Australian’s have a lot to be proud of – our immense stretches unspoilt outdoors, golden beaches and bleach-blue sea, our fun-loving people, our world-class sports teams… But what about our cars?
While Australian car production historically might be on a much smaller scale than some of our more established neighbours, really it’s all about quality, not quantity.
Things might have gone downhill in recent years, with Ford and Holden shutting down their final few production lines for good. So as a tribute to iconic Aussie motoring, and as a eulogy to our dying industry, it seemed fitting to run through some of Australian’s finest.
So here’s our top 5 favourite Aussie cars ever to be released.
1. Holden Sandman
Lock up your sons and daughters, the Sandman’s coming!
The Sandman’s shag-pile and rocking flame decals made it as synonymous with Australian surf as the Beach Boys were to the Californian scene. While not necessarily an innovating feat of engineering – in fact, it’s really just 70s panel van with a makeover, the Sandman was all style over substance. All meat and no veg.
The large range of designs, all of which look like a mural commissioned by the Grateful Dead, were guaranteed to catch the eye of every babe on the beach (although there was never a guarantee that the people driving it would look as good…). To top it all off, there’s plenty of room for everyone’s boards in the back.
Holden has recently announced the return of the Sandman, although, like most things from the 70s, it’s been reigned in considerably.
2. HSV GTS Maloo
What’s more Australian than the world’s fastest production Ute? Well, apart from maybe this.
The Maloo is a bit like Frankenstein’s monster, with the kitted-up body from a Holden VF Commodore Ute brought to life by a supercharged LSA V8, making it massive, green and powerful.
The Maloo was even made in a laboratory. Namely, Holden Special Vehicles, the official performance vehicle partner of Holden. Their entire purpose is to make limited special-edition runs of Holden’s already excellent range of cars. That’s why only around 260 Maloos were made over its 15-year life cycle, with the most powerful being the Gen-F 430 kW GTS, launched in 2014.
3. F.J. Holden
We’re going all the way back to the 50s for this beauty, back to when cars were a sure-fire symbol of class and status. This “all Australian car” is loved by classic Holden enthusiasts for it’s lovingly sculptured design and signature grill sitting proudly on its bonnet like a war general’s moustache.
The F.J Holden is a gangster, with it’s rounded bonnet and torpedo-style tail lights giving it a ‘classy but dangerous’ feel, much like a suited-and-booted rat pack mobster. Like the Sandman (and the mobsters), this car has serious sex appeal, as proved by the 1977 film of the same name, where Kevin and Bob cruise around in their FJ looking for chicks.
The best thing about these old cars has to be the seats – the super-comfy, bench-like seats are straight out of an art-house cinema, making this the ideal cruiser for you and your passengers.
4. Ford Falcon XY GT-HO Phase III
We can’t talk Australian cars without including a muscle car or two now can we. The favourite, of course, being Ford’s Falcon GTHO, or the “Get The Hell Out”, as I like to call it. This is easily one of the most iconic Aussie cars ever made.
When it thundered off the production line back in 1971 it was the fastest Aussie production car around, and it kept this title until the Lotus Carlton came along 19 years later. The mammoth 351 Cleveland V8 gave just shy of 380bhp on a good day, which gave the Falcon a 0-100km/h of a not too shabby 8.4 seconds and a top speed of 229km/h.
The Phase IV was set to be even more powerful than its younger brother, but unfortunately, all this power was too much for even Aussies to take. The Sun-Herald announced, “160mph ‘super cars’ soon’ in a fear campaign that saw the death of the Phase IV, and many other supercars. The public outrage over these ‘dangerous’ [read: fun] fast cars caused government ministers to get involved, and Ford had no choice but to back down and halt production.
5. Chrysler Valiant Charger
We finish this list with another muscle car classic. I know hot pink isn’t for everybody, but why own a Charger if you’re not going to make damn sure everyone knows your driving a Charger?
This shotgun-shell-on-wheels exploded onto the scene in the early 70s and is largely what saved a suffering Chrysler Australia from total collapse. The original VH Valiant Charger R/T 49 used a 265-ci inline 6-cylinder Hemi squeezed out over 300bhp of pure force to outstrip its brutish V8 rivals like the Monaro GTS 350. For years, the Charger legitimised its name by having the fastest acceleration of any Australian production car, with a 0-100km/h of 6.3 seconds – a good second and a half faster than the Falcon GT.
So there’s our favourite Aussie motors ever made. How does our list stack up to yours?
And if you are looking to buy your very own piece of Australian motoring heritage, make sure you contact us to get the best car finance rates.