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Driving on the Wrong Side of the Road – Coolest RHD-Only Cars

Vukasin HerbezJanuary 17, 2019

Ever since cars became common street décor, governments and traffic experts have debated whether it is better to drive on the left or the right side of the road. Even today, there are opposite opinions on the matter. In fact, two-thirds of the world drives on the right side of the road with the steering wheel on the left side of the car. However, just a third of the world drives on the left side of the road with the steering wheel on the right side of the vehicle.

And because the LHD market is far bigger, it produces more cars and is more influential in the global car industry. Among the countries with RHD are Japan, Great Britain, Australia and South Africa, all of which have a long, rich history of car manufacturing. So, in those countries, you can purchase some unique and special cars. They are the models they never meant for export.

Some come in limited numbers for local markets, and only as right-hand models. So, keep reading to learn about the 20 best RHD-only cars from the wrong side of the road. These cars may even make you wish you lived in Japan, Great Britain, Australia or South Africa.

  1. Ford Falcon Cobra

In 1978, Ford Australia was getting ready to introduce a new body style for its popular Falcon. They wanted to produce their new model as a sedan or station wagon because the two-door coupe was out of production. After closing down the assembly lines of the old model, Ford was left with 400 coupe body shells they wanted to scrap.

But instead, Ford decided to turn the leftover bodies into a special version they called the Falcon Cobra. The 1978 Falcon Cobra could be had with a 5.8 or 5.0 V8 engine, automatic or manual transmission and in two colors, white or blue. Each car had racing stripes as an homage to the Shelby Mustang that was popular in Australia. Today, the Falcon Cobra is a valuable and highly-desirable car in Oceania.

  1. BMW 530 MLE E12

Did you know they produced the first M BMW car in South Africa four years before any M cars appeared in Germany? It’s a fact because, in 1976, BMW South Africa introduced a special model they called 530 the Motorsport Limited Edition, or MLE. It featured numerous performance upgrades over the standard 5 Series 530 model.

The biggest change was the almost fully race-prepped six-cylinder engine. It was 3.0-liters with a performance intake, engine head and beefed up internals. The result was a fantastic 274 HP from three liters, making this four-door sedan one of the fastest, most powerful passenger cars in the world at the moment.

They set the initial production at just 100 examples for homologation purposes. But their customers were so interested, BMW South Africa decided to produce 101 more in 1977. And that brought the final production number up to 201 copies. And, all of them came with the RHD specification.

  1. Vauxhall Firenza HP

The Vauxhall car company is one of the oldest British manufacturers famous mainly in the UK. Generally speaking, they don’t sell their cars in the rest of Europe. In 1925, General Motors purchased Vauxhall. Over the years, it became a subsidiary of Opel, which produced and sold cars they based on the Opel products.

In 1973, Vauxhall presented a performance version of their mid-size two-door sedan they called the Firenza HP. It featured a radical front end redesign and a powerful 2.3-liter engine with a 0 to 60 mph time of eight seconds. The car caused quite a stir among British fans. Although it failed to produce any sales success, the Firenza HP was winning at the race tracks.

  1. Mazda 1100 Cosmo

Back in the ‘60s, the biggest news among car engineers was the Wankel rotary engine. The innovative concept of a single piston engine far lighter and smaller than conventional units, but with more power and revving capacity captivated the imagination of several major manufacturers. One of the first companies brave enough to introduce such an engine in mass production was Mazda.

And they did that with their little sports coupe, the 110 S Cosmo, which debuted in 1967. This was a sharp-looking two-seater with a modern design and a tiny 982 cc engine producing 110 HP or 130 HP in later versions. Since the car was extremely small and light, the performance was vivid, especially by the standards of the day.

  1. Leyland Force 7V

Australian Leyland, a subsidiary of British Leyland, designed and built the Force 7 as the coupe version for the Leyland P76 model range. They presented their P76 saloon model in 1973. Since it received such a good initial reception from Australian buyers, Leyland started thinking about a coupe version to battle the Ford and Holden muscle models. They called it the Force 7, and it was coupe version featuring a number of interesting features.

Leyland included an all-alloy 4.4-liter V8 engine they based on the Rover 3.5-liter unit. Unfortunately, the styling and quality were lacking, so after building less than 60 pre-production examples, Leyland canceled the project, scrapping most of the cars. Today, only 10 Force 7s exist, so it is one of the rarest Australian muscle cars of all time.

  1. Ford Capri Perana

Basil Green was an accomplished South African racer turned tuner and dealer. So, when Ford introduced their affordable, cool-looking Capri coupe in late 1969, Green realized the potential and soon introduced the Capri Perana.

Basil took the 3.0-liter V6 Capri they delivered straight from England to his workshop and installed a 5.0-liter Ford V8 from Mustang. Of course, to make the car handle properly, Basil`s engineers modified the suspension, chassis, brakes, and steering. After some thorough work, the Capri Perana was born.

The power output was around 280 HP, and in the lightweight body of the standard Capri, the Perana was able to reach 60 mph in just six seconds. Those characteristics made it a favorite with race car drivers. During the early ‘70s, the Capri Perana dominated the South African racing scene.

