Since the dawn of the automobile, hundreds — if not thousands — of cars and car names have come and gone in the U.S. market. Many of these were popular at inception and then, thanks to market changes, economic fluctuations, and fickle consumer interest, the cars and their monikers were discontinued. However, for a lucky few vehicles automotive oblivion was only temporary. These models went out of production but in some cases resurfaced many years later — often completely different than the original — yet wearing a familiar name. Here’s a look at comeback cars that left the market but roared back to life and are still surviving on the streets.
Original Base Price: $65,000
In 1986 Honda launched a new premium label, making Acura the first Japanese luxury brand in America. A mere three years later the company wowed the automotive world with the introduction of the NS-X concept, which was destined to become the first exotic sports car from Japan. In late 1990 the Acura NSX went on sale in America, boasting an all-aluminum chassis and body, and a high-tech 3.0-liter DOHC V6 engine that produced 270 horsepower. The sleek sports car was the first Japanese model to challenge Italian exotics, bringing with it reliability — a trait not typically present in exotics of the time. The NSX experienced several iterations over its lifetime; by 2005 the car no longer had its signature pop-up headlights and power was up to 290 horses, but that was the last year of production. It would be 12 years before Acura returned to market with a flagship sports car of the same name.
Current Base Price: $157,500
As much as that original NSX changed the concept of an exotic sports car, one could say the same for the returning NSX. Relaunched in 2017, the current NSX uses a hybrid gas-electric powertrain to produce impressive power and handling. Still a mid-engine sports car, the mean-looking NSX is powered by a 3.5-liter twin-turbo V6 engine teamed with three electric motors to produce a total of 573 horsepower. Two of the electric motors provide power to the front wheels, while the V6 and third electric motor sends power to the rear. This setup allows for Acura’s Sport Hybrid Super Handling All-Wheel Drive, which can continuously vary torque to the front wheels individually, which greatly improves agility and handling.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
Original Base Price: $3,595
Founded in Milan, Italy, in 1910, Alfa Romeo developed a rich racing history, including five World Championships and 11 European Championships. With the Giulia, Alfa Romeo was one of the first manufacturers to offer a powerful engine in a lightweight 4-door car, creating one of the first sport sedans. The original Giulia was a rear-wheel-drive sedan powered by a 90-horsepower 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. A total of 572,646 Giulias were produced, and today the original Alfa Romeo Giulia is highly regarded by Alfa Romeo aficionados, along with the Giulietta Coupe and Convertible of the same era.
Current Base Price: $39,450
In 2016 Alfa Romeo introduced an all-new sport sedan to the U.S. market, and it took the familiar Giulia name. The stylish 4-door doesn’t offer the manual transmission of the original, but it is available with rear-wheel drive as well as a very quick-shifting 8-speed automatic gearbox. Offering a bit more power than the previous generation, the Giulia Sport and Ti get a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder unit producing 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque. But for the ultimate in performance, the Giulia Quadrifoglio gets a 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 that puts out 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, which is good enough to deliver this sport sedan to 60 mph in a mere 3.8 seconds. At the time of its introduction, the Giulia Quadrifoglio lapped Germany’s famed Nurburgring racetrack in 7:32 —the fastest time ever recorded by a 4-door production sedan.
Original Base Price: $2,466
The original 1967 Camaro hit the streets in 1966 at the height of the muscle car era. Based on the Chevrolet Nova, the front engine, rear-wheel-drive Camaro got rushed to market to compete with the Ford Mustang, which had become an unexpected sales success. The first-year Camaro was offered as both a coupe and a convertible, with a long hood, short rear deck, 2+2 seating and a broad range of engine choices — from inline 6-cylinder units to big-block V8s — to appeal to a wide range of customers. The sporty Camaro would go through four generations with major design changes as well as a range of power options, including high-performance variants like the Z28 and SS.
