Home > Cars > Zombie cars: Automotive blasts from the past…

Zombie cars: Automotive blasts from the past we’d like to see brought back from the dead

Citroen-DS-Lineup

Like the Edsel, there are some discontinued cars that nobody will miss. Then there are some which perhaps should never have been built in the first place, we’re talking to you, Pontiac Aztek. Then there are cars that were really quite good ideas, but for one reason or another were eventually abandoned by their makers. Maybe it was economic factors, maybe it was just a shift in car buying trends. But whatever the reason, the following is a list of cars that were amazing at one point in history, and we believe deserve to be reinvented, reanimated, and reintroduced to the market.

Chevrolet Corvair

It seems odd today, but Chevrolet had a rear-engine sporty car with a turbocharged flat-6 a full 13 years before Porsche did. This car was the Corvair, and not only did it predate the Porsche 930, but it was the first turbocharged production car in the world. First introduced in 1959, the small and lightweight Corvair was the perfect car for a nation just starting to turn away from the giant barges that characterized the American auto industry throughout the 1950s. It sold well for a while, before Ralph Nader’s Unsafe at Any Speed took a toll on sales, claiming that the rear-engine layout combined with the swing axle made it dangerously difficult to control. It would later die off entirely once the performance trend shifted to muscle cars. The car would be partially vindicated in 1972, when a study at Texas A&M University commissioned by the NHTSA would conclude that it was no more unsafe than anything else on the road at the time. It wasn’t enough to bring it back then, but in this age of engine downsizing, now would be the perfect time to bring back this pioneer of lightness and forced induction.

Citroen DS

Once upon a time Citroen was one of the world’s most technologically advanced and daring automakers. In the days before the Germans would become the big names in luxury sedans, the Citroen DS was the executive saloon of choice, and it was one of the few French cars that ever had any degree of success in the US. The big selling point of the DS was its hydraulic suspension. This was not only self-leveling, but also offered a mix of comfort and handling never before believed possible in a car. The  combined styling efforts of an aeronautical engineer and a sculptor, the DS was both aerodynamic and beautiful. There might be a lot of technology crammed into a contemporary Mercedes-Benz S-Class, but its styling clearly comes up short when compared to the DS. Bold styling and big leaps forward in technology are no longer the kinds of things we see in this segment, and the French gave up long ago selling cars in the US. A new take on the DS could completely turn the luxury car segment upside down, just as the original did in 1955.

Buick Riviera

Originally a trim level for several different Buick models, when the Riviera split off to become its own model in 1963, it became an instant classic. Its understated but still very stylish sheet metal made it a standout, even in the already overcrowded “personal luxury car” segment. It was quick and comfortable, and even the European automotive press, who were normally overly critical of anything from Detroit, absolutely loved the car. In 1971, Buick introduced the “boat tail” body style for the Riviera, one inspired by the split-window Stingray. This remains one of the most enduring and iconic automotive designs to have ever come out of GM. The nameplate was revived in 1995 while Buick was trying, unsuccessfully, to change their image as a brand of cars for old people. It turns out that it would take them about 15 more years to change that image, and now that they have, it seems like the perfect time to bring back the Riviera. A styling flagship could do them some good, and it could even share a platform with the Cadillac CTS Coupe. Let’s also not forget that, as a model name, it sounds a thousand times better than “Verano”.

Honda Prelude

Remember when Honda used to build interesting and exciting cars? Yes, it seems like a distant memory, but there was a time when Honda could attract buyers with something other than just strong resale values. The long hood and short deck of the Prelude gave it a sort of scaled-down muscle car look, and although early models didn’t offer much in the way of power (for a time, it had the nickname “Honda Quaalude”), later generations would become a hit with the sport compact crowd. Part of this came from the engine, Honda’s H22 series of engines offered much more torque than could be found in similarly-sized four cylinder engines, and they were quite tuner friendly as well. Honda may wish us all to believe that the CR-Z is a sporty coupe, but it isn’t, and a real small sports coupe would do the Japanese automaker some serious good. With the Scion FR-S once again igniting interest in sport compacts, this is the time for Honda to come back with a serious competitor. Just so long as they don’t half-ass it this time.

Mitsubishi 3000GT

During its relatively brief production period, the 3000GT was often overshadowed by its better-established competitors, like the Toyota Supra and the Mazda RX-7. Those lighter cars were faster in a straight line, and therefore sold better, but the 3000GT was technically superior to not only the Supra and the RX-7, but indeed to most other cars on the road. That’s because a lot of the technology that made Porsche’s 959 supercar the fastest production car in the world a few years earlier was incorporated into the less expensive 3000GT when it debuted in 1990. It had an advanced all-wheel-drive system, as well as four-wheel steering, and under the hood was a twin-turbo V6 engine. In Japan, the 3000GT competed against a car that only enthusiasts had heard of outside of the island nation, the Nissan Skyline GT-R. This is a model which has since split from the Skyline nameplate and begun life anew as the giant-slaying GT-R, a car which has been nicknamed “Godzilla”. The GT-R offers up performance that you can currently only get  from much more expensive cars, but a reborn 3000GT could take it on at a similar price, and could be the beginning of one of the greatest rivalries of all time, if only Mitsubishi would build it.