Doctor's Review: Medicine on the Move

October 23, 2017

All you need to know about the Jaguar E-Type is that it’s part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art.

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Oldies but goodies

For some, the dearly departed of the car world are still the best of the bunch

To a certain degree, cars can be like movies or TV shows. Just because a movie didn’t make it big at the box office or a show was cancelled prematurely doesn’t mean it was bad. Case in point: the superb and star-laden Shawshank Redemption. In 1994, Shawshank tanked at the box office, even though it received widespread critical acclaim and was nominated for seven Academy Awards.

Likewise, in the world of wheels, many of the cars and trucks that are driven into that scrapheap of obsolescence really didn’t deserve to go there. In other words, a vehicle can be cutting-edge or a bona fide bargain... but, if it fails to sell in sufficient numbers, it shall eventually be deader than disco. Here is our list of cancelled rides that we dearly miss and hope will be resurrected in the near future.

Acura NSX 1990-2005

You have to wonder if “NSX” is code-speak for: “Acura makes a Ferrari at less than one-third the price.” Make no mistake: the Acura NSX was a super-car for its time, even though its V6 engine generated a relatively mundane 290 horsepower. But it takes more than a power plant to make an exoticar, and thanks to the NSX’s light-weight (aluminum) body and outstanding handling, the NSX made for a proverbial five-coupon ride. The car also looked futuristic, and even to this day its body is contemporary. Best of all, unlike so many other supercars out there costing far more, the NSX was extremely reliable.

Last year, Honda showed off a next-generation NSX at various auto shows. Here’s hoping they do the right thing and brings this car back to dealership showrooms where it belongs.

Chevrolet El Camino 1968-1972

There’s no question that the El Camino (as well as its Ford counterpart, the Ranchero) was a very odd duck. First introduced in 1959, the front-end of the vehicle resembles a de rigueur coupe yet where the backseat and trunk should be there is a pickup-truck bed.

Even so, this oddball is also a bit of a badass, too, especially in SS high-performance trim. And tricked-out with a set of chrome mag wheels and a custom paint job, the El Camino can be a bona fide head-turner.

In any event, Chevy recently scored a monster hit with its all-new yet retro-themed Camaro. Let’s hope the rumours are true and General Motors will try to recapture the same nostalgic magic by bringing back a modernized El Camino for the 21st century.

Dodge Magnum 2004-2008

The discontinued Dodge Magnum is frequently billed as one of the best-looking station wagons ever built. Period. Assembled in Brampton, Ontario, on the same platform that churns out the Dodge Charger, Chrysler 300 and Dodge Challenger, sales of the Magnum never quite met Chrysler’s expectations and the vehicle was eventually put out to pasture. Which left many an auto enthusiast wailing aloud, “Why?!”

Its premature demise was quite a shame given the Magnum only got better over time. By the 2006 model year, the Magnum was given the high-performance SRT-8 treatment including a Hemi V8 that generated 425 horses (versus just 190-horsepower in the base model.) In ’08, it got a nifty facelift and the hood sported an ominous-looking scoop. In this regard, the muscled-up Dodge Magnum SRT-8 represented the best of both worlds: it went like stink and looked great doing so, yet it also boasted reams of cargo space. The good news: there are rumblings that Chrysler might just bring back the Magnum in the near future. Let’s hope so.

Ford Ranger 2001-2011

It might seem a tad odd to mourn the passing of a small, bare-bones, Plain Jane pick-up truck that remained relatively unchanged for more than a decade. But the fact remains: there are some people who crave a pickup truck yet don’t want a behemoth such as the Ford F-150 or Chevy Silverado occupying the driveway — both of which become increasingly huskier with each passing generation.

As well, the Ranger was a fuel-efficient truck (well, as much as a pickup truck can be fuel-efficient) and the base price of the Ranger in its last year of production was a mere $13,999. That made it an absolute steal — and it certainly represented better value and utility than one would derive from a similarly-priced econobox.

Honda CR-X 1984-1991

For those who loved Japanese sporty cars of yester-decade but lacked the financial wherewithal to buy a Ninja warrior such as the Mazda RX-7, Toyota Supra or Nissan 300ZX, Honda provided a low-cost alternative with this little pocket rocket: the two-seat hatchback known as the CR-X. Based on the Honda Civic platform, most CR-Xs came equipped with a small 1.5-litre 4-cyclinder engine. Not exactly the sort of power plant that would give your average Corvette owner the shakes. But because the car was so relatively light, this Honda could really boogie.

Meanwhile, upon popping the hatch, you had what was in effect a miniature pickup truck thanks to an excess of extra cargo space where that second row of seats would’ve gone (had there been one). The CR-X was a delightfully fun and economical car to drive at a very affordable price — it deserved to live.

Jaguar XK-E 1961-1969

All you need to know about the Jaguar E-Type is that this car is part of the permanent collection at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Forget about the reliability issues and its thirst for petrol. Just gaze upon that voluptuous bullet-shaped body that screams sex appeal. It is quite simply one of the most beautiful cars ever concocted. Indeed, Jaguar created something special with the E-Type; if the company were to bring back this sports car body albeit laden with modern innards, that would simply be downright magical.

Toyota MR2 1999-2007

A few years ago at the North American International Auto Show in Detroit, the president and CEO of Toyota, Akio Toyoda, publicly lamented that his company’s cars need to be “better looking” (as in more exciting.) An astonishing admission from someone in an industry driven by PR.

But Mr Toyoda was correct. Recent recall issues aside, Toyota cars and trucks are superb vehicles when it comes to reliability, quality, fuel efficiency and resale value. But they are very boring cars, too. Toyota’s not-so-cute RAV4 should be renamed the Ravin’ Bore; and the Highlander would look bland even if it came decked-out in a tartan paint scheme.

But Toyota didn’t always make cars that served as substitutes for Sominex. Case in point: one of the best gems to ever grace the Toyota lineup was surely the MR2. This mid-engine, compact two-seater has been referred to as a poor man’s Porsche (and certainly the third-generation of this vehicle resembled a Boxster from certain angles.) The MR2 was both fun and sexy — two descriptors one seldom hears in the same sentence as “Toyota.”

This article was accurate when it was published. Please confirm rates and details directly with the companies in question.

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