Performance

Cars and trucks we can't have...but definitely want

There are a lot of great foreign cars for sale in the United States, but plenty more don't make the trip. Check out some of our favorite forbidden fruit.

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Vaughn GIttin Jr. street truck

Now this is an all-purpose pickup Ford Racing drifter Vaughn Gittin Jr. is cooking up a custom F-150 that looks slammed street style, but has 12-inches of wheel travel courtesy of an adjustable Air Lift Performance suspension that Gittin says will let him drift, off-road and jump it. Unfortunately its not the next F-150 SVT Raptor, just a one-off custom for the Specialty Equipment Manufacturers Association (SEMA) show in Las Vegas this November, so don’t go looking for it in your local showroom. But, if you’ve got the time and money, there’s nothing stopping you from building your own.

Ford

Honda Civic Type R

This hatchback isn't just hot, its volcanic. The Honda Civic Type R has a 276 hp 2.0-liter 4-cylinder, six-speed manual transmission, adaptive suspension system and a "+R" button that turns everything up to 11. Honda says the big-winged compact is its highest performing car ever, and that includes the legendary NSX, which was sold as an Acura in the USA. Sadly, that won't be the case for the Civic Type R, which is based on the European Civic, will be built in England, and won't be imported here. Oh well, there's always the Civic Si. Deal.

Honda

HSV GTS Maloo

You'll have to act fast if you want this quick pickup. The HSV GTS Maloo is poised to be the fastest ever pickup-style vehicle. The "ute" that it's based on is built by GM's Australian division and souped up by its partner Holden Special Vehicles. The $75,000 rear-wheel-drive two-seater is powered by the 580 hp 6.2-liter supercharged V8 from the Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 and gets a performance suspension and body kit to match. Official performance figures haven't be revealed, but the much less powerful last generation of the model set the current Guinness record for world's fastest pickup at 169 mph in 2006. HSV originally only planned to build 150 GTS Maloos, but they sold out so quickly that its looking to add another 100. That'll likely be it, as GM is ending production Down Under at the end of 2016 and this uniquely Australian vehicle is primed to be its bittersweet high-speed hooroo.

Holden

Chevrolet Niva

If it's tough enough for Siberia, suburbia would have no chance. The Chevrolet Niva concept previews the next generation of its Russian-built compact SUV. Smaller than the upcoming Jeep Renegade, the Niva will be powered by a 1.8-liter four-cylinder engine and feature a 5-speed stick and locking 4x4 system. Equipped with a snorkel, winch, roof lights and cargo racks, the tough little trucklet looks the business, but likely still can't bridge the divide between the U.S. and Russia -- due to safety and emissions regulations, not politics -- so don't expect it to cross the Bering Strait into showrooms when it goes on sale in 2016.

Chevrolet

Ford Falcon XR8

The Ford Falcon name died in the USA in 1970, but has lived on in Australia ever since. The latest edition is a rear-wheel-drive sedan that's like nothing Ford sells in America. While exact specifications haven't yet been revealed, along with its standard inline-6-cylinder engines (you read that right: inline-6-cylinder) expect the Falcon XR8 model to be powered by a supercharged version of the 5.0-liter V8 from the Mustang. Sadly, dreams of Ford ever bringing it stateside to do battle with the Chevrolet SS and Dodge Charger are just that, as the Falcon is set to die with Ford's Australian car production in 2016.

Ford

Ariel Atom Police Car

Sure, it's a promotional stunt, but who cares? This Ariel Atom track car has been outfitted in police garb for the Avon and Somerset Constabulary to support their Safer Rider motorcycle safety campaign. That's because, it can accelerate to 60 mph in 2.5 seconds, pretty much quicker than just about anything on the road, including lightweight superbikes. So don't even think about trying to outrun it on a public road in the U.K., where it's actually street legal. Save the speed for the track.

Troller T4

Ford made jeeps (lowercase, name not yet trademarked) during WWII, but hasn’t been in the two-door, back to basics off-road game since it let the Bronco die on the leaf some years ago. Then in 2007 it bought a small Brazilian truck company called Troller, which builds exactly that sort of thing. The all-new T4 is the fruit of that relationship, and it was worth the wait. It has a composite body on a steel frame, two live axles with sway bar disconnect, a snorkel ready air intake and – take a deep breath, truck nerds -- is powered by the 3.2-liter inline-5-cylinder turbodiesel engine used by the latest not-for-U.S.-sale Ford Ranger, plus a six speed stick. Unfortunately, despite it’s obvious ability to drive from its factory in the city of Horizonte straight through the Amazon rainforest to the USA, that’s one trip the T4 won’t be making anytime soon

Troller

Nissan Pulsar

You may remember the Pulsar as that funky 1980's car with the interchangeable bodywork that could switch it from coupe, to convertible to two-door wagon, but for decades it was Nissan's answer to the likes of the Volkswagen Golf. Well, now its back in Europe and ready to take on the continent's hot hatches with a lineup of turbo four-cylinder engines, while we settle in to our sedate Sentra sedans and funky Juke crossovers.

