Saturday, June 11, 2011

Obsolete but Available - 10 Old Cars You Can Still Buy New

Believe it or not, sometimes the never-ending drama of driving older vehicles causes me to start wondering what owning a car with zero miles is like. This typically causes me to start looking at cars that I can't have. But after a while of searching, I always conclude that I would miss most of what comes with driving older cars. In countries where running water isn't a given, I wouldn't have this conundrum as many cars on the verge of being called vintage are still available new! Here are just ten of the many cars out there that beat the retro crazy by patiently waiting.

1. Nissan Tsuru - Mexico

The standard of pizza delivery personnel throughout America, the B13 Nissan Sentra, is still available without sagging headliner and broken-off door handles in Mexico. The Sentra lives on as the Nissan Tsuru, an even further decontented version of the US version that was phased out of the market in 1994. With smaller brakes, a mechanical clutch, and no modern safety clunkery, the Tsuru lives on as an $7,800 bargain basement choice for the taxi market that is still grieving over the death of the original beetle. Check out Sport Compact's road test of one about 6 years ago.

2. Holland Car Docc - Ethiopia

Do you miss the Fiat Brava? What wouldn't I give for a brand new one? The folks at Holland Car in Ethiopia have decided that it's still good enough for Africa and made the decision to dust off the cobwebs and build it there up until last month. The roads of Southeast Michigan were notorious for shaking the Brava to pieces so one would have to imagine that driving in one big dirt Detroit would simply destroy the Docc. At least Ethiopia is snow-proof and landlocked so it's guaranteed not to be salted to death. Like the Tsuru, it's not available is SE-R type specification so no 131 Abarth for you, only standard features like "High Ground Clearance, Spare Part Available, Rear Differential", according to the website.
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3. Volkswagen Kombi - Brazil

The sixties apparently never ended in Brazil as the VW Microbus is still being pieced together there. The base models are commonly built in Brazil and exported abroad for camper conversions. The VW website shows that the new Kombi has a huge plastic grill in place of the standard slab front end, which takes some getting used to. Due to the abundance of ethanol in Brazil, the 1.4 liter engine in the Kombi is able to run on E-85 or gasoline.

4. Hindustan Ambassador - India

You can't watch a Bollywood film these days without seeing 5,000 of these Morris Oxford copies dodging Marutis, Standards, and people left and right. Despite looking ancient, the Ambassador is available with some second world features like a CD player, cell phone charger, A/C, and a myriad of gas, CNC, and Diesel powerplants. Don't get me wrong, the Ambassador is incredibly cool but does somewhat resemble a half-effort custom car in it's modernized state - kind of like one of those bright yellow '55 Chevrolets that you see at car shows with an S10 steering column and tweed covered bucket seats out of an Astro. With the constant revisions and even a pick-up version on the way, the Ambassador will probably remain available for the rest of eternity.

5. Chevrolet Chevy Sedan - Mexico

For those fondly remembering the early 90's Opel Corsa B, Mexico has them in spades as the awkwardly named Chevrolet Chevy. Wearing the new corporate face over fairly old parts, the Chevy comes with what looks to be a pushrod 1.6L four of 100hp. Like it? Don't forget to hit the 'Me Gusta' button for the Facebook link.

6. Saipa Pride - Iran

In case you can't find a solid Ford Festiva to save your life, you could always smuggle one from Iran. This would secure you a brand new Saipa Pride as well as a lifetime membership to the TSA no-fly list. One of the best features of the Saipa Pride is the fact that it has a trunk. Imagine the wildly out of proportion Festiva with a trunk, provided it doesn't blow your mind. In addition to the trunk bearing 4 door model, Saipa will also sell you a 3 door hatch and a pick-up (yes, Festiva pick-up) for those massive tasks. See their lineup which includes the locally designed and built Miniator if you can decipher anything but the jubilant protesters on the website.

7. IKCO Roa - Iran

Iran's secrets are more than just nuclear in nature - they still make the Peugeot 405! Iran Khodro, maker of the famed Paykan, manufactures these vehicles in massive numbers of over 250,000 per year, or 25% of the car market. With sales that incredibly high, one could only imagine that Iranian researchers are achieving fusion by forcing high speed head-on collisions of IKCO Roa particles.

8. Toyota Landcruiser 70 - Australia

Arguably, this may the the only vehicle on the list that is still in production for it's greatness - not just cheap to keep building. The body style still sold in Australia, NZ, and South Africa originated in 1984 but represents an evolution from the original FJ40. Throughout the rural part of Australia (most of it is...) these trucks can be seen at cattle stations and pub parking lots everywhere. Toyota has recently come out with a commercial to celebrate Toyota's close connection with Australia's rural heritage.

9. 南京汽车集团有限公司 MG TF - China

It's no hyperbole that the CEO of MG in China thought that the brand stood for Modern Gentleman when he purchased the marque. This makes no sense as MG owners may very well be gentlemen but by no stretch are they typically modern ones. If the MG TF follows the model of the Lotus Elan when Korean manufacturer Kia bought it, then we are in good shape. But if this car is to become a template for copy-cat cars, made out of stinky resin in an unsafe environment, or renamed the "MG Happy Puppy !what Loves Life! 3000", then not so much.

10. Lada Niva

An obsolete but awesome cars list would not be complete without at least 10 Russian entries alone but this list is admittedly far from complete. The Niva has been built since 1977 in 2 door, 4 door, Pick-up, and other configurations for first through third world market everywhere. It's even sold as the attractively and suitably (where is the sarcasm font?) named Bognor Diva in Uruguay. It has since seen updates in it's sheetmetal, running gear, and interior that put it solidly into the late 80's.

In conclusions, there are upsides to limited development budgets and the amortization of tooling costs over a much longer production run has it's obvious advantages. So Big 3, why not dig out the molds for the Valiant, Nova, and Falcon and keep poppin' 'em out?

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