Want A Cool Australian Car? You’ll Probably Have To Look Overseas

Australians are increasingly buying Australian-made cars overseas and 'reverse importing' them back Down Under.

A Vauxhall VRX8 (known in Australia as an HSV GTS) in Monaco. Image: NetCarShow.com

If you want to get your hands on a bit of Australian V8 muscle, there’s never been a worse time. While the car market is pretty hot across the board, the Land Down Under’s most-beloved bogan chariots have seen particularly ridiculous speculation over the last two years – a combination of COVID as well as the dearth of affordable new V8 options on the market.

Now, ‘bogan’ is not an insult, but paying six figures for a high-mileage Holden Commodore is. So what’s an Aussie car lover to do if they want a piece of Antipodean motoring excellence for a reasonable price?

Increasingly, the solution is to look abroad. Many Australian performance cars were sold in overseas markets, but few are or were appreciated in the same way that they were in their home market. That means they can be picked up for bargain-basement prices, even after factoring in the cost of shipping them home.

For example, third-generation Holden Monaros, HSV Clubsports and HSV GTSes were all sold in the UK as Vauxhalls – and there’s still plenty around.

The car mentioned below was actually a Vauxhall Monaro VXR 500, a special UK-only variant. Powered by a 6.0L V8, the VXR 500s also received an aftermarket, dealer-installed but factory-endorsed Harrop supercharger for additional pep. This arguably makes it even better buying. Image: Drive

Drive reported earlier this year on how an Australian buyer snapped up a limited-edition, supercharged 2005 Vauxhall Monaro with only 34,000 miles on the clock (~54,717kms) at auction in the UK for £38,000 (~$AU70,000).

Considering that an equivalent Holden or HSV (Holdens were rebadged as Vauxhalls in the UK) would cost well over $100,000, that’s really not that bad – the only risk, of course, with buying a UK-delivered Holden is that they salt the roads in the UK during winter, which makes cars rust much quicker than they do in Australia.

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What about other countries? Third-generation Monaros and VF Commodores were sold in North America as the Pontiac GTO and Chevrolet SS respectively, but unlike Holdens sold domestically and in other markets, they’re left-hand-drive, making them less than ideal candidates for prospective ‘reverse importers’.

Asian countries are a far better bet. Thailand, a right-hand drive, metric country, has plenty of cheap old Fords, Chryslers and Holdens kicking around in remarkably good nick. Shoppers will find there’s plenty of expats in Facebook groups like Aussie Cars Overseas eager to help them out, too.

There’s also a bizarre number of Aussie cars kicking around Bali – perhaps because of the large Australian expat community over there. More and more of those Bali cars are heading back home these days as well.

An old Ford Falcon with a big hood scoop in Pattaya, Thailand. While it looks a little worse for wear, a rare Aussie sedan like this is probably worth its weight in gold. Image: Facebook

While we applaud the canny Aussies who are saving money by buying cars this way – as well as the fact that they’re playing a part in preserving Australian motoring history – it does seem perverse that things have got so bad that this has become a viable alternative to the local market.

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That said, not everyone’s convinced that the outrageous demand for bogan cars will continue forever. DMARGE spoke with Carsales Editor-in-Chief Mike Sinclair earlier this year, who suggested that “the speculative buying on HSVs, other V8 Holdens and Australian-made cars in general is crazy… it’s just not sustainable; it won’t last forever… people will get their fingers burned.”

Here’s hoping…

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