Home Cars These American Cars Were Never Even Available In The US
Cars

These American Cars Were Never Even Available In The US

Vukasin HerbezJanuary 4, 2023

The American car industry is the biggest in the world. Its history is fascinating and full of very recognizable American cars. Everyone in the world who even remotely understand cars knows the Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, or Jeep Willys. Names like Cadillac, Ram, or Buick are distinctly American. Even non-car people know what they are.

However, due to expansion, American companies opened branches all over the world and produced numerous cars both under familiar and not-so-familiar names that were never offered in the States. So today, we showcased these American models. You might recognize the nameplate, but we guarantee you won’t recognize the shape. Check out these American anomalies below.

Photo Credit: Wiki

Dodge 3700 GT

For many years, the Dodge Dart was one of the best-selling Mopar products in America. But very few people know that it had a significant presence in Spain under the name Dodge 3700. This model wasn’t identical to US-built Darts, but was positioned slightly upmarket. It was the most powerful and expensive car produced in Spain in the 1970s (via Bring A Trailer).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The first Dodge 3700 GT left the factory in 1971 with a 225 Slant Six engine. The 225 CID is 3.7 liters, hence the 3700 designation. This Dodge got GT brakes, improved suspension, and a luxury interior. That’s why the Spanish government often used it. Production ceased in 1977 after only 9959 examples.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Holden Torana LC GTR XU-1

The introduction of the Torana GTR was a controversial move by General Motors Australia. This was because the car broke the muscle car mold. It was somewhat smaller and lighter than the Monaro. It also featured a six-cylinder engine instead of a V8. Under the hood was the tuned version of a common 3.3-liter inline six paired with triple Stromberg carburetors.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The combo was good for 200 HP. With its small weight, the Torana GTR delivered good performance. The car was also successful in racing but mostly on rally stages and events (via Motor Classica). Holden’s racing team experimented with the V8-powered Torana. But this model never went out of the prototype stage. That was a shame since a V8 engine in a small car would be extremely interesting.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford Capri Perana

The most popular South African muscle car is the legendary Capri Perana. Basil Green was an accomplished racer turned tuner and dealer. When Ford introduced their affordable Capri coupe in late 1969, he realized the potential. And soon introduced the Capri Perana. Basil took the 3.0-liter V6 Capri from England to his workshop. Green installed a 5.0-liter Ford V8 from Mustang. Of course, to make the car handle properly, his engineers modified the suspension, chassis, brakes, and steering. After thorough work, the Capri Perana was born (via Speed Hunters).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Its power output was around 280 HP. 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, Capri Perana dominated the South African racing scene. Since this wasn’t Ford’s official product, it hasn’t determined the exact number of Peranas produced. But the experts agree that Basil Green Motors delivered around 500 examples from 1970 to 1972.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Dodge GTX V8

The Chrysler Corporation was active in Argentina during the ’60s and the ’70s. Producing several models aimed directly at the local market. Their biggest and most luxurious offering was the Dodge GT. A Dodge Dart-based sedan with better equipment powered by the famous 225 Slant Six engine. The car left the factory in 1968, but in 1970, Chrysler Argentina decided to present the correct muscle version in the form of the GTX (via Escuderia).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Borrowing the name from the eponymous Plymouth car, the 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 an optional 318 V8. Which delivered 212 HP or 230 HP depending on the model year and transformed this Dodge into one of the most powerful domestic cars of the period. The production lasted until 1973, and due to its high price, the GTX was and is very rare.

Photo Credit: Facebook

Ford Falcon GT HO 351

Perhaps the most famous of all Australian muscle cars was the mighty Falcon GT HO 351, introduced in 1971. Despite its performance portfolio, it was still a four-door sedan but with proper muscle car equipment. Under the hood was Ford’s 351 V8 with a shaker hood, beefed-up suspension, and brakes. Its power output was 300 HP for the standard version, but Ford offered Phase II and Phase III options. The car looked the same but was better. In the ultimate Phase III version, the Falcon GT HO had over 350 HP (via Supercars).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The performance was astonishing a 0 to 60 mph run in six seconds range and a top speed of over 140 mph. As expected, the Falcon GT HO was successful at racing, dethroning its archenemy Holden Monaro GTS 350. Remember, this was the time when Falcon in the USA was an economy car. But in Australia, it was a well-respected four-door muscle model with a racing pedigree.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Chevrolet “Chev” Firenza Can Am

One of the craziest and rarest Chevrolet muscle cars ever is the Chev Firenza CanAm. Introduced in 1973, the Firenza CanAm was based on the Vauxhall Firenza platform. The Firenza was a two-door sedan designed and constructed in England and built in South Africa under the Chevrolet badge (via Car Throttle).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

