22. Chevrolet Chev SS
Behind this strange name is the Australian-built Holden Monaro GTS. Chevy exported it to South Africa and sold it under the SS badge through their dealerships. The car was basically the same as the Monaro GTS except for the front grille. Also, the South African SS had four headlights. Buyers could choose between two V8 engines.
The standard powerplant was 308 V8, but most customers wanted the 350 V8 with 300 HP. With this engine, the SS could accelerate to 60 mph in 7.5 seconds and top 130 mph. Interestingly, despite relatively high production figures, the Chev SS is rare. This is because drivers either crashed most of them or sent them back to Australia.
21. Chevrolet Niva
Back in the early 1970s, Russian Lada introduced a compact but capable SUV they called the Lada Niva. It lasted in production for decades and even managed to achieve considerable export success. However, the original Niva was rugged and slow. So in the 1990s European, American and Japanese companies engineered a wide arrange of modern SUV models. This forced Niva to lose their battle for customers.
In the mid-’90s, General Motors invested in the Russian car industry, including the Lada factory. So, in 1998, Lada produced the second generation of the Niva. But this time, they called it the Chevrolet Niva, selling it in Eastern Europe and selected export markets.
Compared to the original model, the Chevrolet Niva had a better design and it was also more technically advanced and comfortable. It comes with a 1.7-liter four-cylinder that sends power to all four wheels.
20. Ford Escort Mk1
Although the British car industry was always known for luxury and sports cars, their economy models were just as interesting. And this was the case with the Escort Mk1, a mass-produced economy car that became one of Ford’s global best sellers. Also, it was a fantastically successful motorsport legend.
Ford introduced in the Escort Mk1 in 1968. It was a compact rear-wheel-drive saloon aimed at family buyers. And the basic version used the forgettable 1.1 and 1.3-liter engines. But for those who wanted more, Ford offered the hot 1600 RS and RS 2000 models. They had special suspensions and engines. They also had a lot of power and low weight. This combination made them capable of defeating much more expensive cars. Overall, they were proper racing monsters.
19. Ford Landau
Ford presented the Landau in 1971 as the biggest and most expensive car the company sold in Brazil. However, the Landau was basically an upscale mid-’60s Ford Galaxie. They produced it until 1983 and made few changes during that time. The Landau was a common car with government officials.
Under the hood was a 302 V8 engine the mated with a three-speed automatic or manual gearbox. Interestingly enough, in the late â70s, Ford Brazil produced several thousand Landau models they modified to run on alcohol rather than gasoline due to the oil crisis. They built over 77, 000 Landaus during its 12-year production run.
18. Ford Falcon Sprint Argentina
Ford unveiled the Falcon in America in 1960 as its best-selling compact model. It came with a range of six and eight-cylinder engines and several body styles. So to reclaim its position as the market leader in Argentina, Ford decided to present an Argentinean version in 1962. It was basically identical to the U.S. model featuring a few design tweaks.
In 1973, Ford Argentina wanted to explore the muscle car market, so they announced a new performance model called the Falcon Sprint. This was the same 10-year-old four-door sedan. However, it came with an appealing graphics package, a different front end, and a 3.6-liter straight six delivering 166 HP.
17. Ford Capri Perana
Basil Green was an accomplished racer turned tuner and dealer. When Ford introduced the affordable and cool Capri coupe in late 1969, he realized the potential. So he soon introduced the Capri Perana. Green took the 3.0-liter V6 Capri from England and installed a 5.0-liter Ford V8 from a Mustang.
To make the car handle properly, Green had his engineers modify the suspension, chassis, brakes, and steering. So, after some thorough work, the Capri Perana was born. The power output was around 280 HP. But in the lightweight body of the standard Capri, the Perana was able to reach 60 mph in just six seconds.
16. Ford Taunus
The Taunus was a line of mid-size, family sedans and wagons Ford Germany built from the late 1930s up to 1982. Over the years, Ford Germany produced numerous models and versions. The vehicle sold well in Europe as well as other parts of the world too.
The Taunus didn’t share any components with American-built Fords. But Dearborn often used the same compact V4 engines they produced in Germany for some of their show cars and prototypes.
15. Ford Del Ray
Although it sounds American, the Ford Del Ray was a car produced in Brazil. And they fully constructed and designed the car in South America. Also, the Del Ray had a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine that came from Volkswagen.
They presented this model in 1981, selling through 1991 in Brazil as well as other South American countries. It was available as a four-door sedan, two-door sedan, and a practical station wagon.
14. Chevrolet Calibra
In 1989, GM subsidiary Opel introduced an advanced sports coupe called the Calibra. The car featured modern, aerodynamic styling. Chevy built a lineup of cars that had four and six-cylinder engines with front-wheel drive. And at the time, it was one of the best affordable sports cars on sale in Europe.
