Revving for a Refresh: Top Ten Comeback Cars

September 3rd, 2013By Category: Uncategorized


10. Subaru 360 (1958–1971)

No, the Subaru 360 was not Fuji Heavy Industry’s best shot at a console system. This lesser known vehicle was actually one of the first ground-breaking entries for kei-class car for the small automaker. Also dubbed, the “Ladybug” it was one of the most interesting and accessible vehicles on the market. The 360 name came about from its 360cc engine that helped the small cabin putt around the city in economical style. What else could you ask for when searching for a modern, grocery getter vehicle? All Subaru has to do to make a new modern entry is beef up the frame to pass safety standards and throw in some bluetooth compatibility to make this a bestseller again.

9. Nissan 180SX (1989–1998)

Yes, there has been a retro take on the Fairlady Z series already, and it was good. However, it still has yet to achieve the status of the original series, and the various iterations that came soon after left a hope for. The new Nissan Z has increased in size and price since its debut and gotten even further out of reach than ever. So before fans give up completely, Nissan should take a page out of its own book and put a decent contestant up against the Toyota 86 with a rear wheel drive coupe. With a quick freshening up of the styling and a few hints of heritage from its big GTR cousin, a new 180 would be just what the doctor ordered.

8. Suzuki Cappuccino (1991–1997)

If we are going to put the Copen into the mix (see entry #7), we cannot do so without adding the Cappuccino as well. As a far more cooly designed vehicle, the Suzuki is just as excting as it was when it first stopped production. Although the manufacture has taken a certain pride in being a top company in sales of the light-weight vehicles in Japan, it still has not defined itself as the brand to go to for a quick sporty fix. For the majority of us in Japan that do not want to have to worry about where we can park our a car, taking the step from Cappuccino to Expresso would not be too far out of reason.


7. Daihatsu Copen (2002–2012)

The Copen was the last pocket racer car that graced the streets of Japan in the mini-engine class, and did so for 10 years. Although the sister company of Toyota has nixed it from its line up, we are still holding onto the hope that they will call the undertaker to bring it back to life. Although we will agree that anyone over six-feet tall would fear for their life while driving it on the highway, it was a neat little car that still had plenty of juice left in it. As it has been said a thousand times before, a quick ditch of that puny sub 660cc engine in place of a oil burning monster would make an entertaining go-kart ride on steroids.

6. Toyota WiLL VS (2001-2004)

Before Toyota finally gained the momentum to put out as gutsy a vehicle as the Toyota 86, the Toyota WiLL VS was the coolest thing you could find yourself in besides a Supra. Even though it was designed and produced back in 2001, it still looks just as classy next to a modern sedan today. The clean cut angles and intimidator headlights look like a mix between a stealth bomber and a bullet on wheels. As the WiLL VS still has a large following of hardcore fans, a new take on the car would definitely be well worth the wait.

5. Honda Z (1998–2002)

For those of you that do not known, the Honda Z is the pinnacle of engineering geekery that more or less sums up the best of what can happen when you let car engineers loose on a platform. Although the “Z” was a kei-class light weight car, it packed a mean turbo engine that was placed in the middle of the chassis and was all wheel drive. Not only was this unheard of in a car of this class, but it set the basis for an extremely interesting vehicle. And if the car was not funky enough on its own, the band ZZ Top introduced the car in the televised commercial campaign to advertise it! It would take quite the performer to top being as cool as ZZ Top, but I am sure someone would step up to the plate for a modern take on the four-wheeled fury.

4. Toyota Fun Cargo (2000-2004)

Unfortunately known as one of the worst designed cars in Toyota history (thanks Jeremy Clarkson), the Fun Cargo is definitely an interesting vehicle to look at. Even though it is not half as much fun to drive, the high roof and relatively easy access to quirky storage spaces made it a unique specimen. Shortly-lived, the misunderstood mini MPV (based on the Yaris/Vitz platform) only lasted one generation before limping off into the sunset. However you can still find quite a few of these lone rangers scooting around town. If Toyota was to ever take another shot at making an off-the-wall family vehicle that would give a French designer a run for their money, it may want to tap into more modern solutions for age-old problems.

3. Nissan Silvia (1995–2000)

If you have punished your brain cells by watching any of the Fast and Furious movie series, you are sure to have spotted a few of these trademark racers. The rear-wheel drive Nissan S platform of the Silvia and its entry level price continues to make it a strong seller in the used car industry. Although you would be hard-pressed to find a vehicle that has not had it fair share of butchering at a garage shop, the fact that the almost 30 year old vehicle is still cool is something amazing. With Nissan putting out more exciting models every year, a refreshed Silvia would be a nice way to make a point…or tire skid mark.


2. Honda S2000 (1999–2009)

Although Honda never really started with the intention of making cars, up until the early 2000’s it was doing an incredible job of building bodies around their amazingly crafted engines. The Honda S-2000 was the attainable sporty two-seater that looked as amazing as it performed. Quick, easy to work on, and just as nice to look at standing still, the S2000 was Honda’s declaration that you could have it all in the Honda family. Unfortunately, as Japanese companies became increasingly conservative in their production models, the S2000 was put on ice with the last generation released in 2003. With the success fo their N-series in Japan, a refreshed roadster might just be what the doctor ordered.

1. Toyota Celica (1971–2006)

In the late 1970’s with the world in Mustang fever, Toyota released one of the most underrated versions of its entry level sports coupe on the global stage. The Celica GT was everything anyone could want in a sports car, with the reliability and quality of a Toyota. The generations that followed slowly sapped all of the aggressive styling and turned it into a watered down box on wheels. If there was ever a time for Toyota to release a sporty, rear-wheel drive car that could undercut the competition, it’s now. With the Toyota 86 platform already proven to be a seller, a quick trip to the chopping board is sure to bring out something special.

Author of this article

Axiom Magazine

Axiom Magazine is Japan’s leading source for newly released and hard to find information focused in the areas of gaming, culture and entertainment. We represent a small part of a bigger idea of bringing Japanese culture and achievements to an international stage.

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