Look past the usual suspects, and you’ll be surprised to find that Australia has a rich history of making amazing sports cars, true classics and the kind of machines that will have car enthusiasts of all kinds watering at the mouth. Being Australia Day, we thought it was only right to share 8 of our favourite Aussie Gems that you may not even know existed…
Years made: 1959-1961
Hailing from: Sydney, NSW
Like many of the more well known Australian classic cars out there, the Goggomobil Dart has seen a resurgence in fame for spending 5 seconds in a Shannons advert, more so than it is for it’s outstandingly pretty looks. The Dart is the brainchild of Bill Buckle, who undertook the project after finishing up production of the Sports Coupe we’ll look at further down.
Fun Fact: With no doors and the choice of two tiny 300 or 400cc engines, the total weight of the Goggomobil Dart came to just under 350kg.
Years made: 2004-13 (kinda?)
Hailing from: Melbourne, Victoria
God only knows what’s actually happening with the Joss JP1. Touted as Australia’s first Supercar, the Joss was ready to set the supercar world alight by challenging the likes of Ferrari, Koenigsegg and Pagani, all from a shed in Melbourne. Then everything kind of, well, stopped. With a new iteration of the original JT1 touted for release late last year, the major firm funding them pulled out in 2014, and the unsuccessful Kickstarter campaign that followed put everything well and truly on the back-burner. If anyone from Joss is out there, please get in touch. We’d love to hear from you.
Fun Fact: The Joss was set to cost over $600,000, with a top speed of around 300km/h.
Years Made: 2006-Present
Hailing from: Braeside, Victoria
If you’ve ever played Project Gotham Racing, you’ve probably driven an Elfin MS8 at some point in the virtual world. While it may look similar in stature to a small kit car, the MS8 packs a meaty punch, it’s 1100kg weight driven by a Repco-Holden 5.7L v8 Engine. Only 100 have been made, and each boasts a 0-100 time of just over 5 seconds.
Fun Fact: Along with the ‘Streamliner’ you see above, the MS8 also comes in a ‘Clubman’ variant, which looks something akin the car that would be made if a Caterham and an Ariel Atom had a high-powered baby.
Years Made: 2001-present
Hailing from: Beaconsfield, Victoria
Just from it’s looks alone, the Devaux Coupe is insane enough to warrant a place on this list. Looking like something you’d see the villain drive in a 1930’s gangster film, the Devaux is inspired by the esteemed French motorcoach builders of the early 20th century. Underneath the excessively flared body lies the choice of either a Jaguar Straight 6 or GM v8, and the car can be customised to you in pretty much any way you desire.
Fun Fact: The Devaux was named after the maiden name of the builder’s mother.
Volkswagen Country Buggy
Years Made: 1967-1969
Hailing from: Clayton, Victoria
With the kind of face (and body) only a mother could love, the Volkswagen Country Buggy was possibly the first vehicle truly designed to be rugged enough to cope with the harshest Aussie conditions. Similar to the 2CV that took off in France around the same time, the Country Buggy was meant to be simple, reliable and a true car of the people. The problem is, it only delivered on the earlier. The Country Buggy went through chronic reliability issues which, when combined with the time it came to market, doomed it to failure down under. However, since then it has (along with the original Beetle) enjoyed great success in the Philippines as a project car for restoration enthusiasts.
Fun Fact: The Country Buggy was originally designed to be amphibious, but the idea was shot down by German executives.
Years made: 1970-1974
Hailing from: Mordialloc, Victoria
Looking like one of the archetypal 70s sports coupes, the Bolwell MkVIII Nagari crammed a 5.8L V8 into an exceedingly pretty frame that weighed only 1,100kg. The combination of power and low weight led the Bolwell to great success, and Peter Warren took home the 1975 Australian Tourist Trophy in a Nagari. A new MkIX Nagari is also available, debuting at the 2008 Melbourne International Motor Show.
Fun Fact: The Nagari is named after an Aboriginal word meaning “flowing”.
Giocattolo Group B
Years made: 1986-1988
Hailing from: Sunshine Coast, QLD
15 Giacottolos were made. 13 are still around, 1 was destroyed in an infamous drag racing crash that killed it’s driver and 1 is still completely unaccounted for. Built on the frame of a heavily modified Alfa Romeo Spring, the original Giacottolo prototypes were made with mid-mounted V6’s from the same manufacturer. Eventually, the builders opted to shoehorn a HSV v8 into the chassis, making an arguably massively overpowered car capable of hitting 260km/h flat out.
Fun Fact: Of the 3 prototypes that were built originally, one was nearly completely destroyed in a collision with a police 4×4.
Buckle Sports Coupe
Years made: 1957-59
Hailing from: Punchbowl, NSW
The original product of Bill Buckle’s imagination, the Sports Coupe was put together from the components of two different Ford Zephyr Models. Bolted onto a fiberglass body, the Coupe only weighed just under 900kg, making it an exceptionally successful track and hill climb car. One of the 20 built even enjoyed a reign as the NSW GT Champion.
Fun Fact: The chassis of the Sports Coupe was designed by Ron Tauranac, who later went on to develop Brabham’s wildly succesful Formula 1 cars.