For almost as long as there has been the automobile, there has been an auto industry in Australia. That industry however, is no more. Holden, GM’s Australian subsidiary is closing down its factories while Ford and Toyota are right behind in shuttering their lines and turning off the lights.
Australia once had a vibrant auto industry, the localized production driven by insanely high import tariffs (57.5%) and a limited issuance of mandatory import licenses. Those were abolished in the mid-1980s which started the long slow slog to irrelevance. Today this is causing an employment crisis in the nation, with thousands of former auto workers now finding themselves with a skill in search of an industry.
Over the decades those workers have built a bunch of really cool and interesting cars and trucks—or, I guess more appropriately “Utes.” In honoring the now moribund industry what we’d like to know today is which of those do you think was the greatest car ever to be built in Australia?
Hooniverse Asks: What's Australia's Greatest Car?
1971 Holden GTR-XLoading…
The Greatest would be the Phase 3 GTHO it’s not the fastest by today’s standards but was purpose built to win at Bathurst. The B&W pic is the most famous one of the car doing 140mph+ between Sydney and Melbourne and one of the reasons speed limits were put on our highwaysLoading…
It’s worth linking to the story, a really great read. Note the top speed on the limiter was 141 mph (its all metric in the article now), and they actually timed acceleration from 120-140 mph in 8.9 seconds! On a public road… the world was a different place then, I doubt even early on a Sunday morning you would get a clear enough road now.
Funnily enough, one of the rarest parts for those restoring the Phase III is the rev limiter. They were disconnected when racing at Bathurst (and probably by most owners), and the top seed was 154 mph on Conrod Straight.
It may be the obvious choice, but that doesn’t diminish the accomplishment of the XB-series Ford Falcon GT Coupé being – inarguably, I think – Australia’s best-known motoring icon.Loading…
Rear wheel arches designed to take 10 inch rear slicks for racing look so much better than when stock tyres fitted.Loading…
Something also shared with the Leyland P76.
I never knew they raced it!
As someone with a bit of a love affair with BL missed opportunities this makes me very happy 🙂Loading…
That one’s a locally raced one in NZ in the Targa road rally for classic cars. The factory racing led to the Targa Florio version with it’s unique alloy wheels.
Official press release poster
95 World rally car
Some more competitition history until recently.
Apologies for this submission – I’m still having problems with the graphics in the article banners not loading correctly and, having forgotten to do the right-click / View Image dance on it, picked the one car that was most likely to end up being in that spot. Ugh.Loading…
And from completely the opposite end of the spectrum: the VW Country Buggy. A car can’t get much more basic than this – even in comparison to the Type 181 / Thing – and for its intended purpose that is something that I can very much appreciate.Loading…
A good deal more suitable for its intended purpose than the Mini Moke, that was an alternative, and that had a fair run in AustraliaLoading…
The Lightburn Zeta Sport, without question.Loading…
Greatest Aussie powered cars SLR 500 Torana with the 308ci Holden V8, and the Ford Performance Vehicles F6 with the 4.0 turbo inline 6Loading…
I admit to feeling a strange fondness for the Torana because it sounds roughly like how locals pronounce “Toronto” ( and also, it’s smallish hatchback with a V8).Loading…
I love the unique niche market of the flashy, ’70s surf van and pick up that only the Australians could master to perfection, with the Holden Sandman, Ford Sundowner and Chrysler Valiant Drifter:Loading…
And I almost forgot the Chrysler Valiant Drifter:Loading…
The Australian Six: “The Car with an Aust. Constitution 75% Aust. Manufacture.”
Just like the country’s own constitution prior to the Australia Act(s) of 1986.
I wouldn’t mind owning a 2006 Pontiac GTO
While my vote went to the Efijy, owning a 2005 GTO obligates me to upvote the GTO recommendation.Loading…
Ute, better believe it!Loading…
The greatest if you view a ute as a 2-door sports car with a lot of luggage space… HSV GTS Maloo, 576 bhp worth of LSA, huge brakes etcLoading…
The greatest ute if you want a workhorse (or show pony in this case!), the Falcon RTV with 8″ ground clearance, a 2200 lb load capacity and 5000 lb towing.Loading…
A great nomination outback-ute. This thing (reportedly) cost Ford around $200m to engineer over the standard ute. Perfect for running any road in Australia. Good ground clearance, modified steering, composite sump guards, stronger rear end, electronic diff lock, 4L straight 6, 5.4L V8, manual or auto, ute or one tonner body! Sad thing is…. The Ford ute of today has exactly the same underpinnings, which means the RTV could still be built for next to zero development dollars. Ford US chose to stop selling it around 2008 so they could sell a few more Thailand trucks. Very, very bloody disappointing Ford!Loading…
There must be a market rationale behind this?Loading…
Yes to support their (then) new slave factories in Thailand!