Current Base Price: $25,000
After an eight-year hiatus, Chevrolet introduced a fifth generation of the legendary Camaro in 2010 with styling reminiscent of the original 1967 design. In 2016 the Camaro was redesigned to usher in the current generation. While styling seemed evolutionary, almost every part on the 2016 Camaro was new. For 2019 the Camaro received a revised front-end design with a new fascia, grille, hood, dual-element headlights and LED signature headlights, as well as new LED taillights and rear fascia. Available as a coupe or convertible in LT, SS, and ZL1 trims, Camaro is offered with engines ranging from a turbocharged 2.0-liter unit producing 275 horsepower to the supercharged 6.2-liter V8 generating 650 horsepower in the ZL1.
Original Base Price: $2,484
The Malibu debuted in 1964 as the top tier of the Chevrolet Chevelle lineup, offering a combination of a sporty design and a high level of standard equipment. Popular right from the start, the new model sold a total of 200,000 units in its first year. Chevrolet offered the Malibu in four body styles during the first generation: a 2-door hardtop, a 2-door convertible, a 4-door sedan and a station wagon. The Detroit automaker also offered a Malibu SS that eventually would be available with a big-block 396-cubic-inch 375-horsepower V8 powerplant. The Malibu carried its muscle car looks into its second generation, but by the mid-1970s the convertible had been dropped and the car became more family focused.
Current Base Price: $22,140
The Malibu name returned to the Chevrolet lineup after a 14-year hiatus, becoming a front-wheel drive, midsize 4-door sedan powered by either a 150-horsepower 4-cylinder engine or a 155-horsepower V6 engine. The sixth-generation Malibu debuted for the 2004 model year and added an extended 5-door version dubbed the Malibu Maxx, and a few years later added the 240-horsepower Malibu SS. In 2008 Chevrolet introduced the seventh-generation Malibu, the first to be built on General Motors global midsize platform. The current Malibu — the model’s ninth-generation — arrived for the 2016 model year with a mid-cycle refresh taking place in 2019. Currently, the Malibu is offered in a range of trim levels with two turbocharged powerplant available. Chevrolet has announced this will be the last generation of Malibu, with production slated to end in 2024.
Original Base Price: $4,100
The first Chrysler 300 got its name from the 331-cubic-inch 5.4-liter HEMI “Firepower” V8 that produced 300 horsepower. The HEMI engine — so-called because of its hemispherical combustion chambers that deliver better efficiency and power for their size — was teamed with Chrysler’s relatively new PowerFlite fully automatic transmission. This much oomph was a big deal in 1955 — the 300 was the most powerful American production car on the road (the Corvette had 195 horsepower that year). Over the next 10 years, Chrysler would bring to market a range of 300s now referred to as the “letter series,” starting with that first 300 and continuing with the 300B, 300C, 300D — a new letter every year with the final 300L in 1965. These special Chryslers were among the fastest production cars on the road, equipped with the latest in luxury features. Other 300 models followed the letter series, but none would ever be as special as those first versions.
Current Base Price: $30,445
The 300 name returned on the 1999 300M, named to be the logical successor to the 300L from 34 years earlier. The 300M was built on an entirely new architecture, called the LH platform. This new model was front-wheel drive and its V6 was not particularly powerful — it’s connection to the original letter series 300s seems to be in name only. In 2005 an all-new 300 premiered — this one with a fresh new design and rear-wheel drive. The top-of-the-line 300C was powered by a 345-horsepower HEMI V8, and in 2012 Chrysler added the 300C SRT8 boasting a 6.4-liter 470-horsepower V8. The SRT8 only lasted until 2015 — the current 300 is available with V6 or V8 power options as well as available all-wheel drive. Like the earlier letter series, the 300 is available with the latest in luxury and performance features.
Original Base Price: $28,845
Before the Pacifica minivan, Chrysler came to market with a vehicle of the same name. The original Pacifica was one of the first crossovers — not quite a minivan, not quite a wagon and not quite an SUV. As Chrysler described it in its press materials, the Pacifica was a “stylish vehicle with the flexibility and utility of an SUV or minivan but the fuel economy and safety of a passenger car.” Pacifica offered all-wheel drive as well as some advanced features for the time such as a backup camera and Bluetooth hand-free calling. Seating was available for six via three rows of two seats. With SUV and minivan offerings available from Chrysler/Dodge at the same time, sales of the Pacifica peaked in its first year, declining until the vehicle was discontinued after the 2008 model year.
