11 dead cars that need to make a comeback
Apparently, this type of blog falls into the “listicle” category. That name has always bemused me, because if simply placing a list within an article makes it a listicle, does asking questions within an article to test people’s car knowledge make it a testicle?
While the above bit of lewd-humour may be baffling for my petulant and wondrous mind, the topic at hand in this blog certainly isn’t. For there is no doubt whatsoever from my perspective that the 11 defunct cars I list below should make a comeback. Let’s start the show...
In the grand scheme of things, the Mitsubishi Evo is a fairly recent death in the motoring world. Its passing took different paths for both the US and UK markets, with America getting the 303bhp Final Edition, and Britain being treated to the 440bhp FQ-440.
The formula for the Evo is fantastically simple and engrained within the fabric of automotive reality itself, but also, it doesn’t conform to the times. The limits of its 2L engine have pretty much been reached and surpassed with the help of a turbocharger the size of Mount Everest. And in a world of hyper-hatchbacks, the old Evo just doesn’t makes sense anymore.
For it to make a comeback, it would need its format altering - and perhaps adopt hybrid technology - which could either make or break it. But it would be more than possible to do while still retaining a whiff of the old car’s spirit.
The Honda S2000 is one of my all-time favourite sports cars. With the help of a VTEC system and 9,000rpm, Honda managed to screw nearly 240bhp from a 2L naturally aspirated engine!
It was the engine that formed the essence of what made the S2000 great. And as a result of that very fact, you can form the most compelling of arguments AGAINST the rebirth of the car. After all, everything about what made the S2000 special isn’t in-line with how manufacturers are forced to build cars today; therefore, a new one would most definitely use turbocharging, and lower revs.
This would undoubtably make it a completely different car, detached from the original’s spirit. But if Toyota have gotten away with making many NA GT86’s for so long, and to such success, why can’t Honda do something similar with an S2000 revival? Seems like an opportunity to me...
If you asked me nicely, and bribed me with chocolate, I could formulate a very convincing argument against the rebirth of the Porsche 928. After all, the 928’s job back in its day evolved into one of grand-touring, and you could say that Porsche’s GT-car requirements are now fulfilled by the 911 Turbo. But let’s be honest, as good as the 911 Turbo is, it isn’t a dedicated GT car.
A new 928 could fill that gap in Porsche’s current range. Using a turbocharged V8 up front, a PDK with option of a manual (gotta hope) in the spacious middle, and a bit boot at the rear. If you ask me, that’s a recipe for success.
The rotary engine is something that has garnered a religious following, and while I may not personally be a massive fan, I still have a great deal of affection for the engine that dared to be different. And in the world of the rotary, there’s little more treasured name as “Mazda RX-7”.
While Mazda did keep the rotary alive with the RX-8, that car never quite reached the heights of its predecessor. And while the rotary is returning for Mazda, it’ll merely be used as a range extender in an EV.
Instead, what Mazda ought to do is put a rotary in something small and very light, that sends drive to the rear via a manual gearbox. Perhaps the addition of a turbocharger or two wouldn’t be a bad idea, and it would be consistent with the RX-7’s form when it left the world.
Every time I’m presented with a person who so proudly alerts the world that they drive a Mazda MX-5, I feel myself powerless to resist asking “why didn’t you buy an MR2?”. From my personal perspective, the MR2 is a much better car than the MX-5 - which will undoubtably be the one thing that people comment on for this blog; after all, we can’t have a person’s praise for the MX5 dip below the level of acceptability now, can we?
While I admit that Toyota have the GT86, which is a truly brilliant car, if its engine were in the middle, it could potentially be even better for drivers. The MR2 fills a similar but ultimately secular niche to the GT86. While both are there to adhere to the needs of people’s driving dreams at the lowest price possible, the MR2 takes the driving enjoyment factor just that little bit further with its exotically inspired mid-engined layout. There’s no denying, such a car is missing from Toyota’s range.
The Capri’s position in the UK was akin to the Mustang’s in America, for it brought excitement and power to the people with timeless aesthetics for not much more than a humdrum 4-door. If ever there was a car you could slap on a poster as a metaphor for working class might, the Capri would be the one on this side of the pond.
While the Mustang is now a familiar feature in the UK, the Capri is something you’d only see in the history books. Perhaps the presence of the Mustang narrows the need for a modern-day Capri. But personally, I envisage a new Capri as being smaller, lighter, and nimbler than the Mustang, with a smaller and more energetic engine, and looks that echo the classic.
The Audi Quattro is a car that’s come desperately close to reincarnation. There was a fairly tasty concept unveiled at the 2010 Paris Motor Show - a car that served as a way of celebrating the 30th birthday of the original. That car had a 2.5L turbocharged 5-cylinder engine developing 402bhp.