For the last 8 years it would have cost them NOTHING to engineer. It is still the same chassis and vehicle in 2016.Loading…
But given the vehicles developed for the Thai factory are a proven concept, too, the fantastic pickup above is probably more expensive to make, too?Loading…
I wouldn’t be surprised if it cost less than that, Ford Australia did some of the mid-cycle upgrades for that much in the 1990s! I think sales were a slow-burn for the RTV, because it was pretty slow building awareness. By the end there were quite a few councils using them for parks & recreation maintenance for example, same for utilities suppliers. I could believe the numbers didn’t add up for the FG, and Ford Australia was a very risk-free zone financially by then.
Which is a shame because I want one! The front suspension and steering is changed quite a bit for the FG however, eg steering rack now positioned ahead of the axle, so unfortunately it is not a simple swap to convert one.
Sjalabais, Ford makes the FG/FGX Falcon ute (actually they have ceased taking orders I believe), but not the raised RTV version.Loading…
And it’s record breaking Nurburgring time for a ‘commercial vehicle’
Hard to tell from the inside, but that looks like ‘just’ an SS ute, not a HSV!Loading…
Yes, it is just the ‘ordinary’ SS. Think how much quicker an HSV would be? Maybe we’ll have a chance to find out now that Vauxhall have seen a niche in the UK market for the Maloo?
And by the way, what an excellent contribution you’ve made on this page.
The Chrysler Valiant Charger Six-Pack deserves at least an honourable mention for using bigger sixes and more carburettors where V8s would normally have gone – and to great effect. I still don’t quite get muscle cars, but these always struck me as being interesting.
And a chance to post one of the official Chrysler publicity photos. Chrysler Australia sure did make good use of a Chrysler USA cast-off unwanted truck engine. Did any ‘factory’ US motor use multiple Webers?
As it should be.Loading…
One more nomination: the Leyland P76. Although a failure in the marketplace, it’s always seemed as though this was more due to circumstances surrounding the car rather than through any real fault of its own. It’s a could-have-been, to be sure, but in terms of Australia engineering and building a car for Australia, this one may arguably be more Australian than the rest.
The design has a very strange “droopy masculinity”-thing going on. The could have been that wasn’t.Loading…
Speaking as someone who generally isn’t keen on ’70s cars, the styling actually appeals to me in an odd way. From some angles, the rear three-quarters are reminiscent of the NSU Ro80, the midsection is definitely American / Australian, and the sloping nose with little wasted space between the top of the wheelarch and fender line is a bit predictive of trends that would start popping up in the ’80s. Oh, and the Triumph Stag-alike grille works well on that nose.
While I wouldn’t go so far as to call it elegant, it’s certainly distinctive and purposeful. Always thought it was a shame that these never got the shot at the market that they deserved.Loading…
And a few Force 7 Coupe version prototypes escaped crushing.
I like it, and I’m generally very much into 70s cars. But as @outback_ute explains below, you can tell it’s a design-by-committee, or at least meddled with. The recessed lights and ‘negative’ lines around the front inject the droopy sadness, while the Mazdaesque hips, big, flat hood, general width and wheel dimensions speak just one language of implied power. All the chrome bits are applied sensibly and well.Loading…
The car was initially styled by Michelotti, but then modified by BL. Changes I can think of are they extended the nose, the headlights were flush on the original version, and raised the trunk line.Loading…
And they did give us the tall block, longer stroke version of the Rover/BOP 3500/215 V8 with it’s stock 4.4 litres and ability to go beyond 6.0 litres while weighing less than nearly all mid capacity four cylinder motors.
And, if it’s important you can fit this 44 gal drum in the trunk.
