Automotive comebacks | Six of the Best

Sometimes the very best ideas mean resurrecting old ones…

By PH Staff / Sunday, 16 July 2023 / Loading comments

MG XPower SV, 2007, 5k, £59,995 

Automotive comebacks are all the rage at the moment. Makes sense, too: nostalgia is an incredibly strong hook in changeable times, and it means some of the hard work in brand recognition terms is already done. This is why some big carmakers like to stockpile the naming rights of smaller, defunct firms. Resuscitation can reap major rewards; just consider the size and contents of MG’s stand at Goodwood. Who would’ve guessed that the Chinese-owned brand could surge back to prominence in a way that has allowed it to credibly launch what it reckons is the first ‘affordable’ EV roadster in the Cyberster? A startling revival in the 20 years since the V8-powered MG XPower SV was launched. Here was one of the last ones registered – just in case you want to see where the Phoenix had to rise from. 

Bugatti Veyron Supersport, 2012, 3k, POA

Now we’re talking. Does any comeback since the new millennium compare with Bugatti’s reappearance as the definitive hypercar builder? Sure, it had already done the remarkable EB110 before it flamed out, but VW’s (or more specifically, Ferdinand Piech’s) vision for a Bugatti-badged W16-powered future marked a remarkable turnaround for a company previously accustomed to going bust. In time, there were many flavours of Veyron – but we’d happily take ours as a 1,200hp Chocolate Brown Supersport. Even in 2023, when four-figure hypercars are almost two-a-penny, the car’s legacy is crystal clear – so much so that even an EV luminary of Mate Rimac’s stature announced that Bugatti-Rimac’s next car simply had to be combustion-powered virtually the minute he became CEO. Thank the Veyron for that. 

Toyota GR Yaris, 2021, 34k, £28,350

Granted, as one of the world’s largest and most respected carmakers, Toyota has never had to ‘comeback’ from anywhere. But its failure to build interesting performance cars famously irked Akio Toyoda so much that he decreed the kind of 180-degree strategic about-face that would leave a lesser manufacturer reeling. The GT86 is often cited as the foremost example of his single-mindedness, but actually the later GR Yaris – a car that Toyota developed without a partner – is arguably its premiere achievement. Gazoo Racing openly conceded that it had (re)learn all-wheel drive systems to make the car work properly, and virtually rebuilt a previously humble supermini in the process. Here’s a sub-£30k one-owner example that’s actually not been wrapped in cotton wool. What a way to do 34,000 miles in two years. 

Alpine A110, 2018, 11k, £45,000

Back when the Alpine project was first announced, the excitement – in the UK, at least – was focused on how it might broaden the Caterham sports car offering. Only when the completed car was driven at the end of 2017 was it really clear what a stroke of genius bringing back Alpine’s most famous badge was. The commitment to what made the original brilliant was both a laudable achievement and the A110’s greatest strength: it proved just how good small, light, mid-engined, four-cylinder sports cars could be, making a Porsche 718 seem plain and a Lotus rather too much like hard work. Perhaps a manual would have made it even better, and maybe there’s more Renault influence than some would have liked – but from nothing to the magical A110 remains one of the finest zero-to-hero moments of recent times, probably ever. Some will tell you that it’s not got better than the very first versions – looking at this Premiere Edition, it’s very hard to disagree.

Morgan 3-Wheeler, 2012, 8k, £34,995

For as long as there’s been Morgan, there have been three-wheeled models, the original cyclecars in production for many years before it branched out into four-wheeled models. They weren’t without success, either, so it made sense for the 3-Wheeler to be resurrected – especially as its 2012 return marked 60 years since the F-Series cars had gone out of production. Despite such a passage of time, the 3-Wheeler picked up exactly where the originals had picked up, brimming with the sort of gleeful silliness that nothing on four wheels could hope to replicate. The 2012 3-Wheeler was a pitch-perfect remake of a Morgan icon; its popularity can be seen both in the sheer volume of used ones available – this Dove Grey over tan example is one of the earliest – and the fact that it was followed up with the latest (and really very good) Super 3. No way 60 years was going to be allowed to pass again…

Ford GT, 2005, 1,734 miles, £439,995

The 2003 Ford GT could have been too retro for its own good. As a car that celebrated both Ford’s centenary and a legendary ’60s sports car, it was steeped in heritage, but to trade on that too far might have created a lame tribute rather than a carefully considered homage. We needn’t have worried: the look of the GT meant it couldn’t have been mistaken for anything else, albeit with modern dimensions, stance and attitude; still looks brilliant 20 years later, in fact. Combine that style with one of the great modern supercar driving experiences – think monstrous muscle car power with proper mid-engine finesse – and the Blue Oval had another V8 icon on its hands. This one was originally sold in the US, a life spent mostly on display meaning it’s yet to get past 2,000 miles. Someone must do the decent thing and set the GT free – all that’s needed is £440k…

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