Toyota Celica

The Toyota Celica was a sports car produced by Toyota Motor Co from 1970 to 2006.  The name “Celica” is derived from the Latin “coelica” or “coelicus“, meaning “celestial”.

At the Tokyo Motor Show in late 1970, the A20 Celica debuted with the intention of being a touring car above the Corolla in the Toyota lineup, as well as being the Japanese version of the Ford Mustang.  Initially, the Celica was available only as a 2-door notchback (coupe), and motive power came from 1.4-liter and 1.6-liter inline-4s.  The top-of-the-line for this generation was the 1600 GT, VIN number TA22.

1975 Celica ST notchback
1976 Celica GT-S liftback
1977 Celica ST liftback

The Celica was given a refresh in 1973, gaining a liftback/hatchback body style.  New engine choices included a 1.9L, 2.0L, and 2.2L.  The North American Celica gained the liftback version in 1976.  The new top-trim was the 2.2L 2200 GT model.

1978 Celica ST

August 1977 saw the introduction of the second generation Celica, the A40 series, and retained both the coupe and hatchback models as standard.  Although initially the Celica featured round headlights, it was redesigned right away in 1979.  This facelifted model would have square lights.  Also new that year was the Celica XX (also called “Celica Supra“), which featured a longer wheelbase and other dimensional changes in order to compete against Nissan’s Z-car.  This model would soon become its own lineup, separate from the Celica altogether.  Also in Japan, 1980 saw the introduction of a 4-door sedan called Celica Camry, which would also eventually become its own lineup.

The A60 generation debuted in August 1981 for the 1982 model year.  North American Celicas gained fuel injection as standard equipment.  This generation’s wheelbase was the same as the previous model, at 2500 mm (98 in), but exterior length increased to 4435 mm (174.6 in).

1985 Celica liftback

August 1983 saw a refresh to the Celica, including retractable (hide-away) headlights, a trend that was popular mostly throughout the 1980’s.  American Specialty Cars built convertible Celicas from 1984 to 1985 for North America.

The T160 Celica differed vastly from its prior counterparts.  New in 1986 was the front wheel drive configuration, whereas pervious Celicas were rear wheel drive.  Optional on some models was four wheel drive.  The epitome of high-performance Celicas was the GT-Four, called Turbo All-Trac in North America, which employed this 4WD technology.  The GT-Four/Turbo All-Trac was the ST165 model (the top-of-the-line), and with its prestigious 4WD technology also came the turbocharged 3S-GTE 2.0-liter.  For this generation Celica, this unit was capable of outputting 182 – 190 horsepower.  The base model was the AT160 with the 1.6L 4A-F/4A-GE.

September 1989 saw the debut of the T180 Celica, the fifth generation.  This model saw a differentiation between its two liftback body styles; one narrow-body, and the other wide-body, depending on the model.  The high-performance GT-Four, Turbo All-Trac, and Turbo 4WD were wide-body.  This generation’s narrow-body liftback was a tad narrower than the previous gen: 1705 mm versus 1710 mm.  The wide-body was notably wider (at 1745 mm), and rightly so for performance reasons: the 2.0L 3S-GTE was upgraded to gather up to 232 horsepower for the top-of-the-line GT-Four RC and the European-market Turbo 4WD Carlos Sainz Limited Edition.  Carlos Sainz is a Spanish rally-race driver who, in 1990, drove the Celica GT-Four to 1st place victory in the World Rally Championship that year.  He again lead Toyota Team Europe to 1st place again in a Celica Turbo 4WD in 1992.

Some Japanese-spec Celicas came with a four-wheel-steering (4WS) option, which enhanced handling.  The “4WS” lineup included the 4WS S-R, 4WS Z-R, 4WS GT-R, Active Sports, 4WS Convertible, and 4WS Convertible Type G, all of which had the VIN code ST183.  North America did not get any 4WS Celica models.

October 1993 saw the debut of the T200 Celica.  This model had notorious bug-eye style round headlights, like the third generation Acura Integra that also debuted that year.  Although exterior dimensions would vary depending on model, the width was the same throughout the lineup at 1750 mm (68.9 in).  This made the T200 Celica 5 mm wider than the wide-body T180.  The Celica was still in the high-performance rally racing game, this time producing well over 250 horsepower out of the 3S-GTE for its ST205 GT-Four model.  North America did not get a GT-Four/Turbo All-Trac for this generation, but instead had the ST204 as its top-line model.  The ST204 employed the 2.2-liter 5S-FE capable of 135 horsepower for its “GT” model.  The base model was the AT200, which employed the 1.8-liter 7A-FE.  Production of the T200 would last through June of 1999.

