Unique Cars That Australia Missed Out On

Online Loans

March 15, 2021

There are nearly 20 million registered cars in Australia. Considering our population peaks at around 25.5 million people, that’s a lot of car buying.

With all that purchasing power, it would make sense that Aussies have a huge range to choose from. However, there are always some unique cars that seem out of reach.

OnlineLoans takes a look at 5 unique cars that we wish had made it to the Australian market. 

Wish List:

Note that although these cars are often imported privately, they didn’t appear in new car showrooms in Australia.

Nissan Stagea

Nissan Stagea

The first generation of the Stagea was a unique car, or more accurately, a unique (and fast) station wagon. Produced from 1996 to 2001, the Stagea was a fast wagon available only in Japan.

Nissan introduced the model to compete with Subaru’s popular Legacy model, or in Australia, the Subaru Outback.

The top-of-the-range Stagea, the 260RS Autech Version, actually featured a Nissan Skyline GT-R engine, the famous RB26DETT twin-turbo straight-six. Other upgrades over the base model included Brembo brakes, an Autech body kit and other GT-R style interior enhancements. In other words, a “Godzilla” GT-R in wagon form.

Other models included 4WD and single-turbo options.

In the late ’90s, during the production years of the first generation Stagea, Australians were buying huge numbers of Holden Commodores and Ford Falcons – both of which offered a wagon version.

We’re pretty sure Australia would have loved a fun, fast 4WD wagon.

Lotus Carlton

Lotus Carlton

Produced only from 1990 to 1992, the Lotus Carlton is a cult legend. Although it may not look like a unique car, the Carlton was a 3.6L twin-turbo 4-door sedan made in and for the UK market.

“The result was a highly publicised stolen Carlton that police just couldn’t catch. The vehicle has never been found.”

In 1990, the Carlton sold for £48,000 or around $200,000 Australian dollars in today’s money. This meant only a small fraction of car buyers could afford it and, considering it didn’t look like a sports car, only real enthusiasts were in the market.

The Carlton’s notoriety came in November 1993 when one was stolen from a home in West Midlands, UK. The gang of thieves used the high-performance vehicles to commit a series of ram raids on shops across the region.

Lotus Carlton

At the time, British police were relying on underpowered Austin Metros, barely capable of a third of the speed the Carlton could do. The result was a highly publicised stolen Carlton that police just couldn’t catch. The vehicle (plate: 40 RA) has never been found making it one of Britain’s most infamous car mysteries.

Austin Metro

(Not much of a challenge: The Rover Metro. Source: simoncars.co.uk)

Being a sedan capable of speeds up to 285 km/h sold in the early 1990s when the Bathurst 1000 and other fast sedan touring car races were ultra-popular, we’re sure it would have been a hit in Australia.

Isuzu VehiCROSS

Isuzu VehiCROSS

The VehiCROSS was a unique car produced from 1997 to 2001. It looks almost like a life-sized R/C car with its high riding position and heavy use of black plastic shrouding on the lower sides and wheel arches.

The VehiCROSS came out around the time SUVs were just starting to get popular. It featured a V6 engine, 2-door body and computer-controlled AWD system and a low-gear 4WD system for off-road driving.

Unfortunately for VehiCROSS sales in Japan, it didn’t meet government dimension regulations or fuel consumption standards for its engine size meaning that owners had to pay more in registration and road tax.

Isuzu VehiCROSS

(source: automobilemag.com)

Furthermore, the base model started at just over $60,000 (in today’s AUD), making the VehiCROSS expensive, weird looking and impractical (at least for city dwellers).

With Australia’s love of high-powered off-road capable SUVs, the VehiCROSS could have had a following here.

Audi RS 2 Avant

Audi RS 2 Avant

Another high-performance station wagon on the list. The RS 2 Avant, like the Carlton above, has become a cult classic in the car world. Only produced in 1994 and 1995, good examples can shoot well over $100,000 AUD, especially when in its trademark ‘Nogaro blue’ paint.

“To get attention, Audi teamed up with then cash-starved Porsche to create what some regard as the best fast wagon ever. “

But why? That’s a huge amount for a 26-year-old wagon.

The 2.2L inline 5-cylinder turbo-powered RS 2 Avant wasn’t only an Audi creation – for those with keen eyes, the wheels might look familiar – especially to Porsche enthusiasts.

Born in an era when Audi struggled to stand out from larger German automakers (Mercedes and BMW), the brand needed to get noticed. To get attention, Audi teamed up with then cash-starved Porsche to create what some regard as the best fast wagon ever.

Audi RS 2 Avant

(The ‘Nogaro Blue’ was an eye-catching colour. Source: autoevolution.com)

Porsche took Audi’s existing RS2 and upgraded the turbo, intercooler, exhaust system, suspension and brakes (just to name a few things). The result was a wagon that could accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h in 4.8 seconds and hit a top speed of 262 km/h – on par with many fast cars of the time.

In the UK, the RS 2 Avant really got its bragging rights when tested by British car magazine Autocar. They announced that from 0 to 30 mph (48 km/h) the RS2 clocked just 1.5 seconds, which the magazine confirmed was faster than the famous McLaren F1.

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac Escalade

Cadillac is a brand that many Australians have heard of but not been exposed to. The Escalade is a full-size luxury SUV aimed at models from Land Rover, Lexus, BMW, Mercedes and other high-end SUVs.

“The Escalade tips the scales at a massive 3.3 tons, around half a ton more than a 2020 Toyota LandCruiser Sahara.”

The brand never offered the Escalade in Australia, much to the disappointment of luxury SUV enthusiasts. All right-hand drive imported versions are converted by third-party workshops.

Being introduced in 1998, the Escalade is now in its 5th generation. The latest model also offers an EV version featuring battery technology shared with the GMC Hummer EV. Depending on the trim level, the Escalade tips the scales at a massive 3.3 tons, around half a ton more than a 2020 Toyota LandCruiser Sahara.

The range-topping Premium Luxury Platinum version isn’t cheap at over $130,000 AUD. For that, it comes with 16-way power seats, soft close doors, self-parking, a digital dashboard with three curved OLED displays with augmented-reality navigation and a mind-boggling 36-speaker sound system.

Cadillac Escalade

Seeing as though Aussies are clearly in love with SUVs (they made up 51.7% of all new vehicle sales in Australia in December 2020), we’re sure the Escalade would be popular.

Don’t miss out on your next car

Although the Australian car market missed out on the gems above, there are plenty more to choose from.

A quick quote from OnlineLoans gives you a look at what payments might look like on your next car. The process is simple, fast and 100% online which puts our clients in the driver’s seat as they see fit.

More information about unique cars.

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