  1. MG X-Power SV Coupe

The story of this remarkable car is, unfortunately, a sad one. This was one of the last true UK-USA hybrids. A modern-day muscle coupe, it came with Italian styling, an American engine, and British exclusivity. They constructed it in Modena, Italy and finished it in England. MG designed X-Power to deliver a sports car-level of performance.

And best of all, it came with aggressive muscle styling and a soundtrack to match. Under the hood was a Ford-sourced 4.6-liter V8 engine straight from the Mustang they tuned to produce 320 HP. MG even offered a supercharged version capable of pumping out 540 HP. MG unveiled the X-Power in 2003. But although this model was one of the most interesting releases, it lacked the reputation to achieve success in the global market.

  1. BMW 745i E23

In 1983, BMW South Africa introduced a special and significant car they called the 745i. It was powered by a naturally aspirated M88 engine from the famous M1 supercar. The six-cylinder motor delivering 286 HP was one of the hottest engines from BMW. Soon, it found its way into the biggest and most luxurious sedan in the lineup.

It was quite the unusual combination even by today’s standards, but the 745i turned out to be a fast, capable car. It was quick enough to go racing. And, in an extremely interesting turn of events, the big 745i won the South African touring car championship.

That win made it the first 7 Series sedan to win a major race series. Most people think that BMW never produced an M7 model, but apparently it is, just not under that name. BMW build just 209 examples, all in RHD spec.

  1. Autozam AZ-1

If you don’t know what this car is, nobody can blame you. It is a tiny sports car that gets its power from a turbocharged three-cylinder engine with 660 cc and 64 HP. Mazda built it, but Suzuki sold it in limited numbers from 1992 to 1995. During that time, they made less than 5,000 of them.

Despite its size and 1,500 pounds of weight, the Autozam AZ-1 was a proper sports car. In fact, some consider it the only supercar in the Kei Car segment. With its perfect chassis, gullwing doors, and decent performance, it was the favorite driving machine in Japan at the time. The bizarre styling with lively driving dynamics gives drivers a unique driving experience.

  1. Holden Sandman

One of the most specific Australian car classes is the Ute. Half car, half truck, the Ute is a practical pickup they built on a passenger car chassis. The best way to describe it to an American audience is to compare it with the Chevrolet El Camino or Ford Ranchero. In America, that class is dead, but in Australia, it is as popular as ever.

So, it was only a matter of time that the first Ute received a muscle car treatment. In the mid-70s, Holden came up with a model they called the Sandman. It was a surf style pickup or panel van with a graphics package, vivid colors and the option of a powerful 5.0-liter V8. The Sandman was a nod to the Australian surf community that often used Ute vehicles and loved muscle cars.

  1. Nissan Figaro

Even before retro thinking was a thing in global car design, it was popular in Japan. Several domestic manufacturers introduced retro-inspired models for the local market. However, the most interesting and unique one was the Nissan Figaro. It was a crazy and cool one-year model which they produced as a right-hand drive car only.

They presented the Figaro in 1991 and it immediately caused a stir among Japanese car fans. Nissan announced that it would be a limited edition they based on the Nissan Micra platform, with a bespoke interior and automatic transmission. Also, it had a full options list and a stylish new body with a big sunroof as standard.

When the Figaro arrived, Nissan couldn’t keep up with the demand. The company even organized a lottery for interested buyers to win a chance to buy the car. The unique aspects of the vehicle were visible even under the metal. They powered the Figaro with a diminutive 987 cc turbocharged engine delivering 77 HP. Even so, it produced a lively performance thanks to its light weight.

  1. Chrysler Valiant Charger

The Chrysler Motor Company wanted to participate in the Australian muscle car class, so in 1971, they introduced the Valiant Charger. Based on the regular Valiant platform but with a sporty new two-door body, the Charger got its name from its American cousin, the Dodge Charger.

To keep up with those mighty Falcon GTs, Monaros, and Toranas, the Valiant Charger came with several performance engines. They started from the hot version of Chrysler’s six-cylinder engine which featured new cylinder heads and better intake systems. But in the R/T version, the 4.3-liter six delivered over 240 HP.

However, the most powerful version was the Charger 770 SE E55. Under the hood was the infamous Mopar 340 V8 producing 285 HP and a three-speed automatic. In America, they usually installed this engine in the Dodge Challenger and Plymouth Barracuda.

  1. Suzuki Cappuccino

If you are a fan of Kei Cars, those fun Japanese micro automobiles with diminutive dimensions and small engines, now is the time to show it. This is a tiny roadster of aluminum with rear wheel drive, a cramped interior and a small trunk. You probably think the smallest Japanese convertible is the Mazda Miata, but in fact, the Cappuccino is almost half the size.

The engine only gets 64 HP from the 670 cc three-cylinder unit, but it likes to rev. Also, thanks to weighing just 1,400 pounds, this car delivers a lively performance and unbelievable driving dynamics. Produced in a right-hand-drive configuration for selected markets in Asia and Europe, the Cappuccino is quite rare with a total production number of around 28,000.