July 1999 saw the introduction of the T230 generation.  It had a longer wheelbase at 2600 mm, but was narrower, at 1735 mm.  As this generation Celica did not participate in rally racing, there was no seriously powerful 2.0-liter in the lineup.  Instead, it got two 1.8L engines: 1ZZ-FE and 2ZZ-GE.  In North America, the Celica came in two trims: GT and GT-S.  The GT got the 1ZZ-FE, which developed 140 hp @ 6400 rpm; the GT-S got the 2ZZ-GE, which featured VVTL-i (Variable Valve Timing and Lift control with Intelligence).  This amped the motor’s output to 180 horsepower.  Some 2003-2004 Celicas came with an available “Action Package”, which added a supercharger to the Celica’s engine.  Included in the Action Package were goodies such as dampers, anti-sway bars, disc brake pads, custom exhaust, and an exterior body kit.  The Celica did not have a chance when it came to export sales after 2005 – North American sales halted there.  The Japanese-domestic and European Celica would remain selling through the end of its production run in April 2006.

Buick Regal

The Buick Regal is a mid-size automobile in production since 1973.  Upon its debut, it was based on the Century, hence the initial naming “Century Regal” (but that name was dropped by the end of the first generation’s run).  Like the Century, the Regal rode on the same GM A-body platform and was assembled in Flint, Michigan.  Engine options ranged from a 231 CI (3.8L) V6, 350 CI (5.7L) V8, and a 455 CI (7.5L) V8.  Depending on the model, the car’s length was at 212 – 216 in (5400 – 5500 mm), and wheelbase between 112 – 116 in (2800 – 2900 mm).

General Motors downsized many of their vehicles in 1978.  Chief among these downsized vehicles were the two Buick models, the Century and the Regal, still riding on the A-body.  But by that time, the original A-body was well over 40 years old, and the lineup soon needed a new chassis to ride on.  From 1981, the Regal would ride on the G-body, shared with the Chevrolet El Camino, Monte Carlo, Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix, and other models.

1981/1982 saw an update to the Regal lineup.  The car was made to be slightly more aerodynamic, given Buick’s entry into NASCAR.  Celebrating Buick’s victories in the Daytona 500 and Winston Cup Grand National, Buick re-engineered the Regal into a lineup of street-legal high-performance variants called Grand National, Turbo-T, and T-Type.  Initially, 1982 Regals with the GN package came with a 4.1L V6, throwing 125 horsepower.  1982 saw very limited production of the Grand National, and this model was discontinued, with the 1983 high-performance variant being available only with the Regal T-Type.  The Grand National returned in 1984; this time with a turbocharged 3.8-liter producing 200 horsepower.  Of the 2,000 Grand National models produced in 1984, approximately only 200 were made with the “T-Top”, making them the rarest Grand Nationals.  1986 saw a power upgrade to the Grand National: 235 horsepower versus the previous gen’s 200.  The power was bumped up again in 1987, and that year, the T-Top was discontinued, leaving only the Grand National and the Turbo-T.

1987 Buick GNX

In 1987, GM partnered with McLaren and American Specialty Cars (ASC) to create the “GNX” (Grand National Experimental).  This very-limited high-performance mule was distinguished from other Grand Nationals by a special stealthy all-black with black trim look, and an upgraded version of Buick’s 3.8-liter.  This unit developed close to 280 horsepower at 4400 rpm.  This car was considered to be in supercar territory, facing off against the Porsche 911 Turbo at the drag strip.  At the quarter mile, it was faster than the Porsche (12.7 seconds at 113.1 mph vs. the ’86 Porsche Turbo’s 13.1 sec at 105 mph).

The third generation transitioned to the front-wheel-drive W-body platform in 1988.  This was the “first-generation” W-body which featured the same 107.5 inch wheelbase for the Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme, Pontiac Grand Prix, and Chevrolet Lumina sedan.  Engine choices were a 2.8L V6 (developing 125 horsepower); 3.1L V6 (140 horsepower from 1989 to 1993; ’94-up threw 160 hp); and a 3.8L V6 (170 horsepower from 1990 to 1995; 200 hp for 1996).  Although the top of the line Regal was the Gran Sport (GS) model, there was no supercar-style high-performance variant like the previous generation had.  This generation would be strictly a practical executive mid-size vehicle.

The Regal was revamped for 1997, this time sharing a similar body with the Century.  Both it and the Century rode on the W-body platform.  These cars were the “second generation” W-body, an upgraded version of the automobile platform whose wheelbase was increased to 109 inches.  Starting in 1997, both the Regal and Century were available only as 4-door sedans, and retained this trend until the end of their production runs (the Regal discontinued in 2004, with a hiatus until it relaunched in 2011; the Century discontinued in 2005 with no successor, other than being replaced in the Buick lineup by its Regal sibling).  Although the Chinese-market Regal was available with inline-4 and V6 engines, the only engine option available for North America was the 3.8L “Series II” V6, available in two variations: L36, with 205 horsepower; and the supercharged L67 (developing 240 horsepower).  The L67 was employed in the top of the line GS.  After the Regal ended production in 2004, the LaCrosse/Allure replaced it in Buick’s mid-size lineup during the Regal’s hiatus.

