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Herald Sun - Motoring - - Showroom - PAUL GOVER CHIEF RE­PORTER paul.gover@cars­guide.com.au

Aus­tralia needs some heroes. The 2013 sales num­bers out this week show lo­cal mak­ers hit a new low, with less than 120,000 Aus­tralian-built cars de­liv­ered over the past 12 months.

As we slide down the slip­pery slope into car-mak­ing ob­scu­rity, and then the pages of au­to­mo­tive his­tory, it’s time to em­pha­sise the on go­ing po­ten­tial for some gen­uine pride.

We’re not talk­ing about a Com­modore Evoque that’s great value but ba­sic trans­port, or a Cruze that’s been trans­lated from a Dae­woo into the Holden line-up, or even a base-model Camry that’s as ef­fi­cient as a two-door frost-free.

These need to be cars that make you boast. And smile.

That means some­thing with mus­cle, some­thing with flair, and some­thing with se­ri­ous street cred.

Or per­haps a hy­brid to prove you’re ahead of the curve on the green­ing of cars.

In the past, it could have been a Monaro or a true-blue Fal­con GT, not just the XR8 that’s be­ing brought back this year as a Blue Oval tickle for the fi­nal makeover of the Broad­mead­ows bat­tler.

In the past it could even have been — be­lieve it or not — a Toy­ota HiLux with TRD tweak­ing. And, no, that’s not a spell­ing mis­take, as the TRD di­vi­sion showed po­ten­tial be­fore its early end.

A Fal­con XR6 Turbo def­i­nitely qual­i­fies, so does a Holden States­man. Even the Toy­ota Avalon — a car that was orig­i­nally go­ing to be called the Cen­taur — gave sur­pris­ing smiles as a taxi run­ner.

So, in the first month of 2014 with no re­lief in sight for the lo­cal mak­ers — and Toy­ota tee­ter­ing on the edge of a pull­out — are there still cars that can bring home the Ashes? You betcha.

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