We all know that for the most part car values go in one direction and it’s generally down. However there are exceptions and I believe that it is possible to make money by buying the right car.
About five years ago I was changing jobs and stepping out of a company supplied car. After considering a number of different scenarios, I found myself left with a choice of two types of vehicle. One I would enjoy driving that was reasonably fuel efficient and still fun to punt on a Sunday morning or alternatively, a car that I might actually turn a profit on. I could finally put to the test my theory that it is possible to buy a car in any market no matter how volatile and make a profit come sale time.
In the end it came down to a choice between two cars, a new Mazda MX5 or something right out of left-field - the infamous plastic fantastic Walkinshaw VL Group A Commodore. I chose the MX5, fuel efficient and fun.
Move forward five years or so and the "Battle Star Galactica" Walkinshaw has easily doubled if not tripled in value. Watching a few go under the hammer recently has only cemented in my mind the fact that I should have had the intestinal fortitude to take the plunge and benefit from my theory. The MX5 has been a wonderful car but it is now worth considerably less than what I paid for it. Damn...
It is a crystal ball story that will no doubt be told time and time again and in an age when GTHO Falcons are fetching close to the magic million mark, it makes sense that later model ‘cars of interest’ take their place in the collectible Australian muscle car line-up.
Of course the famous XW/XY GT Falcons in all their different phases, models and colours have been worth a bit of coin for some time, but its only in the last five or ten years that values of cars like the “John Goss Special” have started to rise rapidly. John Goss special - I hear you say, with one raised eyebrow...
The John Goss special was never considered a real Australian muscle car, it ‘only’ produced an anemic 240bhp from its somewhat small (by ford standards) 302ci V8. How could that possibly be a desirable car these days? If the model in question has a unique story behind it then anything is possible.
Tasmanian-born Goss found fame racing with Kevin Bartlett around Mount Panorama at Bathurst in the 1970's. Alongside "KB" racing in a privateer team, he won the James Hardie 1000 at Mount Panorama in 1974 in what was a very close race. To cash in on the win, the marketing boffins at ford signed off on a limited edition road car that in many people’s eyes fell short of Goss and KB’s achievement that year on the mountain.
In August, 1975 Ford released a run of XB based John Goss Special limited edition hardtops to commemorate the win. Powered by the 302ci V8 with either a three-speed automatic or four-speed manual transmission, the car was available in two different colour schemes, blue and white and green and white in addition to which a variety of factory and dealer fitted options were available.
The John Goss special was considered a bit of a joke by enthusiasts, and it was only a few short years ago that you could have quite comfortably paid about $5,000 to own an example of this special edition Falcon that was born from a Bathurst win. Today it is a different story as a decent John Goss special will fetch somewhere between $35,000 - $40,000. In fact, quite recently a low kilometre John Goss special in immaculate condition sold for $75,000! The John Goss special is but one example of the more obscure Australian muscle cars that have seen significant increases in value.
The John Goss special is a great example of how a good story can make a car collectible but to be a truly desirable collectible a motor racing history or a colourful history (like the Energy Polarizer equipped Brock Commodores), rarity and visual clout are all factors that play a role.
The HSV VS GTS-R is a prime example of a car that will only appreciate in value. It has a story, is rare and displays plenty of visual clout though it will never be described as pretty and its looks were derided by the press in its day. Best of all it was a super limited edition with only 75 examples built.
So, are there any potential Aussie muscle car collectibles out there now?
The short answer is yes and here is a selection of the potential collectibles that I would consider;
HSV VN SV89 - (available under $15,000) with only 200 built and rumbling 5 litre V8 pushing from the rear, the SV89 not only had some sting in its tail but looked the part too, with what could only be described at that time as a fancy body kit that didn’t look like an afterthought.
HSV SV 5000 - (available under $15,000) preferably in the British racing green with matching tan leather interior, the SV 5000 is a car who's value I believe will rocket up in the next five to ten years. With 200kw and 410Nm of torque (145kW per tonne) and a limited production of just 359 units it ticks many of the collectability boxes.
Ford Falcon ED XR8 Sprint - (available under $15,000) Ford fans will tell you the ED XR8 sprint was pretty much a GT Falcon in plain clothes. it produced 200kW and well over 400Nm of torque (some say more) and had the ability to put that power down smoother than any of the Generals cars of the same period. Production was limited to 356 units. This is the car that the EB GT should have been, a stripped out, basic Aussie Muscle car without all the fuss associated with the EB and EL GT’s and for that reason alone it will also be a car sought after in years to come.
Ford Falcon EB and EL GT’s - (available under $30,000) It will take a while to really cash in big on these two cars. I’ve seen EB and EL GT’s sell for as little as $17,000 right up to $50,000 in recent times, so prices really are anywhere and everywhere but at the right price they are good value and on their way to being a true collectible.
HSV SV99 - (available under $40,000) Painted in the Hackett gold, (named after swimming legend Grant Hackett and his gold winning spree in the pool) the SV99 had a different hue compared the Tiger Mica Holden hero colour of around the same time. With a production run of just 99 units the big bold gold HSV had the heart of a lion with a recently ‘massaged’ 5.7 V8 pumping out a strong 250kW/473 Newton-metres of torque, the SV99 ticks many of the collectable car boxes. Prices are currently all over the place but look around and you can still find examples around the $25,000 mark.
So there you go, a few gems that I think represent good buying now with the potential to see values increase over the coming years. These are not cars to buy and drive, instead they will make great weekend warriors as you treat them with kid gloves and keep the mileage down. Obviously low kilometre cars in original condition with the original paperwork, brochures and service books are worth more than examples with a ‘mystery history’.
While I have enjoyed the little MX5 over the last 5 years, I do regret not buying the ‘Walkie’ when I had the chance. It is not just about the opportunity to profit, it has as much to do with owning a piece of our motoring heritage, something special enough that you would consider keeping it in the family and passing it down through the generations.
Though some of you may scoff, Australia does have a performance car heritage of which to be proud.