A number of cars previously available in Australia were unique to our market. Here are some the rest of the world envied.
Early in the 20th century, our cars generally came from the US or the UK. It quickly became apparent English cars were not suited to our climate as their engines frequently overheated. US cars worked much better here. Their large, powerful engines were perfect for driving at speed over long stretches. We started modifying the cars to tailor them to our geography and culture – and in the process, created our own car industry.
Here are just a few of the models the rest of the world envied.
FPV GT-F 351
The last Ford GT Falcon, the GT-F (for final edition), was a road-munching behemoth. Ford Performance Vehicles (FPV) created the GT-F as a runout model in 2015 to celebrate 43 years of Falcon production. The GT-F gave Australia's best-selling car ever a proper send off.
FPV fitted the GT-F 351 with a 5.0 litre, supercharged, all-aluminium Boss V8 engine. This monster engine had a power output of 351kW and an earth-shredding torque of 570Nm. The 351 ran on an enhanced R-spec performance chassis, and at the time, the worst thing motoring journos could say about this car was that it had sold out!
FPV produced just 500 of these cars and they sold out rapidly. This is one car that the rest of the world wished it could have. Then again, we wish we had it back too! Ford replaced the Falcon with the Mondeo, and instead of the performance FPV line, it offered us a right-hand-drive Mustang.
Toyota Land Cruiser 70
The 70 series Land Cruiser launched back in 1984, replacing the venerable 40 series. This gutsy, old-school off-roader is still available here in Oz, albeit with a redesigned chassis and a stability control system.
With Land Rover ending the Defender in 2016 and Nissan stopping the Y61 Patrol, Toyota’s stripped-back workhorse basically has the market all to itself. Australia is just one of a handful of countries worldwide where you can still purchase a new Land Cruiser 70 ute. International 4x4 drivers are now left staring longingly at Toyota Australia's website, wishing they could export one.
Anything from HSV
Holden Special Vehicles (HSV) started life in 1987 as a joint venture between Holden and Walkinshaw racing team. Over the years, HSV took ordinary Holdens and gave them a huge performance injection.
Some of its creations, like the Clubsport and GTS, found their way to the UK. Vauxhall, a GM-owned sister brand, rebadged them as VRX8s. A number of Maloo models were also exported to the UK, again relabelled as Vauxhalls.
Australian car enthusiasts know that we have a unique and enviable car market. Some of the Australia-only car models aren’t just great Aussie cars, they are great cars. Period.
Sadly, in the last few years, we lost most of our original great car makers. Well-loved brands are now offering homogeneous globalised models. Fortunately, we can rely on the used-car market to provide us with all the car nostalgia we need.