Ever since I first saw The Road Warrior back in the mid-1980s as an impressionable young boy playing with Matchbox cars, I’ve wanted a 1973 Ford Falcon XB GT. By the time I was old enough to be in a position to import one, collectability had propelled the Aussie Falcon well outside my price range.
And then there was Gran Turismo. Skyline became something more than the incredible view from the Empire State Building, and if I ever have the opportunity to see a Toyota 2000 GT in person, I’ll probably end up doing something publically inappropriate right on the spot. Vaseline might be involved.
So many cool cars never made it to U.S. shores, so sampling the buffet of performance from foreign markets has become a huge part of being an American car enthusiast.
That’s easier said than done for us U.S. based petrolheads. And while we can’t really blame manufacturers, we can absolutely blame the U.S. Government for essentially locking us away from imports newer than 25 years. I could buy a 13-year old TVR Tamora for a reasonable price, but by the time I jump through all the hoops for paperwork, fees, and modifications to make it U.S. legal, I could have a C7 Corvette. The reasons for such regulations—so they say—are to ensure newer vehicles meet U.S. requirements for safety and emissions, though emission requirements only go back 21 years instead of 25. Does it make sense? Of course it doesn’t.
So, we patiently wait for the 25-year mark, when the import process basically becomes a signature and a couple more months on a boat. And trust me when I say there’s a whole bunch of guys waiting with cash and boners for the influx of awesome that’s about to happen. If you can’t wait, here are three not-built-for-America fun machines recently available to us, and three more tantalisingly close to arriving.
You know it. You love it. RB26DETT in all its turbocharged glory, feeding all-wheel drive through a five-speed stick you need to shift with your left hand. Yes, the R34 is coming, but there’s nothing wrong with getting an R32 while you wait, right?
For the distinguished enthusiast seeking an AWD turbocharged rally legend that isn’t Japanese, there’s the Lancia. Hit-or-miss styling doesn’t matter, because the 200bhp 2.0-litre turbo engine and exquisite handling make everything alright.
Sporting four doors, a 241bhp V8 and more plastic than a Frisbee factory, this limited-edition Holden also has the distinction of being the vehicle to launch HSV. Big, brash and cool in its own right—just the way we like our Australian brand of motoring.
Coming soon to American shores is the Escort we always wanted. Styling is similar to the Late ‘80s / early ‘90s North American model, but the similarities end there. That’s because it’s packing a 220bhp turbocharged mill and all-wheel drive. I’ve got just two words: Hell yes.
One of the most iconic TVR models of all time will finally be available to U.S. buyers in unmolested form in just a couple years. Lightweight two-seater drop top, independent suspension, V8 driving the rear wheels through a five-speed manual—elemental motoring at its finest.
Though not quite as revered as the later Evo models, there’s something to be said for owning the machine that gave birth to a legend. Americans are already familiar with the all-wheel drive platform and 4G63T, but wrapping it in the Lancer’s shell just feels right.