Current Base Price: $35,045
Chrysler introduced a new generation of its legendary minivan, bringing back the Pacifica name on this improved people mover. Taking the place of the Chrysler Town & Country minivan, the modern-day Pacifica is arguably the best minivan Chrysler has built since it created the category more than 30 years ago. Pacifica can be equipped with seating for up to eight occupants, which still leaves plenty of cargo space in the rear. Stow n’ Go seats can be folded into the floor for a completely flat cargo area all the way to the front seats. Passengers can enjoy the available Uconnect Theater featuring a 10-inch high-res touchscreen display with a variety of inputs and integrated games. A plug-in hybrid version of the Pacifica also is available, making it the first hybrid minivan ever sold in America. For 2021 Pacifica receives its first refresh with updated styling inside and out as well as available all-wheel drive.
Original Base Price: $3,023
The Dodge Challenger may have been a little late to the pony-car party — the Chevrolet Camaro and Ford Mustang were both already on sale — but the Challenger certainly made a splash and is still one of the best-known muscle cars of the 1970s. Challenger shared a platform with the Plymouth Barracuda, although it had a longer wheelbase that provided a roomier cabin. Challenger was available as a coupe or convertible in a variety of trims, but it was the range of engines that really made it stand out. Nine different power units were available, ranging from a 145-horsepower six cylinder to the legendary 426-cubic-inch HEMI V8 generating 425 horsepower. With colors such as Plum Crazy and HEMI Orange as well as optional shaker hoods and big wings, the Challenger screamed performance. The original Challenger was short lived, ending production after the 1974 model year. A few years later Dodge slapped the Challenger name on an undeserving 2-door coupe imported from Mitsubishi; it had a base powerplant that produced a paltry 77 horsepower — looking like a sad end to the Challenger name.
Current Base Price: $28,295
At the 2006 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Dodge took the wraps off the Challenger Concept and immediately stole the show. With styling reminiscent of the original 1970s Challenger but with completely modern features, demand to build the car was high. Two years later the 425-horsepower Challenger SRT8 production car roared to life. Like the original, the Challenger has been available with a variety of powertrains, ranging from an efficient 3.5-liter V6 to a line of HEMI V8s, and Dodge brought back colors such as Plum Crazy. Horsepower continues to play a big role in the Challenger lineup. In 2018 Dodge sold a limited number of the 840-horsepower Challenger Demon that boasted a sub-10-second quarter-mile time straight from the factory. The Challenger lineup still contains plenty of powerful options, including the Hellcat Redeye that produces 797 horsepower from its supercharged HEMI V8.
Original Base Price: $3,120
Making its debut on January 1, 1966, the Charger had a Dodge Coronet chassis but its own body style — the brand’s first fastback, built as a high-speed street racer. The unique design evolved from the Charger II concept car shown a year earlier, featuring hidden headlights and four buckets seats. Standard power came from a 5.2-liter V8 engine with 230 ponies, but the famed 426 cubic-inch HEMI engine boasting 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque was what really put Charger on the map. In 1969 the Charger received styling updates that included the optional Performance Hood with a functional hood scoop and bold graphics that called out the engine below. The 1969 Charger found more fame when it became known as the General Lee on the popular TV series “The Dukes of Hazzard.” With the fuel shortages of the mid 1970s, Charger became a much more docile in its fourth generation, and after a few-year break it returned as a front-wheel-drive economy car, what seemed like an unworthy end to the legendary Charger name.
Current Base Price: $29,995
Dodge reintroduced the Charger for the 2006 model year. Although it was rear-wheel drive with HEMI power like the original, the new model was a full-size four-door sedan with muscle car styling. In 2009 Dodge added the SRT8 with a 425-horsepower V8 engine to the Charger lineup. In 2011 Dodge introduced the current-generation Charger, and the car received a refresh in 2015. Today’s Charger has plenty of high-tech features including an available 8.4-inch touchscreen display. Charger’s powerful engine choices include the latest entry: the SRT Hellcat Redeye with a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 engine producing a mind-blowing 797 horsepower. With a top speed of more than 200 mph, the Hellcat Redeye is the most powerful mass-produced sedan in the world.
