Ghost Cars of the Past About to Return

1982 Buick Grand National

Three automotive icons of the 1970s and 1980s could be well on their way back to modern society.

And why not? Plenty of companies have seen success with bringing retro designs and brands back to experience new life and make new sales. The Mustang, Camaro and Challenger trio remains the most obvious example. The reinvention of the Dodge Dart also proves the point. Going beyond cars, the Star Wars saga will reappear in U.S. theaters, and the band Queen will play a new show (though with a very questionable stand-in for the great Freddie Mercury).

Nissan, BMW and Buick hope there is room for at least three more pieces of automotive nostalgia.

Nissan will resurrect its Datsun brand, BMW has applied for a patent on the Triumph name and logo, while tuning house SLP, which owns the rights to the fabled “GNX” name, reportedly has plans to transform a Buick Regal GS into the car everyone still refers to as Lord Vader’s ride.

The Wall Street Journal says Nissan

is actively “studying” the re-launch of Datsun, which it retired as a sub-brand in 1983, as it looks to target the fastest-growing emerging markets over the next five years with a range of low cost vehicles, the person said.

Details of the new marketing effort remain sketchy and it is unclear which markets are in line for a resuscitated Datsun, a brand first introduced in 1932 and perhaps best known among former loyalists in the U.S. and U.K. markets.

I say, as long as the brand makes a comeback, why not give us a modern 240Z to play around with? Make it a cheap tin-can with a turbocharged four-cylinder and half the price of a Nissan 370Z and I’ll buy one. I’ll even sign a waiver!

Meanwhile, Autocar say that BMW has applied for a European trademark on the Triumph “wreath” badge. The application covers the use of the badge on jewelry, watches, books, leather goods, luggage, cleaning materials, textiles, Christmas decorations and, yes, automobiles, too.

That mix of products isn’t quite as odd as it sounds, since they are common promotional items related to car launches. While the move is no guarantee that BMW will revive the brand, it’s certainly a first step. Anyone up for a new version of the TR8?

Finally, Inside Line says tuning house SLP will build 500 copies of a new GNX. It’ll reportedly have 300 hp and look like the sketch shown here. Not bad, but it better be blacked-out like the original. Too bad they can’t do anything about the car having FWD, though. That might be a deal-killer right there.

Which car would you most like to see brought back, the Datsun 240Z, Triumph TR8 or Buick GNX?


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  1. I bought a Grand National and had it for a couple of years. It really wasn’t as drivable as you think. The V6 wasn’t great for low end torque but would basically explode when the turbo kicked in. I thought the V8 musclemobiles like the Firebird, Camaro and Vette were more pleasant to drive. The real sleepers were the low-production trucks that GM made with the turbo– The Typhoon and the Syclone. They used the 4.3L block with auto trans and both had all wheel drive. The Syclone was the pickup truck version and you could carefully brake torque that vehicle until the turbo started to kick in. If you were careful, you could wind up the driveline and when you slipped your foot off the brake and hammered the throttle, that truck would really snap your head back into the armrest. To me, those two are the most collectible trucks made in the past fifty years with the possible exception of the SSR.

  2. Heck – do not half to do a thing, rebuild the original 240Z and I would take one – NOW!

  3. I agree with the FWD thing and the GNX name. It’s like when they put the GTO badge on the Sunfire in the first years of production. Real GTO owners were up in arms about that decision. At least the Camaro, Mustang and Challenger still share something with their older siblings…REAR DRIVE MUSCLE! I think the Grand National/GNX name should be left alone until they find a suitable platform worthy of the name.

  4. Stirling :
    Love they gnx!! But a modern Buick would never be good enough. Fwd? Please don’t even bother! It’ll just poison the gnx name.

    I couldn’t agree more! Perhaps Buick could “borrow” the CTS platform for a revised GNX.

  5. Love they gnx!! But a modern Buick would never be good enough. Fwd? Please don’t even bother! It’ll just poison the gnx name.

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