We at MyStarCollectorCar lean heavily toward vintage vehicles built somewhere in Canada and the United States when it comes to our favorites, but we also like some of the imports from the past.
Most imports from a bygone era were not ready for North America because the cars were built for a different market, but some of them were very cool in terms of style.
One car that was ready to tackle any obstacle in the Colonies was the Datsun 240Z. These Japanese imports looked fast (and were fast) when they debuted during the 1970 model year in North America.
The 1970 Datsun 240Z was built for the future so its sleek style was already ahead of its time when it hit the showrooms at the dawn of the Me Decade. The unique body style of the 240Z would remain for several Z generations but the 240 version was the pioneer and the coolest Z model.
Another import that rocked the car guy world was the Opel GT. The Opel GT looked familiar when it debuted in 1968 because it owed plenty of its styling cues to the famous Corvette.
Thus it was no surprise the small German-built sports car was known as the “Baby Vette” by North American car guys after it crossed the pond and was sold by Buick dealers. It was not as fast as a Corvette from that era, but it was every bit as cool.
Another Japanese-built car that caught plenty of attention was the first generation Toyota Celica. The Celica was a 1971 model that debuted in late 1970 here in North America. The sporty little import offered style and performance in a small package to North American buyers.
Eventually there were two versions (fastback and coupe) fastback version of the Celica, but the ’71 version was only offered in the notchback model. The first generation Celica was able to handle the pace and delivered plenty of velocity and MPGs when it hit the North American market.
The MPG factor would become a big selling point when the 1973 Arab oil embargo produced high gas prices and shortages in North America.
Few if any older car guys can forget the Sunbeam Tiger driven by Maxwell Smart during the early years of his mid-60s TV show. The Sunbeam Tiger was a V-8 version of the Alpine model, however the Alpine Series 1 had already made a big impression on North American car guys when the British import crossed the pond.
The Sunbeam Alpine Series II was a sporty little convertible with rear fins and its unique style was already intriguing before ‘Get Smart’ took its muscular Tiger version to the next level.
Our fifth and final choice for favorite vintage import here at MyStarCollectorCar is the Volvo P-1800. The P-1800 was Sweden’s sportiest car when it debuted in 1961 and the nimble two-seater coupe was a big hit with car guys.
The car became famous in 1962 when British actor Roger Moore (of James Bond fame) drove the car in ‘The Saint’, a fast-paced action show produced by England’s ITV during the 60s.
The P-1800 sported subtle rear fins during its 12-year run from 1961 to 1973 and its cool style remained a huge part of its appeal to car guys long after the last P-1800 was built 44 years ago in Sweden.
Note: MyStarCollectorCar purposely listed the five import cars in no particular order because we love ‘em all. We also want to note that we will have more of our favorite imports in a future MSCC piece.
BY: Jim Sutherland
Jim Sutherland is a veteran automotive writer whose work has been published by many major print and online publications. The list includes Calgary Herald, The Truth About Cars, Red Deer Advocate, RPM Magazine, Edmonton Journal, Montreal Gazette, Windsor Star, Vancouver Province, and Post Media Wheels Section.