Albany’s Michael Rystenberg has knocked back several lucrative offers for his beloved Falcon. (ABC Great Southern: Aaron Fernandes)
A West Australian man, who knocked back an offer of $350,000 for the 1970 muscle car he bought for just a fraction of that price, has defended his decision saying that letting go of it “would be like selling one of my children”.
Michael Rystenberg of Albany bought the 1970 GTHO Phase II Ford Falcon, which raced in Bathurst, for just $17,500 back in 1988, making the purchase to fulfil a need for speed.
“I was a young lad, kept getting into trouble with the coppers, so as far as I was concerned this was a street legal race car and they can’t touch me,” he said.
Almost three decades later, his vehicle is in demand with multiple offers of $350,000 coming his way.
“I knocked it back three times,” he said.
“It was no brainer, it’s part of the family really. It’s like selling one of your children.”
Production line to Bathurst
Mr Rystenberg said his particular GTHO Falcon was one of 14 to race at Bathurst in 1970, most of which have now bitten the dust.
“To our knowledge there are two that are still alive and this is one of them,” he said.
He added that in that era, the Falcons would roll off the production and pretty much straight onto the race track.
“Race them on Sunday and sell them on Monday,” Mr Rystenberg said.
“How they were sold that’s how they were raced, the only extra really was just the roll cage.”
Importantly, for the price tag of his Falcon, Mr Rystenberg said his car is completely original, still operating under its original racing engine — with plenty of grunt.
“It’s quite a fast car,” he said.
“It’s definitely done very close to 150mph, so probably 240 kilometres per hour, which in today’s language is nothing really extravagant.
“But we’re talking about 48-year-old technology.”
“It’s not like a modern car. Put it this way, you’re hanging on for dear life.”
The car is only one of two known remaining GTHO Falcons to race at Bathurst in 1970, seen here blowing a piston on lap 27. (ABC Great Southern: Andrew Collins)
Classic car prices soaring
Mr Rystenberg said he has noticed the price for this type of car rise steeply in the last 12 months.
“The average price for a good Phase II is $200,000 to $300,000 and a car like this … it depends what someone wants to pay for it,” he said.
“What it’s worth, who knows, but I’d be guessing anything up to $500,000.”
Guy Allen, the editor of Unique Cars, said half a million dollars is pretty much on the money.
“It will depend on the condition and history of the individual car, but that’s the sort of area you’re talking about,” he said.
Mr Allen said the car’s history at Bathurst could push the value even higher.
“That history is very well recorded so there won’t be any trouble working out who drove the car, where it finished in the race,” he said.
“And certainly, it adds to the car’s value to say that it was in that (Bathurst) race.
“In fact, those Falcons took out the first two places in that year’s Bathurst.”
Sentimentality drives prices higher
Mr Allen says sentimentality is driving the local car market.
“Ford has stopped producing cars locally and Holden is about to [as well],” he said.
Michael has left substantial offers for the Ford Falcon in the rear view, but says he might “think about” a million dollar offer. (Aaron Fernandes)
Mr Allen said that prices had been rising to levels Australians have not seen since before the Global Financial Crisis.
“At the moment it’s an extremely volatile market, so you’ll see people pulling cars out of sheds that have been essentially in hiding for the best part of a decade,” he said.
“So now, for example that particular model car, a Phase II GTHO, you might be seeing as many as half a dozen to 10 coming on the market over a year.”
Mr Allen said half a million dollars is on the upper end of prices seen for that particular model of car, but he was not prepared to predict the market has hit its peak.
But to Michael Rystenberg, selling his 1970 GTHO Falcon is a difficult move to consider.
“Selling it would be like selling my left nut,” he said.
However he did concede that everyone has their price, and an extra digit might get a prospective buyer over the line.
“If you throw a million at me I might think about it,” he said.