Here’s What I Learned At An Australian Cars And Coffee

Ausc&c Top

As you may have read in my latest Project Cactus update (another is coming later this week), I attended a Cars & Coffee in Dubbo, New South Wales back in early September. It served as an introduction to Australian car culture, and my was it eye-opening. Two of the main things I learned were: 1. In Australia, four-doors reign supreme. and 2. In Australia, the Bathurst race is sacred. Here, let my Australian host Laurence Rogers and me tell you all about this amazing car show in the small city of Dubbo and about Ozzy car culture at large.

In the U.S., two door cars are the most sought after vehicles in the performance-car space, while four-doors tend to be considered relatively “uncool.” Look at Chevy Bel Air and Ford Falcon values, and you’ll see that it’s the two-doors that are more desirable. Four-doors have always been considered family cars, and two-doors have always been the “sporty” versions. Oftentimes people would ask me if my Plymouth Valiant was a four-door or two-door; when I answered the former, I’d always hear a disappointed “Oh. Well that’s still cool.” Even my four-door Jeep Cherokee XJ garners a similar response when I mention its extra set of closures.

I myself, however, find that there’s just something cool about a practical car that can haul five people and also lots of ass; Australia has always understood this, and that becomes obvious when you realize that the most legendary vehicles in the country’s history have four-doors. The XY Ford Falcon GT, for example, commands absurd coin:

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The two above were at the Cars & Coffee; they looked beautiful. Obviously, value depends on how original they are, and details on trim and all that, but the point is that four-door muscle cars like this can command well over $100,000 USD. Here’s one for just over $100 grand:

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And this one costs over $250,000 USD:

Can you name an American four-door muscle car worth that kind of scratch? It just doesn’t exist, because in the U.S., four-door has always equaled “uncool family car.” Obviously, there are exceptions, and German and Italian cars can sideskirt that rule, but by and large, the expensive four-door cars in the U.S. have been luxury cars, not burnout machines.

So that’s the first thing I learned at this Cars & Coffee: Australians’ dig cars like this XB Ford Falcon:

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And this Holden Torana SL/R 5000:

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A genuine one of these can go for over $300 grand.

Falcons are pretty much Australia’s Ford Mustang. They’re cheap (well, pre-COVID) V8 power, and in Australia, having a V8 is a huge deal. Check out this XE Falcon; this is like Australia’s Fox Body Mustang:

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I spoke with tractor repair-wizard Gordo about his EL Falcon, a former police vehicle. He loves this thing, and even let me drive the V8, five-speed family-hauling muscle car. It was awesome:

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In addition to four-doors getting love that they sadly don’t receive enough of in the U.S., Australian car culture also revolves around Bathurst, a legendary race held just a few hours from Dubbo. There’s not enough time in the world to adequately describe the epic race, so I’ll let Neil Crompton do that in this short documentary:

Two of the most legendary racing drivers in Australian history are Allan Moffat and Peter Brock, the latter of whom is named “King of the Mountain,” after the racetrack, the Mount Panorama Motor Racing Circuit. Moffat won the race four times (including once in an XY Falcon GTHO) and Peter Brock won nine times, multiple times in a Holden Torana similar to the yellow one above and once in a Holden Torana GTR XU1 like this one:

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You may be wondering why a little 1970s coupe like that, which only pumps out about 190 horsepower out of an inline-six, can be worth over a quarter of a million dollars , in much the same way as you may wonder how those XY Falcons, which are just 351 Cleveland-powered sedans, can be worth upwards of half a million bucks. Obviously, rarity of special editions is a factor (many of the cars you see at shows are regular Toranas or Falcons dressed up as the racing versions), but the main thing is that these cars are associated with racing victory at Bathurst. And in particular, they’re associated with racing legends. Any vehicle that won Bathurst, especially at the hands of legends like Peter Brock and Allan Moffat, is worth quite a chunk of change, even if the car doesn’t look particularly special to a layperson.

Anyway, those are a few things I noticed during my first week diving into Australian car culture. Now it’s time for someone who actually knows Australian cars well to give us a bit of a tour. Take it away, Laurence!:

Hey, It’s Laurence Here

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Hi Autopians! Dave has asked me to give some notes on what we saw at Dubbo Cars and Coffee. Please note that I’m more of a Chysler and Subaru/JDM bloke, so not all the information in the video such as model year is likely to be 100% accurate.