In 2008, GM debuted the next iteration of their mid-size front-wheel-drive platform, dubbed Epsilon II.  This platform was the basis for the new Buick Regal sedan, which debuted in China in 2008.  Compared to the previous generation, this model had a shorter wheelbase sitting at 107.8 in (2738 mm).  This Regal was a rebadged version of Europe’s Opel Insignia executive car, and the Epsilon II platform was also shared with the LaCrosse/Allure, Cadillac XTS, Chevrolet Impala, Chevrolet/Holden Malibu, Roewe 950, and Saab 9-5.  The newfangled Buick Regal made its world debut at the 2009 Los Angeles Auto Show in December that year, and began North American sales in February 2010.  Initially, the car came in two trims: CXL and CXL Turbo.

At the 2010 North American International Auto Show in Detroit, Michigan, the Regal GS made its debut as a concept car.  This vehicle employed a turbocharged 2.0L inline-4, developing 270 horsepower, 50 more horses than the production CXL Turbo’s output.  The GS entered production as a 2011 model, and in 2014 it was detuned slightly.  This generation was produced until 2017.

For model year 2018, the Regal was redesigned.  The 4-door sedan was exclusive to China, while elsewhere two new body styles debuted: a raked 5-door fastback and a station wagon called TourX.  It was based on the “Epsilon” platform as before, but this time, was renamed E2XX, sharing this platform with the Cadillac XT4, Chevrolet Malibu, and Holden Commodore.

Honda Accord

In May 1976, Honda Motor Co debuted an economy car a grade up from the Civic, and this mid-size Accord model has been a successful mainstay in the Honda stable for many years.  The first generation model was available either as a 3-door hatchback or 4-door sedan.  The engine options at the time were a 1.6L inline 4 and a 1.8L four.  Both the Japanese and American Accords were assembled in Sayama, Japan.

Model year 1982 saw the introduction of the second generation model.  This was the first generation USDM Accord to be built in Marysville, Ohio.  In Japan, the second gen’s debut coincided with the debut of the similar Honda Vigor.  Dimensionally, this model changed as well: exterior length was down by 40 mm to 4410 mm, versus the first gen’s 4450.  Many of Honda’s models employed “CVCC” technology in their engines, as did the Accord.  But 1984 saw an introduction of electronic fuel injection (EFI) to the Japanese Accord lineup.  The American EFI version came in 1985.

The third generation Accord debuted for 1986, and this generation saw the introduction of the 2-door coupe.  In Japan, there were several different versions of the Accord: CA1 (with the 1.8L A18A), CA2 (with the 1.8L B18A), CA3 (with the 2.0L B20A), and the ’87-up CA5 with the 2.0L A20A.  American and Canadian versions ranged from BA, CA5, and CA6.  The CA6 was the 1988 Accord Coupe, similar to (or same as) Japan’s ’88 CA6 coupe.  The North American VINs for the Accord actually started either with “JHM” or “1HG”, denoting “American Honda Motor”.  Some ’87 to ’88 models started with “2HG”.  For example, the first 6 digits of the VIN of a 1988 Accord coupe would go something like “JHMCA6” or “1HGCA6”.

1990 – 1991 Accord

September 1989 saw the debut of the CB series Accord in Japan.  This prompted the 1990 model Accord in North America.  For this generation, a station wagon was introduced, and the 3-door hatchback was discontinued.  The engine lineup included four inline-4s. They were the 1.8L F18A, and three F-series’s, F20A (SOHC), F20A (DOHC) and F22A (SOHC).

1993 Accord coupe

1992 saw a refresh to the Accord model.  Notable cosmetic changes included a restyled front splitter (front bumper), conversion to amber turn signals on the front, and restyled tail-lights.  This refresh would last until the end of the model’s run in 1993.

The CD series Accord debuted in most markets in September 1993.  The body style choices remained the same from the previous generation: 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan, and station wagon.  The engine options also varied depending on the year and trim.  The CD3 got a 1.8L F18B, and the CD5, CD6, CD7, CD8, and CD9 models got the 2.0-liter or larger “F-series” engines.  Model year 1995 saw the introduction of a V6 into the Accord lineup.  The CE6 Accord LX-V6/EX-V6 got the 2.7L C27A4 shared with the Acura Legend.  The Accord got a mid-cycle refresh for 1996, and the 1997 model (the final year for the “CD” generation) remained relatively the same.

