2018 Collector Car Madness: Midwest Bracket
It’s the final quadrant of first-round action in our 2018 Collector Car Madness series, which pits the most popular sports cars (as determined by Hagerty insurance quote activity) against each other in a battle of automotive supremacy.
Earlier action saw the high seeds dominate in the South, a strong showing from the Brits in the West bracket, and the Porsche conference taking control of the East. For our final matchup, we have several beloved icons going head to head. And also a Corvette versus an MG Midget.
The long-awaited redesign of the Chevy Corvette did not disappoint, least of all with the brand-new Gen III small-block LS1 V-8, starting out with a mega (at the time) 345 horsepower. There are too many improvements to list here, especially if we want to mention the Z06 model, which was more than a mere whisper of performance Corvettes to come. The MG was the third series of the charming British classic, affordable today if you can find a survivor. But this matchup is a bit of a blowout in favor of the big, bad ‘Vette.
Winner: 1997–2004 Chevrolet Corvette (1)
Japanese reliability rearranged in an mid-engine layout made the MR2 the everyman’s exotic, fun, frugal, and sharp as a scalpel through the corners. But in this matchup the Toyota brought a knife to a sledgehammer fight, and it’s no match for the brute force of the Viper. It’s 8.0 liters of American muscle. Early roadsters were intentionally crude, while the later coupe versions evolved into Le Mans-dominating racers.
Winner: 1992–2002 Dodge Viper (9)
It’s arguable that the Boxster saved Porsche in some of its most dire straits, bringing higher sales volume and revenue to keep the lights on in Stuttgart. Clean lines and impeccable driving dynamics are offset only by the unloved “scrambled egg” headlights (shared, like much of the front end, with the 911), plasticky interiors, and the problematic IMS bearing issue in later years. The 280 SL, meanwhile, is now regarded as one of the finest modern cars to come from Mercedes-Benz. It is luxury and class on wheels. A close battle, but the Benz edges out of the win with its timeless beauty, somethat that the Boxster is still too young to prove.
Winner: 1968–1971 Mercedes-Benz 280SL (12)
British cars have it tough in this tournament. Light weight and modest power are charming attributes and the 3000 is just downright adorable. But from today’s perspective these classics are from a bygone era, while cars like the 911 better combine nostalgia and modernity. Skyrocketing values for the 911 have leveled off for the moment but a 993-generation Carrera still costs plenty. Just remember part of the reason for that run up is because the 911 is one heck of a sports car.
Winner: 1994–1998 Porsche 911 (4)
Neither of these two cars are particularly loved by their brand aficionados. The R107-generation SL roadster lacked the beauty of the “Pagoda” 280 SL and was for many years considered the ugly duckling of the lineage. If there’s a 911 generation to skip, this is the one, although you wouldn’t know from the rising value trend. Still, in the second cross-town rivalry battle of this bracket the win, again, goes to the enduring solidity of the Benz.
Winner: 1980–1985 Mercedes-Benz 380SL (6)
Did someone say enduring solidity? That definitely describes the R129 generation of the Mercedes-Benz SL, a convertible seemingly styled from blocks of granite. Both cars are on a hot streak, as we highlighted in our 2018 Bull Market List. But the Toyota is just, well, hotter, especially in Turbo form. Plus the Supra’s carpet has hollow fibers. That’s got to count for something.
Winner: 1993–1998 Toyota Supra (14)
1978–1983 Porsche 911 (7) vs 2009–2017 Nissan GT-R (10)
We’ll spare you the pain, Porschephiles, and just say this was also a close one. While the GT-R currently ignored in the Nissan showroom seems old at this point, rewind back to 2008 when the first GT-R sold in the U.S. was a Gran Turismo dream come to life. Plus, launch control. Continuous updates worked out much of the Godzilla’s early faults, which, we admit, were considerable. You could even argue (we are, in fact), that this car pushed Porsche to make the 911 Turbo a better car. So at least there’s that upside.
Winner: 2009–2017 Nissan GT-R (10)
2005–2013 Chevrolet Corvette (2) vs 1986–1981 Mazda RX-7 (15)
Forget the counterarguments like cheap seats and focus on the good stuff in the Corvette. Like a base model with almost as much power as the outgoing Z06, a new Z06 with a 7.0-liter pushrod engine that revs to 7000 rpm (!), and the 650-hp beast that was the return of the ZR1. Don’t get us wrong, the RX-7 is sweet. It’s as balanced as any car of the era, plus the lasting appeal (if not longevity) of a turbo rotary. The Mazda was even the third- or fourth-best car in Initial D. This isn’t the best modern Corvette, but only because the one after it is just that good. Either way, it’s more than enough for victory here.
Winner: 2005–2013 Chevrolet Corvette (2)