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Hagerty Employee

5 American vehicles with double lives in foreign lands

“And you know what they call a Quarter Pounder with cheese in Paris?” Vincent Vega asked rhetorically as he barreled down the road in a beater 1974 Chevy Nova with Jules Winnfield at the wheel. His fellow hitman was chuffed: “They don’t call it a Quarter Pounder with cheese?


The conversation sparked up when Jules, who had spent most of his lifetime around the streets of Inglewood, California, let Vincent about on recent European travels and the little differences he noticed in daily life.


No man, they got the metric system. They wouldn’t know what the **** a Quarter Pounder is,” Vincent retorts. “They call it a Royale with Cheese!


Brute-force muscle cars, world-beating but affordable sports cars, and ever-dependable and reliable pickup trucks—surely our very own American delicacies, right? The funny thing about global industry is that parallel universes of nearly everything we buy and love here in the United States gets remixed to suit other parts of the world, including our beloved domestic automobiles. Whether the changes were made to meet the production capabilities of another country or simply restyled to hide the roots of last year’s sedans, these machines of the mechanical multiverse have identities all their own. Here are, if you will, five automotive “Royales with cheese.”


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The Willy's "Aero" appears to have wheel covers lifted from a 63" Corvair. Ford had a Three door Bronco in the 80's or 90's in Mexico. Full sized like a Suburban with three doors on ne side and one on the opposite side. AKA early an Suburban. That's what I'd drive in Mexico.


The early Sub's had one door on the left and two on the right. That "20 Series" has a strong Ford vibe! Looks like an overgrown Bronco II.
Advanced Driver

Willys Aero. Just what I would have bought while it was in production.

Second the IKA Torino. Same reason.

But I do not think either Willys or Kaiser offered a V8 at the time, so there was nothing to cut.

Perhaps "cut 'potential 'V8s from the line up " would be more accurate because I have read the design Kaiser was working on or had contracted for went to AMC after Kaiser stopped building passenger cars.


The Kasier design "sort of" went to AMC. AMC hired David Potter who had worked on the Kaiser V-8 when they decided to develop their own in-house V-8. This was done because the heads of AMC realized they had no V-8 experience and Geroge Mason (AMC CEO) wanted an in-house V-8 YESTERDAY. The engine went from paper to production in 18 months -- a miracle in slide-rule days!! The only way it happened was because Potter brought much of his work with Kaiser over. The first generation AMC V-8 does have many similarities with the Kaiser prototype (only protos were made), but Potter also made some improvements, along with AMCs design team.

Hold on!  Let's back up before well-intentioned fiction becomes accepted fact.  Industrias Kaiser Argentina and Willys Overland do Brasil were separate entities administered separately.  IKA received the tooling set for the 1954 Kaiser Manhattan 4-door sedan and went on to produce a largely identical IKA Carabela (Caravelle) for some years thereafter.  W0B, in turn, received the Willys Aero/Ace/Lark 4-door tooling set and, adding 2.6L and later 3.0L F-head I6 engines, produced the Aero Willys 2600 and Itamaraty 3000 over the time frame you specify.  WOB also took the Willys Universal tooling set and produced the Willys Rural, first in original form then later modified by Brooks Stevens, well into the 1970s as a Ford Rural.  The '63 Aero Willys shown in your picture on snowy terrain was a prototype, perhaps even a scale model or mockup.  In production, grille and wheel covers differed, and the hood ornament went away.  To Mike's comment below, production wheel trim featured a small cap over a silver-painted, slotted steel wheel.  Nothing like Corvair!

Advanced Driver

Alternate universe, indeed! The Mustang doesn't look too radical; just enough difference to make one take a good look! The elimination of that  reversed scoop behind the door is an improvement.  The Chevy on the other hand, looks more like a Ford product. In fact, if not for the bow tie on the font grille of the 20 series "Bonanza",  at first glimpse I'd have sworn it was a Ford!


New Driver

That Chevy 20-Series looks more Ford than Chevy. Bizarre. My brain can't process it correctly.

Pit Crew

Thank you for a very interesting article and I enjoyed the Russian video very much. Where the heck did you dig up that video? When you mentioned the buttress on the back of the Mexican Shelby being reminiscent of the Dodge Charger and AMC Javelin, I'm sure you meant the AMC AMX as it had a recessed rear window and the Javelin did not.

Pit Crew

hilarious video : soviets driving around in Fords

New Driver

That SUV caught me off guard as well. I consider myself pretty well versed in global automotive models, but I was not aware of this one. It takes the traditional “square body” greenhouse and plops it onto a Ford ‘87-91 F-150 style sheet metal and a flat explorer type grille and head lamps. 

Intermediate Driver



Intermediate Driver

It seems like I remember Packards being built and sold in South America after their demise in the states.  Does anyone know more about this?

