5 old cars that need to be brought back from the dead
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Thursday Five: cars we wish would rise again
Sorry if this comes out like the grumblings of a jaded old man, but in 2016 everything is a remake.
The movies and television shows are all just spin-offs, remakes, and sequels. New fashion is just old fashion with holes in the knees. iPhones are just … well, maybe those are new.
Cars are somewhat in the middle. There are brands like Tesla going out and reinventing how we look at the automotive world and then there are brands like Chevrolet and Ford that live and die by their established histories, through entities like the Corvette and the Mustang.
But in this case, remakes are actually the good guy. We love cars with character, and inexplicably cars of old tend to have more of it than cars of new. So anything that can successfully recreate its past tends to quickly become the darling of its segment. Think Toyota 86, Volkswagen Golf GTI, and of course Mazda MX-5.
So for today’s Thursday Five, we sit down in front of the roaring fire with our pen and paper, and concoct our Christmas lists for Santa (and you thought you’d dodged any holiday references … ) of what we would like back for 2017.
Jeep Willys / CJ
It's not often that any of today's contemporary SUVs actually prides itself on getting its tyres a little bit dirty. Most of them are simply marketing tools made to appease a thirst market — according to raving cynics with tin-foil hats that live up alleyways.
So wouldn't it be nice to see someone completely blow apart that thought and issue a pure straight-up-and-down off roader? It would be a job for Jeep and their Willys.
Forget your Apple CarPlay and your WiFi connectivity, let's wind back the clock to a time when windscreens and doors were optional accessories. 'Murica!
Late last year we were confronted by Mazda's beautiful RX-Vision (cough, nine) concept. Soft but striking lines that embraced the Japanese marque's KODO design direction wrapped themselves around the car that arguably stole the show at the 2015 Tokyo Motor Show, and we absolutely lapped it up.
Like sheep we all got too excited, invested too much thought and hope, only for Mazda to recently shoot the idea of production down in flames. Sigh, not again.
Mazda would benefit from a proper halo car right now too. Their range of CXs, 3s, and 6s, are all undoubtedly some of the most well made and well rounded cars money can buy today, but the brand risks losing some of their sporting heritage without some kind of proper performance model on the table that isn't the MX-5. Especially with rivals like Honda wallowing in the Civic Type R and NSX.
A ‘proper’ Mini
Now, I'm not here to restart or progress any arguments about whether the BMW MINI is a true blue MINI. That discussion will continue to rage in the background, between people the rest of us have long since ignored.
The BMW MINI, that is, the smallest two-door hatch, has always been a great car. They pack the same go-kart handling of the original into an effective modern package, which to their credit sells rather well.
However you can't deny that MINIs have been getting bigger and bigger and bigger ever since their return through BMW. And nowadays they more or less just blend into the competitive cesspool of European hatchbacks. The original MINI used to be loved because there was nothing else quite like it, and that's not really true of the current car. No matter how many Goodbye Pork Pie remakes they produce.
So in order to bring back the MINI magic, I vote that the brand bring forth a true modern recreation of the original. Match its crazy lack of weight with an electric power train, and you'll have most likely the greenest car in the world.
Even as a wee sprat I felt that the Hyundai Coupe was an odd one out in the Korean manufacturer's ’90s line-up. Next to all of the economy cars, its presence looked like some kind of prank.
As such it always had a tough time trying to battle the image and stigma that people placed on it, before dying a slow painful death in 2009 (its name in New Zealand having changed to Tiburon in its later years).
Hyundai's growth since the turn of the century has been enormous. While owning a Hyundai in 1996 meant having to avoid your neighbour's sneers through their lounge-room curtain, owning one in 2016 is a much more rewarding affair. Their cars look nice, often win awards, and are in general perceived in a much more glowing light these days.
In the context of their current line-up, a cheap but stylish sports car would fit right in. And that would be the Tiburon. I'd only request to ditch the V6 powerplant for a turbocharged four banger, and switch to rear-wheel drive. Someone has to challenge the Toyota 86 after all ...