Australia seems like a very far away place from almost anywhere in the world, and that is a true fact. Its isolation has led to it becoming one of the most unique places on the Earth, with some of the most diverse and different ecosystems of them all, along with some of the most intense weather and territorial creatures known to man. It's not an island, either, but rather its own continent. Fun fact, New Zealand is not part of the same continent, but a very small remaining part of its own continent called Tasmantis, or Zealandia.
The culture of the people of Australia is just as unique and rugged at times as the landscape they live in, and cars began being made in Australia beginning with Holden's first car in 1948. This has led to the creation of one of the coolest, unique, and fascinating car industries out there. It carries a fascinating blend of US muscle, British motoring, and tastes of the Domestic Market in Japan, all influencing the car industry there, all led first and foremost by Australia's very own car company: Holden.
In October of 2017, though, the end of Australia's only independent car industry came to be, when Holden shut down all of its factories. To this day over a year later there are many who mourn this loss, from Australia to all over the world. Let's take a look at this industry, as we feature 20 great cars, new and classic, from Australia that are worth their weight in gold.
20 Chrysler Valiant Charger
This car may seem slightly familiar to most in the world, and especially to people from the USA who are all too familiar with the Chrysler and Charger names. Alas, this version is especially unique, with a taste of the Aussie culture that makes it unlike the rest.
Made by Chrysler Australia, the Valiant Charger was based off the sedan of the same name, Valiant, though this one was inordinately popular in comparison. It was a banger of a car, winning the 1971 Wheels Car Of The Year Award.
19 Ford Coupe Utility
The Ford Coupe Utility is perhaps the source of the design most popular to cars from Australia, the ute. Ute is short for utility, and since the 1930s, Ford has produced this kind of car in Australia, with great success.
Passenger based vehicles with two doors were converted to include a separate cargo bay just like the bed in a traditional pickup truck. While the term "ute" can refer to a normal truck in Australia, it's clear that the term is just as iconic and unique as the car style itself.
18 Ford Falcon XB Coupe
The success of the Ford Falcon in Australia meant that there were a large number of different types of Falcons that stemmed and grew from the original successes, and models over the years that continued to evolve as exceptional muscle cars.
This is true of the Ford Falcon XB Coupe, with some of the most classic styling imaginable, completely overhauled for the XB model. It also was a marker for the end of an era, with a Falcon not being made for almost 20 years. End things on a good note.
17 Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo
The V6 version makes our list due to the fact that it was a bit more special than the more obvious V8 version of the same car. According to drive.com.au, "With V8-equalling power from its force-fed 4.0-liter straight six – and enough headroom for tinkerers to tweak significantly more out of it – the XR6 Turbo was an instant hit for Ford. And, at least we reckon, one of the greatest Aussie cars of all time."
There's just something magically timeless about a straight six, and one that's been directly influenced by the motor industry in Australia is especially special.
16 Holden Torana A9X
This absolutely gorgeous muscle car from Holden is the darling star of Australia, in many ways. Apart from its looks and engineering prowess, it performed outrageously well in races.
According to drive.com.au, "This is one the most iconic of all Holden’s racers. Peter Brock and Jim Richards won the 1978 and ‘79 Bathurst 1000 behind the wheel of the V8-powered A9X. In fact, the second win was the most dominant performance in the race’s history, with Brock crossing the line six laps ahead of the second placed car." Spectacular.
15 Holden Torana GTR XU-1
This picture, taken back in the days when the racing community built around these classic cars, really illustrates how vibrant and booming of a time it must have been for not only the motoring industry, but also the racing industry, and the people who gathered around it.
The Torana GTR XU-1 is a car that Holden used to switch tactics in beating their contenders, instead of adding power they fine-tuned their handling and brakes to get a leg up on the competition. And it worked phenomenally.
14 Ford Territory
The Ford Territory was Australia's version of the all too popular and common crossover found in America and increasingly in Europe. What made it okay was that it was not actually a crossover, but an SUV, Australia's only domestic SUV, according to drive.com.au. It was developed as a response to the rising tide of popularity in the crossover SUV class.
They say of the Territory: it was "a spacious, smart and car-like high-riding wagon that utilized the same underpinnings as the Falcon." Underpinnings of the Falcon? Sounds like our kind of SUV.
13 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350
Featuring another muscle car from an era that perhaps not only rivaled the muscle car craze of America but outdid it in many ways (depending, perhaps, on your perspective and opinion) only makes sense, really, considering that these cars are really spectacular in all kinds of ways.
The HT Monaro GTS 350 featured a 300 horsepower 350 cubic inch engine, a real party piece, and apart from its timeless good looks, it performed pretty incredibly as well.
12 Holden Monaro 427C
After the golden era of the muscle car, along with all the racing that had been built around it, had died out for the most part, Holden decided, over 2o years later, to revive the Monaro name, in 2001. With great success, too, as is evident by the cars they began producing with the same name.
The 427C carried around an absolutely titan engine underneath of its hood, all in an effort to beat, well, everybody at racing in the Nation’s Cup GT racing championship. According to drive.com.au, the 427C had a 7 Liter V8.
