2018 Collector Car Tournament Quarterfinals
It’s getting down to the nitty gritty in our 2018 Collector Car Madness tournament. We’ve winnowed down our list to the last eight competitors, with a tough four matchups ready to kick off. To review our previous picks, check out the round of 16 or our round two action in the East-Midwest or South-West.
To review, our arbitrary criteria for determining winners combines historic significance, objective greatness, and collectible valuations. We use those factors as arguments in a group discussion between the editorial and valuation staff to pick the car that advances to the next round.
In this battle for Japanese roadster supremacy, the S2000 comes in with all the right moves. Everyone talks about the jewel-like engine that revs to the stars and sounds like a sportbike, but the S2000 also has electrifying responses. It’s a basically Honda’s other supercar and the market is starting to recognize this roadster, with results like this $71,500 sale for an 885-mile 2003 example at Mecum’s Kissimmee 2018 auction.
The Miata doesn’t have the hand-built pedigree or the specific output of the Honda but it does have plenty of that historic significance we’ve mentioned. Name another brand new car from the last 30 years that has turned itself into an icon and still stays true to its roots. Competitors and imitators have come and gone, but the Miata is still around. And the original that started it all is still some of the most fun per dollar you can get behind a steering wheel.
Winner: 1990-1998 Mazda MX-5 Miata (3)
As the Johnny Appleseed of British motoring the MGA sold most of its examples as exports, spreading British roadster goodness around the world. To that end, it’s hard to determine just how huge this car’s influence is. It certainly had some effect on the early Datsun convertibles, but the Skyline GT-R comes from a different evolutionary branch. And speaking of evolution, the R32 (and its more exotic predecessors such as the Porsche 959) predicted the future of all-wheel drive, turbocharged performance cars. The low hood-line and bulging fenders over simple sheetmetal capture the best elements of ‘80’s and ‘90’s styling. It’s no wonder the Skyline is surging in popularity right now.
Winner: 1989-1994 Nissan Skyline R32 GT-R (4)
As the only remaining 1-seed the C2-generation car is carrying the hopes of the entire car’s history. On the other side, we have the car that launched the cult of Porsche. The 356 is legendary and still rewarding to drive (and own) today, but it’s also a dress rehearsal for the far-greater 911, much like the first-generation Corvette, which worked out the kinks before the Sting Ray came and evolved into the American sports car icon. Along the way Sting Ray brought massive power to the street, racing greatness with the Grand Sport, and turned Zora Arkus-Duntov into an automotive immortal.
Winner: 1963-1967 Chevrolet Corvette (1)
1992-2002 Dodge Viper (9) vs 1993-1998 Toyota Supra (14)
The Viper is 8.0 liters of I-don’t-give-a-damn while the Toyota rose to the top of the Japanese sports car golden era and made the C4 Corvette look foolish at the same time. Both are hot in the collector market, with prices stretching the edge of affordability for most buyers.
In a series of tough arguments, this was the most contentious so far. There are still hurt feelings on both sides, but the Viper takes the victory here for the sheer lunacy of a car that it was. (Class wins at the 24 Hours of Le Mans and several special edition variants are just a bonus.) This, after all, was a modern-day Shelby Cobra from the company that invented the minivan. Whenever the Viper was updated or redesigned the story was about how much (or how little) creature comfort was added, and it never amounted to much. It’s pure, raw, automotive id with enough brute force to make it to the semifinals.
Winner: 1992-2002 Dodge Viper (9)