Some car models have tremendous staying power that’s measured in decades. Included in this elite group are picks such as the Toyota Corolla, Chevrolet Corvette and Volkswagen Golf. However, not all models are blessed with that kind of longevity. Listed below are some discontinued cars we’d like to see make a comeback, including two expected to return in the next year or two.
1. Subaru Brat
The last time Subaru produced a pickup truck was from 2003 to 2006, with the Baja. Decades earlier, beginning in 1978, Subaru offered the trendsetting Brat, the first small pickup truck with all-wheel drive.
Besides its off-road capabilities, the Brat was noteworthy for its two truck-bed jump seats, which allowed Subaru to skirt a 25-percent tariff on light pickup trucks. That loophole was later closed, and no other manufacturer exploited it.
Consider the possibilities. Although Subaru hasn’t teased us with a concept pickup truck, it wouldn’t surprise us if a Brat-like model returned, perhaps based on the compact Impreza. Subaru is outpacing industry growth as customers can’t get enough of this niche brand. Adding a pickup would be the logical next step.
2. Pontiac Firebird
When GM canceled the duo, that move created an uproar as enthusiasts demanded their return. GM listened, and by 2010, the Camaro returned, but not the Firebird. Instead, GM shut down Pontiac following the automaker’s bankruptcy and reorganization. Thus, there is no Firebird and certainly no high-performance Trans Am to satisfy the Pontiac faithful.
GM will not resurrect Pontiac, nor will the Firebird return as a Buick as some have rumored. Your best bet for acquiring a similar new model lies with the aftermarket Trans Am Super Duty, which is based on the Camaro and built by a Tallahassee manufacturing company. The company acquired the naming and badging rights from GM to build a 1,000-horsepower variant and other models like it.
3. Plymouth ‘Cuda
Muscle car enthusiasts know that the Plymouth Barracuda arrived to the market two weeks before the Ford Mustang in 1964. They also know that the true muscle car version rolled out in 1970, as a near-twin to the Dodge Challenger. This sportier variant was marketed as the ‘Cuda.
Two inches shorter than the Challenger and with its own sheet metal, the ‘Cuda was the less costly of the two. However, these days, a clean Hemi-powered ‘Cuda fetches many times the amount of a similar Challenger at auction. After all, there’s nothing quite as drool-worthy as a Hemi ‘Cuda convertible.
Don’t hold your breath for a resurrection. Rumors of a Dodge Barracuda model that represents a scaled-down version of the Dodge Challenger have surfaced run recent years. But parent Fiat Chrysler is not awash in cash to invest in this model nor is the market especially favorable for yet another pony car.
4. Dodge Dakota
Introduced in 1986, the Dodge Dakota had a 25-year run before being canceled. The Dakota was a trendsetting model for its time as it was the first midsize pickup truck offered on the U.S. market. Its larger size signaled the start of a movement whereby manufacturers replaced small trucks with larger models, and the Dakota paved the way for nameplates such as the Toyota Tacoma and Nissan Frontier.
A Ram Dakota would be the logical complement to the Ram 1500, and enable Fiat Chrysler to match Chevrolet, Toyota, GMC, Nissan, and soon Ford with an effective one-two pickup punch. We think a Dakota outfitted with the available Ram Box storage management system and an optional diesel engine would make such a model a hit if it returned.
What are the chances? Slim to none. In fact, Fiat Chrysler has a Wrangler-based pickup truck in the works, and this model is destined for the Jeep lineup. Consequently, the automaker is not likely to produce a Ram variant.
5. Buick Grand National
In 1982, Buick rolled out the Grand National, which was a model based on the Regal coupe. The first edition was a laggard, however, as it offered a 4.1-liter V6 making just 125 horsepower.
By 1987, its final year of production, the Grand National GNX made 276 horsepower and 360 pound-feet of torque, even outpacing the Corvette. Buick faithful who know the Grand National would love to see it return.
Will this happen? Not likely, given GM’s significant shift toward investing in utility vehicles. Besides, the updated Regal GS, which is an all-wheel-drive model making 310 horsepower, is the consolation.
6. BMW 8 Series
For 10 years beginning in 1989, BMW had arguably the best grand touring model on the market with the 8 Series. BMW built 30,621units, and most were fitted with a raucous V12 engine.
Notably, BMW designed the 8 Series completely via computer, unheard of at that time. The coupe came with many advanced features common to cars today, including remote locking, an auto-dimming rearview mirror and a power-adjustable steering column. Alas, demand wasn’t enough to sustain this model for a second generation.
The 8 Series will return, and we’ll get the first glimpse of what this model will look like at the Pebble Beach Concours d’Elegance in California this month when a concept model debuts. We’re expecting an all-new 8 Series to roll out sometime in 2018.
7. Toyota Supra
Beginning in 1978, Toyota introduced the Celica Supra, a sporty version of its compact car. By 1986, the Supra was a model in its own right, and over the next decade it became a performance beast.
Indeed, the Toyota Supra Turbo delivered 320 horsepower and 315 pound-feet of torque and a 0-60 mph time of 4.6 seconds, according to Car & Driver. Sequential turbos delivered power that kept on giving.
Keep your eyes on the prize. The Supra is coming back, likely based on one delicious concept that’s been making the auto show circuit for over a year. We hope Toyota will showcase a production-ready model at an upcoming North American International Auto Show, with the 2019 Supra arriving by late next year.
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