The Accord underwent a renewal for its sixth generation in August 1997, for the 1998 model year in North America.  This series is referred to as the CG.  At the same time, in Japan, a slightly different model, the CF/CL debuted.  The CL was the high-performance Euro-R, something North America did not receive.  Although a wagon variant existed in the lineup in Japan, for North America the wagon was discontinued, leaving only the sedan and coupe.  While the Sayama plant in Japan built both the JDM and USDM Accords for this generation, the Marysville plant built only the USDM version.  Upon its introduction, the Accord was available only as a sedan, but gained a coupe model one year in.  The 1.8-liter was discontinued, and the engine lineup consisted of 2.0-liter or larger.  The Accord got a refresh in 2001, and continued production through 2002.

The CM series Accord debuted in September 2002 for North America.  Initially, the engine options were 2.4L K24A4 and the 3.0L J30A4.  They produced 160 and 240 horsepower, respectively.  In 2005, the US got a hybrid model, which employed a 3.0L V6 (not the same as the J30) paired to a 144V electric motor.  Total system output was 255 horsepower @ 6000 rpm.  The Accord was refreshed in 2006, and the base motors from before were altered for higher power output.  The 2.4L upgraded to the 166 hp K24A8, and the 3.0L V6 to the 244 hp J30A5.

Model year 2008 saw the start of the eighth generation Accord.  It was slightly larger than its predecessor, being 4950 mm long and 1847 mm wide.  The chassis codes varied depending on the model and engine combo.  The CP2 got the 2.4L K24Z2/K24Z3 (sedan); the CS1 the K24Z3 (coupe); CP3 the 3.5L J35Z2 (V6 sedan), and the CS2 the J35Z3 (V6 coupe).  The Accord got a refresh in 2011, and the generation ran production through 2013.  There were no hybrid models for this generation.

The ninth generation Accord debuted in model year 2013.  This model was shorter (4862 mm) and wider (1849 mm) than the previous generation.  While Honda did declare the Accord (at least since the last model) would not have (or need) a hybrid variant, in model year 2014 the Plug-in Hybrid debuted.  The maximum combined city/highway EPA rating was 46 MPG (5.1 L / 100 km).  US production would be limited to 1,030 units.

2016 Accord coupe
2017 Accord

The Accord was refreshed in 2016, but the Plug-in Hybrid was discontinued.  The refreshed model in this generation would last only until 2017, before the end of its production run followed by the introduction of the tenth generation Accord.

Chevrolet Bel Air

The Chevrolet Bel Air was a full-size vehicle produced from 1950 to 1975 in the United States, and until 1981 in Canada.  The concept of the Bel Air was to have a sporty hardtop convertible in their lineup.  This car was initially based on the Styline DeLuxe model from 1949.

1953 Bel Air

The first generation Bel Air was produced 1950 to 1954, though the Bel Air wouldn’t be its own model until 1953, when the lineup gained a 2-door coupe and 4-door sedan.  A 2-door convertible was also introduced.  This generation Bel Air was based on the GM A-body platform from 1936, shared with other models in the Chevrolet lineup (ie: Chevy 150, 210, Impala, etc.), and other GM models, such as the Pontiac Chieftain, Star Chief, Oldsmobile 76, and 88.  In this generation’s final year of production, 1954, the lineup gained a station wagon model.  Power came from the 215 CI (3.5L) Thriftmaster inline-6 and the 235 CI (3.9L) Blue Flame inline-6.  The Blue Flame 6 produced 125 horsepower.

1955 Bel Air

The Bel Air was revised in 1955.  The new model would still share the 1936 A-body platform with other GM vehicles like the previous generation model had.  As this was the case, the 115 inch wheelbase of the previous generation counterpart had been retained for this lineup, but was nearly 2 inches shorter in exterior length.  Hardtop, sedan, and station wagon models were standard throughout the lineup for the entire generation.  A new engine option was the 265 (4.3L) Small-Block V8, which was also featured in the Corvette.  The difference for the Bel Air’s 265 was that it produced 162 horsepower, versus the Corvette’s 195 horsepower.  The Bel Air was given a cosmetic update for 1956, and another for 1957.

1957 Bel Air hardtop

The 215 Thriftmaster and the 235 Blue Flame engines from the previous generation were available in this model, but two new V8s were introduced: the 265 CI (4.3L) and 283 CI (4.6L) Small Blocks.

For one year only, in 1958, Chevrolet produced its third generation Bel Air model.  This car transitioned to the more extensive full-size, rear-wheel-drive B-body platform.  This allowed the Bel Air to strongly resemble its platform twin, the Impala.  In addition to the hardtop, sedan, and convertible models, a coupe was introduced to the lineup.  A larger V8, the Big Block, was introduced.  This engine was good for anywhere between 250 to 315 horsepower.

The Bel Air was radically redesigned for its fourth generation in 1959.  This included a low-slung four-headlight design and curvier windshield/pillar design.  Engine choices were the 235 Blue Flame 6, 283 Small Block V8, and 348 Big Block V8.