Fiat 124 Spider
Original Base Price: $3,265
The original Fiat 124 Spider debuted at the Turin Auto Show in 1966 and was sold in the U.S. from 1968 through 1985. Considered to be one of the most affordable, mass-produced sports cars of the time, the Fiat 124 Spider was designed by Pininfarina and was so successful that the car was not extensively redesigned during its 19-year production run. A 2-seat rear-wheel-drive convertible, the Fiat 124 Spider was powered by a 1.4-liter twin-cam 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission and 4-wheel disc brakes. The water-tight soft-top could be lowered easily from the driver’s seat, and rear quarter-wipers improved visibility. Nearly 8,000 of the original Fiat 124 Spiders are still registered in the U.S. today.
Current Base Price: $25,390
The current Fiat 124 Spider arrived on U.S. shores in 2017, marking its return after a 30-year absence from the U.S. market. The result of a collaboration between Fiat and Mazda, the 2017 Fiat 124 Spider is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but with Italian styling and a Fiat drivetrain, suspension and tuning. The new 124 Spider was designed in Turin, Italy, and takes styling cues from the original car, including the hexagonal upper grille, power domes on the hood and sharp horizontal taillights. Like the original, the soft-top can be manually operated from the driver’s seat and stows behind the seats without a tonneau cover. The rear-wheel-drive 124 Spider is powered by Fiat’s 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower (164 in Abarth) and 184 lb-ft of torque, teamed with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic. A sportier 124 Spider Abarth is also available. Unfortunately, Fiat has announced that 2021 will be the last year for the 124 Spider.
Original Base Price: $2,400
On August 11, 1965, Ford introduced an all-new rugged off-road vehicle called the Bronco. With a body-on-frame design, short overhangs, a short wheelbase and high ground clearance, the new model was designed to be fun and agile off-road while delivering a more civilized alternative to the Jeep CJ5, Toyota FJ40 and International Harvester Scout. Bronco grew in size and capability as it went through several generations in the 1970s and 1980s. By the third generation Bronco shared a platform with the full-size F-150 pickup, adopting the big truck’s styling and performance. By the mid-1990s demand for 2-door SUVs began to wane, with the final Bronco coming off the line in 1996 at the Wayne Assembly Plant in Detroit. Bronco’s replacement arrived the next year: the brand-new 4-door Expedition.
Current Base Price: $26,820
More than 50 years after the introduction of the original Bronco family, Ford introduced an all-new family of Bronco vehicles in 2019. With styling clearly reminiscent of the original, the new Bronco is available as a 2-door variant and for the first time will also be offered with four doors. Rounding out the new Bronco family is a smaller yet capable Bronco Sport. Like the original, the new Bronco will be built for off-road adventures and — also like the original — Jeep is once again Ford’s clear target. The new Bronco stands out with available features including a 7-speed manual gearbox, 35-inch tires, a removable roof and doors that can be stowed onboard. Bronco has 11.6 inches of ground clearance and the ability to ford up to 33.5 inches of water. The Bronco Sport has styling that clearly ties it to the rest of the new Bronco lineup, although this smaller model seeks a wider audience than pure off-road aficionados.
Original Base Price: $6,695
Ford introduced the compact Ranger pickup truck in 1983 to replace the Courier, which was built by Mazda. The Ranger was the first Ford designed and produced compact pickup, coming at a time when fuel economy was an important aspect of new-car buying. As a result, the base engine for the Ranger was a 2.0-liter 4-cylinder motor that put out only 73 horsepower. In 1986 Ford added an extended-cab variant to the Ranger lineup, which provided a storage space behind the front seats that could also fit two small jump seats. Although there were design refreshes and new features throughout its life, the Ranger was always built on the same chassis — quite a long time without a complete redesign. The Ranger continued to be sold in various parts of the world, although 2011 marked the end of the Ranger in the U.S.