However, the best thing about this car was its engine – a 5.0-liter Chevrolet V8 straight from the Z28 Camaro with performance intake and heads which produced close to 400 HP. Since the Firenza body was very light, the V8 could launch this homologation special in 5.4 seconds from 0 to 60 mph, accelerating figures closer to Ferrari than Chevrolet. The Firenza CanAm was produced in 100 examples almost by hand, and the cars were primarily used for racing. Today, surviving examples are rare and expensive.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

IKA Torino

The IKA factory was born in 1955 as a Kaiser subsidiary in Argentina that produced American-designed models for local buyers. However, in 1964, IKA, now a part of American Motors Company, needed a modern-looking and powerful car to compete on the Argentinean market. AMC provided IKA with a 1965 Rambler American platform, including some body panels and drivetrain, while IKA designed and produced the front and rear end design and unique interior. The Torino debuted in 1966 and was modern and advanced for the Argentinean standards of the day (via Motor City Garage).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

However, IKA realized that the Torino had more potential than just being a good road car and started upgrading the engine and producing sporty variants as soon as 1969 with the Torino 380W model. This version included a 3.8-liter engine with 176 HP and unique exterior trim. This was the premium Argentinean muscle car since it was a very nice-looking coupe with luxury appointments and excellent driving dynamics. The production lasted until 1981, and Torinos were very common racing cars scoring many wins in Argentina and neighboring countries.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford Sierra XR8

You may remember the Sierra, the definitive ’80s Ford mid-size family model with rear-wheel drive. It was available in America as Merkur XR4Ti with a 2.3-liter turbo engine and with modest success. But South Africans had a different idea (via Which Car).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

The Ford SA produced a limited run of Sierra XR8 models, which featured a 5.0-liter V8 engine straight out of Mustang with 220 HP. In light body and equipped with a manual transmission, Sierra XR8 could accelerate from 0 to 60 mph in less than seven seconds which made 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 appeared almost stock.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Chevrolet Opala SS

The Opala SS is a typical example of a Brazilian muscle car that was born at the height of the muscle car craze. This handsome fastback coupe left the factory in 1969. It came in a wide arrange of body styles as Chevrolet’s primary mid-size model for the Brazilian market. The name Opala was a bit controversial. Customers thought it represented the mix between the names Opel and Impala. Germany’s Opel was a part of GM and produced a model called Rekord, which was visually the same. The US-made Impala used the 250 CID (4.1-liter) straight-six, the same one as Brazil’s Opalas (via Car Throttle).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Either way, Chevrolet decided to introduce the performance version of the Opala. It used the same 4.1-liter straight six but was tuned to produce 169 HP. Despite the fact it wasn’t much by today’s standards, it was good enough to give the Opala SS decent performance figures and attract customers. The Opala SS was successful on the race tracks and won many events in Brazil during the ’70s. The Opala SS got a distinctive appearance package that included a vinyl roof and racing stripes.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Dodge Charger R/T

You probably know the Charger since it’s one of the world’s most popular classic muscle cars. But this is the Brazilian version, which is different even though it carries the same name and model designation (via Valiant).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

In the late ’60s after the demise of Simca operation, Chrysler decided to introduce the Dodge Dart, built locally. The car was modern and considered among the most prestigious Brazilian models. But in 1971, Chrysler surprised Brazilian performance enthusiasts with a new model called the Charger R/T. It was a dressed-up two-door Dart with a new front design, roof, and a 318 V8 engine with 215 HP. The new Charger R/T was one of Brazil’s most desirable cars. It was also highly advanced for the time. Its high price meant it was relatively rare but also highly sought after.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Holden Commodore HDK VK SS Group A

The ’80s marked the absence of proper muscle cars in America. But in Australia, the trend lived on in a different form. Cool-looking coupes were gone, and manufacturers turned to performance versions of regular sedans. The muscle cars produced in this period were all homologation models for Australian racing championships. GM’s 1985 Holden Commodore SS Group A was the perfect example (via Drive).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

The SS Group A was built to comply with a new set of FIA rules, making it eligible to race in Europe. Under the hood was a high-performance version of the 5.0-liter V8 which delivered 260 HP, a high number considering the ’85 Corvette had only 245 HP on tap.

Photo Credit: Ford

Ford Falcon Cobra

In 1978, Ford was getting ready to introduce a new body style for its famous Falcon. The new model was to be produced as a sedan or station wagon, while the two-door coupe was out of production. Closing down the assembly lines of the old model, Ford had 400 coupe body shells that were obsolete. However, Ford decided to turn the leftover bodies into a special version called the Falcon Cobra (via Falcon Club Of Australia).