The first vehicle, a CL-series (1976-78) Valiant Utility (‘Ute’) is the last of the line of utes that Chrysler Australia produced, stretching back from the Coupe Utilities of the 1930s that were assembled by Adelaide coachbuilder, TJ Richards.

N 1976 Valiant Cl Utility 02 03

This ute has a CL/CM Regal grille instead of the standard plastic honeycomb but otherwise appears original. Chrysler Australia was so strapped for cash (they were perennially 3rd or lower on the sales charts) that the rear tailgate will fit David’s utes with no modification (only the outer skin is different), and the bumperettes are solid versions of the same that once housed the rear indicators in VE/VF/VG models (‘68 to early ‘71) . Like all Aussie Valiants, this rides on what is known as the ‘A’ Body platform which makes parts availability and mods quite easy for suspension and brakes.

1980 Holden Statesman 07 1980 Holden Statesman 09

The WB-series Statesman De Ville (1980-84) next to it also represents the last-of-the-line for ‘full-size’ Holdens, as by the last 70s Holden downsized to the Commodore which was a heavily-modified Opel Rekord. These vehicles aren’t particularly common, and more have been parted out for their drivetrain (usually a 5L/308ci V8) or their front sheetmetal has been taken for a Holden Ute, bonnet ornament and all! Like many luxury cars in the States, these were commonly bought by people approaching retirement or that were well-to-do and an imported luxury car like a Mercedes-Benz sent the wrong message (such as local politicians or rural businesspeople).

1964 Holden Eh 03

The EH Holden ( in a lovely blue colour!) is a landmark car in the eyes of many Aussie car enthusiasts. The prior Holdens looked more like downsized Chevrolets (particularly the FE to EK series from 1956 to 62 look like Tri-Five Chevs that shrunk in the wash!) and ran the ‘Grey’ Holden inline six which was an ancient design by the Sixties with a four-bearing crank and without full-flow oil filtration. The EH featured the new

1964 Holden Eh 07

Holden ‘Red’ inline six, which was a big step up to modernity with a seven-bearing crankshaft and hydraulic valve lifters. As mentioned in the video, this Holden remains very popular is it was often the first car for many of the Baby Boom generation, like in many ways for Gen X/Y the VL Commodore is that car that everyone on their Provisional License seemed to have because they were cheap and offered decent performance (myself included!).

Hz

The 1977-80 HZ (not a c.1975 HJ as mentioned in the video!) next to it is an improvement in leaps and bounds on the EH. Whilst commonly powered by the same inline six but suffering from smog regulations (this one appears to have the 253 V8, aka the “Thongslapper’ from the noise they make through some exhaust systems), these last-of-the-Kingswoods have Radial-Tuned-Suspension for tighter handling, a greater emphasis on safety with collapsible steering columns and disc brakes available on all four corners. For a long time Holdens of this shape (‘71-’80) were dirt-cheap, and with their high numbers they were seen on almost every street in Australia. The more everyman counterpart to the luxury Statesman De Ville seen earlier, when Holden downsized to the Commodore during this period in reaction to the two oil-shocks the fleet markets responded by mostly switching to the boxy XD/XE/XF Falcon to retain rear legroom and as a result Holden had a rather tough entry to the 1980s.

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Until recently, it was not uncommon to still see these Holden Utes on building sites or driven by shearers and other farm workers (particularly in One Ton or ‘Tonner’ configuration). Again as much a symptom of their high numbers and low cost as their reputation for toughness, these utes can lay claim to helping build modern Australia as much as any other. Featuring a full-frame construction, these workhorses have frequently run through multiple drivetrains in their service life and keep on kicking. If Australia was to feature a vehicle on the national flag, this would be a prime candidate!

Like mentioned in the video, unlike Valiant utes the Holden utes had a void behind the seat that was essentially sealed by a metal wall instead of the vast storage area made possible by being based on a wagon platform that was a feature amongst the utes made by Chrysler Australia. Curiously, the French Government once impounded an earlier Holden Ute as they suspected this inaccessible area was being used to smuggle drugs!

