Australian automotive industry marked its beginning with the opening of Australian plants by international manufacturers in the 20th century. Australia is known for the design and development of large-sized passenger vehicles. It is one of the few countries with the capabilities of making cars from scratch. The first major carmaker to set up an automobile business in the country was the American automaker Ford Australia. However, the first Australian-designed mass-production car was introduced by Holden Motors in 1948. With time, Holden Motors gradually became the leading car manufacturer in the country.
By the 1970s, Australia introduced its first parking meter, muscle cars, and Formula one win. At the beginning of the 80s, Holden, Ford, and Chrysler were leading the Australian automotive world. However, in 1981, Chrysler sold the company to Mitsubishi Motors Australia Ltd. The ’90s saw the start of the Range Rover, adding comfort and luxury to the 4 wheel drive range.
The fall of the Aussie dollar in the early 90s caused a tremendous downfall in the markets. The European car manufacturers withdrew car sales while the Asian car manufacturers took advantage and set up sales in the country. In the past, Australia had a powerful car industry. However, due to economic crises and changing consumer preferences, the country witnessed a steady decline in Australia’s car manufacturing avenue. Consumers now prefer imported cars from Asia and Europe. Some major automakers have either left the market or planned to do so in the coming years. The recent closing of the country’s leading car brand, Holden, was a real shock for native people and the loss of hundreds of thousands of jobs.
Australian car brands are trying their best to make their consumers purchase their cars by building and designing cars on their own, without overseas involvement. With so many ups and downs, Australian car brands still hold enormous prestige value. They have their certain buyers who are proud enough to stick to their traditional car brands. Besides the eminent brands that don’t exist anymore, there are others that successfully survived in the market.
Here is an Australian car brands list and Australian cars logos:
Founder: Garrie Cooper
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Melbourne, Australia
Parent Company: Walkinshaw Performance
Elfin is an Australian sports car brand that has created history in car racing through its 29 championships and four Grand Prix Titles from different races in Australia and across Asia. For nearly 61 years, this Australian sports car manufacturer has produced some of the most highly competitive sports and open-wheeler racing cars of their time, ranging from the 1959 Streamliner to Formula Vees through to ‘big banger’ sports cars and the MR9 Formula 5000 of the 1980s.
In 1957, a successful championship drive, Garrie Cooper founded Elfin Sports Company and later died in 1983. After that Elfin has gone through many takeovers and mergers. Following the death of Cooper, this Australian car brand was bought and re-established by Tasmanian Don Elliott, Tony Edmondson, and John Porter. In 1993, the firm was purchased by Victorian Murray Richards and he set out the brand to build a new generation Elfin Clubman called Type 3. In 1998, this Australian car automaker was sold to Bill Hemming & Nick Kovatch and currently, it is owned by the estate of former British racing driver Tom Walkinshaw, through his company Walkinshaw Performance.
Elfin has five Australian Sports Car Championships, four Australian Tourist Trophies, three Formula Ford titles and two Australian Drivers’ Championships is its basket. The car logo of this Australian car company has a happy small creature known as ‘elf’ and enclosed in a round metallic frame. Elfin cars represent the qualities of an elf being a magical tiny creature that can create superb-performance driving. Elfin is passed from generation to generation and continues to provide quality performance sports cars for champion drivers all over the world.
Nota Sports and Racing
Founder: Guy Buckingham
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: New South Wales, Australia
Parent Company: Assets Supervision and Administration Commission
Website: Not known
Nota Sports and Racing Cars are one of the oldest racing car manufacturers in Australia. This Australian sports car brand gained fame for introducing the triangulated space framed sports cars in the country. This car company was set up by Guy Buckingham in 1952. By 1958, this Australian carmaker was producing all-enveloping aluminum streamlined sports cars called ‘Streamliners’, later known as Mazengarbs. By 1960, Nota was building racing cars for hill climbing and by next year, it produced the country’s first mid-engined Formula, Junior.
