Ford Escort + AMC Gremlin + Matra Murena + VW Karmann-Ghia - Ones That Got Away 418

By: Cliff Chambers

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Uncle Cliff takes a look back through the Unique Cars classifieds...

Ford Escort RS1600 - Advertised November 2004

Finding one of these Escorts still alive in the UK is a challenging task. Early XR3 versions aren’t too tough to locate, so too the brutal Cosworth providing you have the money, But an RS1600 Turbo? Around 8600 were made and they shouldn’t really be that scarce but maybe the allure of 100kW and plus some pop and bang acoustics from the turbo attracted the wrong kinds of people. Recent enquiries in the UK revealed very few left at all and prices if you do find a good one climbing. Whether this one has survived or even remained in Australia we have no idea.

Then: $15,999. Now: $25-30,000


AMC Gremlin - Advertised July 1987


How does a car-maker with no money for development or tooling add a new compact model to its range? Simple, they just chop the back end off a bigger one. From the centre pillar forward, the Gremlin is a Rambler Hornet, as built and sold in Australia during the 1970s. This car was a six-cylinder manual brought to Australia by importer AMI for evaluation. No, said the bean-counters and it was sold, eventually fitted with a V8 and returned to the USA about 15 years ago. There it survives in fine condition and still RHD under a new coat of the original Big Bad Orange paint.

Then: $18,000. Now: $25-30,000


Matra Murena - Advertised December 2003


Yes, it’s got three seats and two doors but it isn’t a ute. Matra is best known for its Le Mans cars but during the 1960s-80s it built lots of sporty coupes. Murena was the last of them; Talbot powered and successor to the very successful Bagheera-Simca. A few Murenas made the journey to Australia but there was never a serious attempt to sell them here. All were built LHD and cars converted aren’t common even in the UK where several were seen recently at low prices. With parts still available, a zinc-dipped chassis and fibreglass panels we hope this car might have survived.

Then: $18,000. Now: $12-15,000


VW Karmann-Ghia - Advertised November 1990


Can’t afford a 1950s Porsche but admire the concept? At current prices an early 356 is horribly expensive but the Volkswagen version is still relatively cheap and more practical. Way back in 1953, the Ghia design house displayed a sporty Beetle and two years later the Karmann coachworks was building it. They sold in droves, especially to the USA. A lot came new to Australia and more as recent imports. This one looked to need some minor TLC and in a strong pre-recession market it was reasonably priced. Whoever bought it will certainly be smiling now.

Then: $7200. Now: $33-36,000


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