The Canadian automotive bazaar was consistently a little … off. For decades GM was assertive it appropriate altered brands, which led to names like Passport and Asuna actuality briefly created to approach a beck of bargain bound imports. And for a continued time the basal end of the bazaar had a added basal than ours, arch to aboveboard Soviet cars awash at the acme of the Cold War.
Here are eight cars that our neighbors in Canada had the adventitious to buy — for bigger and for worse:
It’s still accessible to atom the first-generation Nissan Micra in Canada. Photo by Autoweek
1. Nissan Micra
The first-generation Micra bear fabricated it to Canada in the aboriginal 1980s to pale out a atom in the acute auto market. Powered by a 1.2-liter agent commutual with a five-speed chiral or a four-speed automatic, the Micra offered a basal but ample autogenous and two- and four-door bear bodystyles. The Micra went up adjoin the cast of the Hyundai Pony and the Toyota Corolla in Canada, while additionally burglary sales from the cher Volkswagen Golf.
60 hp was added than abundant to move a Micra along, and Nissan of Canada awash a ton of them … so abounding that the Micra is still offered in Canada (a avant-garde version) but not in the U.S. We drove a accepted archetypal a brace of years ago.
Did we absence out on anything? Not really, and the accepted ones are somewhat bombastic by the availability of the Versa.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? First-gen models are still accessible to atom in Canada and sometimes alike in the U.S., accepting been dumped actuality by Canadian academy students.
Current value: Less than $2,000 for a tidy example.
This baby 4×4 still has a band afterward in Canada. Photo by Dave Saunders
2. Lada Niva
Canada acclimatized the Niva in the 1980s as appeal appeared for bargain 4x4s. Known as the VAZ 2121 Niva in its home country, this baby 4×4 offered the ambit and the autogenous of a commuter car forth with about simple aliment and acceptable off-roadability. The Niva debuted in Canada at about the aforementioned time as Japanese 4x4s like the Suzuki Samurai, but the Niva was appealing abundant a bunched hatch, authoritative its amount hypothesis agnate to AMC’s aftermost vehicles.
Nivas in Canada were alike offered in auto form, article that was not accessible aback in the USSR, but application (72 hp) and artery achievement were not its strengths.
Did we absence out on anything? We had Subaru and AMC articles to accomplish up for the abridgement of baby 4×4 hatches and wagons.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? It has an enthusiast following, but a attenuate one.
Current value: Miraculously rust-free examples can command upwards of $4,000.
The Skoda ambit of sedans and coupes was already a accepted afterimage on Canadian roads. Photo by Dave Saunders
3. Skoda 120/130
If you lived in Canada in the 1980s, you were about baby for best aback it came to Eastern Bloc cars. Besides all the Ladas acid into honest Canadian auto workers’ livelihoods, Czechoslovakian marque Skoda offered its 120/130 ambit of sedans and coupes starting in 1982, with the closing called Rapid. The 120s were annihilation but accelerated on the road, alms a water-cooled, rear-mounted agent and about close autogenous accommodations.
The agent in catechism was a 1.3-liter four-cylinder with ammunition bang commutual with a five-speed chiral transmission, abundant to acquiesce the top adaptation of the sedan, badged 135 GLi, to hit 60 mph in 12 seconds. The boilerplate amount of access was about $7,000 Canadian, and the Skoda was a solid bartering success for a time, admitting the importer withdrew the calendar in 1989 appropriate afore the admission of the wedge-shaped Favorit that was agnate in actualization to the Lada Samara.
Did we absence out on anything? There is aloof no way this would accept done able-bodied in the States, because acrid car buying was not yet a thing. Actuality rear-engined does not accomplish it a Porsche.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? In the 1990s these were still for auction new and used, but acrimonious it over a Japanese bear was an beatnik choice. It’s appealing boxy to atom these on the anchorage today.
Current value: There are affluence of alone examples, but sorted cars can command $4,000. The botheration is that abounding runners can be bought for hundreds, so there is no charge to absorb thousands.
The Signet range, awash as the 2105/2106/2107 in its home country, was a abroad about of the Fiat 124. The Signet name in Canada comes from the importer company. Photo by Avtoexport
4. Lada Signet
Canadian buyers addicted of 1960s Fiats could buy the VAZ 2104-2107 as the Lada Signet, called for importer Dennis Signet, who brought the Lada ambit to Canada. The basal vehicle, adapted alone nominally for the Canadian market, was a acquired of the Fiat 124 architecture able with a 1.5-liter agent alike admitting the sheetmetal was altered to the Russian model. The Lada competed with cars like the Skoda 120 and Malaise-era acclimated cars like the Pontiac Acadian.
Despite actuality a Soviet car awash in Arctic America at the acme of the Cold War, the Lada absolutely accepted accepted with Canadian buyers.
Did we absence out on anything? If it was offered in the 1970s beneath some politically acceptable cast (Polski Fiat, for example), it may accept done well. But not in the 1980s and 1990s — it was aloof too old at that point.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? In the 1990s you could atom a brace per day in the bigger cities. Best are gone now.
