3 November 2016

These five feisty teenaged imports are ready for adoption

In addition to spectacular natural treasures like the Banff and Jasper National Parks, Canada houses some automotive treasures as well. Our northern neighbor has the power to taunt American classic car collectors with its enlightened 15-year rule on non-compliant imports, while U.S. citizens have to wait a full decade longer to legally register their favorite forbidden fruits.

Here are five cars that are now becoming eligible for Canadian importation for the first time.

Alfa Romeo 147

The Walter de Silva-designed Alfa 147 may well be remembered as the high-water mark of European hot hatch design. The 2001 winner of the European Car of the Year award and several design honors, the 147 was a front-driver that managed to meet the handling expectations of the Alfisti. Just one shortfall: You’ll have to wait another year for the 247-horsepower V-6 GTA to become legal.

MG ZT

This was it for the Rover Group, which had been nicknamed the “English Patient” (after the movie) by the German press. BMW may have been arrogant in thinking it could turn Rover into a profitable enterprise, but there was at least one good car left in the pipeline: the Rover 75/MG ZT. The sport sedan and wagon got excellent reviews, with a more-than-adequate 190 horsepower on tap. Like the Alfa 147, though, the real payoff arrives in a few years when the Ford V-8-powered version becomes Canada-legal.

TVR T350

The T350 (not to be confused with the wedge-shaped 350i of the 1980s) marked TVR’s ascent to near-hypercar status. Smooth and pretty in contrast with later cars like the Sagaris – which was just outrageous and rather juvenile – the T350 boasted a potent 350-horsepower inline-six. Left-hand-drive cars are extremely rare, but they are out there. The first T350s came from the 2002 model year (though some were said to be built in late 2001), which means these cars will be Canada-legal very soon.

Renault Clio V-6 Phase 1

The French have an interesting habit of taking already-desirable hot hatches and swapping out the back seat for the engine, thus converting a front-engine, front-drive car into a mid-engine, rear-drive car. They did it with the Renault 5 and the Peugeot 205. The Clio V-6 was more of the same insanity. Motive power here was supplied by the venerable PRV (Peugeot/Renault/Volvo) V-6 in 227-horsepower form. Now THAT would have made the DeLorean DMC-12 a bit more interesting… But really, the Clio V-6 could have been powered by the screams of its passenger and driver, as handling was said to be downright frightening.

Holden Monaro V2

The Holden Monaro is the novelty pick of the list. The same basic car was actually available in North America as the Pontiac GTO. But with a near-cottage industry developing on eBay selling Holden Commodore badges to Pontiac G8 owners, how much hipper would it be to have a right-hand drive Monaro?

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