Popular Cars With Huge Followings

Popular Cars With Huge Followings

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LandCruiser, Commodore, WRX, Ranger - some popular cars need no introduction or explanation to get people excited.

But not all cars have the same cult-like following. We take a look at some popular cars in Australia and find out why they appear to be the ‘best car’ out there for some.

More information about popular cars

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Quick facts about popular cars

What makes popular cars get huge followings of loyal customers?

Different popular cars become just that for different reasons;

  • Proven off-road ability like the Toyota LandCruiser
  • Fun and affordability like the Mazda MX-5
  • Quirky high-tech features like a Tesla
  • Or, brute performance and tunability like the Nissan Skyline GT-R

And that’s just to name a few.

Most popular cars on Australian roads do share a few things in common. For example, a long and / or well-developed history.

Many of the vehicles listed above have proven themselves good at what they do. The WRX’s rally championships speak for themselves.

Availability, or at least availability to be seen on the roads, also helps. The Ford Ranger has been one of Australia’s best-selling vehicles for the last five years and in recent months has taken the cake as the best seller. In March and April 2021, the Ranger outsold its rival, the Toyota HiLux.

Although the Porsche 911 may not be available to every enthusiast, the sports car holds the title of the world’s most mass-produced sports car.

But back to our list of popular cars in Australia.

Ford Ranger

Launched in 1983, the Ranger has consistently been a big seller worldwide. The ‘Ranger’ name has actually been used by Ford since 1958. The current variation, the T6 was designed by Ford Australia and shares a platform with the Mazda BT-50.

Including all model variants and trim levels, the Toyota HiLux was Australia’s best-selling vehicle in 2020. However, when only looking at 4x4 models, the Ranger got the medal selling more 4x4s than the HiLux.

- Why is it a popular car?

'Ute' in this case. The Ranger lineup delivers what almost everyone in the market for ute could want. Awesome off-road ability, performance packages like the Raptor, an SUV interior for families or work ute for tradies.

Toyota LandCruiser

The ‘LC’, now in its 70th year of production, is a legend in the car world. Since 1951, when it was developed for military use, the LandCruiser has been favoured by all kinds of motorists.

From a comfortable (and luxurious, and hi-tech) family SUV perfect for long road trips to a police vehicle to a military vehicle, Toyota has kept the LandCruiser a popular car.

- Why is it a popular car?

The LC does what it’s designed to do; be a reliable, uncomplicated cargo and passenger transport on an array of terrains.

It’s not hard to find examples with odometers displaying 300,000+ km still ticking over without issues on the road. Toyota often tests new versions in the Aussie outback known for the extreme conditions.

Equipped with the latest technology, modern LandCruisers are capable off-roaders. The crawl feature, for example, makes sand, mud and other tough terrain a cinch.

Holden Commodore

In the late 1990s and early 2000s, you could barely blink without seeing a Commodore on Australian roads. The Aussie produced family car was (and still is to some degree) an Australian icon.

However, due to production costs and changing consumer trends, the Commodore’s popularity wasn’t to last. The final Commodore rolled off the production line on 20 October, 2017.

- Why was it a popular car?

In the 1980s and 1990s, when Holdens were winning races in the V8 Supercars, dealers would often explain; a win on Sunday means sales on Monday. It seemed nothing could stop the Commodore’s rise.

The affordable prices and model variants meant that Aussie enthusiasts could own a powerful performance car, similar to those seen in motorsport, but also transport the family.

Subaru WRX

If you’re into WRXs, you’ll know an exhaust-kitted one is coming before you see it. The distinctive sound comes from its boxer (horizontally opposed) engine - a hallmark of the Impreza which the WRX is based on.

The Subaru Impreza, released in 1992, was followed by a performance version in 1994 - the WRX. The STi version was even more ‘performancy’.

- Why is it a popular car?

The WRX has fans all over the world - and fans have the WRX all over the world. Rally enthusiasts, racing enthusiasts, general car enthusiasts and backyard tuners all rate the WRX highly.

Subaru knows their customers. Models, trim levels, options and facelifts of the WRX suit huge numbers of buyers around the world. One standout being the turbo intercooler water spray operated from a button inside which cools the hot exhaust gasses.

The top of the pyramid is the elusive 22B. With only 424 built in 1998, the 22B is an ultra high performance version of the high performance STi. Expect to pay close to half a million dollars for a low-kms, original example.


