Saccharine, Rehashed Nostalgia and Memories of Greatness

January 23, 2013— Wide Open recently came across a Facebook page dedicated to a Facel Vega Concept and wondered if the storied coachbuilder was being resurrected and who was behind the effort. The Facebook page only shows a few development sketches that are updated infrequently along with a 3D digital model. The design is an evolution of the HK500/Facel II from the late 1950’s/early 1960’s. Beloved by celebrities of the era and powered by a Chrysler Hemi, the Facel II is terrific inspiration for a new 2+2 grand tourer. Additionally, it started us thinking about other cars that deserve resuscitation and whether they should be.

Toyota 2000GT

The first car to come to mind was the 1967-70 Toyota 2000GT. Penned by a German-American and built jointly by Yamaha (powertrain) and Toyota. It was powered by a two-liter straight-six cylinder engine and wasn’t terribly quick but definitely made people rethink prejudices related to Japanese cars. It was however produced in VERY limited numbers (less than 350 examples were built) and quite expensive. They sure are gorgeous though. Toyota has an image problem today, much as it did in the1960’s when the 2000GT was built. The FR-S and LFA are all well and good, but neither is properly pretty and neither is actually badged as a Toyota, in the US. So, Toyota, please build a suitable successor to the 2000GT.

Alfa Romeo Duetto

Ad for the original Alfa Romeo Duetto (photo: © Fiat SpA)

Next, Wide Open would like to see the Alfa Romeo Spider. The original Duetto, mind you, not the early 1990’s fat and bumpered version. The car was largely introduced to the US via the movie “The Graduate” in 1967 and became a sensation around the world. This is the car that pops into most peoples’ minds when they think of a small Italian convertible. It wasn’t super fast or exclusive, it was just unpretentious, sexy and fun. What a novel idea, why can’t we do that now?

McLaren f1

1993 McLaren F1 (photo: © McLaren Automotive Limited)

How about the McLaren F1? The car was designed to be a road-going version of McLaren’s Formula One cars and was so successful that it was able to race, and win, at Le Mans. Additionally, it had three seats! This way the driver could sit in the center to more closely reproduce the F1 experience and simultaneously terrify his wife AND mistress. It weighed less than 2600 lbs when the Lamborghini Diablo came in at about 3600 lbs! Well, McLaren gave it their best shot, but even they couldn’t reproduce the purity of the F1. McLaren’s latest supercar, the MP4-12c is great, but it falls very short as a follow-up to the greatness of the F1. Almost twenty years after it was first produced, it’s still the fastest naturally aspirated road-going car, ever.

But you have to be careful what you wish for; we are awash in muscle cars and Wide Open doesn’t really want any of them in spite of the fact that we’d happily drive most of their original namesakes. A new Mustang? No, thanks. The Challenger or Camaro? No way. They’ve all grown too fat and bloated. So maybe memories of amazing old cars should remain just that. We don’t really want to see a 5000 lb Facel Vega or 3500 lb Toyota 2000GT blasting down the road, no matter how quick. Do you?

Please don’t misunderstand, Wide Open doesn’t think that carburetion and drum brakes are the way to go. But sticking an old nameplate on a car with rehashed styling cues is cheap and selling nostalgia is an easy way to battle against stronger competitors. [kiWO]