Meet some of our favorite forbidden fruit.
There are various reasons some cars don’t make it from the rest of the world and into the United States. Whether it’s not meeting emissions or crash test standards or just that the market isn’t there for certain cars, we’ve missed a wealth of awesome cars here in the land of the free. Of course, we have some wonderful machinery that the rest of the world doesn’t get to enjoy and would love to get their hands on, but that doesn’t change the fact there are some cars we would love to experience on American soil.
We’ve put together 8 awesome cars you can buy right now in other parts of the world, and two cars that have been out of production for a while but we are particularly sore never made it to these shores.
In Australia, a Ute is basically a car with a truck bed for Australian farmers to haul hay around. Here in the US, we had the El Camino and Ford Ranchero in the 1970s and 80s, but in Australia the format is still going strong, and the Aussies also still love their muscle. In this case, Holden’s tuning arm has amped the Maloo up with a Corvette-inspired lump of brutality in the shape of a 6.2-liter supercharged V8 engine that gives an awesome 549 horsepower and 510 lb-ft of torque.
You can’t buy a Lotus Exige or Elise in America as, although they pass in Europe, they won’t pass the required crash tests certification. This is a shame because the third generation Exige is a spectacular return to form for Lotus. In Europe, it’s available in a couple of versions and at the top end is the Exige Sport 410, powered by a reworked and supercharged Toyota 3.5-liter V6 that now forces out 410 horsepower and 310 lb-ft of torque. Lotus has always been about adding lightness, and the Exige is no different at just a touch over 2,300 lbs in weight. The power to weight ratio and sharp chassis makes for a finely honed track weapon that's also at home on the roads.
When a small British company puts out its own supercar, there are two ways it can go and one isn't good. Thankfully for Noble, they produced a finely tuned masterpiece with the M600 and M600 Speedster. With 640 horsepower and 2,755 lb of weight, it’s 0-60 mph is at the 3-second mark and has a 225 mph top speed. The M600 does have a reputation as a car that will bite the unwary but, for those that treat the M600 with the respect it deserves, its capable of blistering performance.
Alpine is a a sports car manufacturer and subsidiary of Renault with a rich history. The A110 is the rebirth of an Alpine classic that was built from 1961 to 1977. It’s a compact mid-rear engined sports car that weighs considerably less than the Audi TT and Porsche Cayman it competes with and is powered by a modest 1.8-liter turbocharged four-cylinder engine making 249 horsepower. The attention to detail along with plenty of mechanical grip and lively handling characteristics has truly put the A110 back on the map in Europe but, sadly, we may never see it here in the U.S.
Morgan is an old school car company in the UK that still builds some of its cars with a wooden chassis. The Morgan Aero 8 roadster is actually Morgan’s first entirely new car they produced since 1964 and it’s powered by a BMW supplied V8 bolted to a six-speed manual transmission. A key feature to the Aero 8 is some ingenious engineering the includes a suspension design that, amazingly, doesn’t use sway bars but does use a clever center-bolt magnesium wheel design. The magnesium wheels, aluminum chassis, and body help to bring the weight down to a very impressive 2,476 lbs with a full tank.
Audi has been great about getting its high-performance cars to the US but the RS6 Avant wagon still hasn’t reached us, although rumor has it we may see it by 2020. If so, that’s amazing news in the face of an overwhelming market for crossovers. Further rumor has it the next generation RS6 Avant will have the same 4.0-liter twin-turbo V8 engine from under the hood of the current Porsche Panamera Turbo.
It’s cute, it’s small, it’s economical, it’s been stuffed with race-spec engineering by Nismo, but you can’t find the pocket-rocket version of the Nissan March here in North America. The 1.5-liter engine has an ECU tune, the suspension has been stiffened, the steering ratio has been updated, and aero has been added along with sticker tires. It's too small to sell well in the US, but by all accounts, it's a super-fun supermini.
One of the coolest looking cars in the world comes from Holland and is backed up by some serious performance. The Donkervoorta D8 GTO uses the turbo five-cylinder from Audi’s TT RS and claims that it launches the car to 62 mph in 2.8 seconds. There’s no ABS or electronic stability control but there are bucket seats with five-point harnesses, which tells you all you need to know really. This is an aggressive track focused car in the vein of the Caterham 7 car that happens to be road legal in Europe.
The Sagaris was only built from 2005 to 2006 and an example of the kind British lunacy America would surely have embraced if it had made it across the Atlantic. Considered by many as the best TVR yet made, the Sagaris had a 4.0-liter V8 and an approach to safety best described as interesting. At the time, TVR didn’t build its cars with either ABS or airbags as it believed devices like that promote overconfidence in drivers. Therefore, there’s no surprise that the Sagaris doesn’t feature traction control or electronic stability control either. The result is an old school all-mechanical driving experience with modern power and performance.
The R34 Skyline didn’t start production until 1999, so there’s still a few years to wait until you can legally import JDM’s holy grail of cars. The R34 was the peak of Godzilla’s 1990s evolution curve as the R33 had reduced front-end lift, improved weight distribution and body rigidity, and the R34 saw further improvements in aerodynamics and the transmission. The R34 may not have seen the all-new alloy-block V6 Nissan intended, but it’s still one of the greatest cars ever made let alone one of the best not to make it to American shores.