Triumph TR6 + Nissan Skyline + Plymouth Valiant Signet - Ones That Got Away

By: Cliff Chambers

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

TRIUMPH TR6 (Advertised Novmeber 1998)

TR6 - NOV 98.JPG

Travel back 25 years and we find the last of Triumph’s bicep-building sports cars looking great and at a sensible price for the times. Australian TR6s were all fuel injected, however USA legislators wouldn’t certify the injected cars under smog laws and for the world’s biggest sports car market there was a twin-carb engine in similar tune to the later 2500S sedan. Production from 1968-76 reached 94,600 with most exported, however about 3400 remain registered in the UK. Plenty reside in Australia too, with values (see Climbers & Sliders) steady for some time and showing no sign of an imminent surge.

Then: $26,000 Now: $40,000 - $45,000

AUTOBIANCHI COUPE (Advertised September 1996)


During the cash strapped and fuel starved 1950s, Europe filled to the brim with companies making small and thrifty motor vehicles. Autobianchi was founded in 1955 purely to build limited production city cars for people who wanted something more exclusive than the Fiat 500 which supplied its mechanical parts. The Bianchina ‘transformable’ seen here used an exclusive body with a folding central section of the roof to let sunshine into the cabin. More than 35,000 were built during five years of production (1957-62) and they now cost around the same as an excellent Fiat 500 Nuova. 

Then: $10,000 Now: $30,000 - $35,000

HOLDEN HT MONARO GTS308 (Advertised August 2000)


If you wanted the aura of Monaro ownership without the thirst of a 5.7-litre V8, then HTs in GTS trim with a local V8 presented a reasonable alternative. Cars like this 308 with its rough and rugged Saginaw gearbox would find their way to 185km/h and to untrained eyes could well be identical to the GTS350s that humbled Ford’s brand-new GT-HO at Bathurst in 1969 and more recently became $300,000 collectibles. Cars with local blocks are significantly cheaper but seemingly too scarce to satisfy demand, leading to a rash of  replicas. These can still make $120-140,000.

Then: $12,000 Now: $165,000 - $180,000

FORD MUSTANG GTA390 FASTBACK (Advertised March 2008)


If you’ve seen a fairly ordinary old cops and robbers film entitled Bullitt then you might understand why people pay huge money for Mustangs similar to this one. The film’s title character drove a dark green, 1968 version of the GT, with less pretentious wheels than seen here and a four-speed gearbox, in what is regarded as cinema’s greatest ever car chase. One of the stunt cars used in the firm was sold in 2020 for US$3.74 million, so A$70K for a distant cousin looks okay. They aren’t rare though, with around 28,000 Fastbacks optioned during 1967 with the 238kW, 390 motor. 

Then: $70,000 Now: $150,000 - $165,000

RAMBLER CLASSIC V8 CONVERTIBLE (Advertised January 1997)


You get the feeling looking at this car that it was a special order that had been in Australia for a while and probably came as a motor-show display car. Australia during the 1960s did see a lot of Ramblers but mostly sedans with blue lights and 'Police’ signs on the roof, built by Australian Motor Industries from parts kits. Convertibles were rare, here and in North America where they were produced RHD in Ontario, Canada. USA production stats show around 5000 Classic convertibles built for 1965, without scarcity influencing values so good cars in their home market remain below USD$15,000. 

Then: $19,000 Now: $25,000 - $30,000

NISSAN SKYLINE DR30 TURBO COUPE (Advertised August 1999)


With its single-turbo 2.0-litre engine, the DR30 Skyline did well at Bathurst in 1986 with third place on the grid and third outright at the finish – achieved by different cars. That performance didn’t encourage Nissan to sell them here, however, and they remain a scarce and desirable import. Local examples have sold for less than $40,000, although asking prices have been seen above $60,000. Growing interest being shown by USA-based enthusiasts is influencing values and depleting any stocks remaining in Japan, so expect quality examples to make significant gains in coming years.

Then: $7,500 Now: $40,000 - $45,000

PLYMOUTH VALIANT SIGNET (Advertised April 1991)


A thousand dollars to convert this USA import would have been about right in 1991, because under the panels of this Plymouth was a structure virtually identical to our local AP5 Chrysler Valiant. Shame there was no market in this country for convertibles which enchanted North American families and could be seen in situation comedies across every USA TV network. Only 7122 of the V200 convertible were built in 1963, yet survivors aren’t particularly expensive. Most cost less than USD$10,000 and the best example auctioned recently – which looked to be a nicely restored car – reached just USD$12,750.

Then: $9990 Now: $25,000 - $30,000

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