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The motor industry has recently decided to bring back many of its older, discontinued model names as a sort of automotive renaissance. Ford has brought back the Bronco, Mustang Mach 1 and Puma, Jeep has brought back the Wagoneer, GMC revived the Hummer, VW is bringing back the Microbus, Mercedes recently launched a new SL and BMW has smashed it with the new 8-Series.
Nostalgia is a powerful thing, especially in the automotive world where people own discontinued car models which they wish would make a comeback. However, sometimes these model names do make a reappearance, but in the wrong car niche. (Talking about you, Mitsubishi Eclipse!) These classic cars carry a memory of the good old days and bringing them back would make many people happy – just like the new Ford Bronco has already done.
So, with this renaissance of retro and classic vehicle names currently happening, here are a few more cars we wish would make a return into the automotive market – even if they are revived as EVs.
10 Ford Thunderbird
The Ford Thunderbird is an iconic car within the automotive world, designed and built as a competitor to Chevrolet’s Corvette, which took the world by storm. The Thunderbird’s design philosophy was more focused on luxury than outright speed and power, however it did feature a V8 as standard for most of its production life.
A new Thunderbird would be great as a luxurious American coupé to fill the gap which Cadillac has left and to go up against the Germans’ Mercedes SL and BMW 8-Series Convertible. With the emissions issue, a new Thunderbird would most likely be electric and based on something like the Mustang Mach E, rather than have a great big V8, of course. It would still be nice to have the name back.
9 Pontiac Firebird
The Pontiac Firebird is one of the greatest muscle cars produced by an American manufacturer. It was based on the Chevy Camaro, with some tweaks to the body and engine. It was built to compete against the Ford Mustang and recently released Mercury Cougar, adding fire to the already hot and spreading muscle car war of the 1960s.
A modern Firebird to compete against the more powerful versions of the Big Three (Mustang, Camaro and Challenger) would be a welcome addition and inject some more horsepower into the mix. Whilst Trans Am Worldwide does produce new Firebirds based on the Camaro, they do not quite fit in with the rest of the show. However, with Dodge teasing electric muscle cars for the near future, a possible new Firebird would have to be electric in order to stand a chance.
8 Buick Riviera
The Buick Riviera was a personal luxury car built from the ground up by General Motors. The GM E platform on which the Riviera is based, was also used for the Oldsmobile Toronado and Cadillac Eldorado, but unlike the Toronado and Eldorado, the Riviera was rear-wheel-drive, instead of front-wheel-drive.
A modern Riviera aimed at the American luxury coupé market could help to reinvigorate the segment after Cadillac discontinued the ATS sports coupé. It could also give the German manufacturers something to think about regarding their more luxury-focused coupés.
7 Ford Escort
The Ford Escort is one of the most famous family cars in automotive history. It was available in various body styles and was fitted with different engines. The Escort even competed in touring car races, as well as a multitude of rally tournaments. The Ford Escort was sold for around 30 years and amounted to about 4.1 million sales world-wide, before being replaced by the Focus in 2004.
Having a modern version of the Escort as a small family car would be great, opening up the market for cheap cars to become exciting again. A new Escort RS, or even an Escort Cosworth with a high-revving 4-cylinder in a small coupé body style, would give the likes of the Toyota GR86 and run for its money.
6 Buick GNX
The Buick Regal is a coupé from the 70s and 80s, which was more aimed at being a grand tourer than a sports car. However, in the mid-1980s, Buick decided to make a performance version of the car and in 1987, the GNX was released. Instead of having a big V8, it was fitted with a 3.8-liter turbocharged V6, resulting in performance which made it quicker to 62 mph than that time’s Chevy Corvette. It truly was an awesome car.
A new GNX following the original’s philosophy would be great – an unconventional muscle car which is better at being a muscle car than purposely designed muscle cars. Unfortunately, the GNX only lasted one model year, but it left a lasting impression on the motoring world.
5 De Tomaso Pantera
De Tomaso was an Argentinian-Italian automobile manufacturer which produced some of the most iconic supercars of the 1970s – most notably the Mangusta and the Pantera. The Pantera was De Tomaso’s most successful model and featured a Ford-sourced V8 and some of the widest rear tires in the motoring world.
Whilst there is a modern De Tomaso in the form of the P72 (with the underpinnings of the Apollo Intensa Emozione), a new Pantera with a big V8 and rear-wheel-drive, would be an awesome addition to the supercar world. It could even follow the route of the Lamborghini Sián and feature a hybridized drivetrain.
4 Ford Capri
The Ford Capri was a fastback coupé based on mechanical components of the Mk2 Ford Cortina. It was designed by Philip T. Clark – who was involved in the designing of the original Mustang – and was built for Ford Europe, as a smaller, cheaper version of the Ford Mustang. Unlike the Mustang, the Capri was available with a 1.3-liter 4-cylinder, although the most powerful version on sale was a 3.1-liter V6. A small company in South Africa offered the Ford Capri Perana, which was fitted with the 5.0-liter Windsor V8 from the Mustang.
A modern Capri to compete against the Toyota GR86, or even the current crop of hot-hatches, would be an interesting addition to the segment. It could be fitted with the 2.3-liter turbo i4 from the Mustang, with Shelby creating a special version with a V8. Alternatively, the Capri could be a small electric sports coupé to rival the BMW i4.
3 Jensen Interceptor
The Jensen Interceptor was a British grand tourer on sale from the mid-1960s to the mid-1970s. It featured huge Chrysler V8s in the form of the Low Deck 6.3-liter, the High Deck 7.2-liter and the Small Block LA 5.9-liter. The body was designed by Carrozzeria Touring in Italy, rather than in-house by Jensen themselves.
A modern version of the car has been theorized and a concept has been built, however nothing has come of it thus far. A new Jensen Interceptor as a grand tourer to compete against the BMW 8-Series or even the Bentley Continental GT would be cool – even if the car is an EV. Then again, it doesn’t matter whether it is electric or has an internal combustion engine, as Interceptor is one of the coolest names in the automotive world.
2 Lotus Esprit
The Lotus Esprit was a British sports car from the 70s and 80s, which achieved fame after it featured in the James Bond movie, The Spy Who Loved Me (1977). Sadly, it was discontinued in 2004. The Esprit mostly featured a 4-cylinder engine which later got a turbo, but the stand-out model was the Esprit V8, which was fitted with a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V8, mated to a 6-speed manual, which had some of the best handling in the motoring world.
The new Lotus Emira could be classified as the spiritual successor to the Esprit as it features much of the same engineering philosophies as that of the original Esprit. However, a new Esprit as Lotus’s flagship model would be pretty cool – perhaps one based on the Evija electric hypercar.
1 Duesenberg SJ
Duesenberg was a coach-builder from the 1920s and 1930s, which build some of the most powerful cars of the time. The SJ was the fastest and most powerful production car in 1932, producing around 400 hp from a 7-liter supercharged straight-8 engine. Actors Gary Cooper and Clark Gable reportedly owned Model SSJs and would often race each other through the Hollywood Hills.
A new Duesenberg automobile would be an excellent addition to the car world, especially as a luxury car to go up against the Rolls-Royce Phantom and Bentley Flying Spur – perhaps bridging the gap between the Phantom’s utmost comfort and the Flying Spur’s more sporty edge. Who knows, with coach-building slowly making a comeback, a new Duesenberg may see the light of day.
The Duesenberg Model J was flamboyant and opulent… and it was sold during the Great Depression.
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