I grew up longing for the wonderfully odd and soulful cars sold overseas — cars like Nissan’s fire-breathing Skyline GTR and Mitsubishi’s Lancer Evolution (Japan only) or the Ford Escort Cosworth (sold in the UK).
I still can’t buy the Cosworth in the US, but I can easily get a GTR or a Lancer Evo.
Blame globalization. Before the planet got smaller, cars were a reflection of regional tastes in design and distinctive national engineering cultures. With globalization and the expansion of multinational car companies, the regionalism that once made cars unique has faded.
But as much as the modern car business has watered down the local character of automobiles, there are still some gems left that we can’t buy in America.
Here's the Volkswagen Scirocco -- for most people, VW is synonymous with small, fun cars. However, in America we can't get the company's stylish hot hatchback.
Audi has extended its S-Line of high-performance cars down to pint-size A1 with the new S1 hatchback. The tiny Audi packs quite a punch, with a turbocharged 231 hp on tap.
Peugeot hasn't sold a car in American since 1992 -- a bummer because the RCZ coupe is an absolute stunner.
The RCZ's smooth lines and powerful 270 hp engine make it one of the coolest sport coupes in the world.
Although Alfa Romeo is making its US comeback with the wonderful 4C sports car, its stylish Giulietta hatchback is still banned from our shores.
The idea of a pickup truck with the body of a sedan is an odd concept, but the Chevy El Camino and Ford Ranchero were cult classics until they were discontinued in the 1970s and '80s. But the Aussies have kept the dream alive with the imposing Holden HSV Maloo Ute.
The Holden-amino offers the utility of a truck (hence the 'Ute') and the power of a muscle car. On yeah, it's got a Corvette-inspired V8 engine.
Toyota sells a ton of pickup trucks in the US, but one they don't is the go-anywhere Hilux. In fact, BBC's 'Top Gear' drove one to the North Pole. The car's near bulletproof reliability has led the company to name a version the 'Invincible.'
Land Rover's wonderfully eccentric, old-school Defender series hasn't been sold in the US for 15 years, but we still love it for its rugged simplicity.
The Defender hasn't changed all that much over the years. This early-'90s North American edition looks pretty much the same as a new showroom model.
America doesn't have the same love affair with station wagons as Europe evidently does. Which is too bad because the Euros are turning out some outstanding examples, like this Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake. This high-performance English wagon comes with a 550 hp supercharged V8 and room for all of your stuff.
If a big Benz is more your style, then the CLS63 AMG S-Line with a 585 hp twin turbocharged V8 could be your perfect road trip car. You'll get to where ever you're headed in style...and at high speed!
Very seldom can a car's level of luxury be described as 'imperial.' Unless you're talking about the Toyota Century Royal, which happens to be the official transport of the Japanese Imperial family.
Although not quite imperial in luxury, the Buick Park Avenue has a long history of transporting Americans in soft, wallowy comfort. Although the modern American Buick has taken on a more contemporary vibe...
...the Chinese Park Avenue is still comfortable and massive. Coincidentally, it's actually based on the Aussie-built Holden Statesman -- a cousin of the Maloo Ute.
Nothing the Park Avenue can muster matches the style and luxury of the Aston Martin Lagonda. The Buick also can't match the Lagonda's exclusivity. The big Aston is available in only the Middle East -- and even then you have to invited to buy one.
Until recently, Lotus's Exige was available in the U.S. Sadly, the V6-powered Exige S debuted after the company pulled the Exige line from the States.
The Noble M600 is one of the fastest supercars on the planet, with a 225 mph top speed. Unfortunately, none of the 650hp supercars have made it to the U.S.
The Morgan Aero 8 is one of the coolest and most unique British sports cars around. Unlike its the classic cars that inspired it, the Aero 8 is powered by a BMW V8 and is made of aluminium instead of wood.
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