1961 saw the debut of the fifth generation Bel Air.  The exterior dimension changes included a shortened length, although the wheelbase remained the same.  After that year, the 4-door hardtop was discontinued.  The Bel Air continued to be updated year after year, and the 1963 and 1964 models saw significant change.  It began to more resemble its platform counterparts, the Biscayne and Impala.

1969 Bel Air 4-door sedan

The 1965 Bel Air was not only cosmetically redesigned, but also slightly longer than its predecessor.  The wheelbase remained the same from the prior generation.  The body styles for this generation would range from 2-door and 4-door sedans and a 4-door wagon.  It would be this point onward that the Bel Air would offer little semblance to its namesake due to its strong resemblance to its other platform model counterparts.  Engine choices included two inline-sixes (230 and 250), and a range of Small Block and Big Block V8s.  In 1970, the wagon was renamed Townsman, and the 250 inline-6 developed 155 horsepower.  The top of the line that year was the 454 Big Block V8.

From 1971 to 1975, the Bel Air was practically the same as the contemporary generation Caprice.  The B-body platform had rubbed off on the Bel Air so much, that both the Bel Air and Caprice were assembled in the same Arlington (Texas), Oshawa, Ontario (Canada), and South Gate (California) assembly plants.  They even shared the same two Small Block V8s, the 350 and 400, as well as the 454 Big Block.  The Caprice and Impala proved to be more worthy mainstays in the Chevrolet lineup, and 1975 saw the final year of American production of the Bel Air.

Canada would see the “Bel Air” name continue on in 1976, in the same generation from 1970.  In 1977, the Canadian-only eighth generation debuted, still strongly resembling its Caprice/Impala counterparts.  These models were assembled in Baltimore, Maryland; Flint, Michigan; and Oshawa, Ontario in Canada.  The engine lineup consisted of a singular inline six, the 250, and 305 and 400 Small Block V8s.  A drop in sales spelled the end for the Bel Air altogether, and 1981 saw the final “Bel Air” in the Chevrolet lineup, America or Canada.

Nissan Fairlady

The Nissan Fairlady (also called Fairlady Z) is a front-engine, rear wheel drive sports car in production since model year 1970.  In other markets outside of Japan, this model was also known by many other monikers, such as Datsun/Nissan 240Z, 260Z, 280Z, 280ZX, 300ZX, 350Z, and 370Z.  These numeric names (much like those renamed from the Japanese-counterpart Silvias to American-spec “S-cars”) are indicative of the vehicles’ engine sizes, in liters (example: 240Z = 2.4 liter; 370Z = 3.7 liter, etc.)  This lineup is also known as “Z-cars“.

1967 1/2 Datsun Sports

The Fairlady model actually dates back to 1959, when Nissan Motor Co debuted the Datsun Sports as a roadster model.  This roadster lineup had its own series of generations, and was produced until 1970.

1972 240Z
1973 240Z

October 1969 saw the debut of the first generation “Z-car”.  This was the S30 generation, produced 1970 to 1978.  The initial series was the 2.4L “240Z” model in North America.  The car’s power was 151 horsepower at 5,600 rpm, and torque was at 146 lb/ft.  This initial 240 series was in production from 1970 to 1973.

1974 260Z

The next car in the S30 lineup was the 2.6L “260Z“.  Worldwide, this model was in production from 1974 to 1978; though the American 260Z was produced in 1974 only.  The increased engine displacement meant that this model would make 10 more horsepower (162 hp @ 5,600 rpm).  The torque was also increased, to 157 lb/ft.

1975 – 1978 280Z

1975 saw the release of the more empowered 2.8-liter 280Z.  The “280Z” name is not to be confused with the S130-generation “280ZX” which debuted in 1979.  The third series of the S30 generation would again see a power and torque bump; 170 horsepower and 163 lb/ft.  This model remained in production until the end of the S30’s run in 1978.

1979 saw the debut of the second generation Z-car, as well as Motor Trend’s Import Car of the Year.  This generation is known as S130.  The North American spec S130 retained the same 2.8L engine carried over from the previous generation; however, power was reduced (135 horsepower for the base model, versus the 1975’s 170 horsepower).  1981 saw a slight power boost: 145 horsepower for the base, and new that year was the Turbo, which threw out 180 horsepower to rival the likes of its previous-gen naturally-aspirated counterpart.  The Japanese domestic Fairlady Z got both 2.0L and 2.8L engines.  The 2.0L version was named “Fairlady 200Z“.  The S130 generation ended production in 1983.

1984 300ZX (US)

The third iteration of the Z-car was more appropriately designed for the 1980’s.  In 1982, Kazumasu Takagi led a design team in order to create the Z31 generation model.  It entered production in 1984, and in Japan, it was available with both 2.0L and 3.0L engines, and in North America, 3.0L only, and named 300ZX.  At first, this car generated between 160 and 200 horsepower; and 174 lb/ft to 227 lb/ft of torque.  Special editions of this car included the 1984 50th Anniversary Edition and the 1988 Shiro Special.  The Anniversary Edition model was to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Datsun/Nissan brand, and the 1988 Shiro Special featured a special white coat, special heavy-duty anti-sway bar suspension, Recaro seats, and a viscous limited-slip differential.

