Tuesday November 14, 2017
The majority of cars built around the world hail from just a few manufacturing power houses. The USA, Japan and Europe churn out more cars than the rest of the world put together – but if you dig deeper, you’ll find some interesting cars that come from some very interesting countries you might not readily associate with car manufacturing. Here are seven of the best.
1) Holland: Volvo 300-Series
Most people associate Volvo with Sweden. But since the early 1970s, a large proportion of Volvos have come from the small town of Born in the Netherlands. The reason for this shift in manufacturing was due to Volvo’s takeover of DAF – and the Volvo 300-Series was originally designed by the Dutch company to replace its popular 33-series of cars. When re-branded Volvos prior to launch, these new-age DAFs gained huge international recognition, helping the Swedish giant diversify during the tough economic years of the 1970s.
2) Egypt: Nasr 125 and Polonez
Tourists to Egypt will love the fact that they’ll more than likely end up in the back of an El Nasr taxi – a weird combination of Fiat Mirafiori and Regata. It was built there until 2009, and was hugely popular both there, and in Turkey. Before that, Nasr built Egyptian versions of the FSO 125 and Polonez models for local consumption. Solid, rough and tough, these were upmarket alternatives to the hugely popular Nasr 128, based on the Zastava (not Fiat) 128. If you want one, tough – Egypt won’t allow you to export them.
3) Canada: Bricklin SV-1
The Bricklin SV-1 was one of a raft of safety-inspired cars produced in the 1970s – although this one ended up going into production in New Brunswick, Canada, even if it was never sold there. It was the brainchild of car industry man Malcolm Bricklin, who used local government grants to set up a factory and build these individual-looking gullwing sports cars. Rather like DeLorean a few years later, the operation folded, owing a bundle of cash – although Bricklin went on to make money flogging Yugos to Americans during the 1980s.
4) Argentina: Renault Fuego
South America has a long history of producing European cars long after they’ve gone out of production on this side of the Atlantic. Cars such as the Hillman Avenger, Fiat Uno and Ford Escort enjoyed successful second lives down south. The handsome Robert Opron-styled Renault Fuego was another, and one that got better as it aged – it gained a punchy 2.2-litre turbo for the Argentinean market, as well as some well-executed styling mods. It soldiered on until 1992 in Argentina, compared with 1986 for France. Other countries the Fuego was made included Chile, Spain and Venezuela.
5) Malaysia: Proton Tiara
Built between 1996 and 2000 by Proton, the Tiara was a lightly facelifted Citroen AX powered by PSA’s excellent 1.1-litre TU-series engine. It was only available as a five-door, and got a nicely-executed version of the AX GT5’s bodykit to give it a more substantial look. It wasn’t directly replaced, although it might have been had Proton’s talks with MG Rover for a Metro relaunch been successful.
6) India: Hindustan Contessa
Everyone knows that until 2014, India built its own version of the Morris Oxford Mk3, the Hindustan Ambassador. In fact, there were several attempts made to import it into the UK – but for some reason they never gained traction. However, Hindustan also built its own version of the Vauxhall Victor FE between 1984 and 2002, and made quite a success of it. Early models were powered by the eternal BMC B-Series diesel engine (50bhp), but these were soon replaced by more efficient Isuzu units.
7) Iran: Paykan
Based on the Hillman Hunter, the Paykan was built by Iran Khodro as the country’s national automobile between 1967 and 2003, before going out of production (in saloon form) in 2005. The car was initially built from kits in Iran before the body tooling was shifted there in the mid-1970s. Later models gained a facelift, which saw the car using headlights from the Chrysler/Talbot Alpine.