Aussies love their American muscle as much as Americans do. Depending on if the vehicle was imported after it turned 25, it can either stay left-hand drive or be converted to right-hand drive. An advantage with vintage US iron is that they mechanically often have similarities to Australian vehicles, and so Aussie steering setups and even dashboards were often used in the conversion process. The Mustang is now a global car, so it doesn’t suffer from the same extreme cost in conversion, but the Ram and Silverado (plus limited numbers of Camaros)  are imported and then disassembled at a factory and then converted to right-hand drive which raises their cost significantly. As F-trucks, Challengers and other vehicles are imported on a more ad-hoc basis, their conversion costs are much higher and thus they are much more expensive overall.

N 1987 Ford Falcon 02 03

The c.1985 XF Falcon is an example of the full-sized Falcons that Ford made throughout the 80s, also in wagon, ute and panelvan form. These in many ways stole the thunder from the Commodore as they dominated fleet sales which was a huge deal at the time, often making up 50% or more of annual purchases for either marque. With styling based on the European Ford Granada, these vehicles were very popular with rural buyers as well who wanted a tough vehicle that could seat six and tow heavy trailers with ease. This era Falcon had a reputation for eating door handles if the doors had sagged, country petrol stations used to stock these door handles in bulk!

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I don’t think there is much more I can say about the ‘Barra’ (shown above) that hasn’t already been said. Dubbed “Australia’s 2JZ” by many, these feature several improvements and hard-won lessons from Ford Australia’s long history with inline sixes and severe-use with fleets and other owners over decades. Named for the beloved Barramundi fish (or “Asian Seabass”), this engine features a very over-built bottom end and reputation for long life and ability to withstand high horsepower with very minimal modification.

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The GTR XU-1 Torana is another legendary Australian car. The winner of the 1972 Bathurst 500-mile endurance race (itself at the heart of the appeal of many Australian classic cars modern valuations) at the hands of the now-revered Aussie motorsport legend Peter Brock over the all-conquering Falcon GT-HO, this giant-killer had the Holden ‘Red’ Six with triple carburetors. This one is in the fantastically-named colour, Plum Dinger! Originally based on the Vauxhall Viva, with the nose stretched to fit the inline six, these cars have been sought after for decades and still inspires songs to this day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrkuo0y8gMU

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The XW/XY Falcons are another highly sought-after vehicle in Australia, commonly turned into mockups, replicas or tributes of the GT models. So much so, it is unusual to even see a XY that doesn’t have a ‘shaker’ bonnet scoop and the GT stripe package at car shows, even on the utes which were never available as a GT!

Like mentioned in the video, coupes were rather uncommon overall in the Aussie car scene, with more people choosing performance in their sedans instead so that the whole family could be included or as a work-vehicle with a bit more fun. Once the Big Three (Holden, Ford and Chrysler) essentially abandoned coupes altogether by 1978, high performance was only available in a sedan or in some cases, a ute until the reborn Holden Monaro hit the scene in the early 2000s (and still sold in limited numbers).

B 1953 Holden Fj 04 05

Another iconic first-car for earlier Baby Boomers, the FJ Holden also has a firm place in the heart of Aussies. Commonly modified with parts from the period, these have such a hold on the culture that Holden made a concept vehicle in the early 2000s based on this model, known as the Efijy. There is even a low-budget 70s movie based on a young ‘hoon’ modifying one and chasing girls.

The LH & LX Torana were the follow-up to the smaller LC/LJ Toranas that spawned the winning GTR-XU1. The LH was successful at Bathurst in ‘75 and ‘76, whilst the LX also won back-to-back in ‘78 and ’79 with the A9X performance package which was only available in a hatchback body. Another legendary Aussie vehicle that is frequently imitated, the flares and reverse-cowl scoop were factory items.

Xb

Next up is a vehicle I am sure many Autopians will recognise, the ‘XB’ Falcon Coupe, aka the ‘Last of the V8 Interceptors’ from the Mad Max movies. The Falcon coupe was also successful at Bathurst in XA guise (‘73 and ‘74, the sedan version of this vehicle is next to it in red) as well as XC (‘77), these vehicles are worth serious money in any condition. This vehicle has been with the same owner for over 20 years and multiple builds, it even survived a garage fire!

Ss1 Ss2

The last vehicle we spoke about at Cars and Coffee, the c.1997 VS series Commodore SS V8 was also a Bathurst winner in 1997, with the similar VR series Commodore also victorious in 1995 and 1996. These were based on the Opel Senator platform (earlier Commodores were based on the smaller Opel Rekord), a return to a larger vehicle for Holden and a return to utes in 1992 after the last WB-series utes in 1984.

