New! Cool Australian Cars
With Benjamin Dews
Australia has a serious problem
when it comes to cars
And we're going to take
advantage of that
Ben Dews, a young Australian aerospace engineer and computer geek, has taken me to school concerning Australia and their dismal relationship with the modern car.
And so, I've learned a lot of boring stuff about Australia's automotive infrastructure recently. For one thing, they get the shit taxed out them for every car purchase.
And that ain't all.
Secondly, as a Mercedes rep put it delicately - it doesn't pay to import into Australia. The cost of setting of dealerships, service centers, plus the high shipping - turns a mid-priced Mercedes saloon into a supercar.
What do I mean by that?
The Mercedes C-Class costs somewhere between 65,000 and 80,000 here in Florida, depending on options. In Australia, the same car costs 272,000 dollars. And in case you are wondering, their dollar is roughly equal to the American dollar - it's a little stronger in fact.
Hell, I'd be depressed all the time if I lived in Australia.
Australia, as far as I can tell, has two indigenous cars. The Ford Falcon and the Holden Commodore.
Holden Commodore Diesel....bleck
Both are extremely lame by American standards. They make up for this sad fact by producing the world's most awesome 'Ute' - the Maloo.
Good day, mate
The Holden Maloo is Australia's answer to fun...basically, it's all Corvette under the hood with absolutely no weight over the rear wheels. Burnouts are....inevitable.
But we aren't here to talk about the Maloo or any of Australia's modern lame-o cars.
We want Australian muscle, or at least something really cool that isn't available on American soil. You see, laws have changed concerning the importation of an antique car. It's easy, fun and rather inexpensive now.
So why not take advantage of that? Bring over a cool old Holden or an Australia-only Ford and fix it up? What could possibly go wrong?
Well, another thing that I have learned from our Outback-roving correspondent Ben, is that Australians have a totally different concept of what a cool car is.
Umm...yeah. Ben is thoroughly convinced that the car pictured above is cool.
"But it's a muscle car with family comfort!" Ben cried.
Since when has family comfort and muscle car ever been put in the same sentence, Ben?
We Americans want a muscle car that burns down villages, eats children and impales innocent people - for fun! We want rip-snorting awesomeness that takes us drifting backwards, tires smoking, into the gates of Hell.
Because, hey, all us Yanks saw Mad Max - so we know you Australians must still have those genes buried down there somewhere. Right?
It turns out that they do.
The Mad Max car comes from the 1974 Ford Falcon XB500. These are readily available and reasonably priced - if you are willing to start with a beater.
But this is the car Eric Bana races, and you really can't get cooler than Eric Bana.
You handsome man, you
On to more Australian cars....
The Holden pickups from the 50s are not only cheap, they are plentiful and very cool. Check out the 1954 FJ below.
But just look what a bit of customizing can do. Here you have the potential of a beach-cruiser - and nobody else will have one like it. And these old cars are littered across Australia, ripe for the picking.
Of course, you gotta get your hands on the car to start with. We are going to talk about shipping, paperwork and taxes in the next post.
It's true that you may have to start out with a car like the one pictured below to begin with.
But I've started with worse. A lot worse.
More importantly, though, the overall costs may all iron out to be the same between an Australian beater and an American beater - but you'll wind up with a car that nobody else will have.
We will be exploring what you can get your grubby hands on in future Cool Australian Cars - the kind of drool-worthy rides that aren't seen on American streets.
And we'll find out how to get those cars here into the states with a minimum of hassle and expense.