However, GM decided to reintroduce this car in South America, and not as the Opel but as the Chevrolet Calibra. They sold the car with minimal modifications. Top brass at GM even considered bringing it to America, but that didn’t happen.
13. Ford Granada
American car enthusiasts will recognize the Granada name since Ford introduced it on a series of mid-size cars from 1975 to 1982. However, you may not know about European Granada. It was a different model Ford produced from 1972 to 1985.
Ford conceived it as a luxury model, so the Granada was the biggest car they sold in Europe. It was also powered by four and six-cylinder engines and featured a long list of optional extras. The model came in two distinctive generations and they later replaced it with the Ford Scorpio in 1985.
12. Ford Sierra XR8
You might remember the Ford Sierra, the definitive ’80s Ford’s mid-size family model with rear-wheel drive. The car was sold in America as Merkur XR4Ti with a 2.3-liter turbo engine with modest success. But South Africans had a different idea.
The Ford SA produced a limited run of Sierra XR8 models, which featured a 5.0-liter V8 engine with 220 HP straight out of a Mustang. With its light body and manual transmission, the Sierra XR8 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds, making it perfect as a basis for a successful racing car. Since this was a homologation special, the production was small at just 250 examples which looked almost stock.
10. IKA Torino
The IKA factory was established in 1955 as a Kaiser subsidiary in Argentina, which produced American-designed models for the local buyers. However, in 1964, IKA, now a part of American Motors Company, needed a modern-looking and powerful car in order to compete on the Argentinean market. AMC provided IKA with a 1965 Rambler American platform, including body panels and drivetrain, while IKA designed and produced the front and rear end design and interior.
The Torino debuted in 1966 and was pretty modern and advanced for Argentinean standards of the day. However, IKA realized that the Torino had more potential of just being a right road car and started upgrading the engine as soon as 1969 with the Torino 380W model. This version included a 3.8-liter engine with 176 HP and unique exterior trim.
The Torino was the premium Argentinean muscle car since it was a nice-looking coupe with luxury appointments and excellent driving dynamics. The company continued to produce more and more powerful versions like Torino TSX, Torino GS, and Torino ZX with the same 3.8-liter engine but with power ranging from 200 to 215 HP.
9. Ford Maverick GT V8
The American buyers got to know Maverick as Ford’s base economy model introduced in 1969 in order to fight the foreign compact car invasion. The American Maverick wasn’t anything special, just another affordable runabout with no defining features, but it was one of the premium muscle cars in GT trim in Brazil.
But for muscle car connoisseurs and enthusiasts, Ford produced the Maverick GT V8 equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 (302 CID) producing 199 HP, a significant number for the standards of the day. In this relatively light package and with a four-speed manual transmission, the Maverick GT was one of the fastest Brazilian cars at the moment and a very popular muscle car.
In 1975, Ford introduced Maverick GT with Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor, which raised the power level to 255 HP and made this compact very fast. This model came with famous Ford’s Grabber colors, front and rear spoiler, sports wheels, and lots more. Even today, this is one of the most popular and sought-after Brazilian muscle cars.
8. Ford OSI 20M TS
Back in the ’60s, Italy was full of small design houses producing interesting variants of regular production cars. Most of those little body shops looked for lucrative contracts with big companies, which will provide them with financial security and a chance to present their creations to a worldwide audience.
One of those small firms was OSI, which concentrated on producing bodies based on a Fiat chassis. However, their best-known model was, in fact, a Ford. Back in the mid-’60s, OSI teamed with European Ford to produce a limited run of sports cars based on mid-size Taunus chassis. The vehicle was called Ford OSI 20M TS and had a gorgeous and elegant coupe body, a 2.3-liter V6 engine, and around 110 HP. Not much, but since it was light, performance was satisfying to most customers.
7. Chevrolet 400 Super Sport
In the early ’60s, Ford and Chrysler introduced modern and affordable versions of US models for the Argentinean market, which left Chevrolet without a proper competitor. In order to attract more buyers and regain position on the market, Chevrolet decided to introduce a model called 400, which was basically the American Chevy II or Nova. The main version was a modest four-door sedan with a 3.2-liter straight-six engine.
The car proved to be decently popular, but the rising racing and muscle car scene demanded a more powerful version. So in 1967, Chevrolet presented the 400 SuperSport, one of the first domestic muscle cars in Argentina in whole South America. The 400 SuperSport had better brakes and suspension and a tuned version of the venerable 250 CID (4.1-liter) straight-six with 155 HP.
