Australia isn’t a terribly big car hub – there have been several large-scale manufacturers, but they are mostly in the past. The modern car industry in this country is mostly bus producers and subsidiaries of the brands from abroad. So, this list will include some major subsidiaries and also the dead brands.
Founded: 14 April 1927
Volvo has been in Australia for 60 years now, and currently they are considered the biggest manufacturer on this continent. This brand dominates the automotive landscape in Australia, but they are still just a minor branch in Volvo. Still, they are one of the major reasons Volvo sells so many cars in China and this hemisphere at all.
Headquarters: Dandenong, VIC 3175, Australia
Parent organization: CNH Industrial
Iveco is another big figure with facilities in Australia. This time, the Australian plants of this Italian brand are considered a vital artery. They even developed and built a truck model specifically for Australians. It’s called Iveco PowerStar. Sadly, there were no other exclusives, but the Australian Iveco still plays a crucial role in this brand’s business.
Founder: George T. Gerlinger
Headquarters: Bayswater, VIC 3153, Australia
Kensworth builds a lot of trucks, most notoriously – the long haul trucks and other models of similar size. They are an American-based company, but since 1971 they’ve been expanding their Australian market. Nowadays, there are much more Kensworth models available in Australia than in the US or Canada.
Founder: James Alexander Holden
Headquarters: Port Melbourne, Australia
Parent: General Motors, General Motors Australia Ltd, General Motors Overseas Commercial Vehicle Corp
Holden has always been the top Australian car brand. Nothing in the region can compare even closely to the absolute size and influence of their enterprise. Appearing in 1856, they were amongst the first car producers in the world. Sadly, the production has been discontinued at the very end of 2020.
There are many small-scale car manufacturers in this country, as well as numerous previously dominant brands that died out in past years. Still, it’s worth knowing about some of them. Many are regarded as classical cars and something of a cultural treasure. They are treated with nostalgia and resold even now.
Rebuilders and modifiers
Some car brands in Australia simply rebuild the cars from other manufacturers to make them better or just different.
For instance, Python is a 1981-born brand that specializes on modifying the famous Shelby Cobra car (hence the name). Many other brands in the world do the same, for some reason.
Then, there is the ‘Finch’ brand that appeared in the 60s, whose specialization is to replicate the iconic Jaguar and Ferrari sports cars from the past, notably – from the 30s and 50s.
Daytona is another small company that rebuilds specific cars to make them more modern. Right now, they are mostly modifying Shelby Daytona (correlation is unproven) and Lotus Super Seven.
The Australians also turned British Dakar to what’s known as a ‘Bush Ranger’ – a buggy perfectly suited for the rough Australian terrain. They’ve been at it since at least 2006 and largely ended production in 2016
And lastly, Bitchfield is trying to build copies of the 30s SS Jaguar. The complete versions have started appearing on market since 2004.
Buckle is an interesting car brand that surfaced in 1927 and was just dabbling in dealership at first. In 1959, they’ve made a famous round-shaped mini-car Goggomobil as well as several other models. Now they are mostly in dealership again.
Brabham is probably the only current Australian sports car manufacturer. Their BT62 model is a very sophisticated car designed in 2018. It’s very sophisticated and still new to the market.
Bolwell is another sports car producer that existed from 1962 to 1979. They are probably the most successful manufacturer in this category. In 2009, they were restarted and they currently make small 2-door sports car for urban transportation and trek.
Australian Motor Industries (1926-1987) was also a very significant brand, probably as influential as Holden back in the day. The key difference, however, is that AMI created very little cars of their own, preferring instead to be an outsourced manufacturer.