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The last vehicle, seen at the pub after-party is a 1970 VG Valiant Pacer Hardtop. The body was imported as a knock-down kit from the US (and some from Mexico which have a different, extended C-pillar), these were Chrysler’s entry into the youth-oriented, budget-performance market of the late 60s and early 70s which was hotted-up everyday models with lairy stripes and features like a tachometer, floor-shifter and bucket seats. The advertising for these followed similar hallucinogenic lines as the Plymouth Roadrunner.

 

I hope you enjoyed this introduction to Aussie classics. I’ve gone on for nearly 2,000 words now and barely scratched the surface of these vehicles and there are many more Aussie legends that weren’t in the video!

 

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58 Responses

  1. Thanks for coming over here I’ve been really enjoying reading these articles and watching the vids. I can’t wait to see how it turns out when you get to Deni. Laurence sounds like us stitched him up hahaha. Save bonus points for the Chats link now off for a pub feed.

  2. A big reason why Aussies are much more into 4 doors than Americans are here is simply because 2 door cars were not available in Australia for a long time. Holden didn’t get the Monaro until the HK in 1968, and Ford got a 2 door XM Falcon in 1964, but there was no 2 door Falcon option available from 1966-1972 at all (whereas there was in the US), and then none from 1979+. Think about popular American cars from the 1960s to 1980s and most of them had both 2 and 4 door versions available from the get-go, but that wasn’t the case in Oz.

    I was born and raised in Australia and at the time both my dad and uncle owned XD and XE Falcons. That definitely rubbed off on me and today I own an ’85 Ford LTD LX – basically the closest I could get to an American version of the Aussie XD/XE Fairmont Ghia ESP, and I added some Super Roo stickers as an homage to my homeland – see the 2nd image here.

    https://www.hemmings.com/stories/article/the-other-lx-ford-ltd

    1. Heck, a lot of American cars were available in multiple two and four door forms, not just as one coupe and one sedan. You’d have a standard four door post (this has a full B pillar), four door hardtop (lacks the B pillar above the doors, roll all four windows down and it looks like a convertible with the top up), two door sedan (this is a two door with a full B pillar and usually the roofline is much more upright at the rear window, for headroom), two door post coupe (full B pillar, possibly a raked rear window) and a hardtop coupe (same as the four door, no B pillar above the doors. These often rode on a convertible frame to regain rigidity lost with the short B pillar). This excludes convertibles and wagons, as well!

      My understanding is that the two and four door post sedans were usually the cheapest in the line, as they were the most plain looking (two door being cheapest as well). Two door sedans and post coupes were most sought after as drag racers, as they were stiffer from the factory and didn’t need much extra bracing, unlike a hardtop – people still scrounge around for two door sedans to build replica A/FX cars and whatnot.

      Thank you for coming to my TED talk.

    2. This is definitely a big part of it, but I think it also comes down to how manufacturers marketed cars in the US. It’s not just public perception that placed 4-door cars firmly in family sedan territory, it also comes down to manufacturers rarely offering the big performance upgrades on big sedans in the US. They sold 4-doors as the cheap family version of their faster offerings 2-doors were souped up hot rods. You can see this marketing push in various ads from the 60s-2000’s, before the sedan started dying out.

      Of course, not all of the US thinks this way. Big body 4-door sedans are loved by the drifting community, donk community, VIP community and more. It’s just not mainstream.

  3. I enjoy that Australia still has K-marts.

    U.S. K-mart (back when) was where I picked up one of my favorite Hot Wheels, a Falcon XB. Yellow with black stripes, GT351 decals, and it absolutely has the correct right hand drive setup.

  4. How much for a similarly restored Falcon XB/GT? they look so much sweeter than that overpriced More-Door. I Have seen cool four doors, but they usually don’t have posts and/or the door open the wrong way.

      1. I have family up in Northern Queensland and the amount of nicknames and slang words that they have is just amazing. Foot falcon is one the family in Mount Isa by the Sea use. It means walking somewhere as opposed to driving. Mount Isa by the sea is another weird piece of slang they use. It is used by family up in Cairns as slang for Townsville.