  1. BMW 333i E30

The BMW 333i E30 was a true example of a factory hot rod. BMW used the muscle car philosophy of installing the biggest engine in the smallest body to create a performance car. Back in the late ‘80s, the smallest BMW was the 3 Series coupe and the biggest engine was 3.3-liter from the 7-Series luxury sedan.

Although some buyers could get the 325i with six cylinders, it wasn’t available for BMW South Africa. However, in 1988, SA BMW introduced the 333i E30 coupe with a 3.3-liter straight six. It pumped out 194 HP, giving it a vivid performance. In fact, a 0 to 60 mph sprint took around seven seconds, which was better than the M3 E30.

The 333i came with a plush interior, but only two options, air-conditioning or power steering. Apparently, the big six cylinders took so much space in the engine bay that buyers had to choose between an air-conditioning compressor or a power steering pump.

  1. Toyota Sera

At first glance, the Toyota Sera looks like a generic Japanese compact from the early ‘90s. But, when you open the door, you will see why this little car is so special. They built it on a regular Corolla platform and powered it with an ordinary 1.5-liter four-cylinder. In fact, the Sera is technically a regular car, but the design and technical solutions of the cabin, doors, and roof are unique.

The production of this feature was demanding, so Toyota needed special tools and machines just to fabricate door mechanisms and make the specially curved glass. However, the Toyota engineers managed to pull it off, introducing the Sera in 1990. It stayed in production until 1996, during which time they built over 16,000. Unfortunately, they sold almost all of them exclusively in Japan.

  1. Ford Falcon GT HO 351

Probably the most famous of all Australian muscle cars was the mighty Falcon GT HO 351 Ford introduced in 1971. Despite the performance portfolio, it was still a four-door sedan, but with proper muscle car equipment. Under the hood was a Ford 351 V8 with a shaker hood, beefed up suspension and brakes.

The power output was 300 HP for the standard version, but Ford offered their Phase II and Phase III options. The car looked the same, but due to the upgraded mechanicals in the ultimate Phase III version, the Falcon GT HO produced over 350 HP.

The performance was astonishing with a 0 to 60 mph acceleration time of in the six-second range. Also, it hit top speeds of over 140 mph. As expected, the Falcon GT HO was successful at racing, dethroning its archenemy, the Monaro GTS 350.

  1. Nissan Skyline 2000 GT-R Hakosuka

Possibly the most famous model name in the whole history of Japanese performance and sports cars is the Nissan Skyline GT-R. Nissan presented it in 1968 as the performance version of the upscale Skyline model. However, they gave it significant design and mechanical changes, transforming it into a JDM performance legend.

They called the first GT-R the Hakosuka, which is a Japanese term for a box since it featured squared lines and a boxy profile. But underneath the sheet metal, there was some serious sports car technology with a high revving 2.0-liter six-cylinder engine pumping out 160 HP. Also, the Hakosuka GT-R had race tuned brakes, steering and an independent rear suspension.

And all that made it capable on the streets and on the race tracks, too. Unfortunately, they never imported this model to the states. But today, it is highly collectible, expensive and desirable, especially since they only produced it in a right-hand configuration. Nissan built them from 1969 to 1972, in slightly less than 2,000 examples.

  1. Holden Monaro GTS 327

The late ‘60s brought the muscle car war from Detroit to Australia. So, the Holden engineers decided to present their muscle car, equipping it with a bigger engine and upgraded components. And in 1968, the Holden Monaro GTS 327 was born. It was the first Australian two-door muscle car ever.

This car looked and sounded like a proper muscle car coupe. It featured a two-door Monaro body with bigger wheels and a graphics package. Also, it had a sportier interior and a Chevrolet 327 V8 engine under the hood. The V8 produced 250 HP which was more than enough for an exciting performance.

Immediately, Holden pitted their new Monaro muscle car against the Falcon GT in Australian touring car races. The GTS 327 won the 1968 Bathurst race, which was the first Holden victory on that track.

  1. TVR Cerbera

The Cerbera was one of the best affordable sports/muscle cars on the British market in 1996. They designed it as a two-seater coupe with a V8 engine up front, so it was a cross between a classic coupe and a muscle car.

The design was retro-futuristic with a long hood and aggressive silhouette. Today, even at over 22 years, this car still looks great. The best engine option was TVR’s own 4.7-liter V6 engine with the interesting “Red Rose” performance pack. It delivered 440 HP and an exhilarating performance.

  1. Toyota Century

The Century was a hand-built, limited production and highly formal limousine Toyota designed for the Japanese royal family and for high-ranking Yakuza members. They introduced the first Toyota Century in 1967. It stayed in production for 30 years with minimal changes to its technical layout and design. They produced it only as an RHD model, selling it in Japan and a few select Asian markets.

The first generation of the Toyota Century was powered by a 3.0-liter V8 engine delivering 170 HP. The interior was full of the finest leather, wood and chrome trim. Also, each car came standard with climate control, which was an advanced option for the period. The ride was extremely comfortable and quiet. In fact, the Century cruised effortlessly, even on the roughest terrain.

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