Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thursday Twister: What Should Have Been

This week's Thursday Twister, is brought to you by Andy L who writes: In your hours and hours spent browsing through car ads, have you ever thought to yourself: why didn't this car maker put this engine or transmission in this model?  It would have been amazing!  For example, why was a 350 unavailable with a manual transmission in the 3rd Gen IROC/TransAm?  Of course, the book answer is that the T-5 was too weak to hold the torque of the 350, and the real reason may have been that such a car would have come danger-close to besting the vette.  Strangely, the GNX and 89 Turbo T/A more or less broke the GM "nobody beats the Vette" rule, and the Gen 4 Z/28 and Trans Am was on an even par with entry level Corvettes.

Perhaps the same forces kept the Fiero from getting the Quad 4 or hanging around and getting the 3.1 turbo found in the 89 MacLaren Grand Prix, but wouldn't they have been sweet options?  There was no such protectionism going on at Ford during this time.  Why, then was a world-beating Yamaha V-6 only found in the Taurus grocery getter?  I am sure there are clearance and strength limitations that kept this mill out of a 2-door or AWD Tempo, even though Mazda was able to produce a run of AWD, turbo 323s at the same time. And imagine if the mid-engined SHOgun Festiva would have become a production vehicle!

Other examples of missed opportunities, or at least theoretical possibilities, seem to present themselves in hindsight.  Why was there no Supercoupe engine available in a Mustang? Couldn't a Camry V6 fit into a MR2?  Did the Neon SRT-4 have to be a 4-door?  Porsche really couldn't fit a GT3 engine and limited slip differential into a Cayman?  Can you think of any other examples of engine/chassis that could have come together like Legos to create a legend, or at least something more interesting?

So, for today's Twister, you (the reader) are going to help build a list of the best factory cars that SHOULD have been built. Comments below.  
Standard Twister rules...don't apply.  Have at it!


  1. The Taurus SHO happened because Ford canceled the GN34 GT after they'd already signed a contract with Yamaha for the engines. You could imagine it in a Fox but this was the point at which Ford was trying to make the RWD Mustang go away. And it was/is a big, heavy engine that's not gonna fit in the Probe, or Tempo (junk platform anyway) or anything else they had around at the time.

    Every time I do the "they should have..." thing I end up realizing that the cars I want (like an E39 M5 wagon, or GM to bring in the Holden Commodore wagons, or Ford to have tooled up LHD versions of the Aussie Falcon and Territory in the US) aren't gonna sell in the kinds of numbers that pay for the development.

    But in terms of the stuff that I'd have done if I'd been in charge:

    GM actually producing the Opel Omega V8 (GM had tooled up a version of the Omega - Cadillac Catera - with an LS1, they had shown and announced the car and had an website up, then killed it on very short notice.)

    Toyota keeping the 2JZ-GTE engine around long enough to build an Aristo/IS300 with it, and actually sell it in the US.

    Ford running off a batch of Lincoln LSes with the Cobra blower 4.6 or at least the blower Jag 4.2 (but this was the Reitzle era when Ford was trying to pare their market segments very thinly to ensure they didn't compete with each other).

    Ford bringing the Sierra Sapphire Cosworth and XR4x4i to the US.

    1. Why did they stop producing the 2JZ-GTE?

    2. Probably because they stopped building MkIV Supra in 2002. Likely successor will be some V6 or turbo-4 with a significant hybrid boost and all-wheel-drive. Forget about getting a beefy 6-speed that'll take 800 hp.

    3. To mrkwong's points -- the Lincoln LS with a properly good engine and manual would have been a great M5 competitor. And the LHD version of Ford's Aussie Falcons in the 70s would have been grrrrreat!

  2. And while I'm taking a break from being disgusted at how cluttered my garage is, a few more thoughts.

    GM did a 'Z/28 Nova' back in the mid '70s but it was sold as a cop car, only a few leaked out to the civvy market. This should have been widely promoted.