  5. I love Australian muscle cars, since they’re like a wild alternate universe version of American cars, but with the prices they go for, I think I’ll let the Australians keep the genuine ones. Since there seems to be a proud tradition of converting regular Falcons into GT tribute cars though, I don’t see why I couldn’t do that with an American four-door Falcon… It’d certainly be a lot cheaper, I mean we got all the ingredients, and it’d already be left hand drive so I won’t need to convert it or drive on the wrong side of the car like Australians do with classic American cars. I’d just need to get the shaker hood scoop, badges, stripes, wheels, and maybe a grille from Australia to dress it up like one of theirs. It’d be a neat way to restomod an otherwise unwanted four-door falcon, anyway.

  6. This is what I don’t get, among many things I don’t get. Do car manufacturers even live in the real world? I mean you see a certain genre ignored. Then a small company or even a large company takes a risk on a low demand vehicle. It sells well. Then every damn manufacturer starts making their version of it. Then noone is selling enough of them and they all quit. Can they just say damn I wish we went there first but we didn’t but the sales aren’t enough for 3 or 4 versions so we aren’t going to do it? Except for Miata every small sales category gets shut down this way. I bet if one company made a decent family sedan or a wagon they would sell. But as soon as they did oops 10 different manufacturers with 3 different versions and then none.

    1. Well it was easier to resist in Australia, since the market was so comparatively small, the local Ford/Holden executives would go cap in hand to Detroit and plead “Please sirs, may we get new doors for this otherwise completely new model?”
      And Detroit would say “No” so they didn’t even bother asking about coupes.
      I recommend the exciting family game of ‘Spot the Carryover Door Skin in Australia Sedans’.
      And I won’t even start on the X-series ute rear that persisted long past any semblance of decency (send the kids out of the house, fetch the eye bleach and look up the XH Falcon)

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  8. We didn’t have four-door utes back in the day except for Holden’s Crewman of the early 2000s.

    Today the highest selling vehicles in Australia are usually the Ford Ranger or Toyota Hilux in dual-cab form. Sales of Rams have been very strong the past four years or so, enough to make the conversion factory look to expand: https://www.drive.com.au/news/ram-trucks-australia-triples-production-ahead-of-ford-and-toyota-arrivals/

    Rootwyrm, that fuel price you quoted is only this year due to the whole OPEC/Ukraine madness, on average our prices are quite a bit lower than that. The other thing to consider is most of these big pickups are via a business, and so the fuel cost is a deductible expense.

    Rams and Silverados are selling here like hotcakes, Ford and Toyota are bringing in their fullsize pickups in the next two years because the market is so strong.

  9. You are obviously enamored with the concept of powerful four door sedans. You also seem to have written the American market off without a thought.

    May I present to you my daily driver, my 2019 Cadillac CT6 3 litre twin turbo. It is extremely fast, both in acceleration and in top speed. With it’s brand new Michelin tires, it handles like a true sport sedan. And my Cadillac is not the only four door with sporting capabilities.

    So, have I convinced you?

      1. Actually, it has not been discontinued. It is alive and well as a 2023 model.

        “Will there be a 2023 Cadillac CT6?
        We expect the next-generation Cadillac CT6 to reach the market in the vicinity of the 2023 model year. Until then, we expect the current, first-generation CT6 to receive minor changes, updates, and improvements.”

        Future Cadillac CT6 Info, Specs & More | GM Authority

    1. I have long thought about taking a 70 Torino, a 71 mustang Naca hood and a Monza kit and making an Americanized version. I really liked th 71 Mach 1 I had as kid and they were unloved and cheap back then, now not nearly as cheap or even unloved it seems.

  10. As someone who daily drove a Pontiac Monaro…I mean GTO for a few years, I have a soft spot for Aussie cars since I discovered them researching my car back then…that really wasn’t almost 20 years ago was it? How time flies. Awesome write up. Their losing Ford AND Holden in the last few years rather sucks. But they have one helluva hot rod community for sure.

  11. I have no idea why US Americans like these stupid two-doors so much. There is absolut nothing cool about them. They are ugly and impractical. You either can’t get into the rear, or the doors open to occupy the neighbouring two parking spaces, or both.
    Two-door versions of four-door cars suck. Small cars, maybe, can have two doors and not suck. (Even my Opel Adam sucks a bit because the doors are so long.) But long cars that should have four doors but only have two? Horrible.

