Australian Car Brands

Australian Car Brands

The 100-year history of Australian automobile manufacturing began in the late 19th century when two inventors developed the Phaeton steam carriage. The first car with an internal combustion engine appeared a little later – in 1901. Later, more advanced models with locally produced parts were created on this basis. By the way, nowadays, very few automobile parts are produced on the continent. Moreover, there is not a single tire company left there: the last one was closed in 2010.

The upsurge of engineering came in the middle of the XX century when Australia began to attract foreign automakers. Companies such as Ford, General Motors, and Toyota decided to fill the empty niche with their own brands designed specifically for the Australian market. The auto industry saw its greatest revitalization in the 1970s, when companies produced about 500,000 cars a year, propelling the country to tenth place in the world in this respect.

What are Australian car brands?

Australia has its own car brands, as well as those created by Toyota, General Motors, and Ford for the Australian market. But many of these brands have been discontinued, so now the country’s car industry is not developing: almost all cars are imported from overseas.

The first car manufacturer that was exclusively Australian was Tarrant. It existed for a short time – from 1901 to 1908. Besides it, there were other non-operating companies: Ilinga (1974-1975) with a single AF-2 model, Giocattolo (1986-1989), Buckle Motors (two-year period 1927-1967), Bolwell (1962-1979), Purvis (1974-1991), OKA (1986-2010). The record holder in this regard is Holden, which was incorporated in 1856 and abolished in 2021.

Major Australian Car Manufacturers

It so happened that by 2015, there were only three active carmakers left in Australia: Holden (since 1931 – a division of GM), Ford, and Toyota. But they, too, shut down production, ending the 100-year history of the car industry on the continent. Now, all cars available on the country’s domestic market are imported from overseas.


Holden Logo

Holden is considered Australia’s oldest automobile company. However, its predecessor, J.A. Holden and Co., founded in 1856 for a long time, was engaged in the manufacture of saddles and only in 1908 switched to the production of automotive parts. General Motors, which bought the company in 1931, was able to bring Holden out of a long stagnation. Thanks to its initiative, the production of cars was launched in 1948. The forced postponement arose because of the Second World War when all the plants switched to the production of military equipment.

Local leaders wanted the first car to be adapted to Australian conditions, but GM headquarters decided otherwise and offered to remake one of the Chevrolet models. Despite the conflict, the parent company supported Holden and invested heavily in the brand. And yet, the growth of sales in the 1990s was followed by a decline that began in the 2000s. The company made losses and closed assembly lines until it had one factory left. It was scrapped in 2017, and on January 1, 2021, the Holden brand officially ceased to exist.


FPV Logo

The full name FPV sounds like Ford Performance Vehicles. This brand emerged in 2002 from the Ford Tickford Experience and existed until 2014 as one of Ford Australia’s divisions. Ford Motor Company of Australia owned only half of the company, while the other half was at the disposal of the British car racing team Prodrive.

Historically, the FTE dealer network was preceded by a partnership between Ford and Tickford (an engineering company formerly owned by Prodrive). They teamed up to build Falcon-based vehicles and created the Ford Tickford Experience to sell them. In 2002, they rebranded, and the joint company became Ford Performance Vehicles.


HSV Logo

The HSV brand existed as a division of Holden and disappeared with it on January 1, 2021. This company was formed in 1987 to replace the Holden dealer group. It was co-founded by Tom Walkinshaw (Tom Walkinshaw Racing) and Holden, a carmaker owned by General Motors.

Modifications of various cars were produced under the HSV brand. The most famous are:

  • Avalanche crossover SUV.
  • Sport sedan ClubSport.
  • Luxury sports car, Senator.
  • Other models.

After the division closed, General Motors Specialty Vehicles became its successor.


Elfin Logo

Elfin is one of the few automobile manufacturers in Australia that has not been closed down. It still exists, although it has not produced anything since March 2012. As the full name of the company (Elfin Sports Cars Pty Ltd.) suggests, it specializes in the production of racing and sports cars.

The company was founded in 1959 and has changed many owners, never staying with anyone for long. It is currently owned by former racing driver Tom Walkinshaw, who has been dead since 2010.

The organization is headquartered in Melbourne, with factories located nearby in the suburbs. Until 2012, three car models were produced there: the MS8 Clubman, MS8 Streamliner, and T5 Clubman sports cars.

Ford Australia

Ford Australia Logo

The Australian division of Ford Motor Company, known as Ford Australia, was opened in 1925. In the early years, it produced Canadian models from parts shipped into the country from overseas. An example of such transportation is the Tin Lizzie, which became the first “world” car. However, the division gained great fame thanks to the Falcon model, which was produced in Australia from 1960 to 2016. At the end of 2016, Ford decided to finally shut down the production of cars on the continent.

Toyota Australia

Toyota Australia Logo

Toyota Australia, following Holden (GM) and Ford, has closed all of its plants. The last plant ceased operations in October 2017. The reason is – the lack of demand for cars due to cheap imported cars and rising production costs. Thus, the Toyota division, which entered the Australian market in 1963, producing more than 2 million cars and replacing Holden, put an end to its long history.

Mack Trucks Australia

Mack Trucks Australia Logo

Founded in 1963, Mack Trucks Australia is dedicated to adapting trucks to the continent’s natural conditions. Engineers custom-design trucks for a variety of business needs. For example, innovative models with special safety systems have been developed for the toughest tests and challenging routes. The manufacturer owns industrial plants in Kentucky (USA) and Queensland (Australia).

Iveco Australia

Iveco Australia Logo

Despite the problems of the automotive industry, Iveco Australia remains true to its principles and produces about a hundred vehicles per year. The company’s plant is located in Melbourne, where buses and trucks are built to meet the city’s challenging geography. In addition, the company provides transportation for the city’s residents and participates in the creation of road infrastructure. This is something it has been doing since it was founded at the beginning of the last century.

Does Australia have any car manufacturers?

Despite years of decline in the automotive industry, Australia still has manufacturers of cars – more precisely, trucks and buses, designed for the difficult geography of the continent. This is Iveco Australia. The firm Mack Trucks Australia also continues to work, modernizing trucks.

What cars were manufactured in Australia?

Holden, FPV, Toyota Australia, Elfin, Nota Sports and Racing, Australian Motor Industries, Rootes Australia, Australian Six, Birrana, Giocattolo cars were previously produced in Australia. And the transport of Mack Trucks Australia and Iveco Australia is still manufactured in Australian factories.

How many different car brands are in Australia?

Dozens of brands are represented in the automotive market of this country, but most of them are imported from abroad. Many companies closed production in Australia, only a few remained.

What is the best Australian-made car?

Among the cars produced in Australia in the history of the local auto industry, the best are Holden VF Commodore, Ford Territory, Toyota Camry Hybrid, Holden 48-215, Ford Falcon GT-HO, Mitsubishi Magna, Ford Coupe Utility, Holden Monaro, Ford Falcon XR6 Turbo, Nissan R31 Skyline, and Honorable Mentions.