There’s something to be said about a classic car. From their beautiful form to their lack of fancy electronics leaving the running of the vehicle purely between man and machine, they have stood the test of time (given the right amount of care and maintenance of course). Think of the immense power of a 70’s V8 muscle car or a head-turning hot rod.
Countless car shows and drag challenges around the country put these magnificent beasts on display to show off their amazing curves, brand new or restored engines and perhaps a few with some extra modifications that might make a purist’s blood turn cold but give that extra bit of grunt when you want to show off.
Aussies are certainly no strangers to the cult-like status of classic cars with so many much-loved models manufactured right here in our own backyard. While we know everyone has their own favourites and any classic car list is sure to be debated, we made a list anyway! These are simply our favourite Aussie-built classic cars built before the 1980’s – we’d love to know what cars you think should’ve been added though.
The Holden FJ, also referred to as the FX, was one of the first affordable Australian made cars in the 1950s. Its sedan line had three models: the Standard, the Business and the Special. Of the three, the Holden Special was the most popular model because it was more comfortable to drive than the other two. It has a six-cylinder engine with a maximum power output of 65 bhp at 4,000 rpm and three-speed column shift manual gearbox. Depending on its condition you can buy one of these for $5,000 – $15,000.
1977 Holden Torana A9X
The Holden LX Torana with the A9X option was specially designed to compete and has a 5.0 litre V8 SLR 5000 engine and a 4-speed manual transmission. The rear-facing bonnet scoop of the A9X helps produce maximum power in racing applications by increasing the airflow into the engine bay. The A9X had both front and rear disc brakes with heavy-duty axles and a 10-bolt differential. All that helped the A9X (driven by Peter Brock and Bob Morris) win the 1978 and 79 Australian Touring Car Championships. About 400 A9Xs were made (about 300 sedans and 100 hatchbacks) so they’re highly sought after and highly valued – one A9X that was recently uncovered in a Sydney storage unit and in pristine condition was expected to fetch between $200,000 and $250,000 at auction (read more here).
1971 Ford XY Falcon GT-HO Phase III
With only 300 units released in 1971, a Falcon GTHO Phase III was once sold for a record-breaking $683,000 at auction. With a 5.8 Litre Cleveland V8 engine with a four-speed top loader gearbox and Detroit locker nine-inch differential that makes it a heavily equipped version of the Ford Falcon. This model was also considered the fastest four-door sedan in the world in 1972 when it reached 7,000 rpm at fourth gear. It was one of the most powerful cars around and with only half of them still believed to have survived, quite rare.
1967 Ford XR Series Falcon GT
The Australian Police Force asked Ford to make a Police Interceptor Pack. They financed the project but rejected the output. Ford continued to work on the GT and gave it a stiffer suspension and modified its engine. The result is the XR we know today. It dominated Bathurst in 1967 and was actually the first Australian muscle car and the first V8 to master the Bathurst mountain, with the ability reach 100 km/h in 10 seconds.
1973 Ford Falcon XB GT Coupe
This list wouldn’t be complete without mentioning the Falcon XB GT. For anyone that’s seen Mad Max, the “Pursuit Special” 351 cu with a 5.8-litre V8 engine is the ultimate Aussie muscle car. Alan Moffat won the ’74 Sandown 250 and the ’76 Australian Touring Car Championship driving an XB Falcon GT Hardtop, as well as the 1977 Australian Touring Car Championship driving an XB GT Hardtop and an XC Falcon GS Hardtop.
1969 Holden HT Monaro GTS 350
The HT GTS 350 was released in 1969 and is a revamped version of the HK. Both these muscle cars are from the Monaro line which was Holden’s main car for racing. The GTS 350 had a V8 5.7 L Chevrolet engine with 300bhp, though this also marked the 5.0 litre Chevrolet V8 being phased out and replaced with the locally made Holden V8 engine, the 4.2 litre 253 and the 5.0 litre 308. The automatic version had 5.7 L and two-speed power glide transmission. The engine has always been listed as one of the best V8 engines ever made. In 1972 a touring class for this model was released but it was not eligible to race due to the “supercar scare” where many became wary about the safety of these powerful muscle cars used in racing that was also available to the general public.
1972 Holden LJ Torana GTR XU-1
The LJ Torana GTR XU-1 was built for racing and proved that when it won in Bathurst in 1972, with a six-cylinder 3300 engine, 200 bhp and M20 four-speed transmission. Makers sought to give it more power by creating a version with a 308 ci engine but it did not go past the prototype stage due to the supercar scare that put much pressure on Australian carmakers to abandon their specially built ‘Bathurst Supercars’. Holden managed to release its improved version after two years, and contrary to popular belief, it is not a GTR XU-2, it’s still the same car with few upgrades.
1972 Chrysler Valiant VH Charger E49
Some Aussies might remember the E49 for its “hey charger” advert, but car enthusiasts remember this classic for much more than that. The coupe comes from the Valiant Charger line and was released in 1972 and was used in competition at Bathurst that year and placed third. It had a six-cylinder pacer with a three-speed manual transmission. The E49’s engine produced 225 kW and has a four-speed Borg Warner gearbox. Drivers liked the good handling
Getting your hands on one of these amazing machines is like having your very own part of automotive history. Though when it comes to vintage cars, beauty comes with a hefty price tag. In saying that if buying a classic car sounds like quite an investment, it’s because it is a good investment – these cars and many other classics are appreciating in value due to their rarity.