LOTUS ELITE + TOYOTA 700 + 1936 MG TA - The cars that got away

By: Cliff Chambers

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

Lotus -elite

Lotus Elite 2+2 - November 2005

Not to be confused with its tiny, two-seat namesake from the 1960s, the 2+2 Elite even today offers a low-cost route to Lotus ownership.  The shape when replacing the Elan+2 in 1974 came as quite a shock to fans of the brand. However the world was in crisis and traditional sports cars under threat. Lotus saw the wagon-like Elite and later Excel as protection against rapacious legislators and to a degree they were right. About 2500 were made, but only a quarter went to North America and a few for Australia. Reasonable cars for sale in USA remain cheap, however anything really outstanding will be hard to find. Values during the past decade have hardly moved.

Then - $14,500, Now - $16-20,000

Toyota -700

Toyota 700 - July 1988

A little while back this magazine featured a lovely example of Toyota’s pioneering 700. When sold in other places these diminutive cars carried ‘Publica’ badges, however that might have sounded a mite subversive in a land ruled by HM and Bob Menzies. The 700 was well-equipped but its two-speed  auto transmission was a weak point and a lot of otherwise tidy Toyotas went to the crusher due to failures in the Toyoglide department. Asking $4000 ranked in 1988 as borderline insanity but it should have managed $1500-2000 and grown from there.

Then - $4,000, Now - $8-10,000


1936 MG TA - January 1996

Despite its status as the earliest of MG’s popular T Series, the TA generates no more interest and marginally less money than the post WW2 TC. Around 3000 TAs were built during three years of production and a couple of cars, including a green one visually very similar to this, have been offered locally for auction during recent years. Neither was able to break the $40,000 barrier and that situation has been echoed overseas where auctioneers struggle to reach estimates. An unrestored TA with the later XPAG engine recently went unsold at US$15,000. 

Then - $32,000, Now - $35-40,000

(Unique Cars #396)

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