Today’s ever-changing automotive landscape means that interesting and unique vehicles are being unveiled to the public at a rapid pace. These different models encourage vehicle designers (and consumers) to think outside the box. However, with sports cars increasingly becoming a niche market, much of this innovation among major automakers has primarily been applied to crossovers, SUVs and large trucks.
With the roads now dominated by vehicles seating more than six people, automotive purists often yearn for something more, remembering a time when manufacturers paid attention to form over function, and speed rather than safety. In the same vein, here are ten iconic and downright cool models that should make a comeback in 2019.
ten Honda S2000
Honda has developed a strong reputation during its existence for producing consistently affordable and reliable automobiles. Its pioneering use of variable valve timing and legendary smooth-shifting manual gearboxes have become staples of the sports car world.
While the company constantly offers and updates the Civic in “Si” and “Type R” trims, the S2000 hasn’t received the same modern treatment. Featuring a peppy 237-hp four-cylinder engine sending power to the rear wheels through a six-speed manual transmission, the S2000 was the “unicorn” of Honda’s lineup, being its only production vehicle at the time with a configuration rear wheel drive.
9 volkswagen scirocco
The Volkswagen Gulf is an undeniably iconic vehicle that has stood the test of time. However, many don’t remember the Golf’s sportier, more streamlined little brother. Sold only in the United States from 1975 to 1988 and produced in several inline-four variants, the Scirocco was never officially discontinued worldwide, only in the North American market.
This is due to production restrictions based on US law and a lack of interest in the model compared to the iconic Golf that remained. However, production of the Scirocco continued and evolved for modern international markets, where the third generation is now sold. This new design language (which basically looks like a lower, more streamlined version of the Golf) maintains its distinction through a sportier stance and engine.
During its six years of production (2007-2013), the Mazdaspeed3 occupied an important segment in the compact sports car market. It offered owners utility through its five-door hatchback design, reliability from its strong Japanese four-cylinder producing 263 horsepower, and agility through numerous upgrades over the base Mazda3 model.
Being a car practically designed for the tuner market, its ease of upgrading has led many to extend the capabilities of their Mazdaspeed3 far beyond its factory constraints, allowing the model to develop its own cult following that still exists today.
seven Cadillac CTS-V Wagon
Despite the fact that the Cadillac CTS-V model is still offered by the automaker today (although it will soon be replaced by the new CT5-V) and has even been bolstered by the subsequent unveiling of a new ATS-V , there really was no vehicle on the road at the time like the CTS-V Wagon.
Although it was only produced for four years, it left an undeniable mark on the sports car world. Under the hood was the huge, iconic LS V8, producing a screaming, force-fed 556 horsepower from its massive stock supercharger. Aside from the power, the bodywork is what made this vehicle unique, as it packed all that punch into a fully functional family station wagon. It was just as comfortable going to the local supermarket to stock up on groceries as it was doing ridiculous numbers on a race track.
6 Nissan 240SX
When it comes to the most iconic sports cars created by Japanese automakers in the second half of the 20th century, you’d be hard-pressed not to mention the legendary Nissan 240SX. Offered from 1989 to 1999, the 240SX was Nissan’s answer to the entry-level sports car.
While the company currently only produces the 370Z and GTR in its sports car division, the 240SX previously occupied the bottom tier of the group, offering buyers a more reasonable price to enter the sports car market. With a four-cylinder producing around 200 horsepower, a rear-wheel-drive configuration and low curb weight, the 240SX quickly became an iconic vehicle in the world of racing and drifting. Today, they (and their coins) command high premiums on the secondary market.
5 Dodge Magnum
The Dodge Magnum, like the previously mentioned CTS-V, was an outlier, a weird model that unfortunately never got enough production time to really shine. Despite producing coupes named Magnum throughout the 1970s and 1980s, Dodge chose to revitalize the model name for the 2004 model year, as a sports station wagon.
Offered in several engine configurations ranging from a modest 180 horsepower V6 to a menacing 425 horsepower SRT V8, the Magnum had it all. Lower models were offered with optional all-wheel drive, while the SRT version received special racing treatments as well as a Mercedes Benz-derived drivetrain. However, despite these facts (and a niche audience that adored the vehicle), it was discontinued.
4 Ford F-150 SVT Lightning
The Ford Lightning pickup truck was intended for the practical-but-not-practical driver that exists inside automotive enthusiasts everywhere. From afar, the truck looks like a rather uninspired two-door compact pickup, but what was going on under the hood was something much more intense.
Developed by Ford’s Special Vehicles team, the Lightning was powered by a supercharged V8 that produced 360 horsepower, housed the same transmission Ford used in its larger utility vehicles, and still retained the same towing capacity as its F- counterpart. 150 full-fledged. Offered from 1993 to 2004, the truck sought to compete with the Chevrolet 454SS and GMC Cyclone, creating a new submarket for factory-modified pickup trucks.
3 Dodge the Viper
When talking about performance American sports cars, the two models that immediately come to mind for most enthusiasts are the Chevrolet Corvette and the Dodge Viper. While only the former is still available from dealerships today, the Viper has always been the “angry brother” of the pair. Where the Corvette was a fine example of American engineering, the Viper’s appealing factor is that it’s rough around the edges.
With a one-of-a-kind late-production 645-horsepower V10 engine, an exhaust note that would wake up an entire neighborhood, and a driving experience largely uninhibited by computer interference, the Viper was the latest in a series practically dead. race, the one that puts almost nothing between the driver and the road.
2 Buick Grand National GNX
Arguably the most understated sports car ever produced by an American manufacturer, the Buick Grand National GNX was the vehicle defining the term “sleeper”. Based on the Regal platform initially, the Grand National GNX was manufactured for one year, 1987, and was a full-size coupe jointly developed with McLaren.
One of the biggest mysteries surrounding this car, however, is how Buick underestimated the engine’s power. Listing it as only totaling 260 horsepower, the car’s legitimate horsepower was over 300 horsepower. Many believe Buick’s decision to underestimate him came from internal pressure; so as not to release the low-key version of a family cruiser as being the most powerful car offered in the lineup of any American manufacturer at the time.
1 Acura Integra Type R
From 1997 to 2001, Acura undertook the task of producing a limited-run model specifically for enthusiasts. By revamping its iconic Integra model, just like Honda did with its Civic to give it a special Type R treatment, the vehicle gained an identity of its own.
The resulting product was a roughly 200-horsepower front-wheel-drive coupe designed to be beaten on the road and take the hits effortlessly. With only 3,823 examples of this model produced throughout its existence, it has become something of a lost gem among Japanese sports cars of the late 20th century, and the few clean examples that remain command after-market values. ridiculous sales.
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