ONES THAT GOT AWAY

The cars we should have bought or ar e just glad we didn’t...

CLIFF CHAMBERS

Jun ’87 – Studebaker Hawk GT

During the 1960s, major Aussie car brands all had big ‘flagship’ models that arrived in boxes from Canada. So did US market minnows American Motors and Studebaker. Most of the Studes assembled at a multi-brand facility in Melbourne were Lark sedans, however each year a couple of hundred twodoor Hawk coupes – with and without tail-fins – were sent out to Aussie dealers. This GT was most likely a local build and looks to be in pretty fine shape. If you bought it way back then, growth should have more than kept pace with inflation.

Then $8200 Now $35 - 40,000

Nov ’05 – Nissan Skyline DR30

The 1990s saw caryards across Australia bulging at the barbed wire with imported Nissan Skyline two-doors. Not many years later the vast majority of those R32 and 33 models are taking up space in wrecking yards but old Skylines haven’t totally lost their following. Lots of people seem keen to own an R31 Series from the late 1980s or even one of these DR30s from early in the decade. This is a fairly basic version, not the RS-X that can top $20,000, but still rare and interesting enough to have at least maintained its value during the past decade.

Then $10,990 Now $12 -16,000

Dec ’97 – Renault Fuego Turbo

Having at one point in my automotive life been involved with selling Fuegos to the unsuspecting I can best describe them as attractive but uninspiring. No one ever offered us the chance to market Turbo Fuegos in Australia but the British market was apparently a bit smitten and around 70 remain on UK registration records – possibly not running.

There the good news ends for a local owner of this car who may have been considering trying to sell it in the Northern Hemisphere. One outstanding example was offered at £4200 (about $10,000) but the average is half that.

Then $10,000 Now $6000 - 8500

Apr ’05 – Ferrari F50

The words ‘ideal Club Sport track car’ translate as ‘If you think you can register this thing anywhere in Australia, you’re dreaming’. However for a committed buyer with the very best part of a million bucks parked in the bottom drawer that wasn’t much of a deterrent. Just 349 F50s were built from 1995-97 to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary and all were LHD. Several came to Australia but this is the only one painted in scarce Giallo Modena yellow.

It reportedly was used quite a bit for track days before being sold to another Australian collector.

Then $950,000 Now $ $1.8-2.0 million

Nov ’04 – Dodge Challenger R/T Convertible

A decade ago, Chrysler-made muscle-cars were rarely seen in Australia; even at display days. Something like this R/T Challenger convertible was super-scarce and would have stood out from the more common Mustangs and Camaros.

But maybe its difference from the mob was a disadvantage.

Only 1070 R/T soft-tops were made for the 1970 North American production year and survivors are very scarce.

Authenticity matters as well and we’re not sure what drivetrain this car came with, however US values suggest it should today crack six figures.

Then $52,000 Now $100 -110,000

Feb ’04 – Holden VB SL/E 4.2

Despite the money poured into promoting the Commodore and a timely 1-2-3 result in the 1979 Repco Trial, the Germandesigned Holden was never regarded as truly ‘Aussie’. No matter that the four-disc SL/E stopped and handled better than any Kingswood or Premier, resale values weren’t flash and when the power windows and plastic dash fell to bits, SL/Es like this car were crushed by the thousands and exported. Now, with few surviving and prices soaring, anyone who ditched a good SL/E rather than spend a bit on maintenance will now be sobbing.

Then $7450 Now $24 -28,000

Apr ’85 – Morgan Plus 8

Morgan isn’t the oldest car company in existence but it is the most consistent. Body frames are still made from wood and the shape hasn’t changed a lot in 60 years. The big move came in 1968 when Morgan’s first V8 was built; bringing new levels of excitement to traditional sports-car motoring.

Plus 8s came to Australia in decent quantities as new cars and stocks have been supplemented by recent imports. This one was most likely a local delivery and typically priced.

Morgan still builds V8s but the rising cost of a new one has helped boost demand and values of early cars.

Then $28,000 Now $80 -100,000

Dec ’97 – Skoda 110R

Volkswagen-based Skodas have been doing well on the local market for several years but we really should have taken more notice of the early ones. A few Skoda 110 sedans made their way here before mid-70s exchange rates took away their price advantage over Japanese makes. Europe loved the Skoda though and a British brochure claimed 90mph (145km/h) as the top speed. There were also much faster ones including a 180kW rally special known as ‘The Grenade’. This was likely an evaluation car on-sold by the importer. Does it still exist?

Then $3000 Now $4500-6500

Mar ’04 – Chrysler Charger 770

This column has featured Chargers of various kinds but it took time to find a 770 of this quality. The subdued colour is what you’d expect at the ‘executive’ end of the Charger spectrum - although the original Alvin Purple film Charger was a red 770. It’s got the 318 motor and enough E49 add-ons to stand out from the rest at gatherings of Australia’s most acclaimed Mopar product. The money being sought in 2004 was strong, but whoever took the plunge would have been grinning a couple of years later when the price ‘boom’ materialised and values galloped.

Then $11,500 Now $32-36,000

Mar ’85 – Jaguar Mark 5 Drophead M J M k5

Jaguar came out of World War II with its factory intact and a new engine under development but only pre-war designs to sell. The elegant Mark 4 transformed into the bulky Mark 5 but drophead (soft-top) Jaguars were still considered highly desirable, especially in Australia. Only 395 Mark 5 Dropheads were built and almost 200 came here. Over 30 are known to survive. Several, like this car, are in outstanding condition and the asking price would, even in 1985, not represent anything like its restoration cost.

Then $26,500 Now $160-185,000

Oct ’89 – Armstrong-Siddeley Whitley Station Wagon O Armstrong

Alright then, who’s got one of these tucked away in a corner of the shed? Armstrong-Siddeley did very well with its Whitley Station Coupe – a utility that doubled as family transport by virtue of its rear seat – but station wagons aren’t listed as a Whitley variant at all and trawling the Internet’s many thousands of A-Sidd photos revealed nothing similar to this. It looks to be in good order and at just $2000 should have found an owner so we ask; where and by whom was this rarity built and where is it now?

Then $2000 Now $15-30,000