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A cheap Ford Maverick by Holden? A bargain Nissan Skyline? The still affordable Aussie future classics by Holden, Ford, Toyota, Mitsubishi and Nissan you should snap up right now

Aussie initiatives like the Holden Crewman and Ford Territory should be getting more love in today's rampaging used-car market.

Five years ago, this month, Holden became the final carmaker to withdraw from full-vehicle manufacturing in Australia.

Predictably, since then, prices of locally made “metal bumper bar” and high-performance models – including all pre-1990s Holdens, Fords and Chryslers built here (including four-cylinder models like Holden Toranas), all later V8s and turbos, all HDTs, HSVs, FPEs, Tickford and FPVs, modern-day Holden Monaros and even the hoary old Leyland P76 V8s – have multiplied. Just as many pundits predicted most of these would.

Yet there are a handful of increasingly rare automotive Australiana that are still within reach of enthusiasts and prospectors looking to enjoy and then hopefully profit from an appreciating future collectable. In this context, they’re still reasonably cheap.

Here’s a list of our top five. But you better get in quick!

Read more about Aussie classics

Mitsubishi TJ-TW Magna/Verada AWD

Throughout its 9.5-year lifespan, the large sedan’s progressive engineering underneath pushed boundaries on a number of fronts. Throughout its 9.5-year lifespan, the large sedan’s progressive engineering underneath pushed boundaries on a number of fronts.

Once the pride of Adelaide, with exports to the United States (as the Verada flagship-based and BMW 5 Series-chasing Diamante), UK, the Middle East and even Japan, all Magnas are classic sleepers.

But the final of the series, starting with the third-gen TE from 1996, offers the best buys, even the flagship Ralliart that has already (and deservedly) ascended to match its ridiculously high boot spoiler.

Throughout its 9.5-year lifespan, the large sedan’s progressive engineering underneath pushed boundaries on a number of fronts, including heightened refinement and safety for an Australian-made vehicle. Perhaps the ultimate example was the all-wheel-drive (AWD) option, which never received the love it deserved despite glowing reviews at launch.

But what a car! Released in late 2002 as part of the TJ Series II update, it was developed leveraging rally-honed Lancer Evo hardware, including a viscous limited-slip rear differential, transfer case, open front differential and centre differential with viscous coupling. The result was a 50:50 front/rear torque split up normally, or 100 per cent drive to either end as required. In contrast, VY Executives were slithering all over wet roads.

Employing a 3.5-litre V6 and five-speed auto (another innovation) with a Tiptronic-style manual shifter, the Magna AWD delivered uncommon poise and control for the time, with no comparable mass-market rival until the Ford Territory SUV AWD arrived some 18 months later.

However, by 2003 the Magna range started to look dated compared to the fresher Falcon (BA) and Commodore (VY) competition, and suffered for being a sedan-only proposition due to the popular wagon’s rear platform not being compatible with the AWD hardware conversion. Pity.

That said, the Sports and VR-X AWD grades available until the Magna’s (failed) 380 replacement arrived in late 2005 made for fast, enjoyable and secure all-weather family-sedan motoring, like no other ever produced in Australia. A cut-price Audi A6 quattro.

All for around $5K today.

Toyota Aurion TRD

Reportedly, just 537 Aurions were produced, making this forgotten piece of Australiana very rare indeed. Reportedly, just 537 Aurions were produced, making this forgotten piece of Australiana very rare indeed.

Remember the Aurion?

A modified Camry built in Australia for 11 years and over two generations from 2006, it included a creamy V6 and unique front and rear-end styling.

Replacing the unloved Avalon that was an ungainly American take on the 1993 Camry, the Aurion continued Toyota’s inability to sway Australians away from the best-selling Holden and Ford Falcon large cars of the time ­– a time-honoured tradition traceable all the way back to the 1963 Crown.

Then a lightbulb moment: why not up the Aurion’s excitement with more muscle, HSV/FPV style? In came the TRD (Toyota Racing Development), launched in August 2007 alongside a HiLux TRD grade, brandishing a bigger bumper, bolder grille, an aggressive bodykit, fatter wheels, a lower ride height and racier interior trim. Most of this was the work of the company’s Melbourne-based design team.

More importantly, an Eaton supercharger was plumbed alongside the 3.5-litre V6, forcing 241kW of power and 400Nm of torque (up 37kW and 64Nm respectively) to the hapless front wheels via a six-speed auto transmission, for a then-startling 0-100km/h sprint time of 6.1 seconds, on the way to a theoretical 258km/h top speed. Plus, the suspension, exhaust and brakes were upgraded to match.

Consumers barely paid any attention, though, prompting Toyota to drop the axe on both TRD projects by late 2008. Reportedly, just 537 Aurions were produced, making this forgotten piece of Australiana very rare indeed.

Today, clean examples are typically under $20,000 – a fraction of what its HSV/FPV equivalents fetch. Not a bad buy by anybody’s measure.

Ford Territory Turbo

Over the series’ successful 12-year run, most Territory Turbos were powered by either a 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol or 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine. Over the series’ successful 12-year run, most Territory Turbos were powered by either a 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol or 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel engine.