1989 saw the launch of the Z32 Fairlady Z in Japan, and launched in North America in 1990, still as a 300ZX model.  The revised “Import Car of the Year” for 1990 came available with two engine options: a naturally aspirated VG30DE V6 good for 222 horsepower; and a turbocharged VG30DETT making 300 horsepower.  The Japanese-spec turbo was restricted to a maximum output of 276 horsepower.  Besides the coupe model, a T-top was also available in the lineup.  In 1992, a popular aftermarket conversion of the Z32 300ZX convertible model was made available.  The mid-1990s saw a market trend favouring sport utility vehicles (SUVs) and the rising Yen:Dollar ratio.  The unstable economy at the time had forced Nissan (and other Japanese automakers with their sports cars) to jack up the price of the 300ZX more and more.  At first, it was priced at $30,000, but the rising Yen:Dollar ratio eventually caused the car to cost $50,000.  North American sales of the 300ZX would suffer (along with other popular Japanese sports cars of the time), and the Z-car would terminate sales in 1996.  Despite this, the Japanese domestic Fairlady Z remained in production until 2000.

Despite the unstable financial situation in the 1990s, the memory of the Z-car had not been forgotten.  In 1999, Nissan debuted a bright-orange concept car aptly named “240Z“.  It paid homage to the original 240Z of the early 70s, sporting a 70’s style fastback/hatchback body style like the old model.  It featured a working drivetrain which included a 2.4L KA24DE borrowed from the 240SX.  The 240Z didn’t enter production, but served as a footstep towards future production of a Z-car.

2003 Nissan 350Z

After the production hiatus, Nissan returned the iconic “Z-car” to its lineup, this time displacing 3.5 liters.  The Z33 generation Fairlady Z saw production from 2002 to 2008.  The North American 350Z entered production in 2003.  This car shared its VQ35DE engine with the Infiniti G35.  Initially, the base model 350Z made 276 horsepower and 274 lb/ft of torque.  2005 saw a slight power upgrade.  A lesser base model now made 287 horsepower, and a special model, the 35th Anniversary Edition (celebrating the anniversary since the very first Z) made 300 horsepower.  This 35th Anniversary Edition was also a tie-in model for the Playstation racing video game Gran Turismo 4, and was available in two exterior colors: “Ultra Yellow” and “Pearl Black”.  The drivetrain for this 35th Anniversary Edition model was available again in 2006, still throwing 300 horsepower.  The 2007 model saw a revision to the lineup; namely an updated version of its 3.5L V6, renamed VQ35HR, which now made 306 horsepower.  This update coincided with Infiniti’s introduction of their new G35/G37 lineup, with which the Z shared the VQ35HR engine.

In December 2008, Nissan debuted the next iteration of the 21st-century Z-car, the Z34.  In Japan, the model still retained its “Fairlady Z” moniker, but the American spec was renamed accordingly to the increase in engine size.  The 3.7L 370Z debuted for the 2009 model year, and in June that year, a NISMO variant was released.  The base 370Z developed 332 horsepower from its VQ37VHR engine, and the NISMO model provided 350 horsepower.  The NISMO model did not come with an available roadster version.  In 2012 (for model year 2013), Nissan gave the base 370Z models a cosmetic upgrade.  The aesthetically refreshed model featured standard LED daytime running lights on the front fascia; however, the base model still developed 332 horsepower from its 3.7L V6.  The NISMO variant remained unchanged from its 2009 debut.

2017 370Z NISMO

2015 saw a cosmetic upgrade to the NISMO model.  The front end featured horizontal LED lights which differed from the base models’ vertical bars.  The power remained at 350 horsepower for the NISMO.

Plymouth Barracuda

The Plymouth Barracuda (called “Plymouth Valiant Barracuda” in Canada) was a muscle car produced by Chrysler Corporation from 1964 to 1974.

1966 Barracuda


When Chrysler Corp developed the first generation Barracuda from 1964 to 1966, they based it heavily on the Valiant model in the Plymouth lineup, sharing the same A-body platform.  Thus, the Canadian version of this car was named “Valiant Barracuda”.  The base engine choices for the United States and Canada were different: the Canadian Barracuda got the 170 CI (2.8L) Slant-6, while the American base had the 225 CI (3.7L) version.  An amped-up version of the Barracuda could have the 273 CI (4.5L) 90-degree V8 (codenamed “LA“).  The 273 in the 1964 Barracuda produced 180 horsepower, and could also be had with the optional Torqueflite automatic transmission.  In 1965, Plymouth introduced the “Formula S” package to the Barracuda, which included an upgraded version of the 273 V8, nicknamed Commando.  The Commando was capable of producing 235 horsepower, thanks to its 10.5:1 compression ratio and strengthened camshaft.  The Barracuda was restyled in 1966 before the debut of the second generation model.