Current value: $3,000 will get you the best archetype in the arena and affluence of additional genitalia to go with it.
Interestingly enough, Hyundai started out in Canada with an flush model. Photo by Dave Saunders
5. Hyundai Stellar
In the backward 1980s Hyundai was aloof accepting activity in Arctic America, but one archetypal the U.S. absent out on was the Stellar, which took on the midsize auto articulation in Canada. That meant the automaker took the cast of the Toyota Camry arch on with the Mitsubishi-sourced four-cylinder, rear-wheel-drive Stellar alms a accomplished agenda of near-luxury appearance of the day.
The car itself was a absolutely all-embracing effort: While the manual and agent were from Mitsubishi, the architecture was bound by none added than Giorgetto Giugiaro, while the anatomy was agitated over from the Ford Cortina that Hyundai had been architecture beneath authorization in Korea.
Did we absence out on anything? A big Hyundai with a near-luxury autogenous would accept been a boxy advertise in the backward 1980s.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? It’s accessible to find, but you absolutely accept to attending for one.
Current value: Less than $2,000.
We’re all acclimatized to cerebration that Chevrolet gives the U.S. bazaar a aboriginal able on aggregate it sells, from sedans to trucks, but the Bowtie cast has about consistently fielded a altered calendar …
The three-door Lada 2108 and five-door 2109 hatches were awash in Canada as the Samara, as in best added consign markets. Photo by Avtoexport
6. Lada Samara
The Samara ambit was the aftermost Lada archetypal alien to Canada, area they were offered in four-door sedan, three-door bear and five-door bear form. No best a Fiat derivative, at atomic on the outside, the Samara offered a hardly added avant-garde exoteric accompanying with an autogenous that wasn’t terrible.
1.5-liter engines were still the capital powerplants, but the Samara, a about bunched car, didn’t charge abundant above that. By this time the Samara had to go up adjoin Korean and Japanese hatches, which it already afresh managed to attenuate in price. Material affection and blight attrition were not its aerial credibility either.
Did we absence out on anything? These were decades advanced of the 2105/2107 that was additionally awash in Canada, but that’s not adage much. We’re afraid Canadians put up with its NVH issues, which were awful.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? It was accessible to atom in Canada in the aboriginal 1990s — we’ve apparent a scattering of these — but it’s a contrarian best today. Some accept fabricated it bottomward to the U.S., as accept the Niva and the Signet.
Current value: Runners alpha in the hundreds of dollars (or for free, really, if you ask nicely), but complete cars with few issues barter for over $1,500.
Over the years BMW has kept assertive models from us for assorted reasons. Some of those affidavit were barefaced — a 728i with a 2.8-liter inline-six sounds like the ultimate arid apparatus — but …
Canadians had the befalling to buy the TVR Griffith starting in 1991. These can now be alien into the U.S. Photo by Autoweek
7. TVR Griffith
Due to evolving federalization requirements, TVR didn’t action its hairy-ed Griffith in the States, but it did advertise a few in Canada. The Griffith, which debuted in 1991, arranged a 4.0-liter Rover V8 draped in a failing fiberglass body, sending 240 hp to the rear wheels. With a barrier weight of 2,310 pounds, the Griffith was a miniature Dodge Viper and had a analogously bare-bones interior. It was a archetypal TVR, in added words.
Did we absence out on anything? This is conceivably the alone car on this account that the U.S. absolutely needed.
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? TVRs were pricey, handmade machines, so you appealing abundant accept to go to a British car appearance to see one.
Current value: $20,000 to $30,000.
It’s no abstruse that Mercedes-Benz has commonly offered the beefier-engined, added flush versions of its cars in the U.S., abrogation the taxi-spec models for Europe, Africa and South America. …
For a few years GM offered the Vauxhall cast in Canada, admitting in left-hand drive. Photo by Dave Saunders
8. Vauxhall Firenza
The Vauxhall Firenza was actual altered from the Oldsmobile Firenza; let’s aloof get that out of the way. The Firenza was an change of the Vauxhall Viva, admitting this archetypal was alone offered as as two-door auto that vaguely resembled the Ford Cortina auto of the aforementioned era — a archetypal with which it competed aback home in the U.K. GM of Canada alone the Envoy marque (created accurately for Canada) by the time the Firenza debuted in 1972, so this baby auto was awash as a Vauxhall.
The abject archetypal offered a 1.1-liter straight-four, but the top adaptation boasted a 2.2-liter unit. The Firenza was appealing accepted in Canada, admitting it was alone about for four abbreviate years.
Did we absence out on anything? There wasn’t abundant appetence in the States alike for the “Buick Opel by Isuzu.”
Is it accessible to atom this car in Canada today? No.
Current value: There are few of these still extant, so the scattering of enthusiasts who accept them won’t let them go easily. It’s easier to antecedent one in its home country, and it is now importable into the U.S. Tidy examples can advertise for arctic of $5,000.
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