The ones that got away 376 - bargains & near-misses

By: Cliff Chambers, Unique Cars magazine

Presented by

UNC 376 FORD ZEPHYR MK 2 WGN SEPT 95 P128 Ford Zephyr UNC 376 FORD ZEPHYR MK 2 WGN SEPT 95 P128
UNC 376 HUMBER SCEPTRE JUL 85 Humber Sceptre UNC 376 HUMBER SCEPTRE JUL 85
UNC 376 LAMBO URACCO 3 LITRE SEPT 99 P148 Lamborghini Uracco UNC 376 LAMBO URACCO 3 LITRE SEPT 99 P148
UNC 376 OPEL KAPITAN FEB 93 P41 Opel Kapitan UNC 376 OPEL KAPITAN FEB 93 P41
UNC 376 RAMBLER MARLIN APR 98 Rambler Marlin UNC 376 RAMBLER MARLIN APR 98
UNC 376 TRANS AM CONV JAN 94 Trans-Am UNC 376 TRANS AM CONV JAN 94
UNC 376 VALIANT R SERIES JULY 94 P39 Valiant UNC 376 VALIANT R SERIES JULY 94 P39
UNC 376 VOLVO REPCO DUNKERTON CAR AUG 93 P145 Volvo UNC 376 VOLVO REPCO DUNKERTON CAR AUG 93 P145
UNC 376 ZA FAIRLANE NOV 03 Fairlane UNC 376 ZA FAIRLANE NOV 03

What are the bargains and bombs we've missed over time?

The ones that got away 376 - bargains & near-misses
Lamborghini prices took off and have kept going.

Sep ’99 – Lamborghini Urraco P300

Although seen as a Porsche 911 and Ferrari GT4 rival, the Urraco is a more complex and sophisticated car. The 2.5-litre versions didn’t have the mumbo to match their style but the 3.0-litre did enough to rate as a half-sized  but not half-baked supercar. They were expensive when new and arriving during a time of global privation made P300s scarce. Of the 205 made, only 38 were RHD and at least one Australian-delivered car popped up a few years ago in Britain. LHD models sell in the region of US$60,000 and can be registered here without issue.

Then $53,000  Now $90-100,000

Apr ’98 – Rambler Marlin

Back in the 1960s when the urge for car makers to be different often overwhelmed good taste, Rambler built one of the more disastrous models in its chequered history. The Marlin wasn’t quite as cringe-worthy as an Edsel but it went close and sales during 1965-67 averaged just 7000 a year. Somebody here liked them though and a batch were imported in 1966 from which this car may have come. The money being sought for a fairly worn and rusty Rambler was ridiculous but another car of some kind was being thrown in to sweeten the deal. 

Then $15,000  Now $25-30,000 (restored)

Aug ’93 – Volvo 244 Repco Rally Car

Having seen first-hand the indignity suffered by one of the 1979 Repco Trial Commodores (club rallying with a V8 transplant) I’m not confident that the Volvo that finished a gallant 4th will have survived. However, it’s worth asking if anyone has preserved one of Australia’s most significant – and resilient – Volvos. Piloted by multiple Australian Rally Champion Ross Dunkerton, the 244 was pounded unmercifully to keep pace and needed frequent repair in order to finish one step below the trophy-hogging Holdens. Hopefully it is still out there somewhere.

THEN $5900  Now $12,000 at least

July ’85 – Humber Sceptre

Not even an unexpected London-Sydney Marathon win could force people to like or buy Hillman Hunters. It is therefore highly unlikely that Australians would have  handed over the price of a Holden Premier for a four-eyed Hunter with princely pretensions. We did get an upmarket Hunter called the Royal but for opulence and embellishment it was no match for the down-sized Humber. In Britain where most of them sold, Mark 3 Sceptres survive in surprising numbers – including some Estate (station wagon) versions – but prices aren’t flash.

Then $3000  Now $5000-6000

Feb ’93 – Opel Kapitan

If you think that Holden was dragging the stylistic chain with its FB/EK Holden shape, take a look at what the poor Germans were copping. And this is the big Opel’s better angle.  When viewed from behind this escapee from GM Germany would display an untidy smattering of lights and a set of fins so insipid they might as well have been left off altogether. Like other oddball European vehicles featured occasionally by this column, the Opel was quite likely a personal import or arrived as diplomatic transport. Parts would have been a problem for the buyer.

Then $7900  Now $10-12,000

Sep ’95 – Ford Zephyr Wagon

Wouldn’t you love to still be able to buy a classic Aussie-made Zephyr wagon for under three grand? Back in the 1990s it was easy task and you would have owned a Ford that was a bit different (door pillar, wind-up tailgate window)  from its Brit-built equivalent. Theirs came from Ford offshoot Abbott Coachbuilders while in Australia the wagons were put together at a place called Bodycraft which was down the road from Ford’s Geelong factory. More than 7500 were reportedly built during 1958-62 and survivors pop up occasionally.

Then $2990  Now $8000-10,000

Nov ’03 – Ford ZA Fairlane

Car collectors go all of a flutter when someone fronts up at a display day with their latest unmolested and unrestored ‘barn find’. So, friends of FoMoCo, what would your mates’ reaction be if you arrived at the annual All Ford show behind the wheel of this showroom-fresh, 12,000 mile ZA?  Surely there wouldn’t be another one to match it for authenticity, right down to the very distinctive rego plates. That said, during the years before Aussie V8 values started to surge, $15K was an awful lot of lolly for an early Fairlane.

Then $15,000  Now $35-40,000

July ’94 – Chrysler Valiant R Series

If only we knew. Forty years ago you could buy a rusty R Series for $5 to use in demolition derbies and even by 1994 their significance wasn’t being fully recognised. Only 1008 of Australia’s first Valiant were imported; arriving in crates and assembled in Adelaide. When stocks ran out (quickly) there were no more until the mass-produced S Series came on stream. This survivor at some point seems to have suffered the indignity of a Little Beaver respray but all the important slivers of stainless steel and unique grille are in fine shape. Worth a motza now.

Then $6500  Now $27-35,000

Jan ’94 – Pontiac Trans Am Convertible

Not only are these drop-top Pontiacs a rare car, they are also famous. A year or so after being made, one was doing a star turn – plus some very slick handbrake turns – in a ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ episode. We doubt that this is the car involved in all the boy-howdying but it still would have been a special find for fans of the Firebird/Trans Am. US sources put the number made at 250 not 175 and confirm that the cars were converted by National Coach Engineering of Michigan under a General Motors-sanctioned arrangement.  Is this important Ponti still in Australia?

Then $23,950  Now $55-65,000

(issue 376, jan 2015)

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