1967 Barracuda


In 1967, Plymouth debuted the restyled second generation Barracuda, still based on the Valiant model, like the previous model.  A notable cosmetic feature on the ’67 model was a larger front-end air intake (grille) and a much curvier shape.  The chrome bumpers were also revised.  From this generation onward, a convertible was available in the lineup.  The 225 Slant-6 engine remained as the base engine, and in 1968, the 273 V8 was ditched and replaced with a larger 318 CI (5.2L) V8.  This 318 was also an “LA” engine, like the smaller 273 it replaced as the base V8.  Among one of the most powerful V8s produced for this generation was the 426 CI (7.0L) Hemi V8, developed for Super Stock drag racing cars assembled by Hurst Performance.  1969 saw the final year of production of the A-body Valiant-based Barracuda.

1970 Cuda
1971 Cuda convertible

Plymouth’s ultra muscle car was about the get more ultra: the 1970 edition of the Barracuda abandoned the tradition of being based on the Valiant (A-body) and instead shared the E-body platform with the Dodge Challenger.  Thus, this created a much larger vehicle than the previous compact size Valiant-based Barracudas.  Very often, this generation of Barracudas is nicknamed to a shortened “Cuda“.  The two base Slant-6 engines for the 1970 Barracuda were the then-new 198 CI (3.2L) and the 225 CI engines.  The “LA” V8 engines were 318 CI, 340, and 360.  The top-of-the-line V8 was the 426 CI Hemi, throwing 425 horsepower.  1971 saw a slight update to the Barracuda; namely, a cosmetic update which featured a four-headlight design for the front end.  The V8 engine options (including the 426 V8) remained the same from the year before.

The oil crisis of the early 1970s had inflicted upon the Plymouth Barracuda lineup (as well as other popular sports and muscle cars) a drop in engine and transmission options and power output.  The 1972 ‘Cuda went back to the two-headlight front end design like the 1970 model.  The diluted versions of the previously famous and powerful ‘Cudas had only three engine options for 1972, a 225 6-cylinder and two V8s: the 318 and a detuned version of the 340.  The 1973 Barracuda was available only with the 318 and 340 V8s, as that year, the 225 six was dropped.  Due to dropping sales, as well as the devastating effects of the oil crisis, the ‘Cuda ended production in April 1974.

Nissan Silvia

At the Tokyo Motor Show in 1964, Nissan Motor Co debuted a Fairlady-based hardtop called Datsun Coupe 1500, which would enter production in 1965 as the Nissan Silvia.  This model line would be in production until 2002, and in between those 4 decades, it would be known by different model names all around the world, including North America’s Datsun/Nissan 200SX and 240SX lineups.  The first generation Silvia ended production in 1968.

The second iteration of the Silvia, debuted in 1975, was the first generation of this model lineup sold in North America.  This second generation S10 chassis model was also named Datsun 180SX and 200SX.  At the time, Datsun was the North American brand equivalent of Japan’s Nissan.

The third generation S110 Silvia debuted in 1979, and in other markets outside of Japan, the model retained its Datsun 180SX/200SX names.  In 1983, Nissan debuted a World Rally Championship (WRC) homologation special called the 240RS, which had been installed with extended fender flares and a rally suspension setup.  This special model saw production for its entire 3-year career in WRC until 1985.

1984 saw the debut of the S12 series generation, which in North America, would be the first generation to be a non-Datsun model.  (Nissan Motor Co decided it wise to merge the company into its universal Nissan branding).  The North American equivalent would continue to retain its 200SX branding from its Datsun years.  This model was available as a 2-door coupe or hatchback.

1988 Silvia (Japan)

The fifth-generation Silvia, dubbed S13, debuted in Japan in May 1988.  The initial power for the Silvia was the 1.8L CA18DE, throwing 135 horsepower.  The Silvia was divided into three classes, or trim levels: J’s, Q’s, and K’s, mimicking the hierarchy of Jack, Queen, and King in playing cards.  July 1988 saw the introduction of the rare convertible model, based on the top-tier K’s (“king”).  In December 1988, the Silvia was named Japan Car of the Year, and a year later, a viscous limited-slip differential (LSD) was added to the Q’s lineup.  February 1990 saw an addition of the “Diamond Selection” series to the Q’s and K’s.  This luxury option added automatic AC, aluminum wheels, a Sony CD player, electric retractable door mirrors, rear spoilers, super-fine factory paint coat, and genuine leather seats.  January 1991 saw the addition of the 2.0L SR20DE and SR20DET.  The base SR20 pushed out 140 horsepower, while its turbocharged counterpart produced 205 horses.  In 1992, a special model based on the Q’s debuted which added luxury amenities.  The “Club Selection” was much like the earlier “Diamond Selection” in that it offered a console CD player and polished silver wheels.

