Here's five more cars we'd love to see racing in Supercars
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Wednesday's news in 'Supercarsland' (solid Neil Crompton reference there) was the biggest for the sport in a long time — Ford returning to the series after looking for all money like they were dead and gone.
Whether you're a fan of the Mustang or not, you've got to concede that this is a major coup for the Supercars Championship. It helps their marketing position, not only to fans and television stations, but also to other manufacturers who could be thinking about joining the series to do the old 'race on Sunday, sell on Monday' mantra. And that helps keep the series above water.
It's long been a hot topic for Supercars, and at one point it looked like things were sorted. We had a Volvo factory team and a customer Mercedes-AMG squad, as well as factory Ford, Holden, and Nissan teams respectively. But things once again got beached on the rocks when Ford and Volvo left, with Erebus Motorsport swapping their Mercs for Holdens and Nissan still on the fence about staying.
But this week has showed that there's some positives in there if you dig deep enough, and it gives the category some hope for getting new manufacturers (or returning ones) into the fold. With that in mind, here are five four-wheeled beasts that we think would be great to see in Australia's premier tin-top series.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
The Italian manufacturer's triumphant return to four-door super saloons has been ... perhaps less triumphant than hoped thanks to reliability issues. Nonetheless the Giulia has achieved critical acclaim across most of the world's motoring media, with a reputation as one of the sharpest four-doors in the world.
And one of the prettiest, too.
Chance of happening: remote
Alfa Romeo are no strangers to either motorsport or the more specific field of Australian motorsport. They have a long history of competition in DTM and BTCC, and of course just this year returned to Formula 1 through the embattled Sauber squad.
Closer to home, Alfasuds used to be a mainstay in Aussie touring cars. They used to be a frequent feature in the Australain Touring Car Championship, and they also had their own single-make category on the side.
But that said, their name has rarely been connected to touring cars of any kind anywhere in the world since the millennium (save for the tail-end of their 156 Super Touring campaign). Last year, Auto Action (the group that broke the story of Ford returning to the series) reported that Alfa Romeo were thinking about Supercars involvement via the twin-turbo V6 Giulia, even to the degree of producing internal mock-ups. But, it's been radio silence since ...
Nissan R35 GT-R
You don't need to go far to find that the GT-R badge has quite the history with the ATCC.
Skyline R32 GT-Rs dominated touring cars all over the world in the early '90s, but it was their Australian campaign with Gibson Motorsport that seemed to trigger the largest reactions. The cars quickly became hated by dyed-in-the-wool Holden and Ford fans, and the sport's viewership slid as Nissans won constantly (even with the category's attempts to hobble them with weight penalties and the like).
In the end they sort of helped lead the charge for the Supercars format we know and love today. Of course, the GT-R has evolved plenty since then into a modern-day supercar beater of epic proportions.
Chances of happening: flip a coin
Nissan are still involved with the series in a factory capacity through Kelly Racing's four-car line-up. But the four-door Altima that those cars are based off has been out of production for more than a year now, which has begged the ongoing question of 'what do they get replaced by?'
There are four floated outcomes. Either; the upcoming new-gen Altima, the R35 GT-R, or Nissan will pull the pin on the series. Each of those outcomes has pros and cons weighing into its potential. The new Altima is yet to be confirmed for launch in Australia and New Zealand, the GT-R isn't a volume seller for Nissan which could count against it joining the series, and Nissan themselves are still unsure that they'll stay.
The manufacturer haven't had it good in Australia lately, with just one of their cars currently sitting in the top-10 best selling cars. And that vehicle is the X-Trail SUV — something with not even a remote connection to motorsport. This one is a firm 'wait and see'.
The new Chevrolet Camaro dropped just over a week ago, and it's divided petrol-heads worldwide. A breaker of the internet, like Kim Kardashian in car form.
This is the Camaro that Australia and New Zealand will get later this year in right-hand drive; though we'll be getting the 2SS instead of the pictured four-cylinder turbo.
The Camaro is the Ford Mustang's longest adversary, but the duo haven't really enjoyed much of a head-to-head pedigree on track thanks to Chevrolet's focus on racing Corvettes instead, and Ford's focus (ha!) on the GT, Fiesta, Focus, Falcon and more. So, wouldn't it be cool to see the two coupe's rubbing panels?
Chance of happening: Uhhh, depends...
So, Holden and HSV are the ones bringing the Camaro into Australasia. Given all the R&D Holden have sunken into their ZB Commodore race programme, the chances of them dropping the sedan for the Camaro are remote.
However, HSV have said that they're highly unlikely to make a performance-orientated ZB Commodore. For them, the Camaro (and its likely buyers) are a much better fit for the series from a marketing point of view. Consider too that HSV's former official team is now owned, in part, by an American in Michael Andretti — a high-profile racer and team owner who's openly admitted that Roger Penske's move to join Supercars helped pique his interests.
Well, Roger Penske's now racing Mustangs. What are you gonna do, Mr. Andretti...
Toyota are in the middle of trying to sex-up their image worldwide. The new Corolla is rumoured to come with a hot hatch version, the new RAV4 has muscles on every panel, and the new Camry looks like this.
Of course it's one thing to walk the walk, but talking the talk is generally just as important. And entering in Supercars could be a fast way to build a perceived reputation for performance in this part of the world.
Chance of happening: No
Toyota (and their buddies Lexus) have long been asked about competing in Supercars. This goes all the way back to the days of 'Project Blueprint' in the early thousands, when people were just starting to think about manufacturers outside of Holden and Ford.
Toyota was among the first to be asked, and they've been towards the top of the Supercars shopping list ever since. Yet, apart from the creation of a new single-make 86 series, nothing.
So, why haven't they bitten the bullet and joined Supercars? My guess is that they haven't seen the need to. On both side of the ditch they've been strong sellers through flattering resale numbers and reliability claims. These days the Hilux and Corolla still frequently feature on both nations' top 10 best sellers; though perhaps in the opposite order to what they were 10 years ago.
The last time Toyota were involved with Australia's top tier was in the mid-'80s. I expect that'll stay that way, too.
This had to make the list, obviously.
Late 2017 and early 2018 saw the world's motoring media become utterly saturated by Kia Stinger–related news and reviews. We went gaga, but it was justified. This is a brilliant car, and one that may well have permanently altered the way that enthusiasts look at Korean cars. Maybe.
In this part of the world it's priced like a V8 Commodore or Falcon, which has helped stimulate a lot of direct comparisons between the rear-wheel drive Stinger and the now deceased Aussie brutes. And naturally the question of Supercars involvement hasn't been far behind.
Chances of happening: cry with me
The 'will they or won't they' narrative bounced around early last year. Kia's twin-turbo V6 was a perfect fit for Gen II Supercars regulations, it was rear-wheel drive, and created by a manufacturer hoping to improve their performance image. Slam dunk, right?
Well, no, in June Kia Australia's communications head Kevin Hepworth effectively ruled out appearing in the series as a factory team. The best he could promise at the time was that Kia would be happy to homologate a Stinger for usage in the series if a team were interested in re-bodying their cars in Korean lines.
But the chances of that happening are low. Teams want factory support because it helps soak up their costs, and developing their own Stinger — even just the panels — would add heavily to their motorsport money-pit.
That said, Kia Motoring Australia CEO Damian Meredith did reportedly meet with a couple of Supercars race teams last year. Maybe, with a little bit of support, he might change his mind...