The U.S. auto industry have given us some of the most incredible automobiles over the last 100 hundred years. Starting with the Ford Model T , the first vehicle mass-produced on moving assembly lines, and ending with the aluminum-bodied, 2015 Ford F-150 pickup truck, America has made a name for itself as one of the world’s biggest automobile manufacturers. Before the Great Depression, the U.S. produced over 90 percent of the vehicles sold globally, and after World War II it was responsible for 75 percent of the world’s production. That’s no longer the case in 2014, when China manufactures nearly 20 million vehicle a year, more than both the U.S. and Japan.
Sure, these numbers don’t mean U.S. manufacturers have lost their touch. Just look at the new Mustang and Corvette Z06 , and you’ll notice the brilliant engineering and the passion are still there. However, it’s common knowledge that global production works on different standards which restrict the availability of certain models in certain markets. It works both ways. Europe, for instance, can’t have many of the vehicles sold in the U.S., while Americans can’t buy cars made by a variety of European brands. Ironically, North American manufacturers have launched a bevy of nameplates that can’t be had in the U.S. And while most of them wouldn’t stir any interest on these shores, some vehicles have caused great frustration to the American enthusiast.
I’m going to talk about the latter. The cool cars we can’t buy and drive over various production or import issues, or even the manufacturer’s lack of interest in the U.S. market. Take a look at my choices below and tell me what you guys think. I narrowed the list down to 10 vehicles, so feel free to let me know which ones you think I should have included in the comments box.
Click past the jump to read more about the cool cars we can’t buy in the U.S.
Although Volkswagen offers a wide range of models in the United States, including the Eos convertible, the Germans have yet to announce any plans to bring the hot hatch to these shores. It’s been like that since its debut in 2008. Six years in which the Scirocco has enjoyed an ever-increasing enthusiast base in the U.S. There are many reasons why the VW community has been crying for the Scirocco to cross the Pond. First of all, the compact is lighter than the Golf without an all-wheel-drive system. That’s extremely important given the vehicles share engines. The Scirocco R is more than a half-second quicker than its Golf-badged counterpart and also reaches a higher top speed. Secondly, the Scirocco is arguably the more attractive of the two, sporting an aggressive front end and a mean-looking rear fascia.
What’s stopping the Scirocco from reaching U.S. dealerships? It’s quite simple. Volkswagen fears it would bite into Golf GTI sales, while making very little profit.
Gallery Volkswagen Scirocco
Citroen reinvented itself five years ago with the introduction of the DS brand. Although it bears no resemblance to the classic DS the name recalls, the DS3 is Citroen ’s premium offering for the supermini segment and comes with various four-cylinder gasoline and diesel engines. The DS3 offers a lot of style for the money, a classy cabin design, a strong engine lineup, and personalization options that very few competitors can offer. Sure, it might not have the handling of the Mini Cooper and rear space is somewhat cramped, but it’s reasonably practical for a supermini.
The DS3 is actually more of a statement than a vehicle built to compete against the best-selling hatches of the industry. It proves Citroen has the ability to rise from its own ashes and it’s chic enough to make an impact on the U.S. market. Unfortunately, since the automaker’s withdrawal from North America in 1974, no Citroens have made it across the Atlantic.
Gallery Citroen DS3 Cabrio
Seat is yet another European manufacturer that does not sell its products in the United States. But unlike Citroen, Seat was never launched in the U.S., although a North American expansion has been rumored in the past. As most Seat automobiles are rebadged Volkswagens or borrow most of their underpinnings from the German group, not having them around here is far from being a major loss. However, the Leon SC Cupra 280 is a different story, at least until the range-topping Volkswagen Golf R goes on sale. With 280 horsepower on tap, the Cupra 280 is not far behind the Golf R’s 296 ponies and it has the looks on its side. Just have a look at that nicely sculpted body and then have a peek at the Golf R’s plain coachwork. Pretty neat, huh?
It’s not only the second-fastest front-wheel-drive vehicle on the Nurburgring, making it suitable for fun-filled track weekends, it also comes with a Performance Pack in certain parts of the world, which means even more performance, more grip and faster lap times. On any track except the race courses of the good ole U.S. of A...
Gallery Seat Leon SC Cupra 280
When it comes to station wagons, shortage is the best terms that can be used to describe today’s U.S. market. The Cadillac CTS-V Wagon is probably the sole performance estate we can buy, but it’s future in the redesigned CTS lineup is uncertain. The Audi RS4 Avant is yet another wagon we can’t have, although Europe has been enjoying the third-gen model since 2012. Powered by Audi’s proven 4.2-liter V-8, the RS4 Avant blasts by its competitors with 450 horsepower and 317 pound-feet of torque at the crank and some amazing performance figures on its side. The grocery getter needs only 4.7 seconds to charge from 0 to 60 mph and comes with a top speed that sits at 174 mph.
Some might argue its status because it is only available with the dual-clutch, S-tronic transmission, but it comes equipped with tons of cool features, including sports seats and unique styling cues. High performance ceramic brakes? You got it!