1991 240SX (S13)

While the Japanese domestic Silvia was fitted with 1.8-liter and 2.0-liter motive power, the North American 240SX gained a larger power-plant.  From 1989 to 1990, the 240SX employed a 2.4L KA24E which produced 140 horsepower.  1991 saw a power boost to the upgraded KA24DE; this time producing 155 horsepower.  This was also the year the 240SX received a slight cosmetic upgrade.  In 1992, American Specialty Cars (ASC) of Detroit, Michigan, began to roll out convertible versions of the 240SX.  The S13 generation Silvia ended production in Japan in October 1993, and the USDM 240SX ended production in model year 1994.

The S14 Silvia began Japanese production in 1993, with the North American 240SX following two years after.  Engine options ranged from 2.0L naturally aspirated (SR20DE), 2.0L turbo (SR20DET), and the 2.4L KA24DE.  In other words, the engine lineup hadn’t changed from the previous generation.  The KA24DE was reserved for the 240SX model.  This pre-facelift generation is colloquially referred to as “Zenki“.

1996 Silvia (Japan)
1998 240SX (S14)

1996 saw a cosmetic update to the Silvia, wherein the vehicle featured sharper front and rear ends and a leaner stance.  This facelift is referred to as “S14a” or “Kouki“.  This naming did nothing to change the vehicle identification number (VIN), as this model was in the same generation as the S14 Silvia that debuted in 1993.  This manifested itself in the North American 240SX version not long after, in the 1997 model year.  The S14 Silvia, overall, would see production through 1998.  The North American “S-car” lineup would end production that year, with no successor.

1999 Silvia

The S15 generation debuted mainly in Japan, Australia, and New Zealand in January 1999.  This model had a rounder version of the S14 Kouki’s aggressive styling.  While it was named Silvia in its home market, the Australian and New Zealand model was named 200SX.  Engine options were limited to two 2.0-liter units: the naturally aspirated SR20DE (producing 160 – 165 hp for the Spec-S); and the turbocharged SR20DET (producing 225 – 250 hp for the Spec-R).  October 1999 saw an addition of the “B-package” to the Spec-R, which put an emphasis on touring-car luxury, like the past Diamond Selection and Club Selection options.  The B-package added blue suede seats and door trims, genuine leather gear shift knobs, and keyless entry.

Like what American Specialty Cars did with the 240SX in North America, Autech Japan customized the Silvia into a convertible called Varietta, which they debuted at the Tokyo Motor Show in 1999.  The Varietta launched into production in May 2000.  This model was essentially a hardtop convertible version of the Spec-S, which was available with either a 5-speed manual or 4-speed automatic transmission.

An exhaust emissions regulation mandated in 2000 meant that the Silvia could not continue production for much longer.  In Japan, vehicles with engines larger than 2000cc (2.0L) are more heavily taxed.  The Silvia barely managed to brush the threshold, at 1998cc.  Still, production of the Nissan Silvia ended in August 2002, leaving no successor in the lineup.


In 1966, American Motors introduced two prototype vehicles dubbed “AMX” and “AMX II”.  “AMX” stood for “American Motors experimental”, and in mid-year 1968, started production on the high performance AMX sports hatchback. The AMX was intended to be a cash-in for the popular muscle car market in the late 1960s, sporting high-power four-barrel V8 engines, a “four on the floor” 4-speed manual transmission, and a drivetrain configuration of front engine, rear wheel drive.  The first two years of this model would see the same fascia; however, 1970 saw a drastic redesign.

The engine choices for 1970 were the 360 CI (5.9L) four-barrel V8 and the 390 CI (6.4L) four-barrel V8.  The 360 was the smallest engine option for 1970, as it replaced the 343 (5.6 L) available years prior.  A December 1969 road test by Motor Trend saw a 390 AMX start to 60 mph (100 km/h) in 6.56 seconds and reach a quarter mile in 14.6 seconds at 92 mph (148 km/h).  The top speed is 110 mph (177 km/h).

The Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) named the AMX “best engineered car of the year” for both the 1969 and 1970 model years.  Counting all engine and transmission options, AMC had produced 4116 AMXs for 1970, and 19,134 units for the overall 3-year run.  The AMX lived on in 1971 as a Javelin model.

Spiffy World Cars: The Ultimate Free Year-Round Auto Show Online!

If you are into automobiles, fancy and “spiffy” vehicles ranging from modern and economical to retro-sporty, welcome to auto utopia!  This is the site where I post photo journals of vehicles at various auto shows.  I try to mix up my collection so that in addition to many ordinary and common vehicles, I also include some exclusive dream cars.  So sit back, buckle up, and get ready for the ride!