We’re talking about the four well-known models here. The;

  • Model S
  • Model 3
  • Model X
  • Model Y

Yes, confirmed by Elon Musk, the names are meant to spell S3XY. Ford trademarked the ‘Model E’ before Tesla was able to.

Teslas are known for their jovial quirks that go past the names. For example, some models have Tesla’s ‘Bioweapon Defense Mode’, a filtration system capable of ‘scrubbing’ the outside air of pollen, bacteria, and pollution before they enter the cabin.

There are also video games playable on the screen and operated by the steering wheel and foot pedals and an option to change the navigation screen to appear as though you’re driving on Mars. Plus, use the ‘summon’ feature to maneuver the vehicle to you from a parking space afar.

- Why are they popular cars?

The over-the-air updates and upgrades mean that, like a phone, Tesla cars stay fresh for a long time. The tech coupled with the giant center screen (17 inches in some) and electric power make Teslas a car with a huge following.

Some models have reported sales, or deposits at least, before even launching to the public. That means people are buying them without even seeing a picture, let alone taking one for a test drive.

Mazda MX-5

The ‘smiling face’ that the Mazda MX-5 is famous for is also seen on drivers’ faces. Also known as a Eunos Roadster in Japan and a Miata in North America, the MX-5 was released in 1989, perfectly timed for the rise of the Japanese sports cars of the 1990s.

It joins legends like the Toyota Supra, Mitsubishi 3000GT and Honda NSX. But where the MX-5 is different is in the price and availability. While mint-condition mid-90s Supra might command north of $90,000, a same-era MX-5 retails at less than $15,000.

- Why is it a popular car?

A new top-spec MX-5 still comes with a price tag of around half a mint-condition mid-90s Supra. And, around a quarter of the price of a late-90s Honda NSX which have risen exponentially in value.

But back to the MX-5. The roadster sports car offers superb handling and drivability at affordable prices.

Automotive presenter, Jeremy Clarkson, summed up the MX-5;

“The fact is that if you want a sports car, the MX-5 is perfect. Nothing on the road will give you better value. Nothing will give you so much fun. The only reason I’m giving it five stars is because I can’t give it fourteen.”

Porsche 911

If you ask a group of people to imagine a ‘sports car’, at least some of them will picture a 911. The iconic shape and long history make the 911 instantly recognisable. Launched in 1964, the rear-engined sports car features an array of specs and model variants.

The lightning-fast and hugely revered GT2 RS punches the 0–60 mph (0–97 km/h) in less than 3 seconds and is one of the fastest cars around Germany’s famous race track, the Nurburgring.

- Why is it a popular car?

With the 911’s stunning appearance throughout its generations of development, many say it’s ‘doing 300 km/h standing still’.

The 911 appeals to classic car enthusiasts, sports and performance car enthusiasts, racing fans and has a place on every kid’s bedroom wall. There’s something for every age group when it comes to 911 fans.

Nissan Skyline GT-R

If you’re a fan of racing video games like the Need For Speed series or Gran Turismo, you’ll be familiar with the ‘hot plate’ circular taillights of the Skyline and later model GT-R.

Nissan dropped the ‘Skyline’ name from its high-performance car in 2007 when the Nissan GT-R was released.

The GT-R name, although first appearing in 1969, became mainstream in 1989 with the release of the R32 Skyline - the original ‘Godzilla’ of the car world.

Interestingly, the nickname ‘Godzilla’ actually started in Australia in the early 1989s when the press dubbed the vehicle as such due to its wins on the racetrack, especially Mount Panorama in Bathurst.

- Why is it a popular car?

No matter the year, model or badge, the Skyline / GT-R is a cult legend. Movies, games, cartoons and merchandise give the Skyline its ‘dream car’ status. The R34 GT-R gained huge fame in the movie 2 Fast 2 Furious.

The tough looks combined with its immense tuning potential and desirability give all variants of Skylines / GT-Rs their huge following. Variants have won countless drift, drag and professional racing titles.

Honorable mentions

There are a huge number of popular cars on Australian roads. Aussies are known for their enthusiasm when it comes to cars. Below are a few honorable mentions;

  • Honda CRX
  • Mazda RX-7
  • Volkswagen Golf GTI
  • Toyota HiLux
  • BMW M3
  • Ford Mustang
  • Land Rover Defender
  • Nissan S13
  • Toyota AE86
  • Mini Cooper
  • Mitsubishi Evo

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