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

VALIANT VF PACER Two years ago a blue VF Pacer popped up in your lovely magazine, it was a runner and dead original. It had some boot rust but was $12K. I regret to this day that I was the one to let it getaway. Will I ever find another for a decent dollar?

CLAUDE SMYTHE - LAURA BAY, SA

DECEMBER 1999

CHEVROLET CAMARO

Back when the Camaro was new and freshlyconverted cars appeared on the floors of big-city Holden dealerships, people showed up just to see the exotic new Chevrolet. Early Camaros during the 1970s-80s fell from favour before rules governing ‘classic’ imports were relaxed and a lot more arrived on our roads. This base model was most likely a 1990s arrival and with shiny red paint and a 350 under the bonnet it would certainly have attracted the buyers. Today the Camaro market remains very strong and values have more than doubled.

JANUARY 1986

LANCIA FLAVIA 2000

Remembering the 1980s and some pretty ordinary cars I sold for more than $7000, this rare and beautiful Lancia ranks as a bargain of immense stature. The Flavia coupe appeared in 1962 and survived with minor restyling until 1975. This looks to be a final-series 2000HF with five-speed gearbox – one of four believed to have been brought to Australia from total production of 1229 cars. Finding any local survivors seemed an impossible ask but then a car closely resembling this one and located in NSW popped up on a specialist Lancia web-site at an asking price of $50,000.

JUNE 1999

HOLDEN TORANA G-PACK

Holden during the 1970s had the ability to produce variations to fill every niche in an overflowing market. The G-Pack loaded a basic LH Torana with popular options including the 3.3-litre engine, disc brakes, sports wheels and full instrumentation. Holden then added body black-out panels and sold several hundred of them at a subsidised price. From there things went badly for the G-Pack with the vast majority not surviving at all or being resprayed to mask their identities. Even 20 years ago this car was a very rare survivor and we hope it has survived.

JUNE 2000

1965 CHEVROLET IMPALA HARDTOP

They came here in big crates from Canada but as far as Australian buyers were concerned, these Chevrolets and their companion Pontiacs were Aussie-grown luxury. Owning one meant you had nothing left to prove and even 35 years after this pillarless Impala was built it still offered plenty of presence. They were value as well and a $12,900 asking price wouldn’t have deterred many who were in the market for a good looking family cruiser. Today the money being sought has soared and whoever spent their $13K and held on for the ride will have done well.

DECEMBER 1991

FORD CORTINA MARK 1

Back when Britain unquestionably owned the Australian medium car market you could find Cortinas on every corner and have bought one from almost any used-car yard. Gradually they fell into the hands of owners who smashed and trashed them or let the rust get in and the numbers of surviving cars plunged. By the 1990s, early Mark 1s were scarce although not rare enough to justify $5000 or anything like it. Had you bought this car for a more sensible $3000-3500 and committed to 30 years of intense preservation, that investment would today be bringing a five-fold return.

AUGUST 2000

JAGUAR XJC

The XJC was a problem child for Jaguar. Announced in 1973 as a Series 1 but not built until 1975, the coupe by that time had acquired the reshaped grille and other attributes of an XJ6 Series 2. Australia was well-supplied with XJCs in 4.2-litre and 5.3-litre V12 form and survivors are still fairly easy to find. This six-cylinder car is running later wheels and seems to have lost the vinyl roof covering that, as a virulent rust-trap, helped kill off a lot of otherwise healthy XJCs. Values haven’t as yet climbed to levels that might be expected from a model this elegant and scarce.

MARCH 2006

FORD THUNDERBIRD LANDAU

Ford, for reasons best known to its production accountants, decided in 1967 to turn the evocative Thunderbird into a four-wheeled block of flats. This example with its side ‘marker’ lights would be from 1968 or ‘69 and quite likely came to Australia new as an expensive personal import. Early 1960s T-Birds were horrific to convert and we can’t imagine that later models with their abundance of power-assisted equipment would have been any easier. Perhaps but not surprising has been the long-term reluctance of these big ‘Glamour Birds’ to make significant money for their owners.