ONES THAT GOT AWAY

VOLVO 850R

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

VOLVO 850R My teacher in high school owned a new 850R Volvo, he always raved on about how good it was but I never paid much attention to the shiny red Swede in the carpark. I now desire to own that car, I pray that I can track down a pristine example.

THOMAS JOHNSON - ROSSVILLE, QLD

$35-38,000 NOW $10,000

SEPTEMBER 1989 CHRYSLER AP6 V8

The classic vehicle market that awoke in 1987 was by 1989 doing quite silly things as demonstrated by the asking price for this average-looking AP6 V8. Five years earlier it was possible to buy good examples of Australia’s first ‘family’ V8 for $3000 and a leap of this size would have convinced other owners to sell. Had they done so, they would have forsaken a fine ride over several decades and the appreciation that has sent excellent AP6 V8s climbing towards $40,000. Rust and other afflictions since 1989 have claimed a few and they are no longer an easy car to find.

$130-145,000 NOW $40,000

JUNE 2005 PORSCHE 356B

Recent years have brought huge increases in prices for air-cooled 911s but slower movement on the part of other Porsches. Now mainstream 356 models have chewed through their shackles and excellent cars have soared past $150,000. Open-top 356s including the much-admired Speedster have always been megabuck propositions but five years ago you could still slot into a good fixed-roof 356 for less than $100,000. Porsche did well in Australia even before the 911 arrived and good-quality survivors like this 356B are fairly easy to find. Just not cheap.

$45-55,000 NOW $28,500

JANUARY 1986 BMW 323i ALPINA

The money being asked in 1986 for this five year-old Alpina would have bought a lot of things, just not a brand new BMW 318i with 77kW and windows you had to wind for yourself. Those at the time cost more than $40,000 and showed how ridiculously expensive local-delivery BMWs had become. If this car was a genuine Alpina C1 – and a lot of ‘conversions’ were reportedly done using the basic 323i – it would have had a 2.3-litre, 170bhp engine and been one of 28 similar cars produced. Even as a replica it offered decent value and would be an absolute steal if proved to be genuine.


$80-95,000 NOW $18,000

OCTOBER 1999 1971 DODGE CHALLENGER R/T 440

Yes it’s a real Challenger. Yes the vendor says it’s an R/T and that it has a 7.2-litre, ‘440’ V8. And yes, $18K is all they wanted 20 years ago for a genuine US-made muscle machine. Sure it would have still been left-hand drive but if you could restrict your enjoyment of this beast to club events then it could have been used on Historic registration without any alteration at all. R/T Challengers even today aren’t an easy car to find on this side of the Pacific so turning to the USA to check comparable values would bring a big smile to whoever owns this car now.

$15-18,000 NOW $22,000

MAY 1991 MITSUBISHI CORDIA TURBO

If anyone back in 1991 still wanted to own a turbo Cordia then this would have been the turbo Cordia to buy. As major sponsors of the 1985 Australian Grand Prix, Adelaide-based Mitsubishi wanted to promote the wildest of its children to the world and the front-drive, 110kW GSR was the mount of choice for the AGP’s Celebrity Race. Seasoned racing drivers were known to struggle with the Cordia’s torque steer, so in a field of absolute novices these would have been a hoot. No one seems to have posted video of the race but this car could well have been the sole survivor.

$110120,000 NOW $29,900

SEPTEMBER 1992 HDT VL GROUP A

By 1992 HDT had been out of business for some years and HSV was having a tough time in a depressed market. Then up popped this undeniably excellent VL with a very hopeful price tag. Back in 1986, $29,600 was list price for a brand new Plus Pack car but six years later and with 40,000 klicks on the clock a vendor on the hunt for $300 more was delusional. Quite likely the car would have sold but at 15-20 per cent below the money sought. It then would have bumped along in the mid-20k range until 2006 when Muscle Car Mania struck and values shot into six digit territory.

$10-13,500 NOW $1950

JULY 1997 RAMBLER MATADOR WAGON

No that price is not missing a ‘1’ from the front. Even in 1997 and with a major recession affecting car values, $1950 was just ridiculous for a vehicle of this Rambler’s size and apparently decent condition. No need for People Movers back then because the Matador would fit a large family and all their holiday gear and haul a big caravan or boat without blinking. Parts supply, even decades after local assembly had stopped, remained reliable and Matadors still appear quite often in the market. Just not at prices like this.