Mercedes-Benz 280SE + Mini Cooper Monte Carlo + Ford Cortina Estate - Ones That Got Away 465

By: Cliff Chambers

mercedes benz mercedes benz

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


Mercedes-Benz 280SE 3.5 Cabriolet

Ignore 300SL Roadsters and SLRs and there aren’t many post-WW2 Mercedes-Benz more desirable and valuable than this one. Right now, around the world there are several Cabrios for sale, but they are left-hand drive and the highest asking price we saw was US$425,000 (around $600,000 Australian). Best confirmed sale was at US$346,000. RHD cars are very scarce (just 68 made) and more valuable, but we will need to wait for another sale to accurately assess their current worth. The last RHD Cabrio sale was in England at £226,000 (A$410,000) but that was 18 months ago.

Then: $130,000. Now: $650,000-750,000


Mini Cooper Monte Carlo - Advertised August 2003


The sight of 1960s Mini Coopers topping $50k at auction was bound to encourage owners of more recent versions to boost their asking prices, and it has. Rover revived the original Mini shape in 1983 and for the next 17 years built loads of special editions including these tributes to the Cooper S that won three Monte Carlo rallies. Those cars didn’t come with air-con or a CD player and they were red, but at least the Minilite replica wheels look right. Values during the boom have genuinely doubled and we did see a car similar to this one at an astonishing $60,000.

Then: $20,000. Now: $40,000-45,000


Ford Cortina Estate - Advertised January 1987


Back when UK migrants could bring a car with them at minimal cost, it was common to see British models running about Australia with local number plates tacked over the originals. This scarce Cortina estate ended up in country NSW with a plate (EKA prefix) suggesting it had been locally registered as a near-new car during 1966. Perhaps one or two did come over for ‘evaluation’ and were then sold off by Ford when no longer required. Its rural location plus minimal time spent on UK roads will have kept rust at bay, so just maybe this rare British Ford remains with us.

Then: $3200. Now: $20,000-25,000


NSU Ro80 - Advertised September 1986


The list of courageous automotive acts must surely include NSU’s decision to develop this car. The shape was inspirational but the power unit execrable; not because rotary power could never be viable but because it took a company with vastly greater resources (Mazda) to make it so. NSU as a brand disappeared under the weight of Ro80 warranty costs, leaving parent company Volkswagen with a big bill plus a wonderfully aerodynamic shape for its post-1982 Audi CD. Ro80s were listed in local dealer guides from 1969-73 and one online source claims that 198 were sold here.

Then: $5250. Now: $15,000-20,000


From Unique Cars #465, April 2022


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