The first road car by Nota was introduced in 1964, known as the Nota Sapphire, which offered both coupe and open body styling. By the time, this Australian car brand a clubman style sports and racing car, Sportsman is still in production. In 1973 Nota started with their Marauder range of cars and Nota Levanti. Nota cars won 7 Clubman Championships, the most successful clubman type car in Australian history.
Founder: Dennis Bedford
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: South East Queensland, Australia
Formerly known as DRB Enterprises and GT40 Australia, DRB Sports Cars is well-known for coupe and high-performance sports cars as a kit car. This Australian car brand began automobile production in 1980, before that the company was manufacturing kits. The first car produced by DRB was Saber, which initially launched as a kit and a convertible version was added to the range in 1983.
DRB gained fame for the replicas of the Iconic Ford GT40 and AC Cobra 427. The DRB Cobra was the best selling Cobra replica in Australia and since DRB has been founded it has sold over 350 pieces. This Australian automaker has a strong position in the sports market for its powerful, strong and exceptionally beautiful cobra vehicles. Currently, DRB is not launching any new vehicles but still doing good business through its older models.
Holden Special Vehicles (HSV)
Founder: Tom Walkinshaw
Current Status: Running
Headquarters: Clayton, Victoria, Australia
Parent Company: Holden and Ryan Walkinshaw
Officially designated as the performance vehicle partner of the Australian marque, Holden, this Australian luxury car brand specializes in manufacturing performance variants of Holden models, such as the Ute, Commodore, and Caprice. In the early years, some HSV cars retailed under the Holden name in Australia while others exported cars retailed under different names such as Vauxhall and Chevrolet Special Vehicles. Now, all cars remodeled are marketed under the name HSV. Over the years, HSV had also modified other non-Holden vehicles within the General Motors portfolio, in very low volumes. The company concentrated on better design differentiation between its models and Holden’s. HSV even introduced various technologies that were not available with Holden’s performance models such as supercharging.
This Australian luxury car brand was created as a joint venture between Holden and Tom Walkinshaw Racing in 1987. A year later, HSV developed its first car, Holden VL Commodore SS Group A SV, which was badged and sold under the Holden brand. The first HSV badged and sold the car was the SV88. Until 2017, HSV builds around 90,114 vehicles and by mid-2018, this Australian car company began modifying Chevrolet Camaro muscle cars and Silverado pickups.
With Holden slated to end production in October 2017, HSV put the finishing touches on the last local commodore, GTS-R W1. It is the fastest, most powerful, and most expensive car ever built in Australia. HSV business models brought the end of the conclusive end of local manufacturing in Australia. At the beginning of the year, this Australian car manufacturer started converting the imported Chevrolet Camaro and Chevrolet Silverado 2500 HD to right-hand drive. Also, soon 2018 HSV range will come up with the Chevrolet Camaro SS coupe.
Founder: James Alexander Holden (original firm) and Edward Holden (automobile division)
Current Status: Ceased production last year
Headquarters: Port Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Parent Company: General Motors
Although Holden ceased production last year, there is no doubt that it was the best Australian auto brand in automobile history. One can’t ignore the contribution of Holden in taking the Australian automobiles to the zenith of success. It was the first car manufacturer in Australia and second in the world. Though it ceased production in October 2017, the company continues importing and selling cars as a national sales company in Australia.
Holden has closed but some of its car models such as Holden FJ, Holden HQ, A9X Torana, VT Commodore, and The Monaro will still remain the top contenders in the best cars made in Australia list.
Besides the major Australian car brands we have discussed earlier, there are more than 50 different car manufacturers who sell their vehicles and have a subsidiary in Australia:
• Iveco Australia
• Toyota Australia
• Ford Australia
• Mack Trucks Australia
• Mitsubishi Motors Australia
Currently, a lot of foreign carmakers have set up their businesses in Australia and most of the cars are imported from other countries. Therefore, the Australian automobile industry isn’t really on its own.