Current Base Price: $24,820
Rumors of the Ranger’s triumphant return had been circulating for years, and at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show Ford finally took the wraps off an all-new model. Even though Ranger had been selling in other markets around the world, the new model was specifically engineered for the North American market.
The current Ranger features a high-strength steel frame, a 2.3 -liter turbocharged EcoBoost engine and a 10-speed automatic transmission. The exterior design features a high beltline, a raked grille, a dual-dome hood, the Ranger name stamped in the tailgate, and short overhangs for off-road clearance. Inside, the Ranger offers seating for up to five, a center stack with an 8.0-inch touchscreen for the available SYNC3 system, and dual LCD screens in the instrument cluster to display vehicle, navigation and audio information.
Late last year Ford announced the Tremor Off-Road Package for the 2021 model — a combination of optional equipment and features that the automaker says creates the best Ranger for off-road use ever offered directly from the factory.
Original Base Price: $4,161
Jeep introduced the Cherokee in 1974 as a 2-door version of the Wagoneer, and it remained that way until the 4-door variant debuted in 1977. The Cherokee remained on this platform until it was completely redone in 1984. Considerably shorter and narrower than the big Wagoneer, the new Cherokee was built on a unibody platform rather than the traditional chassis and frame. Two different 4-wheel-drive systems were available — Command-Trac part-time and Selec-Trac full-time 4-wheel drive. Cherokee was originally offered with either a 2.5-liter four cylinder or a 2.8-liter V6 engine until the highly regarded 4.0-liter inline 6-cylinder arrived for 1987. The 2-door version of the Cherokee was discontinued in 1988, and in 2002 Jeep introduced the Liberty to replace the Cherokee.
Current Base Price: $26,555
The Jeep Cherokee returned for 2014 as an all-new compact SUV to replace the Liberty in the Jeep lineup. The new Cherokee featured a modern, aerodynamic design powered by a 3.2-liter Pentastar V6 engine or a 2.3-liter Tigershark MultiAir 2 engine, both teamed with a standard 9-speed automatic transmission. Legendary Jeep off-road capability continued with the Cherokee Trailhawk, which includes lifted off-road suspension with skidplates, tow hooks, Selec-Terrain traction control, Jeep Active Drive Lock with rear locker, Selec-Speed Crawl Control with 56:1 crawl ratio and aggressive approach, departure and break-over angles. An all-new Cherokee debuted at the 2018 Detroit Auto Show with updated styling, a new turbocharged 270-horsepower engine and the latest high-tech features.
Original Base Price: $1,340
The original Mini Cooper was the brainchild of Alec Issigonis — an engineer with the Morris company — who had the daunting task of designing a small, fuel efficient but affordable car that could carry four passengers. By pushing the wheels to the corners and turning the engine sideways, Issigonis maximized interior space while at the same time creating a car with excellent balance and handling. With its low cost and fun-to-drive characteristics, the Mini quickly became a cult classic. In 1961 British racer John Cooper added a more powerful engine and bigger brakes and took the Mini rally racing with considerable success — the little race car won at the Monte Carlo rally from 1964–67. Thanks to new emission regulations, the Mini was pulled from the U.S. market in 1967 but continued to be sold around the world until the late 1990s.
Current Base Price: $22,400
Considerably larger than the original version, the current MINI is still one of the smallest cars on the road. And like the original car, today’s MINI is still front-wheel drive, fuel-efficient, and great fun to drive. MINI returned to the U.S. market in 2002 and has since expanded the range to include the Convertible, Clubman, and Countryman. To honor the British racer who realized the potential of the diminutive car, MINI offers high-performance John Cooper Works editions, including the latest MINI JCW GP that produces more than 300 horsepower. And although MINI always honors its past, the brand also looks to the future with its latest model, the fully electric Cooper SE.
