QOTD: Car Spotting in a Foreign Land

Tim Healey
by Tim Healey

I was on vacation over the past 9-ish days -- don't ask me the exact number, since there was a lot of time-zone crossing and I don't want to do the math. I was in Tanzania, and while the focus of the trip was spotting animals in the Serengeti, I also was doing some serious car spotting during the time we spent nearer the large cities.

I saw lots of cool stuff -- I was pretty geeked to see a Volkswagen Amarok -- that we can't buy in the U.S. And since I am always on the lookout for content, I had a few questions to ask of you in the B and B.

What kind of cars catch your attention when you travel to another country/market? For me, I was interested in a few things. The cars we can't buy here, for one. But also the cars that are a version of a U.S.-spec car that we can't get here. For example -- a model available as a hatch overseas but sedan only around these parts.

There's more! I also am looking for re-badge jobs where the car is essentially the same as what you get here but under a different make or model name -- or just with a different-looking badge for the same make. Or U.S.-spec cars I wouldn't expect to see, such as the Nissan Jukes (yes, plural) I saw in Tanzania. It's not like that many were sold here.

Another thing I track -- what models seem popular in the area? I saw a lot of four-wheel-drive/all-wheel-drive vehicles in Tanzania, which isn't shocking given that some of the roads are unpaved and would require 4WD/AWD to navigate. Obviously, folks buy based on needs more than wants -- so if you have rough roads, you'll accommodate for that. Not only that, but just like in America, crossovers seemed to be popular because of their utility in terms of passenger and cargo space. So it probably won't surprise you that I spotted many a Toyota RAV4, though none from the current generation.

I also keep an eye out for older cars that have survived -- such as a 1990s Acura Legend that caught my eye.

What about you? What do you look out for when traveling?

Sound off below.

[Image: valeriiaarnaud/Shutterstock.com]

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Tim Healey
Tim Healey

Tim Healey grew up around the auto-parts business and has always had a love for cars — his parents joke his first word was “‘Vette”. Despite this, he wanted to pursue a career in sports writing but he ended up falling semi-accidentally into the automotive-journalism industry, first at Consumer Guide Automotive and later at Web2Carz.com. He also worked as an industry analyst at Mintel Group and freelanced for About.com, CarFax, Vehix.com, High Gear Media, Torque News, FutureCar.com, Cars.com, among others, and of course Vertical Scope sites such as AutoGuide.com, Off-Road.com, and HybridCars.com. He’s an urbanite and as such, doesn’t need a daily driver, but if he had one, it would be compact, sporty, and have a manual transmission.

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3 of 14 comments
  • SilverCoupe SilverCoupe on May 10, 2023

    Seeing any American cars in Europe is somewhat rare. I usually see a few Jeeps and Chryslers.

    A few years ago in Poland, a Shelby Mustang pulled up behind our rental Golf on a narrow two lane road. When he finally had the opportunity, he tore off around us. but our GPS was apparently better, as we threaded through a small village, and he went around it, and ended up back on our tail.

    I did briefly see a Bugatti Veyron in a small village in Alsace several years ago. I heard it first, but by the time I whipped around with my camera, it had passed.

  • MaintenanceCosts MaintenanceCosts on May 11, 2023

    I've spent a lot of time in Switzerland in my life. The mix has changed quite a bit over time. Switzerland is a rich country but driving is also very expensive, between high fuel costs, stringent licensing, and a lack of parking (most of developed Switzerland is much denser than what you find here). During my childhood, the mix was mostly A- and B-class cars from European makers, with a steady supply of big German cars for the very rich as well. Now it's mostly B- through D-class CUVs, with a minority of small cars, and the rich are primarily driving bigger luxury CUVs. The CUVification makes the street feel a bit less friendly when you're on foot, because you can't see over them as easily.

    As with most places in Europe, trucks and big truck-based SUVs are quite uncommon. They simply don't fit in parking spaces, which are usually sized for B- or C-class cars. Trades drive a variety of small vans and trucks, almost all with small diesel fours, based on platforms of cars that size.

    • 28-Cars-Later 28-Cars-Later on May 11, 2023

      I observed a lot of nice iron in CH. Subbie SVX, a 77-79 Townie, 92-94 whale Caprice, late model Volvo 940 Polar in taxi service, 01-03 Jeep Liberty badged as "Cherokee", a then newish Escalade, 04-08 Cadillac SRX, classic Fiats, Peugeots, Alfas, Smart Car convertibles, Zee German everything (inc many BMW x6s for some reason), Lex IS hybrid, 03+ Rolls Phantom parked on the street in Geneva (behind a Golf) near the college's chess board area.

      Edit: Also A J60 Land Cruiser near the Sargens train station and on the other side an 00-03 Ford Focus coupe.

  • Tassos I never used winter tires, and the last two decades I am driving almost only rear wheel drive cars, half of them in MI. I always bought all season tires for them, but the diff between touring and non touring flavors never came up. Does it make even the smallest bit of difference? (I will not read the lengthy article because I believe it does not).
  • Lou_BC ???
  • Lou_BC Mustang sedan? 4 doors? A quarterhorse?Ford nomenclature will become:F Series - Pickups Raptor - performance division Bronco - 4x4 SUV/CUVExplorer - police fleetsMustang- cars
  • Ede65792611 Got one. It was my Dad's and now has 132K on it. I pay my Mercedes guy zillions of dollars to keep it going. But, I do, and he does and it's an excellent vehicle. I've put in the full Android panel for BT handsfree and streaming with a backup cam.
  • Lou_BC Wow. People say they want sedans and there should be more of them. Goes to show that internet warriors do not accurately represent the desires of the general population. What do people buy? Pickups and CUV'S. Top 10:1. F Series2. Silverado3. Ram4. Toyota Rav45. Model Y Tesla6. Honda CRV7. Sierra8. Toyota Camry9. Nissan Rogue10. Jeep Grand Cherokee Only 2 sedans.#5 Is a sedan and an EV#8 The ubiquitous Camry The only way to resurrect the sedan is by banning crewcab pickups.