Photo Credit: Wiki

The 1978 Falcon Cobra could be had with a 5.8 or 5.0 V8 engine, automatic or manual transmission, and two colors – white or blue. Each car was given racing stripes as an homage to Shelby Mustangs, which were popular in Australia. Today, the Falcon Cobra is a valuable car in Oceania.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Chrysler Valiant Charger VH

Chrysler also wanted to participate in the Australian muscle car class. In 1971, it introduced the Valiant Charger. Based on the regular Valiant platform but with a sporty new two-door body. This Charger got its name from its American cousin (via Mopar Insiders).

Photo Credit: Pinterest

To be able to keep up with mighty Falcon GTs, Monaros, and Toranas, Valiant Charger could be had with several performance engines. The hot version of Chrysler’s six-cylinder engine featured new cylinder heads and better intake systems. In the R/T version, the 4.3-liter six delivered over 240 HP, but the most powerful version was Charger 770 SE E55. Under the hood was a well-known Mopar-built 340 V8 with 285 HP and a three-speed automatic. This engine was the same as the one in Challengers and Plymouth Barracudas in America.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford Sierra Cosworth

Ford UK is a popular economy car manufacturer, But every once in a while, the company produces a machine with fantastic performance and affordable prices. Some say that fast Fords are perfect examples of “blue-collar” sports and muscle cars. One of the most legendary British muscle cars is the Sierra Cosworth introduced in 1985. The Ford Sierra was an ordinary family sedan produced in numerous versions. The car featured rear-wheel drive and independent rear suspension. When Ford decided to contract Cosworth for a performance model, the legend was born (via Evo).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Cosworth took a three door-body and added a special body kit with spoilers and unique wheels. Under the hood was a 2.0-liter turbocharged engine that produced 225 HP and propelled the car to 60 mph in just 6.5 seconds. For 1985, those were great numbers and the Cosworth immediately became one of the hottest British cars on the road. Also, it was very successful on the tracks, winning many races.

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

Chevrolet Veraneio

Lots of American manufacturers produced trucks and vans abroad. In most cases, they used identical platforms and designs as in the US. Ford, Chevrolet, and Dodge made pickups for South American or Middle-Eastern markets that didn’t differ from domestic models. Except for engine and trim options. However, for the Brazilian market, Chevrolet decided to go with unique styling and a different concept than in the USA (via Journal Classic Cars).

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

The best example is the Veraneio. It was produced from the late ’50s to the early ’80s in Brazil. Chevrolet realized that Brazil needed trucks as well as a local version of the Chevy Suburban to tackle rough Brazilian roads. The Veraneio was precisely that. It was built on truck chassis and equipped with standard six and V8 engines but covered in a SUV body. Despite having a unique design, Veraneio was pretty much identical to other Chevrolet truck products underneath the body. Today, it’s hard to find one in good condition since most Veraneios were used as work vehicles.

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

Ford F-1000

When Ford realized that Chevrolet was building unique models for the Brazilian market and winning buyers over, it had to do something with its truck operation. That’s how the exciting and strange F-1000 came to be (via Consumer Guide).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Introduced in 1979, the Ford F-1000 was outdated in styling but advanced in construction. It featured an extended cab with two doors and a short truck bed. It had an all-wheel drive, which was very much needed for driving through the jungles of Brazil. However, the most exciting thing was its engine. All F-1000s were equipped with diesel six-cylinders and later turbodiesel engines. The engine choices limited the F-1000’s appeal to commercial users. Almost all were dependable work trucks. Production ended in 1998 and these exciting trucks can still roam Brazilian roads.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Chevrolet Chev SS

Behind this strange name was the Australian-built Holden Monaro GTS, which was exported to South Africa and sold under the SS badge through Chevrolet dealerships. The car was the same as the Monaro GTS except for the front grille. The South African SS also had four headlights (via Automotive Catalog).

Photo Credit: Wiki

Buyers could choose between two V8 engines. The standard powerplant was a 308 V8, but the majority of customers turned to the renewed 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 since most examples were crashed or exported back to Australia.

Photo Credit: Auto WP

Ford Falcon Sprint

The Falcon was introduced in America in 1960 as Ford’s best-selling compact model. It featured a range of six and eight-cylinder engines and several body styles. To reclaim its position as the market leader in Argentina, Ford decided to present the Argentinean version in 1962. It was identical to the US model and featured just a few design differences and only one engine on offer – the 170 CID straight six engine with around 120 HP (via Curb Side Classic).

Photo Credit: Auto WP

However, in 1973, Ford Argentina wanted to explore the muscle car market and announced a new performance model called the Falcon Sprint. This was the same 10-year-old four-door sedan but with an appealing graphics package, a different front end, and a 3.6-liter straight six with 166 HP. It wasn’t much, but it was better than most cars on the road. Also, the Falcon Sprint was a relatively inexpensive model, which translated to strong sales in the local market.