….is that a 1970s range extender drum?Loading…
The outback option.(Before Subaru grabbed the name.)Loading…
A 44-gallon drum (imperial gallons, aka 55 US gallons). Not too many sedans will fit one of those, a definite party trick for the P76!Loading…
I had a go at this years ago, so here for your reading pleasure is a slightly dated list… Note there is a distinct lack of the hi-po cars from recent years (this was written 8 years ago), I’d have to try to find space for the current HSV GTS I think as the last and best of the breed, but the trick is which car gets pushed out of the list to make way for it?
(Ed: I thought it was top 10, but its actually a top 20… Also I posted them in order, but I’m not sure if the replies will appear that way)
1 1896 Shearer steam car
This was built at Mannum on the Murray River in South Australia by David
Shearer who was a blacksmith and agricultural machinery manufacturer.
This was a side project for David Shearer who wanted to build a steam
car. After commencing work on the car in 1885, it was first driven in
1896 and is powered by a two cylinder 20 horsepower steam engine. It
also features a type of rack and pinion steering and a differential, de
rigeur today but not 111 years ago! The vehicle is currently in the
National Motor Museum at Birdwood and was operational until the boiler
was removed for restoration in recent times.
2 1913 Caldwell Vale
This is the one I dropped a hint on in the German list thread. Caldwell
Vale started off building trucks & tractors (also called road
tractors), that were simply astonishing for 1907. They featured both
four-wheel drive and steering – the steering was in fact power assisted,
as turning the wheel engaged a clutch that drove the steering
mechanism. They had 80hp, which is really quite a lot for 1907, at only
800rpm from a 4 cylinder 11.25L (!) engine (6” bore x 6” stroke) – this
was needed as they would be used to pull loads of 50 tons. One truck
featured the first known use of a tipping tray. They built the best
part of a hundred of these trucks & tractors, and in 1913 built a
car. It was tested successfully on the sand dunes at Botany Bay, but
unfortunately the company went out of business because of legal costs
incurred in a lawsuit – ahead of their time in that regard too… The car
was sold and eventually used on a Queensland sheep station until the
1960s – I wonder what has happened to it?
3 1919 Australian Six
Over 30 manufacturers were introduced between 1900 and 1920, but the
most serious attempt to establish an indigenous car manufacturer was the
Australian Six. This was the work of Frederick Gordon who after
consultation with Louis Chevrolet (who by that time was not with the
company bearing his name), bought in the main mechanical components from
the same suppliers as Chevrolet, and built a large, strong six-cylinder
car of the type which had been proven to be very popular in the
Australian market in the boom following the Great War. Over time, local
content was increased to 60%, but with the small scale of production
the cars were never profitable and regular problems such as supply
delays forced the price of the cars to gradually rise to 50% above the
initial level. Despite the cars themselves being perfectly sound and
proving to be reliable, only 900 vehicles in total were built with the
last batch of 20 in 1930. As many as 16 vehicles survive today. It is
said that one million pounds was lost over the course of the venture,
and it should be noted that at this time the government did not see fit
to provide any protection or assistance to the local industry.
The other major attempt to establish an automobile manufacturer was the
Lincoln which was produced by George Innes – the American manufacturer
of the same name started a year later. Despite this, legal action was
undertaken by Ford after purchasing the US Lincoln company in 1922 to
prevent the use of the name. Innes won the case, but Ford threatened
and rather than spend yet more money on legal fees Innes changed the
name to Lincoln Pioneer. Over five years 200 cars were made before the
inevitable occurred, and only one is known to survive.
4 1934 Ford Coupe Utility
This is the truly Australian car. The genesis was a letter from
the wife of a Gippsland pig farmer who wrote to Ford asking them to
build a car that they could use to drive to church on Sunday, and take
the pigs to market on Monday. In 1932 banks would lend a farmer money
for a working vehicle only, so it also had to double as family transport
if required. The “church on Sunday” part of the “brief” is easy to
underestimate from today’s perspective – in those times in small rural
communities the Sunday church service was one of the main social events
and you wore your “Sunday best” – turning up in a truck Beverly
Hillbilly style would be demeaning.
Ford put designer Lewis Brandt on the task, and he looked at the
existing buckboard (poor comfort & weather protection without a
solid roof) and pickup (with separate cabin and tray) vehicles which
were too unrefined and workmanlike. The coupe utility was based on the
Ford passenger car, with a third roof pillar behind the doors providing
additional body strength at the join between the cabin and tray, and a
stylish appearance. When Brandt was asked what it was on a trip to Ford
head office in Detroit, he said it was a “kangaroo chaser”.
