards-frontwards’ Studebakers with their trunk (boot) longer than the hood (bonnet) are a rare sight in Australia and scarce in the USA as well. Back when these cars were new, the styling was a polarising issue and sales of the 1950 twodoor Starlite fell a few cars short of 12,000. Some Studebakers were assembled in Australia but rarities like this were all private imports. Finding one in Australia will be tough and only slightly easier in North America, however prices there rarely exceed US$25,000.

FORD FALCON XP V8 HARDTOP

MARCH 1996

The parts were available off the shelf in America, with the engineering work done and the XP Falcon shell was easily able to accept a V8 engine. So why did Ford Australia fail to do what owners like this one had no trouble accomplishing? Politics, probably. Ford didn’t want to start a power race – not until it had the physically larger XR anyway – and risk a reaction from officialdom similar to the ministerial blustering that killed the GTHO Phase 4. This XP looks like it’s been done properly and while $14K was a lot of money in 1996, take a look at what they bring now.

LANCIA PRISMA

MARCH 1996

Lancia abandoned the Australian market in 1985, unwilling to spend the money needed to equip its cars for our 91 Octane Unleaded fuel. Instead, Australia got the Fiat Regata and the less said about those the better. The Prisma may look like a Regata in a better-quality suit but they reportedly were a far more interesting drive and even spawned an Integrale version. Someone contributing to an online forum has discovered a RHD survivor which very possibly is this car. Certainly no more than a couple were imported for ‘evaluation’ so they remain an extreme rarity in Australia.

HOLDEN LC TORANA

AUGUST 2000

How times have changed. 20 years ago a Torana SL in Turd Brown with three auto ratios on the tree and drum brakes as well wouldn’t have a snowflake’s chance of selling for $6000. Today you could put a 2 in front of that asking price and the buyers would still be lined up for a look. At fault of course is surging demand for cars that can be ‘cloned’ into GTR/XU-1 versions or have their body shell grafted onto ID plates removed from one of the more valuable versions. Given its exceptional condition we hope this one might have survived unmolested.