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It's time for the Kiwi V8

Bathurst got me thinking. Car manufacturers are pulling out of Australia at a time when the car market is more dynamic and exciting than it's ever been. I reckon part of the problem is that Aussies don't understand the potential of the Aussie V8.

Aussies are so parochial they think exporting means selling Victorian cheese in Queensland. The Aussie V8 is no longer a family car with a bit of extra grunt. It has become the kind of car people buy for the sheer pleasure of driving a great car. People all over the world want an Aussie V8. GM in the UK put Vauxhall badges on them. That would be the kiss of death to any lesser car - but not the V8 Commodore.

Australia's loss can be New Zealand's gain. I reckon over the next couple of decades the Aussie V8 should become one of the hottest-selling specialty cars of all time. There's nothing, anywhere in the world, quite like an Aussie V8. Stunning on back-country roads. Brilliant on a car-club track-day. But with bolshie unions and managers who spend all their time grizzling about falling domestic sales instead of cultivating export markets, car manufacturers can't seem to make a go of it across the ditch.

They'll do far better shifting their operations over here. Kiwi manufacturers have no choice but to focus on export markets. We don't have anything like the union problems they have in Australia. We have plenty of suburban areas that need the kind of economic boost large-scale auto manufacturing would produce.

The time has never been better. Car sales in China are rocketing. Car buyers in developed markets are hungry for cars that offer more than basic transport. They are crying out for the kind of legendary image that comes with driving the classic Aussie V8. Best of all, owning a V8 is no longer environmentally irresponsible. Intense R&D over the last few decades has revealed that energy is not an environmental constraint. Greenies hate to hear it but it's true.

I reckon Ray Wallace and Wayne Guppy should be talking to car manufacturers about setting up in the Hutt Valley. They'll need to get stuck in, though, because the Hutt Valley will quite likely find itself competing against other regions. The Bay of Plenty, for example, has much to offer a car manufacturer looking for somewhere to build a niche-market product like an Aussie V8.

Not that we should worry too much about competition. Not all Aussie V8s are created equal. OK, sometimes Ford wins at Bathurst but that's beside the point. It's the market that matters. There are two distinct kinds of Aussie V8 buyers. Them that will drive anything as long as it's a Ford. And. Them that will drive anything as long as it's NOT a Ford. Even yank websites that grizzle they can't buy Aussie V8s recognise that a Falcon is not a Commodore.

The Aussie V8 is poised to become a niche-market product. Its role as a family car is being usurped by the SUV-derived crossover. It has developed into something quite different from the traditional American muscle-car, from which it inherited engine-block, badges, and not a lot else. You could argue that the American muscle-car is a more refined and technically appropriate expression of advanced land transportation. After all, why build a car that can go 'round corners when real roads should not have corners in the first place. So what? Some of the world's greatest drives are not good roads. In fact their only saving grace is that they pass through majestic or breath-taking scenery, such as the Southern Alps. The roads themselves are rubbish.

Which is precisely why I think the Kiwi-built "Aussie" V8 could be the next big thing in the global car market.

The big question is - will we get together and make it happen?


Kevin Cudby is a Wellington-based Freelance Writer and Parametric Modelling Consultant who loves writing about cool new technology. Email him to discuss your requirements: hello {a}


It's time for the Kiwi V8

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