Photo Credit: GM

Holden Monaro GTS 327

Ford’s Bathurst victory in 1967 started a muscle car war between Ford and archrival Holden. Understanding the Falcon GT XR concept, Holden engineers decided to present their muscle car and equip it with a bigger engine and better components. So in 1968, the first Australian two-door muscle car was born – the Holden Monaro GTS 327. Holden was a General Motors brand (via Silodrome).

Photo Credit: Silodrome

The car looked and sounded like a proper muscle car coupe. It featured a two-door Monaro body with bigger wheels, a sportier interior, and Chevrolet’s 327 V8 engine under the hood. The V8 produced 250 HP, which was more than enough for exciting performance. Immediately, Holden pitted the new Monaro muscle car against the Falcon GT in Australian touring car races. GTS 327 won the 1968 Bathurst race, the first Holden victory on that track. The appearance of Holden’s muscle competitor showed that major Australian manufacturers were taking the muscle car class seriously and the best was yet to come.

Photo Credit: GM

Chevrolet Niva

Back in the early ’70s, Russian Lada introduced a compact but very capable SUV called the Lada Niva. It lasted in production for decades and achieved considerable export success. However, the original Niva was rugged and slow. When the ’90s arrived with a wide arrange of modern SUV models engineered by European, American, and Japanese companies, Niva lost the battle for customers (via Automotive World).

Photo Credit: GM

In the mid-’90s, General Motors invested in the Russian car industry, especially in the Lada factory. So, in 1998, Lada produced the second generation of Niva, but this time called the Chevrolet Niva. It was sold in East Europe and selected export markets. Compared to the original model, Chevrolet Niva was much improved not only design-wise but also more technically advanced. It had a 1.7-liter four-cylinder motor that sent power to all four wheels.

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

Ford Maverick GT V8

The American buyers got to know Maverick as Ford’s base economy model introduced in 1969 to fight the foreign compact car invasion. The US Maverick wasn’t anything special; it was just another affordable runabout with no defining features. But in Brazil, it was one of the premium muscle cars in GT trim. The Brazilian Maverick production started in 1973 and lasted until 1979. The car was the same as the US version. It came with a straight six-engine and no special equipment. Over the years, Ford Brazil produced over 500,000 examples, making the Maverick a widespread choice in that part of the world (via Auto Papo).

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

But for muscle car connoisseurs and enthusiasts, Ford produced the Maverick GT V8 equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 (302 CID). It had 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. In 1975, Ford introduced the Maverick GT with Quadrajet four-barrel carburetor which raised the power level to 255 HP and made this car very fast. This model came with famous Ford Grabber colors, front and rear spoilers, sports wheels, and lots more. Even today, this is one of the most popular and sought-after Brazilian muscle cars.

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Holden Sandman

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

Photo Credit: Pinterest

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

Photo Credit: Pinterest

Ford Falcon Tickford TE50

The appearance of the mighty HSV GTS 300 was alarming for Ford since the Blue Oval boys didn’t have anything to put against this crazy fast black Holden. But a year later, in cooperation with Tickford, Ford introduced the TE50 Falcon in sedan form (via Which Car).

Photo Credit: Ford

The 5.6-liter V8 engine was responsible for moving this sleek sedan equipped with a special body kit and a host of other performance upgrades. Even though the 5.6-V8 delivered 335 HP, which was less than the 5.7-liter V8 in the GTS 300, the Falcon Tickford TE50 had similar performance.

Photo Credit: Facebook

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. To attract more buyers and regain its position in the market, Chevrolet decided to introduce a model called the 400. The main version was a modest four-door sedan with a 3.2-liter straight-six engine (via Clarin).

Photo Credit: YouTube

The car proved to be popular, but the rising racing and muscle car scene demanded a more powerful version. So in 1967, Chevrolet presented the 400 Super Sport which was one of the first domestic muscle cars in Argentina as well as South America. The 400 Super Sport had better brakes, suspension, and a tuned version of the venerable 250 CID (4.1-liter) straight six with 155 HP. This model is different from the American-made Chevy II. The 400 Super Sport 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.

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

Simca GTX

Simca was a French company that operated in Brazil since the late ’50s, mainly concentrating on family sedans. At one point, it used Ford’s engines, but in the early ’60s, Simca Brazil operation was bought by Chrysler, which introduced a redesigned sedan called Esplanada (via Auto Vehicle).

Photo Credit: Quatro Rodas

The Esplanada was an already outdated car in the late ’60s. But Simca wanted to enter the lucrative muscle car market, renaming it the GTX and giving it a new appearance package. It was produced only as a sedan which could have been a more appealing body style. But Simca thought Esplanada had other qualities, primarily the engine. Under the hood was the tiny 2.5-liter V8 engine with Hemi heads “Emi Sul.” They delivered a decent 140 to 150 HP and a great soundtrack.

Advertisement
Advertisement
Please wait 5 sec.