First off, let’s get one thing straight: Muscle cars are largely an American phenomenon, and nothing will ever change that. Many people defend this notion with vigor, but that doesn’t mean that there have been attempts by foreign automakers to capture at least a little bit of the muscle car spirit. And some companies — American ones, to boot — have even taken their muscle cars to foreign shores for others to enjoy.
If there is another country on Earth that actually seems to ‘get’ muscle cars, it’s probably Australia. During the golden years of muscle cars in the 1960s and ’70s, Australia actually did have a few models that could scream down the straights, and many of them actually had their genesis in American design laboratories. Other parts of the world, like South Africa and Europe have also given us a few examples.
So what is a muscle car, exactly? Traditionally, the two major components would be power — in the form of a big engine — and affordability. Muscle cars were designed and sold to be able to be enjoyed by the masses. The common man, the blue-collar worker all wanted a chance to experience speed and power, and muscle cars gave them that chance. Of course, today there are muscle cars on the market that are hardly affordable to anyone, let alone the average consumer.
Along with power and affordability, muscle cars typically come with big engines, rear-wheel drive and are in coupe form, although there are a few exceptions.
So, while muscle cars are, by most people’s definition, American, are there any foreign muscle cars out there? It turns out that there were a few, although many are variants of American-produced cars. Some weren’t, and others straddle the line very closely between being a muscle car and being a sports car.
Need examples? You’re in luck. Read on to see six examples of foreign muscle cars, or at least those that come close to meeting the stringent definition.
1. Holden Monaro
Perhaps the most well-known of all foreign muscle cars, the Holden Monaro came in many different variants and trims. The Monaro saw production last from 1968 until 1977, although it was given a short stint of rebirth in the early 2000s. There were three generations of this car that were actually produced, the most powerful of which was equipped with a 5.0-liter V8 engine. The Monaro was available to consumers in Australia and South Africa, and hopes of another return to the market still persist.
2. Jensen Interceptor
The Interceptor is a British-built coupe that was in production between 1966 and 1976, and recently saw a resurgence in popularity due to its inclusion in a Fast & Furious movie. Under the hood, the Interceptor boasted a couple of different configurations: either a 6.3 or 7.2 liter V8 engine. It also came in a variety of trims and variants, some more ‘muscular’ than others. The car is now fairly rare, as many have succumbed to the test of time. There are new versions actually in the works after Jensen International Automotive was set up in 2010, giving these cars new life in the 21st century.
3. Valiant Charger R/T
The Valiant Charger is exactly what you might suspect — namely, a Chrysler Charger produced under a different nameplate, and for a foreign audience. It was introduced to Australia by Chrysler in the early 1970s and eventually ended its production run in 1978. The vehicle was outfitted in the factory with one of two different versions of a V8 engine, packing plenty of American power under the hood for use Down Under. Like many other muscle cars, the Charger was available in several different model variations in order to appeal to a wider audience.
4. Vauxhall VXR GTS
The VXR GTS from Vauxhall may be stretching the definition of a muscle car, but it hits all the major items on the checklist except for one — being that it has four doors instead of two. It still boasts a powerful engine, and has the guts to go screaming down the track. In fact, the VXR is, at its core, a Chevy SS — or vice-versa. The main difference here is that customers can get essentially the same car, just with more power. A lot of power, actually. This car comes equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 engine, shooting nearly 600 horsepower to the car’s rear wheels. Though it’s not a perfect fit in the ‘muscle car’ category, the VXR GTS is still worthy of contention.
5. Mercedes SLS AMG
To some people, the only foreign car that is even somewhat acceptable to be called a ‘muscle car’ are those that are slapped with the AMG tag by Mercedes-Benz. In this case, the SLS AMG perhaps most accurately fits the description. Obviously, the glaring difference between traditional muscle cars and the SLS AMG is that this car is not affordable by most means. The price comes in at more than $220,000, but other than that caveat, the car’s performance is nothing short of impressive. 583 horsepower comes charging out from under the hood, which houses a 6.3-liter V8 engine, which allows the SLS AMG to rocket from 0-60 in just 3.6 seconds using the classic muscle car formula — big business up front, powering the party in the back, with room for two.
6. Ford Falcon Cobra
A domestic manufacturer with an Australia-only release? That’s right, and we should be jealous. The Ford Falcon Cobra hit the roads of Australia in the late 1970s, although it did see rebirth in a very limited capacity in 2007. It was an extremely limited car, with a mere 400 actually produced. Today, they are exceptionally rare, and typically very valuable. In order to tap into the muscle car nostalgia many car buffs had left over from the previous decade, Ford painted the cars a signature white with blue stripes, an ode to the older Shelby Mustangs of years past. As far as power, the Cobra was built with either a 5.8 or 4.9-liter V8 engine, depending on how early or late in production each car was finished.