In 2014 however, another concept arrived with a 4L Twin-Turbo V8, and hybrid augmentation, totalling 690bhp! The 0-60mph time was said to be 3.7 seconds, and the top speed was electronically limited to 189mph. Unfortunately, neither of these concepts made the cut.
While a 5-cylinder Quattro would be more in keeping with the original, there’s no denying that such a car would occupy a niche already filled by Audi’s TT-RS. For the Quattro name to return, it would need reinventing into a different vocation - which conveniently sounds akin to the V8 hybrid concept.
While something resonant of a grand-tourer would feel blasphemous to many hardcore fans of the original, I personally think it could be a wonderful addition to Audi’s range.
A revival of Lotus’s supercar was attempted once before, with a supercharged Lexus V8. That car came so desperately close to production, but was ultimately binned at the last moment. If anything, that very fact makes the case for a new Esprit even stronger.
You won’t normally see me advocating for the use of turbochargers when a perfectly good supercharger was once proposed - but for a new Esprit, considering the original was turbocharged, I would see a new one as turbocharged too.
Something in around the same performance bracket as the McLaren 570S would also see the Lotus entering a battle against the Porsche 911 Turbo S, Audi R8 V10 Plus, Lamborghini Huracan LP580-2, Honda NSX, Nissan GTR, Mercedes AMG GTR, and Jaguar F-Type SVR.
Perhaps the presence of such strong competition is something that dissuades Lotus from pursuing a new Esprit project - or perhaps it’s just wishful thinking of me to even entertain the possibility that they’d even be thinking about it. Whether they are or not, they should be.
The original Dino sat on the bottom rung of Ferrari’s performance ladder. While that sentence sounds unfairly negative, the Dino did something incredibly important for Ferrari - for it was their very first mid-engined road car. It set the blueprint for the following berlinettas, through its evolution from V6 to V8, and so on.
If you trace the bloodline of the Dino, you come to the 488 GTB. While it may no longer be the slowest car Ferrari produce - with that position being filled by the Portifino - it is Ferrari’s slowest mid-engined car. And how slow is it, exactly? 0-60mph in under 3 seconds, 0-100mph in under 6, and a top speed of 208 thanks to a 661bhp Twin-Turbo V8. Clearly, there’s a gap in the market for something not quite as frantic, that could be pitched at a lower price point.
The Dino name could be revived to create such a car. With a V6 - just like the original - boosted by a pair of turbos to make around 560bhp, it would be a perfect fit, and also a fine addition to the epic battle that persists at that performance point. While speculation has circulated for a while that Ferrari are indeed making a new Dino to fill these very shoes, the rumour mill has stopped turning recently. Despite that, Ferrari should definitely make a new Dino.
Ford Sierra RS Cosworth (Mondeo/Fusion)
When looking back along the Sierra/Mondeo bloodline, the trained eye tends to hone in on the variety of hot versions. Most iconic of all is the Sierra RS Cosworth, with the RS500 version being particularly sort after.
For the past couple of generations, the Mondeo has neglected to include a hot version amongst its range - a crying shame given that the ST220 of the 3rd generation, particularly in estate trim, was a working class performance car hero. Clearly then, a return would be nice.
Just imagine this: a Ford Mondeo Cosworth RS500, that actually has 500bhp from, let’s say, a Twin-Turbo V6. The power could be sent to the rear wheels via a 6-speed manual, and it could be available as an estate too.
I appreciate that this vision is purely a fantasy that’s been influenced by my own preferences in motoring - but I feel a modern day hot Mondeo would fit nicely into today’s range as described above, and at a less expensive price point to the usual establishment at that performance level.
Renault Clio V6
The current fast Renault Clio is just about my least favourite hot-hatch around. With an awfully dull 1.6L turbocharged engine, and even worse, a paddle-shift gearbox that changes gear about as quickly as a woman changes her outfit, it fails with me instantly.
Back when the world wasn’t quite so shit however, the hottest Clio you could buy had a V6 engine where you’d normally find the cramped rear seats. With drive sent to the rear, and over 250 horsepower, it was a delight. Less a hot hatch, and more a baby supercar. Clearly then, Renault need to bring back the Clio V6.
I appreciate the likelihood of this happening is about on par with that of a relative you didn’t know existed in Nigeria actually leaving you $62,000,000 in their will like they say in their emails. But it’s precisely how unlikely it is that gives you the opportunity to dream.
Imagine a Clio today with a mid-mounted 3.6L V6 that wasn’t boosted by any turbos, around 400 horsepower, and a manual gearbox sending that power to the rear wheels. To me, that sounds like a recipe so delicious, Renault would be fools not to cook it.
But now I want to ask you guys: what dead cars would you like to see making a return? Let me know in the comments.
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