  12. So if four door sedans are popular, and utes are popular, why not four door crew cab trucks?

    Are RHD versions of American full size trucks sold there, and if not I wonder why not? Seems like a “best of both worlds” solution, just like it is here in the States.

      1. With an easy answer.
        (points at nearest gas station)

        And for those of you who are not in Australia: gasoline there is over $1.75AUD/litre, which is pushing $7USD/gallon.
        SEVEN. DOLLARS. A. GALLON.

        The Ford Ranger is the second best selling car in all Australia behind only the Toyota Hilux. The Ranger’s 2.3L nets around 11.2L/100km, and they get the 3.0 V6 turbo-diesel with 600Nm of torque at around 11.8L/100km.

        The Ram 1500 is sold in Australia, but your only V8 option is the 5.7 Hemi Hybrid. Which gets an atrocious 15L/100km from a 98 liter tank. Meaning a fill up will cost you over $150AUD. The non-hybrid 5.7 gets 13.87L/100km “officially” but in reality it’s around 21L/100km.

          1. Depends on how you measure it. I can move a ton of product with a V8 in one trip. I get better mpg in a Ford transit but it takes over 4 trips and some stuff won’t fit at all. So yeah but environmentalists are like just throw everything away make a house out of dung don’t bathe and call an Uber to go to burning man or Coachella.

          2. No, but they aren’t atrocious either. Compared to say a modern Ranger or Hilux, they are significantly lighter due to the fact that they are unibody (or semi-unibody in the Fords case) so they don’t have a separate chassis or 4wd, transfer case etc. They are lazy V8s too, so they have so much low down torque and they effectively travel at 100km/h at idle. Do bear in mind that the majority of Utes were I6’s and V6s not V8s.

        1. You make it sound like spendy gas is more of an Australian problem than, say, a Californian one. Just bought me some 89 octane for $6.59/gallon in Pasadena today. (I don’t drive a fullsize crewcab truck myself, but you can bet there were a couple gassin’ up there this morning.) But this has been an uncommonly gas-tastic year. And I drive in a particularly flagrantly gas-pissing nation. I wouldn’t be that surprised to learn that Australians are a bit more economical (though maybe not as much as Northern Europe; now THAT’S expensive gas!), but this source here seems to indicate that on average, gasoline is only about $0.03/gal more expensive than it is in the U.S. https://www.globalpetrolprices.com/gasoline_prices/

          1. You must have picked one of the priciest stations in Pasadena. Per Gasbuddy the span of prices for 89 octane in Pasadena is currently $5.37 – $6.71 per gallon. I only bothered to look this up because I just paid $4.99 for 87 in San Diego and I was surprised to see that Pasadena is so much more expensive. I’ve been fortunate to not need gas when prices hit their peaks and have only paid $6+ one time so far.

          2. well that is kind of a democratic California thing. it is not nearly that expensive the further inward you go, but California wants you in a glorified golf cart so fast they will do just about anything to “make” you want to switch, or ride a bus. Honestly I am baffled that David would want to go to that state.

          3. California gas prices and energy prices or any prices are a self imposed hardship. Heck you can get more Californians to protest Charles Manson being imprisoned than support reasonable conservative principles. So don’t complain just pretend you have a boat and bust out another thousand. S/

        2. Your argument seems specious. If V8s are really popular the modern V8 has way more power and far more mpg than any V8 from my younger days. Heck today’s V8 gets better mpg than anything from the 70s or before and did I say MORE POWER? Also better for the environment due to unleaded gas and such. But that’s environmentalists no matter what you do it’s never enough. They used to love nuclear power until they started building nuclear power plants then down with nukes. They loved natural gas to replace coal. But now that coal is mostly gone boo windmills and solar. Once that gets affordable oh windmills kill birds and solar panels in the desert ruin the salamander habitat and windmills of the coast ruin the habitat for something else.

        3. Almost 7USD per gallon?
          Pfft! Here in the UK average prices today are about £1.65/litre, which works out at $7.23/gal.
          (and that would be higher if the Tories hadn’t just tanked our economy and the exchange rate).

        4. That didn’t seem to dissuade the Europeans who bought RAM trucks in larger number, especially in Austria and Scandinavian countries. Many of them have been converted to run on cheaper LPG/CNG. Some of them have Cummins diesel engines (not for fuel economy but for higher towing rate). Some of them are registered as commercial vehicles, especially for farm, forestry, construction, etc., meaning they get fuel that isn’t taxed (France) or is taxed lower (some European countries).