The car could be easily distinguished from the American-made Chevy II since the 400 SuperSport had four headlights, a blackout grille, and fake hood scoops similar to the 1966 Chevelle SS. Despite the fact it was a four-door sedan, the 400 Super Sport was popular with Argentinean racers of the day.
6. Ford Cortina XR6 Interceptor
Introduced in 1982, the Cortina XR Interceptor was a high-performance version of the regular MK3 Cortina sold all over the world. Ford South Africa wanted something to spark the sales and also reintroduce muscle cars to the market, and Cortina’s rear-wheel-drive platform was perfect for the job.
The Cortina XR6 Interceptor was a performance four-door sedan with a 3.0-liter V6 engine with three Webber carburetors, hotter cam, and high compression heads. The power was not very high at 140 HP, but the Cortina was reasonably light and stable. Since it featured a pretty ordinary look, it was the favorite getaway car for armed robberies. Simply, it featured a straightforward design perfect for blending with the traffic and engine powerful enough to get you away fast. Maybe that’s why Ford built only 250 of them.
5. Dodge GTX V8
The Chrysler Corporation was pretty active in Argentina during the ’60s and the ’70s, and it produced several models aimed directly at the local market. Their most significant and most luxurious offering was Dodge GT, a Dart-based sedan with better equipment powered by the famous 225 Slant Six engine. The car was introduced in 1968, but in 1970, Chrysler Argentina decided to present the proper muscle version in the form of the Dodge GTX.
Borrowing the name from the eponymous Plymouth car, Dodge GTX was also a luxury muscle car, at least for South American standards of the day, with power windows and air conditioning as standard. It featured a cool-looking coupe body and optional 318 V8, which delivered 212 HP or 230 HP depending on model year and transformed this Dodge in one of the most powerful domestic cars of the period. Production lasted until 1973, and due to its high price, the GTX wasn’t produced in many examples.
4. Ford RS200
Back in the mid-’80s, motorsports were all about rallying and famous and terrifyingly dangerous Group B. Group B was a part of the World Rally Championship, which featured factory prototypes loosely based on production cars with insane turbocharged engines and all-wheel-drive systems. The vehicles were crazy fast and crazy dangerous and much loved by fans all over the world. Eventually, Group B was canceled by FIA, but manufacturers battled each other for supremacy on the dirt and mud of rally stages for a few years. This brought us many exciting and fast road cars since manufacturers were obligated to produce a number of road-going vehicles for homologation purposes.
That was precisely the insane Ford RS200. Introduced in 1984, it was a mid-engined, turbocharged sports car that featured a lightweight body construction, a 2.1-liter engine with 250 hp, and two seats. It was a race car with no intention of hiding it Thanks to all-wheel drive, it was capable of jumping from 0 to 60 mph in just 5 seconds flat. The road version, of which 200 were made, was detuned from 450 compared to 500 hp of the race version.
3. Ford Racing Puma
In the late ’90s, Ford UK presented the Puma, a small compact performance model that was based on Fiesta. The Puma looked fast, but it wasn’t much faster than the economy Fiesta with the same engine in reality. So, in 1999, the Ford rally team prepared a limited production model called Racing Puma, which was produced in only 500 examples.
The Racing Puma had special paint, bodywork, wheels, and suspension setup while retaining the stock 1.7-liter four-cylinder although a bit modified. The power output was modest at 150, but the car was light and elegant, which provided the driver with an exhilarating driving experience.
2. Shelby Europa
When Shelby introduced its line of mighty Mustangs, European enthusiasts took notice. Soon the cars were popular on the continent as well as in the United States. One of the first Shelby dealers was Belgian racing driver Claude Dubois. After the Shelby production stopped in 1970, Dubois approached Carroll Shelby and asked him for the rights to produce a unique line of European spec 1971/72 Mustangs under the Shelby name.
In two years, only about 14 cars were made, which makes Shelby Europe an incredibly rare muscle car. Most of them got 351 V8 engines, and some received the 429 Cobra Jet.
1. Ford Fairmont GT
Introduced in 1970, the Fairmont was a full-size sedan designed and constructed by Ford’s Australia division but built and sold by the South African branch too. It was basically a version of Australian Ford Falcon XY.
As you know, the Falcon GT was one of the first and most popular Australian muscle cars, so South African dealers wanted their own local version. That is how the Fairmont GT came to be. Powered by Ford’s 351 V8 engine, the 1970 model had a 2 barrel carburetor, while the 1971 to 1973 model had a 4 bbl version with 300 HP, making it one of the fastest and most powerful cars in South Africa at the time. The 0 to 60 mph time was pretty respectable 7.2 seconds. Of course, the Fairmont GT was an expensive and rare car, and in four years of production, Ford built just 1824 examples.