When you think of car-producing nations, you probably think of America, Germany and Japan. Maybe Canada and Mexico, too, and possibly the U.K., Sweden, China or France. You probably don’t think of Australia. When you think of Australia, you think of kangaroos.
And yet, five modern Australian-built cars were sold in the United States. It’s true. Five modern Australian-built cars left the land of the kangaroos and koalas, came to America and … promptly flopped. All five of them. But at least three of the five were pretty good cars, and all five of them are rather interesting. So, here are the five modern U.S- market cars built in Australia.
2014-Present Chevrolet SS
You probably already knew this one. The Chevrolet SS is based on the latest Holden Commodore, an Australian-market full-size sedan, and it’s built there and shipped here, where it’s purchased by literally tens of people. Actually, the SS’s lack of popularity is a shame, because it’s a really cool car, powered by a muscular 415-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 and loaded with an enormous array of high-end features and equipment. Fun fact: In Australia, the Holden Commodore offers a wagon variant. Chevrolet SS wagon, anyone? Find a Chevrolet SS for sale
1990-1994 Mercury Capri
The 1990-1994 Mercury Capri, sold as the Ford Capri in Australia, is one of very few modern Mercury models that didn’t have a Ford twin in the United States — which sounds like it could be a list for another time. The Capri was a small, front-wheel-drive, 4-seat convertible, and it offered two engines: a 100-hp 1.6-liter 4-cylinder and a 132-hp turbocharged version of the same powerplant. Intended to rival the Mazda Miata but with more practicality, the Capri never found much success. It left the global market entirely after 1994. Find a Mercury Capri for sale
Mitsubishi’s full-size Diamante sedan, intended to rival the Toyota Avalon and the Nissan Maxima and sold in the U.S. until 2004, was built in Australia. This is largely because the Diamante was surprisingly popular in Australia, as many large sedans are, so Mitsubishi figured they’d build it where it would sell well and ship it where they hoped to make inroads. Unfortunately, success evaded the Diamante in the United States, and despite a major redesign in 1997 and a facelift in the early 2000s, Mitsubishi ditched the U.S. full-size sedan market with the Diamante’s cancellation in 2004. Find a Mitsubishi Diamante for sale
2008-2009 Pontiac G8
Effectively a predecessor to the Chevrolet SS, the Pontiac G8 was a high-performance, rear-wheel-drive sport sedan offered in only two model years: 2008 and 2009. The car’s demise coincided with the general demise of the Pontiac brand, though demand remains strong for the G8 many years later, with asking prices still commonly seen in the $20,000-plus range — an impressive figure for a 7-year-old Pontiac. The G8 offered three engine choices: a 256-hp 3.6-liter V6 in the base model, a 361-hp 6.0-liter V8 in the G8 GT and a muscular 402-hp 6.2-liter V8 in the ultra-sporty G8 GXP. Find a Pontiac G8 for sale
2004-2006 Pontiac GTO
Despite the fact that the Pontiac GTO is one of the most American nameplates in existence, the most recent GTO — sold in the States from 2004 to 2006 — was built in Australia. A thinly disguised version of the Australian-market Holden Monaro, the GTO initially featured a 350-hp 5.7-liter LS1 V8 before being upgraded to a 400-hp 6.0-liter LS2 V8 for 2005. Although all GTO models packed a serious punch and offered surprisingly balanced handling, the coupe never really caught on with U.S. buyers, likely due to its anonymous styling and Pontiac’s mediocre image. Today, however, used examples remain surprisingly valuable. Find a Pontiac GTO for sale