Much like the wagon segment, the compact pickup truck market is disputed by only a handful of models. The Toyota Tacoma, currently the undisputed leader of the segment, the Nissan Frontier, and the upcoming Chevrolet Colorado and its GMC -badged twin. The Volkswagen Amarok has long been considered a proper candidate for the U.S. market, especially due to its fuel-efficient diesel engines, but Volkswagen has been reluctant about bringing it to the States.
With the frugal 2.0-liter FSI and TDI units, and the eight-speed automatic transmission, the Amarok could easily climb atop the Tacoma and the Frontier in terms of mileage, but it might not be a match for the Chevy Colorado as far as payload and trailering capacity goes. Nevertheless, the Amarok has a strong enthusiast base in the U.S., which makes us believe Volkswagen will eventually offer its truck through American dealerships. Meanwhile, we can only dream about its 30 mpg combined rating.
Gallery Volkswagen Amarok
I must confess I have a fascination for Australia’s Holden Commodore and Ford Falcon . That’s why I find it frustrating that the current-gen Commodore only made it to the States as the Chevrolet SS . Sure, the SS is an enticing sleeper sedan with Corvette power under the hood, but it’s a shame Chevy doesn’t make use of other Holden products for its high-performance lineup. I’m talking about the HSV Gen-F GTS, currently the most powerful Australian-built sedan. Crafted by the Holden Special Vehicles division, the beefed-up Commodore features not only an aggressive body kit that could scare away most competition, but enough power to make it utterly fast too.
HSV stuffed the same supercharged, 6.2-liter, LSA, V-8 engine powering the Camaro ZL1 under the GTS’ hood, meaning this beast rolls with 585 horsepower and 546 pound-feet of torque to the wheels. That’s enough to take just 4.3 seconds to sprint from 0 to 60 mph and blow past a number of respectable sports cars. The GTS is packed with state-of-the-art technology, including Torque Vector ing and Magnetic Ride Control. No wonder HSV’s new motto says "If you want to make a stand, then it’s time to take a seat." If only we could...
The iconic Defender is yet another forbidden fruit on U.S. soil. Launched in 1983, the SUV was introduced in the United States 10 years after its inception. Although it was extensively modified to meet safety regulations and customers requirements, the Defender survived only five years on the U.S. market. The vehicle disappeared starting with the 1998 model year when regulations changed to require the fitting of airbags for both front seat passengers in all vehicles. The British company considered such modifications would not make financial sense and discontinued the U.S.-spec Defender.
Sadly, the current model will disappear altogether by the end of 2015, with Land Rover quoting "legislative reasons." A replacement is due in 2017 and we can only hope it will mark the nameplate’s return to the United States.
Gallery Land Rover Defender
Recently launched in Brazil, the Troller T4 is a rough-and-tumble SUV Ford is building in Brazil. Basically a modern Ford Bronco, the T4 falls in the same category with the Jeep Wrangler, Land Rover Defender and all the other go-anywhere, no-nonsense SUVs. Powered by a 3.5-liter, inline-five, turbo-diesel engine, the T4 comes equipped with anything you need to take on the roughest off-road paths. This list of go-anywhere bits include four-wheel-drive, an electronic locking rear differential, and a Torsen limited-slip front differential. And to round it off, the Troller T4 looks incredibly cool.
Why isn’t this machine available in the U.S.? Well, it wouldn’t pass the U.S.’ stringent crash tests. What a shame!
Gallery Troller T4
Truck drivers have been asking for the Ranger to return ever since the compact pickup was discontinued in 2011. Although the Ranger was axed in North America, mostly due to slow sales and lack of profitability compared to the larger F-150, the truck was redesigned and offered as an all-new vehicle in Europe, South America and even Asia. The truck is now only available with 2.2- and 3.2-liter Duratorq diesel engines, with output figures going up to 197 horsepower and 346 pound-feet of torque. Naturally, a variety of body configurations are available.
Although Ford claims the Ranger is too big for the U.S. market — it is about 90 percent the size of the F-150 — a compact pickup with a 1,000-pound payload and 3,000-pound towing capability would make sense now that Chevrolet is bringing the Colorado back. Unlike other vehicles on this list, the Ranger is likely to return to the U.S., but we’ll have to wait at least two more years for that to happen.
Gallery Ford Ranger
A modern Chevrolet El Camino is yet another vehicle enthusiasts have been requesting recently. The iconic "coupe utility" was discontinued in 1987 in the U.S., but the body style continued to be offered in Australia. To this day, Holden has been building Ute "trucks" based on the Commodore sedan. The most recent rumors about GM’s plans to revive the El Camino surfaced in late 2012, when it was believed rebadged Utes will eventually make it to the States. It wasn’t the case unfortunately, as GM denied such intentions. Now that Holden is set to cease production by the end of 2016, we doubt we’ll ever see a new El Camino come to life. Should we mention the Ute is also available in an HSV-prepped version with 436 ponies and 406 pound-feet of torque coming from a 6.2-liter V-8?