This started off a continuous line of vehicles, including Mainlines,
Zephyrs and Falcons to the current day where their comfort and
performance advantages over the more basic pick-up opposition is still
5 1948 Holden 48-215
The right car at the right time, the Holden struck the ideal balance
between the small, economical British cars and the large, powerful
American cars that were available on the market. With a rugged yet
light body that had enough room to cram in six passengers, a 138ci
(2.3L) 6cyl engine that gave strong performance and remarkable economy
the car was not particularly technically advanced but this only helped
make it cheap to run.
Established in 1857 as a leather goods manufacturer, and later branching
into coach and then truck body building, Holden was building 20,000 car
bodies per year when it was contracted by GM to body all of its
imports. In 1932 the effects of the great Depression led GM’s local arm
to merge with Holden Motor Body Builders to form General Motors –
Holden’s. The Holden car’s genesis was in the Australian federal
government’s request for submissions for the manufacture of an
Australian car. Ford also submitted a proposal for a V8-powered car to
be produced in a range of bodystyles but Holden’s proposal of a more
economic sedan was successful.
6 1965 Chrysler Valiant AP5
The Valiant had a real impact on the local market, offering something
that was distinctly different from the fairly basic alternatives, yet
was much more accessible than the next level of larger, more expensive
luxury cars. It had style, performance and a certain amount of
prestige. The contrast is illustrated most vividly by a simple
comparison of horsepower – 145hp for the Chrysler against 75 for Holden
and 100 if you went for the larger engine in the Ford.
As with many local versions of overseas-originating vehicles, the
Valiant adapted and evolved to its new environment with subsequent
models. The 1963 AP5 was the first to be fully manufactured rather than
assembled from CKD kits, and it had some changes from the US model. It
took years for Ford and in particular GM to respond effectively, for
although they introduced larger engines and more luxurious trim,
Chrysler yet again got the jump in 1965 by introducing a V8 before the
7 1968 Nota Fang
If Bolwell was the Ginetta of the Australian industry then Nota is its
Marcos. (NB – this was written after the following car) Established by
aircraft engineer Guy Buckingham in 1952, Nota has been around
off-and-on more or less continuously, and like the Marcos GT the Nota
Fang has been a constantly evolving presence. The fundamentals of the
Fang are quite straightforward – essentially it is a mid-engined
evolution of the traditional Lotus 7 style Clubman car. As per standard
practice it used the powertrain of a standard bread-and-butter vehicle,
in this case it is the Mini that donates its subframe-mounted engine to
be installed behind the seats. When the Mini ended local production,
Lancia power was chosen to take over.
The Nota Fang is still available to purchase, with a Honda or Toyota
drivetrain, and it has been joined by a couple of new models – the story
8 1969 Bolwell Nagari
Australia’s answer to Lotus, TVR or perhaps more accurately Ginetta – as
three brothers combined to produce an evolving series of sports cars
from 1960 using readily-available production mechanicals. The Mark IV
saw significant sales as a kit car with 4cyl engines, and two subsequent
models were evolutions switching to the ubiquitous Holden 6cyl engine.
The Nagari was a significant evolution, switching to the Ford 302 V8 and
sold as a fully-built car instead of a kit. Styling had cues from
Lotus, Ferrari and Lamborghini. There were plans for exports to the US,
however new Australian Design Rule car regulations really bit hard –
with no allowances given for a 100 unit-per-annum manufacturer against
requirements designed for a 100,000 unit-per-annum multinational, the
cost of things like crash testing (and facilities required) combined
with the oil crisis affecting sales to bring a temporary end to Bolwell
Cars after only 140 Nagaris had been built. Variations included a 351
engine option – staggering performance in a 920kg car! – and a rare
Bolwell would return years later with the VW Golf-powered Ikara, and is
working on yet another comeback with a Toyota-powered sports car.
9 1970 Morris 1500 Nomad
Not all “British” cars sold in Australia were simply facsimiles of their
UK source vehicles. Perhaps the best example of the unique local
versions, the Nomad had a couple of features the original Morris/Austin
1100 did not, and which took its specification to as modern as you could
want in 1970 – namely an overhead cam engine, a hatchback and a 5 speed
gearbox. Interestingly, in 1966 BMC imported the first Renault 16
hatch into Australia – they even loaned it to local Renault executives!
