Australia’s love affair with vehicles has included many classic cars, from off-road workhorses to city compacts.
These nine machines each made a unique contribution to Australia’s motoring culture.
1. Ford Falcon XA
Launched in 1972, the Ford Falcon XA was the third iteration of the Australian-made Falcon, costing $3,590 ($37,572 in today’s money). Available in three colour schemes, it was the Polar White with Cosmic Blue stripes that entered popular culture as the Superbird. The XA had a 302 cubic inch Cleveland V8 engine, GT instrumentation, a luxurious interior, a rear window louvre and a blacked-out grille.
2. Daihatsu Cuore
A miniature marvel from Japan, the Daihatsu Cuore appeared in July 1980. The Cuore is a Kei Car — kei means ‘light’ in Japanese — a government-regulated vehicle class that gives Japanese owners insurance and tax benefits. It made parking in inner-city bolt holes easy with an 8.6 m turning circle, the smallest in its class. The Cuore could get from A to B down city backstreets in the most economical way possible.
3. Suzuki Jimny
Looking like a pint-sized Jeep, the Jimny is a Japanese Kei car that became a 4×4 classic – and you can still buy them today. The original Kei Car 150cc engine capacity increased in 1955, and the Jimny appeared in 1970 with a 360cc, two-stroke engine. Australian first got a taste of the Jimny in 1975 with the LJ50 model, which had a water-cooled 540cc three-cylinder two-stroke engine. It soon acquired cult status for recreational drivers and farmers looking for a rugged, compact go-to vehicle.
4. Subaru Impreza WRX STi
The Impreza earned its reputation in the World Rally Championship during the 1990s. The Subaru World Rally Team won three consecutive WRC manufacturer’s championships from 1995 to 1997 and three WRC drivers’ championships. The STi version of the WRX was introduced in 1994 and included performance engines, transmissions and suspensions and handcrafted tuning, plus the famous ‘Boxer’ engine.
5. Nissan Pulsar
From 1978 to 2000, the Pulsar was so popular that its replacement model was rebranded ‘Pulsar’ in Australia. Making its Aussie debut in 1980 as the N10 series Datsun Pulsar, the vehicle was available as a hatchback, fastback, van and station wagon. Local versions were made from 1983, including a turbocharged Pulsar ET five-door and the Nissan EXA, a sporty coupe manufactured from 1982 to 1990 — and the Australian-made Nissan Pulsar ET.
6. Toyota Land Cruiser
The Land Cruiser was born to roam the outback, thanks to its rugged construction and tough reliability. A Japanese rival of the Land Rover, production began in 1951 and the Land Cruiser remains the NATO vehicle of choice as well as being an off-road workhorse. The current 200 model has a 4.5 litre V8 Twin Turbo diesel engine delivering 200kW of power and 650Nm of heavy duty torque at 1600 – 2600rpm.
7. Audi Quattro
In 1980, the Audi Quattro challenged the world rallying circuit with its all-wheel drive power. As the first of the all-wheel systems the Quattro was an instant hit with its 147kW, five-cylinder turbocharged engine. It dominated the market between 1982 to 1984, by which time other manufacturers caught up; although they still find it hard to match the Quattro’s German pedigree.
8. Mitsubishi Lancer
The last Mitsubishi Lancer rolled off the production line in August 2017 after a 44-year run. An affordable and dependable compact sedan, the sporty Lancer was loads of fun to drive. Australian fans were given one last chance to own a piece of history with the release of a local version of the Lancer Evolution Final Edition in 2015. This limited model delivered 226kW at 6500rpm and 414Nm of torque at 3500rpm.
9. Nissan Patrol
Along with the Land Cruiser and Land Rover, the Patrol vies for Australia’s off-road workhorse crown. Conceived in 1951, the same year as the Land Cruiser, the Patrol was built for desert bashing and in 1962 became the first vehicle to make a successful crossing of the Simpson Desert. The current Patrol comes with a powerful VK56VD 5.6 litre V8 delivering 298kW of power and 560Nm of torque.
If you’re lucky enough to own one of these classic cars, we’ve got you covered for a wide range of parts. Check out our parts finder.