There have always been those cars which we still wish were being built brand-new. That way the rest of the world would know what proper fun cars are. Instead, the older cars the rest of the world gets that are still built today are the Morris Oxford III (you know it better as the Hindustan Ambassador), the Peugeot 405 (Iranians know it as the Samand), and the Mercedes W124 E-Class (Koreans know it as the Ssangyong Chairman). I’ve attempted to keep the list simple, with cars that I think any car-producing country, especially China, should be capable of manufacturing today.
Volvo 240 Station Wagon
This choice seems the most likely to happen, as Volvo is owned by Geely. This car was assembled around the world (even in Malaysia) and I still see plenty of them today (though I do live in Berkeley). The Volvo has plenty of space and still has the potential to serve as a workhorse for anyone who buys one, especially for the one car family. Be aware though: a 240 by the Chinese may not be as strong as the original because of the lack of high-strength Swedish steel.
The 510 started out as a cheap and reliable alternative to a BMW 1600. Furthermore, parts can easily be replicated for this car, meaning that the Chinese would not have a difficult time copying it. Its popularity stemmed from the fact that the 510’s parts were interchangeable with other, more powerful Datsun models of the period, making it a fantastic race car. Parts for the 510 are still easy to come by, though the car itself is not. A 510 made by the Chinese enables more people to partake in racing cheaply.
Somehow, people miss GM’s mid-engined economy car. I’ve never really been a fan (but then again, I’ve never driven a Fiero). Much of the components for the car were from the GM parts bin of the 1980s, which can easily be replicated. Even these cars are dwindling in number today, with many people (though I’ve never personally met one who has) still having nostalgia for the Fiero. If they make it, at least one person will have a platform to build a new Ferrari replica on and say he (or she) actually has a 355.
Original Mini Cooper
The Mini, designed by Alec Issigonis, was Britain’s answer to the Volkswagen Beetle. It ended up becoming a lot more than that. It went touring car racing and won at Monte Carlo a couple times. Plus, there's nothing like learning a proper handbrake turn in this car. I also think the Chinese could definitely put it together as the car was simple to build. Furthermore, since the Chinese now own Rover Group, they likely have access to the tooling and blueprints as to how the car was made. BMW just owns the rights to the MINI name, but the Chinese can create the original Mini Cooper we all know and love.
BMW E30 3-Series
LeMons and ChumpCar are making E30s an endangered species. Yet, the very fact that teams always manage to fix these cars up no matter what they’ve gone through is a testament to the simplicity of the E30. Therefore the Chinese should copy them. Even the ECU (the part of the E30 that always gives up in LeMons) can be replicated in this instance. I think they would have a runaway hit on their hands, especially if they made an E30 325i. This car has to be made. We would all remember how good the E30 was before LeMons got through all of them.
So what simple car from the past do you think should be copied?
This list originally appeared on my Kinja blog BecauseCAR.
All photos other than Fiero and the Mini courtesy of the respective manufacturers. Pontiac Fiero and Mini Cooper photos courtesy Car and Driver magazine.