10 1972 Ford Falcon GTHO Phase IV
I have chosen this to represent the zenith of the Australian muscle car
era which flourished briefly in the late 60s and early 70s. In 1972 an
article in the Sydney newspaper by Evan Green titled “160mph Supercars”
created an enormous controversy, highlighting the homologation
requirements that saw 300 Bathurst race cars (aka “bullets on wheels” in
the article) have to be sold to the public. Within days several state
governments were threatening to boycott fleet purchases from the
manufacturers, and ban registrations of “super cars”, and the quickly
manufacturers folded and abandoned the Bathurst specials they were
working on. This was complemented by a change in touring car
regulations to avoid the requirement for homologation specials.
The GTHO Phase III is celebrated for its dominant 1971 Bathurst victory
(taking the first 6 places) and being the fastest four-door car in the
world at the time, and these days fetching near million-dollar
pricetags, yet the Phase IV would have eclipsed it. All areas were
improved, including the engine, aerodynamics and handling, and it had a
top speed of 170mph as confirmed by the owner of one of the three
surviving cars. Only four cars were built, three by the race team and
one that went down the production line.
11 1972 Holden Torana GTR XU-1
The giant-killer, and a truly versatile competition car, the XU-1’s
highlight was its performance balance. With components taken from
larger cars and development by Harry Firth, it had fantastic handling
with brakes and tyres also well-matched to its weight and speed. It won
on the race track and in the forests. The Supercar Scare mentioned
above saw the end of a V8 “XU-2” replacement, of which a few prototypes
had been constructed and one was even raced.
12 1972 Chrysler Charger R/T E49
The third member of the “Bathurst special” triumvirate was the
Weber-fed, straight six powered Charger. With the celebrated Weber
carburetor setup had been perfected in Italy giving 302 bhp from the
4.3L (265ci) engine. In acceleration the E49 posted faster times for
the quarter mile and 0-100mph (14.4 sec) than the much more powerful
GTHO (mainly courtesy of lower gearing).
Chrysler always operated on a lower budget than its GM and Ford
counterparts, and this was reflected in its race team. The E49
iteration of the Charger R/T finally had a fourth gear in its box, but
the non power-assisted brakes were said to have cost 5 sec per lap
around Bathurst. Despite this, the Charger had the performance to land
on the podium twice, with a heartbreaking “if only” tale that might have
seen victory. The factory team had realised fuel economy could be an
advantage, and with the E49’s 35 gallon () tank managed to do the entire
500 mile race on one pit stop. Unfortunately the spanner in the works
was attempting to attach the new set of tyres with a new set of wheel
nuts – the cold wheel nuts would not go on the hot studs, and ultimately
the car was sent back out on the old set of tyres, having squandered
crucial, agonising minutes, to finish two laps down in 3rd place.
13 1973 Ilinga AF-2
This was intended to be a true Grand Touring car, powered by a 220hp
version of the 4.4L Leyland P76 engine and featuring comfortable seating
and good luggage capacity. It featured fully-integrated air
conditioning, a self-seeking radio/cassette player, digital clock,
anti-lift windshield wipers, remote-control door locks, electric
windows, quartz-halogen quad headlights under electrically-operated
flaps. and a delay switch which automatically extinguished the lights
and locked the car if the driver forgot to. Top speed was over 135mph.
The project was badly affected by supply problems with the BW auto
transmission, as well as the fuel crisis and a general lack of willing
partners – only two cars were built.
14 1974 Leyland P76 Targa Florio
This was car treads the fine line between woeful and wonderful. This
was a native project of BMC Australia, and lead the way in so many areas
compared with its rivals. Helped by having an enlarged version (4.4L)
of the aluminium 3.5L Rover V8, the P76 was very light for its size, and
gave good performance combined with economy that bettered its 6cyl
rivals. McPherson struts, standard front disc brakes and flush-mounted
windscreen were some of the up-to-date features that forced the other
local manufacturers to have a serious look at what they were doing. The
woeful side of things is represented by the car being built on a
production line originally set up for far narrower cars, leading to a
ridiculously high number of cars needing repair before they left the
The Targa Florio was a special edition of the car released to
commemorate the stage win on the 1974 World Cup Rally by Evan Green and
John Bryson. The car shared the highest number of stage wins.