    From the gas-crunch days forward Australian Ford and GM products have - by the standards of the temperate-climate areas - almost always been better than their US counterparts, and done on shoestring budgets. GM, in particular, had plenty of room in their brand landscape to gut one of their US nameplates and replace it with Holden product - imported, or just built here - sometime in the '70s. And I know US Ford always had Aussie Falcons for their engineers and managers to evaluate, and particularly from the AU ('98) onward there was a bit of a clamor to the effect of "Why don't they let US do something this good?" but Ford never did.

    1. I cannot agree with you more about the Aussie Products and would include the Utes. I'm a longroof guy and would have been thrilled to snag a Mondeo Wagon or Vauxhall Omega Wagon. The Ozzies should be required to swap a Falcon GT for every Mustang that they repatriate to Australia!

  3. I always wanted FoMoCo to build a Thunderbird, with the Supercoupe ground effects and wheels, with the quad cam V-8 found in the SVT Mustang Cobra.

  4. Toyota's MR2 Spyder could only be had with a 140 hp 1ZZ-FE intended for economy car duty in the Corolla. The same engine family included a 180 to 190 hp mill called a 2ZZ-GE that would have bolted right in, available in the Celica GTS. Why Toyota never bolted it into the MR2 Spyder is a mystery.

  5. _________ with a manual transmission

  6. Turning the way back machine way back, looking at the available parts shelves and what has been done in garages across the country since then, the 215ci Aluminum V8 would have been a super easy way to keep the '65-69 Corvair alive, but it would have cost us the Camaro.
    The 200SX SE was a better driving alternative to the first gen 300ZX, which always caused me to wonder why Nissan didn't just carry their V6 into the 240SX when they introduced it.

    1. GM was so close, soooooo close, to an E3 BMW.

      Take the 215, the '63 Tempest, and the '65 Corvair rear suspension, polish them a little bit, and voila.

  7. I don't disagree with any of your choices here, so I'll go a little more avant garde......I'd like a e38 swb sport package car with the s62 motor and 6 speed manual.

    Or perhaps a W124 coupe with the 500e motor, and while I'm shooting for the moon, a manual transmission.

    1. The former's been done, I think, and while there might be some electronic gotchas along the way the physical bits will bolt up nicely.

      I hate to say this but given the torque curve (you can shift it at 2500RPM like an old diesel and it'll pull just fine, if you want to play hypermiling games) the S62 motor would probably work beautifully with an automatic, especially a later 6HP26, if someone were able to do the calibration.

  8. My wish list / dream sheet:

    Mazda CX-5 2.5l AWD 6-spd manual. REALLY wish I had those extra 30 horses and AWD now.

    1st generation MazdaSpeed 6 driveline in the 1st gen Mazda6 wagon.

    US-spec '98-2000 Volvo V70R w/Manual Transmission.

    Volvo 960/S/V90 w/twin turbo straight six from the S80 and a manual transmission.

    @FTB, I echo your sentiments re: E38 7 series w/4.4 M62 V8 and manual transmission and raise you an E38 with the S70B56 V12 (had to google that) and manual from the E31 850 CSi.

    E39 540 Touring w/manual trans or maybe E39 M5 Touring in the US?

    1. There was an E34 M5 Touring and an E60 M5 Touring in the rest of the world but, oddly, no E39 M5 Touring anywhere. And none of the ones that DID get built got to the US through BMW.

      FTB was talking about the S62 E39 M5 engine, frankly when it comes to oddball 7s I'll take an E32 Dinan twin-turbo 750i but yeah, the E38s are cheap enough now to do just about anything.

  9. RyanM has a great list.

    I would add: 6-speed manual Dodge Magnum R/T or SRT8


Commenting Commandments:
I. Thou Shalt Not write anything your mother would not appreciate reading.
II. Thou Shalt Not post as anonymous unless you are posting from mobile and have technical issues. Use name/url when posting and pick something Urazmus B Jokin, Ben Dover. Sir Edmund Hillary Clint don't matter. Just pick a nom de plume and stick with it.
III. Honor thy own links by using <a href ="http://www.linkgoeshere"> description of your link </a>
IV. Remember the formatting tricks <i>italics</i> and <b> bold </b>
V. Thou Shalt Not commit spam.
VI. To embed images: use [image src="" width="400px"/]. Limit images to no wider than 400 pixels in width. No more than one image per comment please.