Mercedes-Benz Actros

Mercedes-Benz parent company Daimler sells Freightliner big rigs in the United States, but it may be keeping the best stuff closer to home. This is a photo of a Mercedes-Benz cab-over Actros tractor towing what appears to be a 220 ton mining dump truck, which is actually no sweat. According to Road & Track, the Actros can handle 250 tons, so toss a couple of rocks in that thing, would ya?

Mercedes-Benz

Ford Escort Concept

The Ford Escort has returned! Not here, of course, but in China, where the all-new model goes on sale next year. Based on the Ford Focus compact, the Escort features a roomier cabin and smoother style than its edgy donor car and was designed with the Chinese consumer in mind. But feel free to keep your hopes up, because Automotive News reports that thanks to the One Ford plan, where the same cars are sold around the world, CEO Alan Mulally says it could one day be in a showroom near you.

Ford

MINI Paceman Adventure

How do you say "British Subaru Brat" in German?

Apprentice engineers at MINI's parent company BMW have turned a Paceman into a pickup truck, adding a bed behind the two-seat front cabin of the two-door all-wheel-drive crossover. Enhancing the off-road look are a roof-mounted spare tire along with rack and grille-mounted auxiliary lights, while a snorkel-style air intake allows it to go where no MINI has gone before: under water.

Sadly, this one's a double-downer as it's not only unavailable in the U.S., but is only a concept and not intended for production anywhere.

 

MINI

Ford Falcon Ute Cab Chassis

Ford's got everyone excited about its aluminum-bodied 2015 F-150 pickup, but it's not the company's first effort to feature the lightweight material. In Australia, Ford builds this marvelous hybrid, which features the unibody front end of a Falcon sedan spliced to a body-on-frame rear that can be fitted with, you guessed it, an aluminum pickup bed. With the party up front and business in the rear its the opposite of a mullet hairdo, and the southern hemisphere's take on the Ranchero; except that the Ranchero didn't have a 4.0-liter inline-6-cylinder engine and available 6-speed manual transmission. Want one? Better head Down Under in a jiffy, Ford is shutting down its manufacturing operations there in 2016 and parking the Falcon Ute in the history books.

Ford

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X FQ-440 MR

The rally-inspired Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution has long been known  in sports car circles as a giant-killer, but this one looks ready for a clash with the Titans. With a high-strung 440 hp 2.0-liter turbocharged four-cylinder, twin-clutch transmission, lowered suspension and Mitsu's Super All-Wheel Control system, it's a compact car for the ages, but probably not for you. Just 40 cars will be built to celebrate the company's 40 years of car sales in the United Kingdom, and it will only be sold there. Adding insult to injury, the Evolution is being discontinued worldwide after this model year, although it may return in the future powered by batteries. Fun!

Mitsubishi

Ford Everest Concept

Remember the Ford Explorer? No, not the crossover currently on sale, but the body-on-frame original based on the Ford Ranger pickup? Well, Ford has a new one, except now its called the Everest and its built on the platform of today's not-for-U.S.-sale Ranger. Needless to say, the Thailand-built three-row SUV is targeted at Southeast Asia and "global" markets, Ford word for "not the USA."

Ford

Vauxhall Astra VXR Extreme

The standard Vauxhall/Opel Astra used to be sold in Saturn dealerships, but nobody bought any so it and the entire brand were discontinued here. Too bad, because now there's the Astra VXR Extreme, an aluminum-bodied, 300 horsepower insane machine with a safety cage where the rear seats used to be. A different kind of car, indeed.

Opel

Renault Twingo

The multi-million dollar Bugatti Veyron is the only French car currently available in the USA, and that's a shame, because there's this little treat on the other end of the spectrum. Renault's new entry-level five-door subcompact features a rear-mounted three-cylinder engine and rear-wheel-drive for sporty handling. The good news? The Twingo shares a platform with the next generation cars from Smart.

Renault

Jaguar XFR-S Sportbrake

Jaguar will soon build an SUV for the USA, but Europeans get this. What gives?! The XFR-S Sportbrake is a 550 hp wagon with racetrack chops and a top speed so high they had to electronically limit it to 186 mph. In something this sexy, you'd never again complain about having to make a run to the grocery.

Jaguar

Cars and trucks we can't have...but definitely want

There are a lot of great foreign cars for sale in the United States, but plenty more don't make the trip. Check out some of our favorite forbidden fruit.

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