When Falcon and Commodore are gone, will Australia ever make a car from the ground up again?
It’s not as if we don’t know how. In fact, perhaps we’re more knowledgeable at making cars than ever, particularly performance cars, and you only need drive the current crop to arrive at that.
One fang in an LS3 SS Commodore or HSV GTS suggests we know how to engineer a world-class chassis, and clobber Ford’s new XR Sprints and you’ll find a pair of world-beating, Aussie-made engines. The engineering nous is there, and not just hidden away at Ford and Holden – there’s talent in many ‘smaller’ Aussie engineering firms including HSV and Walkinshaw.
There’s PWR exporting heat-exchangers to the world: Harrop, KPM in South Australia, Premcar (nee Prodrive), even Bosch’s sizeable Aussie branch and a few supremely capable V8 Supercar builders.
So if someone came along with a blank cheque and said style, engineer and market me, say, a low-volume supercar, I’m confident Australia could produce a jaw-dropping Ferrari-fighter. It’d be a no-name brand, but so was Lamborghini once upon a time. And in small volumes we could manufacture it to the right quality, as well.
But will we ever do it? Australian automotive history is littered with failed low-volume supercars. And of the Aussies still quietly battling it out, it seems engineering smarts are yet to meet drop-dead gorgeous styling and marketing ingenuity. And with a hearty dash of business wit, and cash, you kind of need all three to succeed against very established players.
I wonder if Australia can make at least its own Koenigsegg in my lifetime – a stonking, innovative supercar we can all champion and get behind. We’ve more than 50 years’ experience making world-class performance cars, and exporting this wisdom as parts is better than it being lost, but I’m not sure Australia is showing the world what it really can do.