11 Ford Falcon GT-HO
The Ford Falcon GT-HO may look a lot like a traditional muscle car from the golden era of icons from America, but this car is about as Aussie as it can get. With muscle cars being nearly as popular in Australia as they were in America, the era brought about a large amount of surprisingly unique models and incarnations.
The GT-HO from Australia is no exception, having proven that it was an incredible car by the fact alone that it was integral in the entire era.
10 Holden VF Commodore
The Holden Commodore is one of the most quintessential offerings from Holden, and perhaps one of the all around best. When not being used for racing, it is an executive sedan car that has everything you could need, plus a bunch of power.
It's also the last car to be produced by Holden before its demise as Australia shut its doors completely on their native automotive industry. Without Holden, it seems to many that Australia isn't the same, and may never be again. It has proven to be the end of an era, an era that shaped the face of all motoring.
9 Holden VX Commodore
The VX Commodore, like its cousin the VF Commodore, which we also feature in this article, was a true design masterpiece from the company of Holden. While older than the VF, this model brought plenty to the table, proved its worth, and continues to be a darling for Aussies and motor enthusiasts alike.
This model marked a big increase in safety, along with a variety of other improvements, including a suspension overhaul. The engine was a simple and powerful one, an EcoTec V6 that put out 204 horsepower at its base model, with a V8 model also available.
8 HSV GTS Maloo
The HSV GTS Maloo is truly a manic muscle car that is about as unapologetic as any car could possibly get, and one that reflects the spirit and raw power of Australia itself. To start, its powerhouse boasts 6.2 Liters of displacement, eight cylinders, oh and it's supercharged. That makes for a total output of 576 horsepower. This thing is a banshee, and it has all the performance to back it up.
The best part is how shamelessly different it is, holding true to everything that makes it what it is, a simple, practical and rugged ute with one catch: insane performance.
7 Mitsubishi Ralliart Magna
The Ralliart Magna is a pretty special car sold by Mitsubishi and built in Australia. Drive.com.au tells us more about this special little Mitsubishi: "It was the first all-new model to be built following Mitsubishi’s takeover of the former Chrysler plant at Tonsley Park in South Australia, and it set the tone for spacious, well-packaged and fuel-efficient alternatives to the Ford Falcon and Holden Commodore."
Seems like a little fellow competition was a good thing, helping to inspire progress and improvement to the industry.
6 Nissan R31 Skyline
It may come as a bit of surprise to find this one on our list, as it's more often thought of as a JDM car, and a good one at that. Yet, it's true, there was a very special Skyline that was made in Australia that proved to be an invaluable introduction into the market of Australia.
It featured an incredible straight six engine that was so good Holden used it in their very own model, the Commodore, and while it's not always a fan favorite, its uniqueness makes it all that much more desirable.
5 Holden 48-215
The original car must make it into this list, especially when we are living after the end of the entire era. It's only respectful to add in the beginning of it all. Of course, that doesn't mean this car wasn't an incredible one, or it's in here for only that reason.
The original Holden 48-215 was based on a Chevrolet design, according to drive.com.au, it was modified to include a better engine and toughened up suspension, naturally making it adaptable and rugged enough for Australia. How cool?!
4 Peugeot 505
The Peugeot 505 is one of a couple surprises to find itself on this list because most people might not realize that Peugeot ever made a car that had anything to do with Australia.
But they did, indeed, and the 505 is just that car. It was sold elsewhere as well but assembled in Australia by Renault, and several different models were sold. The car, while not a native brand by any means, found itself quite at home in Australia, and proved to be a great little car for the country.
3 Toyota TRD Aurion
The Aurion name may be familiar to some, and not at all to others. But, for those in Australia, this is one of the best cars that Toyota offered in Australia, for a lot of different reasons that included practicality and performance.
After Toyota split the Camry line into 4 cylinders and 6, the Aurion was born, and naturally, a high-performance version was inevitable. Car Throttle tells us more: "The TRD Aurion was the first production car in the world to make use of an Eaton twin-vortices supercharger, which was mated to 3.5-liter V6 producing 323bhp." Talk about cool.
2 Holden Commodore VE Ute
One of the most iconic shapes of the car industry in Australia is the Ute, with its history tracing back to the beginnings of car manufacturing in Australia. The Ute is a version of a normal sedan paired with a bed, like a truck. Imagine it as a much more practical version of a crossover.
The Commodore VE Ute was one of Australia's best and didn't mess around. It housed a powerful V6 engine as a base model, and upwards from there with the performance, depending on the model type in question.
1 Toyota Camry Hybrid
Once upon a time (less than two years ago) the Toyota Camry Hybrid was built in Australia and sold there as well. While it's still sold there, imported now, it was one of the best-built cars (though not a company from Australia) that you could get your hands on. Surprisingly, considering the rather wheezy reputation most Toyota cars get especially Hybrids.
Due to its exciting driving abilities and overall practicality, drive.com.au named it the car of the year in 2018. That's pretty, cool, actually, and puts it squarely in this lineup.
Sources: Which Car, Drive Australia, Car Throttle