Original Base Price: $3,526
In the fall of 1969, Japan-based automaker Datsun introduced the first Z car to the American market. The Datsun 240Z (the Nissan name wouldn’t be used in the U.S. until 1981) featured a 2.4-liter engine producing 150 horsepower, teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission. Considered advanced for its time, the stylish new sports car had 4-wheel independent suspension, magnesium wheels and front disc brakes. Over the years, the Z gained more power from larger engines which resulted in name changes to 260Z, 280ZX and eventually in 1990 Nissan introduced the 300ZX, which boasts a 3.0-liter twin-turbo V6 that produces 300 horsepower. This was also the first generation of Z car available as a convertible. As prices went up sales began to decline, and a final Commemorative Edition closed out the Z car in America in 1996.
Current Base Price: $30,090
The idea behind the Z car hasn’t changed much from the original but — as expected — performance has moved forward. As the name 370Z indicates, the current rendition utilizes a 3.7-liter V6 engine rated at 332 horsepower, available with either a 6-speed manual or a 7-speed automatic transmission. A special NISMO edition boosts output to 350 horsepower. To celebrate this iconic car’s 50th anniversary in 2020, Nissan introduced a 50th Anniversary Edition 370Z. The special edition commemorates the golden anniversary of the original 1970 Datsun 240Z with exterior and interior details that recognize the legacy of that historic sports car. The two-tone exterior design is inspired by the #46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) Datsun 240Z that won multiple SCCA National Championships, driven by John Morton. Nissan recently showed a prototype of the next-generation Z — a clear indication of a strong future for this legendary sports car.
Original Base Price: $5,000 (estimate, for chassis only)
Introduced 1906 during an era when the company built only one model line at a time, the Silver Ghost was the only Rolls-Royce produced until 1925. Quite advanced compared to other automobiles, the Silver Ghost featured pressurized engine lubrication, dual ignition and advanced carburation to provide smooth power delivery as well as great reliability. The Silver Ghost’s abilities were proven in 1907 when it completed a 15,000-mile reliability trial. Improvements continued to be made over the years — ultimately almost 8,000 Silver Ghosts would be built.
Current Base Price: $332,500
Rolls-Royce did not use the Ghost name on a new vehicle until 2009, when the all-new Ghost debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Considered the “entry-level” model of the Rolls-Royce lineup, the Ghost became the brand’s most successful model ever. Now Rolls-Royce introduces an all-new Ghost for the 2021 model year with plans to expand this time-honored model. The new Ghost gets built on Rolls-Royce’s aluminum spaceframe architecture, allowing engineers to place the engine behind the front axle. The new design also adopts all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and a new suspension system. Still easily recognizable as a Rolls, the new Ghost features a larger Pantheon grille with accent lighting, as well as an illuminated dashboard that displays starlight to match the Starlight Headliner.
Original Base Price: $9,578
The Toyota Supra had its start as a higher-performance version the popular Celica. Longer and wider than the standard Celica, the Supra ran a 2.6-liter inline 6-cylinder engine that represented Toyota’s first use of electronic fuel injection. Available with a manual or automatic transmission, the Celica Supra was also equipped with 4-wheel disc brakes and 4-wheel independent suspension. In 1986 Toyota separated the Supra name from Celica to create an independent model, retaining its rear-wheel-drive platform. In 1993 the Supra received a redesign that transformed it into a true supercar. Built for performance, this new Supra was available with a turbocharged engine cranking out 320 horsepower. By the late 1990s the American appetite for high-performance cars had dwindled, and production of a Supra for the U.S. ended.
Current Base Price: $42,990
For more than 20 years, Supra enthusiasts have longed for the return of Toyota’s top sports car. It’s finally back, although not without controversy among some Supra loyalists, since the Japanese automaker partnered with BMW to develop the chassis and engine. Supra’s new design was inspired by the fourth generation Supra with a prominent center grille flanked by large air intakes. The double-bubble roof design pays homage to the 2000 GT while reducing drag by lowering the center of the roof without impacting headroom. Supra is offered with two powertrain choices — a 255-horsepower turbocharged 4-cylinder engine or 382-horsepower turbocharged inline 6-cylinder unit. Either powerplant gets teamed with an 8-speed automatic transmission — a manual gearbox is not available.
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