Being the only Australian designed and built SUV in history should be enough to ensure classic status, and that will happen to the Territory in time, but for now, they’re cheap-as-chips given such provenance.

Over the series’ successful 12-year run, most were powered by either a 4.0-litre inline six-cylinder petrol or 2.7-litre V6 turbo-diesel that joined the range in 2011, but a Falcon XR6 Turbo-engined version, predictably badged as Territory Turbo, was also offered.

However, despite boosting power by 25 per cent to make it faster than premium Euro SUV contemporaries like the BMW X5 V8 at around twice the price (or more), the swift Ford SUV failed to ignite. In this case, poor timing was the culprit.

Planned during the modern Aussie performance sedan heyday of the early 2000s, the Territory Turbo surfaced in June 2006, though not in a muscle-car boom but instead during record fuel price hikes. Turbo sales tanked once consumers checked the fuel consumption numbers. By the SZ facelift it was toast – just as petrol became cheap again.

Today, the Territory Turbo provides terrific old-school big-SUV grunt with surprisingly sophisticated manners, thanks to that XR6 Turbo punch, as well as a slick ZF six-speed auto, driving all four wheels for superb traction.

Prices are about on a par with the (albeit later) diesel versions (so bank on $12K to $20K-ish), despite this being the sole Aussie sports SUV in existence – unless you factor in the way-rarer and now very-desirable FPV F6X flagship at thrice the price and rising… but that’s another story.

Go on, get one. There will never be anything like a Territory Turbo again.

Holden VY/VZ Crewman

The Holden Crewman is Australia's sole locally volume-produced dual-cab ute. The Holden Crewman is Australia's sole locally volume-produced dual-cab ute.

A Ford Maverick some 20 years ahead of its time?

Just as the Territory is history’s only-ever Australian-made SUV, the Holden Crewman is this country’s sole locally volume-produced dual-cab ute, and a car-based one at that. How very now. Considering how dominant today’s (truck-based) pick-ups are, you’d think fanciers would be clamouring for them.

But no. While getting more popular lately like most used vehicles are, the longest production Holden ever remains a bit of a workhorse orphan, kicking off from under $5000 for the base V6s, while even the big Chevy V8-powered SS’ barely bother $30K when other Commodore equivalents often command much more.

A product under the legendary guidance of German engineer and later Holden MD, Peter Hanenberger, the VY Crewman surfaced in mid-2003, and eventually offered a variety of styles and grades, including the Cross6 and Cross8 AWD options. However, it was met with indifference from the press and public alike, with critics citing poor rear-seat packaging, unwieldy 5.3m-plus length and excessive weight.

The VZ facelift out a year later suffered a similar fate, even with the promising Aussie-built all-new HF V6, prompting Holden to abandon the Crewman (and AWD, sadly) when the conventional VE ute arrived late in 2007. Ford had displayed the similarly-themed AU Falcon-based R5 Concept in 2001 but correctly abandoned it after concluding insufficient sales potential for such a niche product, and concentrated on Territory instead. Smart move.

Yet the Commodore dual-cab design has weathered the decades well for a vehicle that started life off as a 1993 Opel Omega. The car-like driving comfort, refinement, safety and available AWD security attributes were eons ahead of its contemporary (and even some of today’s cheap new) one-tonne trucks and – of course – there’s the Crewman’s absolute uniqueness.

Can you think of another similar-concept family-friendly car-derived ute? Don’t say we didn’t tell you so when prices inevitably soar.

Nissan R31 Skyline

The 1986-1990 Australian-made Skyline was an enjoyable, refined and sophisticated sporty sedan. The 1986-1990 Australian-made Skyline was an enjoyable, refined and sophisticated sporty sedan.

Ignoring the Japanese domestic-market R31 imports (especially the beguiling two-door coupe), the Melbourne-made Skyline with its RB30 3.0-litre inline six isn’t as expensive as a (very distant) relation to the iconic GT-R ought to be. Or even something with the same engine as the adored VL Commodore.

Compare the latter Holden with Skyline’s current prices: in similar condition, the Nissan seems to be trailing by substantial margins, except for the odd mint stripes-and-spoilers-special GTS and Silhouette range-toppers that both command an unfeasibly higher premium given their minimum engineering upgrades.

Which means the bargains are to be found at the lower end of the Skyline sedan spectrum ­– GX, Executive and GXE, mainly, staring off from about $3000. And the (prettier) Australian-designed wagon is just as overlooked.

Some may point to the R31 sedan’s lack of turbo option (a Holden stipulation as part of the contract to buy the Nissan engine for the high-volume Commodore), or the R31 sedan’s dumpy styling after generations of svelte predecessors as the main reason for lower-than-expected values, and they wouldn’t be too far wrong. Yet the 1986-1990 Australian-made Skyline was an enjoyable, refined and sophisticated sporty sedan, down to that great engine.

Which means the less said about the R31’s CA20E four-cylinder-engined Pintara twin of the same era (or even its ‘Project Matilda’ successor), the better.

Live like a Prince and go the smooth RB30 Skyline instead. It's all in that R31 DNA.