15 Holden Overlander
Like the AMC Eagle, this was the first “crossover” vehicle, preceding
the current trend by a good 25 years. However this vehicle was a
conversion by engineer Arthur Hayward who ran Vehicle Engineering &
Modifications Pty Ltd in Launceston, Tasmania, and demonstrated true
Australian ingenuity. In an era when 4x4s had folded metal interiors
and bone-shaking rides, this was comfortable, powerful and smooth – and
actually had very decent off-road ability due to good clearance, wide
track width and a low centre of gravity. By building a subframe to
convert the wishbone front end into a leaf-sprung Dana axle sourced from
a Chev Blazer, and running a complementary rear axle and Dana transfer
case mated to the original Holden V8 and TH400 auto (the only option
available). To give an idea of the thoroughness of the conversion, the
purchaser was supplied with spare axles as otherwise they would be hard
to obtain in Australia Over 120 vehicles were converted including utes,
wagons, panelvans, cab chassis and two sedans (using the top of the
line luxury Statesman model!).
16 Holden Sandman
Something that was perhaps a unique Australian phenomenon was the panel
van and its 1970s moment in the sun. This was when a strong youth
culture adopted the humble tradesmans mobile workshop/toolbox to take it
to the beach or the drive-in. The Australian iteration of the panelvan
was, like the ute it was based on, a step apart from similar vehicles
available overseas – these were not solely the domain of fleets and
tool-of-trade buyers. With the rear compartment decked out with a
mattress, surfboard or even velvet and mirrors, the vehicle became a
“Shaggin’ Wagon” (cruder terms also existed!) that struck fear into the
hearts of parents of teenage daughters. The stickers say it all – “If
the van’s rocking, don’t bother knocking” and “Don’t laugh, your
daughter could be inside”.
17 1978 Holden Torana A9X
The last hurrah for the Australian muscle car, the Torana A9X was the
result of touring car racing’s homologation requirements although in
theory the need to build special vehicles had been removed back in 1972
with the new “Group C” regulations. Modifications were then allowed to
production vehicles for racing – but the key point was it had to be
production-based. With the 1974 introduction of the LH model Torana,
which featured an unprecedented range of 4, 6 and 8 cylinder engines,
Holden’s motorsport weapon of choice became the 5L V8 SL/R 5000. V8
power and slick racing tyre grip levels soon exposed weaknesses in areas
such as the rear axle – hardly surprising as it had its origins in the
original Opel unit designed for a 4 cylinder. So the car evolved, with
larger wheels under large fibreglass bolt-on wheel arches with the L34
“option pack” and then a stronger axle with the A9X. This option pack
also featured the deletion of rubber rubbing strips in the bumper bar,
which sounds strange until you find out this was to ease the
installation of sponsor’s signage on race cars!
Like the earlier XU-1, the A9X was a very well-balanced race car. Much
lighter than its Ford Falcon opposition, its smaller engine was more
than compensated for in being allowed to run similar size tyres. It
should not be a surprise that Australian touring car racing almost
became “Formula Torana” for a few years. The highlight was Peter
Brock’s 1979 Bathurst 1000 victory by a triumphant 6 laps – even setting
a new lap record on the final lap to underscore his dominance.
18 1989 Giocattolo Group B
Yet another Australian sports car that never quite made it, the
Giocattolo was the work of Paul Halstead, who had earlier been the
Australian agent for De Tomaso cars and former F1 designer Barry Lock.
The car was a modified Alfa Romeo Alfasud Sprint bodyshell with a
mid-mounted engine – originally this was intended to be powered by the
Alfa V6 but changed to a Group A version of the Holden 5L V8 – not only
did this give substantially more performance but it was also much
cheaper! The car was more sophisticated than it may first appear – body
panels were made from Kevlar, and the suspension was completely
The Giocattolo was also severely affected by inflexible government
regulations geared only at the large manufacturers. Import duty
designed to protect local industry meant the ZF transaxle cost $35,000
per unit – of course there was no local alternative, yet no exceptions
could be made to assist a local manufacturer… A highly ambitious follow
up vehicle was on the drawing boards in 1989 when the operation wound
up in the face of the recession, featuring a carbon fibre body worthy of
a true supercar as the Alfasud origins of the Group B’s body did it no
19 2003 Ford Territory
An instant success, the Territory was the right vehicle at the right
time for Ford Australia. With the market rejecting MPV-style vehicles
in favour of lumbering 7-seat 4x4s, the time was right for a more
car-like alternative when the Territory was introduced in 2003. It was
designed to encompass the best attributes of a sedan, people-mover and
4×4, and really hit the mark, winning numerous awards including sales
Without visual cues you would not realise you are driving a sedan, it
feels agile and light on its feet, is quiet and supremely smooth. The
Territory is truly a world-class vehicle – the new front suspension for
the current BMW X5 is very similar to the Territory. The inline 4.0L
6cyl engine provides excellent performance with strong low-rpm torque
and quite reasonable fuel economy. There is also a turbocharged version
available if you are in a hurry – with a few modifications it will run
the quarter mile in the 11 second bracket, which is not hanging around
for a 2 tonne, 7 seater!
