I got to thinking about non-American muscle cars. By that I mean cars that fit the muscle car genre that were not made in the USA. I will lump Canadian cars into that, since all the Canada specific car brands that I am aware of were re-badged versions of cars sold here in the USA.
What got me to thinking about this was a song that popped up on my playlist, Devil Drives a Valiant. It is about an Australian Valiant, which unlike the American version, did have a high performance version. I am not talking about the A-body Barracudas and the Dusters, but an actual Valiant that was high performance.
As far as I know, Australia is pretty much the only other country that has anything that could be considered a muscle car. I think it helped that the American manufacturers had a presence there, and re-used some of the existing cars and engines. I think the other thing is that Australia has a similar large and more open road system than much of the rest of the world.
Europe for example doesn’t have muscle cars, they tend towards smaller vehicles with more of an emphasis on handling than straight line acceleration. Looking at the roads they have, that makes sense. While I haven’t been to Europe, it seems that for the most part only the main highways are relativity straight. Many of the roads seem to have started life as foot and/or horse paths that followed the contours of the land, so they are more twisty. The cities were often laid out the same way, and some of them barely even have room for cars in sections of them, so once again smaller cars that take corners better is a more natural fit.
At least here in Minnesota, and much of the midwest in America, if you want to take corners with your car, your best bet is often free way on-ramps. Other corners can be few and far between. In that kind of environment, straight line performance makes sense. Building a car to turn corners fast doesn’t make as much sense when there aren’t many corners to worry about.
Getting back to the Valiant and non-American muscle cars, the Australian Valiant was based on the same A-body platform as the American one. But what really made it a muscle car was a unique to Australia engine. It was a Hemi straight six. The hottest version was a 265 cubic inch engine with a six pack, three two barrel Weber carbs. It had 302 horsepower and would go through the quarter mile in the mid 14 second range. Sounds like a muscle car to me, and I am sure the lighter weight of the straight six helped the handling as well.
I am sure that some where along the line, someone has imported a few of these to the United States. If so, it would be cool to see one. Maybe someday.
Until then, it is nice to know that muscle cars are something that are enjoyed, and designed around the world.