          When I visited Kitzbühel, Austria a while ago, I was surprised to see so many RAM trucks there. I chanced on a conversation with the owner to find out why he chose RAM truck. He replied that his job require lot of heaving haul over the mud trails. The “sissy” (his term) pick-up trucks from Volkswagen, Toyota, Ford, and like don’t cut it. RAM truck’s “meaty” (again, his term) drivetrain could handle both.

          By the way, the fuel in Germany is between €1.90 to €2.30 per litre ($7.35 to $8.90 US per gallon).

    1. My understanding that for it to be road legal, they have to do an RHD version. In the mid 2000’s, Ford exported the F-250 in RHD form to Aus, New Zealand, and South Africa. They did it for a couple of years but stopped importing them. They weren’t exactly setting sales records, so yeah. When GM closed up shop in Aus., they left their HSV division to do RHD conversions on American GM vehicles (including the Silverado). I just think the market for full size RHD trucks is just too small to justify building them like that from the factory. With medium size trucks like the Colorado or Ranger, there’s more markets with RHD that justify being able to build them at the factory but full size, that’s more of a specialized market.

      1. Its not the fact that the demand isn’t there or the desire I mean GM committed to building the GMC Acadia in RHD just for Australia and New Zealand. Ford did the same with the Edge (also sold in UK in limited numbers) Toyota again doing the same with the Highlander (also sold in UK in very limited numbers) all of which is far more insignificant sales wise – especially the Edge and Acadia, compared to full size trucks. Its more to do with capacity on the lines. GM, Ford and Ram know that they will sell every single truck they can possibly build in North America and can’t spare the tooling and capacity for the 100,000-150,000 or so sales in RHD – with Australia being the largest market and NZ, South Africa and maybe the UK taking a fraction of production.

        1. I’m in the same page, there’s a market for it but the demand for it just isn’t strong enough and it doesn’t justify paying for the tooling for maybe 100-150k cars. And yes, the Edge was produced in RHD form but it’s also based on a platform that can be RHD or LHD. If they really wanted to, they can ramp up production in Canada or Mexico but it’s just not worth the investment when the platform was never designed to have the ability to be RHD. And the Acadia, feh, you got me on that one, lol. Unless it’s easier to convert a FWD to RHD than a RWD to RHD.

      2. Yep, you’re absolutely correct. It’s a matter of the demand not being there. Australia has neither the volume nor the ask for big trucks.

        Australia has a very high cars per capita (775 per 1000 people) but they’re only 24 million people with annual sales of around 1M new vehicles. Across everything.
        And large, fuel thirsty trucks are simply not what Australians want. Fuel prices are a big part of it, because running one of those across the outback would be ruinous. But they simply don’t want huge monster trucks. The market wants Utes and pickups the size of Utes. That’s why the two top selling cars in Australia are the Toyota Hilux and the Ford Ranger.

        Consequently, the versions of these that sell there are also much more capable than their US counterparts. Australia, you can get a Ranger with a 3.0L turbodiesel with 500Nm (nearly 370ft/lbs) and almost a full 1,000lbs more payload instead of the meager 2.3 we get over here. Their Hilux can tow up to 3500kg (7,716lbs) versus our Tacos at an absolute max of 6,700lbs.

      3. Yes, Ford Brazil built the right-hand-drive Super Duty (F-250, F-350, and F-450) for Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa from 1999 to 2011. They did sell well despite higher retail price and smaller number of buyers as compared to the United States and Canada.

        Holden imported the RHD Suburban built in Mexico from 1998 to 2001 for Australia and New Zealand. However, General Motors screwed up with the RHD Suburban by using the RHD dashboard from second-generation Blazer, stretched on the left side to fit the wider Suburban instead of high quality mirror-finish dashboard used by Quigley 4×4 for its conversion program. The interior was highly decontented and had lot of hard plastic that squeaked a lot. That hurt the customer’s perception.

        If RAM is planning to sell at least 20,000 trucks in Australia, it doesn’t make any sense to remanufacture them for right-hand-drive. That would yield lot of waste (left-hand-drive dashboard, steering components, etc.). RAM should have just build both versions on same assembly lanes instead.

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