10 Classic Cars That Need Revived
Updated October 3, 2015
Nearly every auto enthusiast looks at yesteryear and thinks just how awesome it would be to see some classic icons make a comeback today. Many of these cars relied on huge V-8 engine, fuel-dumping four-barrel carburetors, and low-restriction exhausts to produce their power, which ultimately aided in their death once emission regulations crept in.
We looked into the past and laid out the 10 classic cars that we’d love to see make a comeback in the modern era.
The Chevelle was Chevy’s most popular midsize muscle car in the 1960s and 1970s. This is precisely why you see it in bulk at nearly every classic car show. Even in my family is a fully restored and modified `66 Chevelle SS. The Chevelle was the perfect combination of power and agility in its heyday, but like all Muscle cars, the emission regulations of the 1970s turned it into an underpowered pig.
Chevrolet has the means to revive the Chevelle today, but it would need to do so carefully, and not make it little more than an imported Holden, a la the Pontiac GTO and Chevy SS. It’s doubtful that this will happen any time soon, but it has been on the radar for many years.
Buick Grand National
The Grand National was an icon of the 1980s, as it showed that the muscle car era could live on through emission regulations. It did so using a 3.8-liter turbocharged V-6 engine. Initially, this engine produced just 200 horsepower and 300 pound-feet of torque, which was great for its era, but subpar by today’s standards. However, in 1986, the Natty jumped to 235 horsepower and 330 pound-feet of torque, which put is 0-to-60 time at an outrageous 4.9 seconds.
The 1987 model year was even better, as the base Grand National peaked at 245 horsepower and 355 pound-feet of torque, and the new GNX hit 276 horses and 360 pound-feet of twist. The official reason for discontinuing this insane coupe after the 1987 model year was that Buick committed to a front-wheel-drive lineup and no front-drive GM platform could handle this power.
There have been rumors of a revival of the Grand National, as Buick’s moved up in the world of performance, but nothing is confirmed. For now, Buick has only sedan and crossovers, so it would need to invest in a coupe to stay true to the Grand National’s roots.
The Toyota 2000GT remains one of the most valued Japanese sports cars, as some sell at auction for well over $1 million. In the era of large muscle cars with fire-breathing V-8 engines, the 2,470-pound 2000GT with its small-displacement straight-six engine stood out in the crowd.
Sure, the 2000GT wasn’t a fast car, per se, but it was adequately quick, unique, and nimble. Toyota only produced 351 units between 1967 and 1970, which is shy they fetch so much money at auctions.
Toyota needs to bring back this iconic rig, and show that it can do better than the GT86, which is the “spiritual successor” to the 2000GT.
It’s called the GOAT for a reason, as the GTO was arguably the best muscle car of the 1960s and very early into the 1970s. It began its decline in power in the early 1970s, and it started to get that ugly-muscle-car-that-held-on-too-long look in 1973. By 1974, the GTO had ben thoroughly castrated by emission regulations, putting it at only 200 horsepower from a 5.7-liter V-8, though it was still fairly quick for the era at 7.7 seconds to 60 mph.
The GTO did get its revival in 2004, but this was little more than a rebadged Holden Monaro. While its power and speed was in line with the original GTO, its looks were way off. If GM were to revive the GTO, it would need to revive the entire Pontiac brand as a performance arm, which I don’t see happening.
The Datsun 510 was never a powerful car, but it had a huge cult following and truly launched the sports coupe and sports sedan segments in Japan. Thanks to an engine lineup that produced just south of 100 horsepower, the 510 was adequately fast, and its lightweight body allowed for pretty good agility, especially with a few tweaks here and there.
Nissan gave us hope of a 510 revival with the IDx concepts, which clearly were inspired by the coupe version of the 510. These would have been perfect competitors to the likes of the Toyota GT86 and Scion FR-S, but Nissan chose to leave them only as concepts, citing the lack of a rear-wheel-drive platform small enough for these models as its reasoning.
Chevrolet El Camino
The El Camino was in an odd segment that combined the drivability of a car with the utility of a truck. Despite the oddness of a segment like this, the El Camino lived a pretty long life that spanned from 1959 through 1987, though there was a brief hiatus between 1960 and 1964.
The El Camino became quite the performer when GM decided to add the 396-cubic-inch V-8 to the half-truck, half-car rig, injecting up to 375 horsepower. Things got even better with the introduction of the rare 450-horsepower 454-cubic-inch V-8 in 1970. Emission regulations removed the balls from the El Camino in 1971, dropping its peak output to just 270 horsepower from the 454.
The El Camino carried on through 1987, but it never regained the power it once had.
There have been rumblings of a revived El Camino based on the Holden Ute from Australia, but that seems unlikely with GM Discontinuing the Ute after 2016.
The Barracuda was just one of many great muscle cars from Chrysler in the 1960s, though it started with relatively low power numbers in the mid-1960s. It wasn’t until the late-1960s and early 1970s that the Barracuda became a true muscle car, as power rose to 425 horsepower.
Rumors have surrounded the Barracuda for years, as Chrysler keeps on renewing its trademark on the name. However, with the Plymouth brand now dead, the revival of this one-time icon seems unlikely.
The Firebird is one of the more recent cars on our list, as Pontiac built it into the 2000s. Though not all of its model years are technically “classics,” this is still one rig that needs a redo. It began life as a lightly massaged Camaro, and slowly grew its case for consideration as one of the best pony cars ever built. Sure, it went through its rough patch that lasted from the early 1970s through the early 1990s.
It wasn’t until the 1993 Trans Am rolled in with a 275-horsepower 5.7-liter V-8 that the Firebird returned to its roots as a true performance car.
There have been a few companies that turned Camaros into Firebirds, and they’ve done a fine job at it. However, like with the GTO, GM would have to dig up the remains of the Pontiac brand if it wanted to release a new version of the firebird. That seems like an unlikely scenario to me.
The Honda CRX was a sign of what the Japanese automaker could do with a lightweight car that used a range of small-displacement engines. The results ranged from the super-fuel-efficient (and suddenly very desirable) CRX HF to the respectfully quick and nimble CRX Si.
Honda tried to recapture the lightning of the CRX with the CR-Z Sport Hybrid, but it never caught on. However, the impending redesign of the Civic and the CR-Z leads many to believe that the CRX may live in one of these two skins.
The RX-7 is another model that doesn’t wholly qualify as a “classic,” but some of its best work was in its classic years, like the 1988 RX-7 Turbo that hit 60 mph in the mid-six-second range. The RX-7 was originally a lightweight sports coupe with a unique engine and unmatched nimbleness. Throughout its years, however, Mazda lost touch and made it heavier and more powerful, which resulted in increases in price. Eventually, the RX-7 became too expensive for America’s taste, and the model died in the U.S. following the 1995 model year.
Mazda revived the RX nameplate in 2004 with the release of the RX-8. The RX-8 came with mixed reviews, as its hidden-four-door body was useful for families and its 238 horsepower made it look great on paper, but its 159 pound-feet of torque and 16 mpg city made enthusiasts think twice about buying it.
Rumors have swirled about a revived RX-7 for Mazda’s centenary celebration, but this has yet to be confirmed.
Categories: Gear Grinding