Intermediate Driver

Sometime in the 1980's, I was in Buenos Aires and got into a taxi. It took me a few minutes to realize I was in a Ford Falcon. A BRAND NEW Ford Falcon. 


IKA manufactured the Rambler Classic and subsequently the Rambler Ambassador till early 70s so to say that IKA decided to "tone down" the Rambler is incorrect. IKA wanted a complete new designed car to appeal to a different market and of course they used the in-line 6 Tornado that was used by the Rambler. But body wise it was totally redesigned both cars did not share platforms at all.

Intermediate Driver

That Chevy looks like a square body greenhouse on a first gen Ford ranger.

Advanced Driver

I recall reading that Ford's engineers and production managers despaired of trying to educate Russian automotive managers and workers about the importance of dimensional control and uniformity of parts production. (The Russian Factory managers were always shadowed by political commissars who emphasized the Boss's [Joseph Stalin's] production deadlines and quantitative goals over everything else. It is worth mentioning that the political commissars won the battle, such that Ford withdrew his consultation engineers and quality managers from the Russian plants in the mid-1930s. Consequently, by June 1941, when Hitler's armies invaded Soviet Russia, the Soviet Red Army had a LOT of GaZ trucks, but they required virtually constant nightly maintenance in order to provide a next-day of operations. Senior Soviet Army analysts found that, under wartime conditions of constant retreat or relocation of assets, their GaZ trucks mean-time-to-failure was less than 24 hours of operation. Thus the Red Army's motorized units found themselves unable to retreat as fast as the Axis forces were advancing. Thousands of GaZ trucks were abandoned or destroyed in place where they broke down, and German Army mechanics actually began to salvage them and re-use them with Ford-of-Germany-produced spare parts and German paint & markings. It is not, therefore, surprising that the Red Army's first large-scale counter-attacks which actually stopped the advance of the German Center Group outside Moscow occurred when substantial numbers of Lend-Lease war-aid American Studebaker 4x6 trucks were available. Also, it is instructive to note that, for that attack, the Katusha solid-fuel rocket artillery (a uniquely terrifying weapon) launcher tubes were removed from the GaZ trucks and installed onto Studebakers to utilize their enormously greater reliability. (Ford's consulting engineers and quality managers returned [at Stalin's request] to the GaZ factories in late 1942. By late summer 1943, GaZ trucks had far better reliability, and spare parts were actually interchangeable between vehicles.) 


IKA is "Industries Kaiser Argentina", and did produce the Torino as well as the 65 Rambler Classic (as the Ambassador -- it was the shorter wheelbase Classic body with Ambassador grille and trim). The Classic was made into the early 70s, the Torino through 81. The Torino isn't a restyled 64 American. It's a unique to Argentina car made from the passenger compartment of a Classic combined with the engine and trunk compartments of an American. It's a bit longer and wider than the US built American.


IKA didn't build the Willys Aero in Brazil, Willys do Brasil (Willys of Brazil) did.


One more thing! While Richard Teague is often given credit for the 63 Classic and 64 American designs, they were actually penned by Edmund Anderson. Anderson hired Teague and Teague did do some work on them, but they were penned and approved before Teague joined AMC. Remember, it took a minimum of three years to go from paper to production back then, usually more like five years. Teague did the "tweak" work to update the styling for the 65-66 Classic and Ambassador and the 66 American, but didn't do the initial design. Anderson designed the 64 American to utilize many parts from the 63-64 Classic body -- the doors for example interchange. The outer skins and the window frames (which are removable) are different, but the main door stampings are the same. Anderson gets overlooked way too much, even by AMC! He was head of styling, but AMC refused to make him a vice president -- one reason he retired when he did. It was a slap in the face that they made Teague a vice president shortly after Anderson left. Part of the reason for Anderson not receiving a vice presidency was due to inter company rivalry between styling and engineering -- styling was under the engineering department of all auto companies in the 40s and at least early 50s, all that started to change in the mid 50s and 60s. There were still some powerful people in the AMC engineering department who didn't want that to change, apparently. By the time Teague came along they were probably retired or getting ready to, or didn't mind someone new being equal but didn't want someone who had been under them for so long becoming an equal by heading a new department with it's own vice president. Auto companies have so many "vice presidents"!! 

Pit Crew

That “Chevy Bonanza” sure looks like a late 80s Ford Bronco to me!

And Ford has plants in Mexico, so ...?

Intermediate Driver

Our family has "relatives" in Argentina and Brazil. (Don't ask) one of them told me how he used to race his OHC (Crank snapper as known at the local USA Jeep store) in local Brazilian speed events and was untouchable. He stated that via some basic hot rod tricks ( balanced, blueprinted, Webber, hot cam available only in Brazil) the motor could challenge US V8's on the track. He has some great stories!


Intermediate Driver

Wow, fantastic info, but as usual, I loved the comments just as much

Community Manager