Now that we’re the second-wealthiest country on earth and most other places (except for the three million living in poverty in Australia, including 793,000 children, but who cares about them?), you can buy that car you’ve always wanted.
Shannons have a nice Monza green 1971 Ford XY Falcon GT HO Phase III up for auction Monday week. If you were smart you would’ve bought this new 47 years ago for $5000 instead of Poseidon shares. There are probably fewer than 100 Phase IIIs left and any decent one is going to cost you at least a million. In June, Jeff Thomson sold his very original GHTO for just over a mill. Last week Lloyds sold one for $2 million.
If you’re going to buy a serious classic of any kind, get advice. Lloyds had a Sierra RS up for sale in their Brock Collection a month ago and Brocky’s co-driver Andrew Miedecke told us it wasn’t the real thing. The Sierra didn’t sell. There are hundreds of pretend Australian muscle cars on the market and about 2000 more Mini Coopers for sale than were ever made, and if you’re in the market for an imported secondhand Japanese car just be aware that some importers will have had the speedo wound back.
Anyway, if you don’t get the Ford there’s a US person selling a 1964 VW beetle with 30km on the clock for somewhere north of $1m.
If I didn’t have to be in the Padua of Australia, Goulburn, this weekend I’d be at the real thing in a flash. It’s an easy cruise down the Via Niccolo Tommaseo to the Auto e Moto d’Epoca where Bonhams have some seriously sexy metal going over the block.
At the top of that list is the silver 1956 Jaguar XK140 SE Roadster owned, as they say in the catalogue, “by the voluptuous Swedish film star, Anita Ekberg”. Anita starred alongside Italian heartthrob Marcello Mastroianni in the wonderfully decadent La Dolce Vita. I remember watching La Dolce Vitain Italian (not understanding a word) while smoking a Sobranie Black Russian cigarette. While Bondi did have a nice beach and a seriously good Greek milk bar (the shakes came in aluminium containers), I have to say if felt pretty second-class compared to Rome in the 60s where if you met a good sort (man, woman or other) you could frolic in the Trevi Fountain in dinner suit and gown. Well, Goulburn has the big merino and a super Paragon Cafe if I meet a good sort at the 24 Hours of Lemons today. For $350,000 you can sit in the same seat as Anita.
If you don’t remember Anita then you won’t remember the voluptuous German film star Karin Dor, who tempted the best James Bond of all time, Sean Connery, in You Only Live Twice. Karin’s estate is selling the one-owner arctic white 1987 Merc 300 SL with 128,000 genuine kilometres on it for a snip at $64,000.
Enough with movie stars. The real star of the auction is the 1993 Alfa Romeo 155 GTA Stradale Berlina, the sole prototype for a planned limited edition and built by Abarth for Alfa. Of course, it’s red and of course it’s underpowered, but like Anita, Karin and Marcello it is breathtakingly beautiful. Displayed at the 1994 Bologna Motor Show it was used at the Monza GP of the same year transporting the legendary, but not beautiful or voluptuous, FIA medical officer Sid Watkins. Maybe $320,000 will get it for you.
Talking of stars, News journalist and the consumers’ friend John Rolfe revealed this week that a Geelong woman has been awarded a record $283,000 refund on a dud new car. In April 2016, Sally Morphy took delivery of a new Range Rover Autobiography for $235,000. A couple of days later the coolant warning light came on, a month later the gearbox light came on, a month later the coolant light came on again. Finally Sally had an independent engineer look over the car and he said there was a risk of “sudden and catastrophic engine failure”.
The consumer tribunal found the failures “rendered the car unfit for its basic purpose, that is to be driven on or off roads, let alone for any purpose such goods are commonly put to”. Good result except Sally is trying to recoup her legal costs of $134,000. This is not the first case where Jaguar Land Rover Australia have taken a consumer case to court to avoid refunds under consumer law. It shows that unless you have deep pockets your rights under consumer law mean nothing.
Talking of lemons, many of you emailed to ask how the change from German to Japanese machinery in our quest to win the world’s greatest automotive event, this weekend’s 24 Hours of Lemons, was going. Our team manager and race coach, Phil Alexander of Raceaway Tracktime, discovered the 1993 Nissan half buried in the back paddock of a southern districts farm a few months ago. Realising this would be the perfect car for our quest, he bought it (or as I think, was paid to take it away) and restored it after a fashion in his Colo Vale workshop.
On Thursday I took it out on the track. Apart from a clutch that requires three persons of superior strength to push in, a tendency to do a Mazda and Honda and cut out and stop at various times, and another tendency to spin with the least excuse, there was a very nasty smell emanating from the engine department after three laps. Back at the pits, race engineer Phil discovered a now dead and overcooked bush rat in the air cooler. The Nissan has performed a lot better without this much-loved piece of Australian fauna.