2018 Collector Car Madness: Round of 16 gets heated
As we find ourselves in the thick of Round 3, only 16 competitors remain. We’ve had some major upsets thus far, and the action is only about to get more intense.
Many fondly remember the 427-equipped C3 Corvette, as well as the stout high-performance and racing versions, there are a lot more C3s out there with base engines, automatic transmissions, and questionable styling. The S2000 AP1 came exclusively with a stick and a bulletproof Honda inline-four that could rev to the heavens. The S2000 has been on the rise for years, and yet you still see them regularly at track outings and at autocrosses. It’s a big upset, but this very special moment in Honda history might just go the distance. This decision wasn’t made lightly, with online editor Brandan Gillogly declaring it, “the biggest travesty of this bracket.” Noted.
Winner: 2000-2003 Honda S2000 (13)
There’s a reason people often say that Miata is always the answer, and a reason that even in later generations Mazda has barely altered the formula for its iconic roadster. Few times in its history does an automaker get a car so very right, and it shows when you still see first-generation Miatas being enjoyed and treasured all over the country. Then again, the Ferrari 360 is perhaps Maranello’s seminal turn-of-the-century exotic, and it has the performance and reliability to reward an owner for many years to come. This one wasn’t a slam-dunk, but you can’t count out the little guy when it’s the most popular roadster in the world. Miata gets the nod.
Winner: 1990-1998 Mazda Miata (3)
The C4 Corvette may have been a huge improvement over the last gasps of the C3, but that was a bit of a low bar to clear by the early ‘80s. And even if the C4 got to be a lot better performing by the end of its life cycle, it starting showing its age as well, and outside of the limited editions not terribly rare. Contrast that with the R32 GT-R, which is a novelty any time you see it in the U.S., and you’ll understand why we had to go with the Skyline. There’s also the fact that it was a major innovator of technology—from all-wheel drive to rear-wheel steering—and it had a ton of Group A racing success. The rising collectibility and excitement around the GT-R right now edges out the Corvette, which in its C4 generation is arguably the least desirable today.
Winner: 1989-1994 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R (4)
Considered by many to be the first “modern” MG to break the company’s traditional mold, the MGA is an archetypical example of the joys of the British sports car tradition. It’s easy to trace back the success of the Miata to the MGA three decades before, and the MGA’s massive popularity in its era helped shape the appetite for accessible sports cars worldwide. The Porsche 911 also broke with tradition for its 996 generation, adopting a water- rather than air-cooled engine, a cheaper plastic interior, and headlights that continue to elicit grimaces more than a decade after the end of production. Maybe we could forgive all that, but there’s also the infamous IMS bearing issue that (while mostly overblown in Porsche forums) is a noted design weakness in the model spanning several years. The underdog takes the win here, as the humble MGA moves on to the final eight contenders.
Winner: 1956-1962 MG MGA (11)
Just like the Jan & Dean song Dead Man’s Curve, we’ve got Sting Ray vs XKE matchup. As it was in the 1963 song, the E-type could not keep up and the Mid-Year became the first Corvette to advance to Round 4. Like the E-type, C2 Corvettes are considered among the most beautiful cars ever built, although the Corvettes backed it up with both handling and power, ushering independent rear suspensions into the Corvette line and also big-block V-8 power. The 1963 Corvette spawned the Grand Sport Corvettes that Zora Arkus-Duntov championed and was also the first Chevrolet to use the 427-cubic-inch Mystery Motor in competition.
Winner: 1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette (1)
The Acura NSX is famed today for its astonishing balance, reliability, and approachability—traits that truly redefined the exotic-car world in the mid-1990s. Not only does the NSX still turn heads today, but even the modern revival NSX looks bloated and complicated compared to the lithe simplicity of the original. But as much as the NSX beckons, it must kneel in the shadow of a legend, one that came to pass in a converted sawmill in Gmund, Austria. The 356 is an absolute bastion of sports car collectors worldwide, and its sophistication, grace, and longevity are but a few reasons why. Without it, Porsche—let alone the beloved 911—wouldn’t exist.
Winner: 1948-1965 Porsche 356 (6)
Before you try to say the Viper had a truck engine, listen up. Yes, the original prototype was an iron block and the Viper engine has a similar V-10 configuration to the Ram truck engine, but that’s about where the similarities end. The Viper engine is all-aluminum piece which was engineered with help from Lamborghini. And the car had a scorching hot side-exhaust, looked like nothing else on the road, and demanded a driver with serious skill. All due respect to the 993-generation Porsche 911, which was a beautiful and thrilling expression of the final air-cooled 911 formula, America takes this one for its sheer bravado.
Winner: 1992-2002 Dodge Viper (9)
1993-1998 Toyota Supra (14) vs 2005-2013 Chevrolet Corvette (2)
It’s a bit early yet to have a clear handle on values for the C6-generation Corvette, but there’s no doubt that people recognize the Z06 and ZR1 will be future collectibles. The ZR1 was a 200-mph car with an incredible exhaust note, a bad attitude, and a chip on its shoulder for picking off supercars multiple times its price. And before you spout off about the balsa wood sandwiched between layers of carbon fiber in the Z06’s floor, just know that GM engineers got the idea from NASA. Still, that eminently tunable, deliciously-boosted 2JZ from the Mk. IV Toyota Supra is positively unique. Sales were not huge given the steep cost of entry for a Toyota, and these days they’re also tough to find healthy and unmodified, making high-quality examples genuinely rare. Outside of the unobtanium 2000GT, the Mk. IV Supra is the definitive sports car of the marque, and victorious even against a worthy opponent in the C6 Vette.
Winner: 1993-1998 Toyota Supra