20 2004 HSV Coupe 4
This 360hp V8 all-wheel drive coupe was the most extraordinary product
of Holden’s golden period early this decade under the leadership of
General Manager Peter Hanenberger. The success of the 1997 VT Commodore
and its influence within GM empire brought Holden the resources to
really open up with an astonishing, if ultimately unsustainable, number
of variants on the Commodore platform.
The mere 100 examples of the Coupe4 produced is representative – it
encompassed both the mix-and-match body and mechanicals that were a
feature of the range, yet like other variants there was no way the
development costs could be recouped even with its towering $90,000 price
tag, 50% more than a “normal” Monaro’s $60k.
A surprise coupe concept car at the 1998 Sydney Motor Show led to the
production of the Monaro, which found success with exports overseas, in
particular to the US as the Pontiac GTO. The Adventra crossover SUV was
the source for the AWD driveline used in the Coupe4, although
modifications were needed for the lower ride height. The Coupe4 was
based on the Pontiac GTO body with the revised fuel tank location,
incorporated the Adventra front floorpan to accommodate the AWD
hardware, and featured some hand-worked modifications to the wheel
arches to accept the flares needed to cover the large wheels and tyres.
Used car review: http://www.drive.com.au/Editorial/Ar…rticleID=43724Loading…
Nice and thorough job!Loading…
Glad you enjoyed it!Loading…
For me the ultimate Australian car for crossing Australia is the Holden Overlander. The vehicle in which you can go anywhere in comfort, but then also get home again! All of them had a 308 V8, turbo 400, Dana front and rear ends, airconditioning and any number of fully engineered extras. You could have yours as a wagon, ute, 1 ton or a panel van. Unfortunately timing is everything and this awesomely engineered car was made at the wrong time and only about 200 were built.
Great nomination! Being an aftermarket conversion, the Overlander was arguably better-engineered than if the factory had done it; I’m sure they would have wanted to cut costs and do things more cheaply.
They did one or two Statesman sedans too.Loading…
Ah, forgot the statesmans! Arthur Hayward’s (the main engineer) daughter in a recent interview said that Holden offered to supply cars to him as the Commodore was starting to be built, but he had to supply it as a full dealer car. He chose not to take it to the next level:(Loading…
Apart from a great product, it was also a great story I think. Looking for the picture above I found that he sold the design & rights to Molecraft in Western Australia to carry on, presumably at some time after 1984 when new vehicles were no longer available.
That reminds me of I think the Ford dealer in Seymour Vic ending up with a lot of 4×4 conversion kits for the XY Falcon.Loading…
Stretching the definition of ‘car’ a bit: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/a/a4/SESWA_OKA_4WD.jpg/1024px-SESWA_OKA_4WD.jpg https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/OKA_4wdLoading…
A yes, the Oka truck from WA. I’ve seen a couple around, but not very often. Then again, most of them are probably out in the middle of nowhere.Loading…
This reminds me of how the GFC fucked up the world. The then new VE Commodore was fully designed for AWD. It was never followed through because the parent company was a basket case. The room is still there in the VF to fit front diffs and driveshafts. A lot of lost opportunity!Loading…
I think they probably dropped that before the GFC. After the decision not to produce it in North America was made during development, work just about stopped because they had spent too much money under the new reduced production volumes. The poor sales of the Adventra etc would have made that decision easy.
On the other hand I wonder if a Zeta based crossover might have been a better bet, although of course that would have meant several hundred million more to develop and they already had the Lambda CUV’s in North America.Loading…