We’ve shared some of 2021's most read posts in our Best of 2021, now we’re sharing a few that our staffers think are worth a second look. These are our 2021 Staff Picks.
The year is 1993. A well-off buyer can walk into a Toyota dealership and drive away with a brand-new Supra — six cylinders, forced induction, and two driven wheels out back. Or, that buyer can just about halve their spending and go home in a new performance-trim Acura Integra — sure, it’s based on the Civic, but that means it’s got VTEC and a stick shift sending power to those front wheels.
The year is 2022. Everything is the same, but everyone’s complaining. Why?
It’s funny. If you look at period reviews of the 1993 Supra Turbo, from places like Car and Driver or MotorWeek, they all talk about the chassis being a loan from Lexus — not the pure, purpose-built platform we all remember. Despite the car combining Corvette-rivaling performance with a more comfortable interior, C&D seemed lukewarm on the “humble little Supra,” saying:
[W]e wonder whether the new Supra faces an identity crisis. It is fast, but it is not a pure sports car like the RX-7. And it offers neither the styling, the luxury, nor the prestige of the 300ZX.
On the other hand, it is also true that the manual-box Lexus SC300 and this new Supra are almost fraternal twins in size, shape, drivetrain, and price. The Lexus is refined, opulent, and a styling imperium. ... [W]e still find it easier to imagine a long-term romance with the baby Lexus coupe, from which the Supra is now so aristocratically descended.
Maybe Car and Driver would’ve liked the Supra better if Toyota had been able to set design constraints for the chassis, rather than just borrowing whatever Lexus already had. Maybe they would’ve preferred a version that swapped out the vestigial rear seats for a shorter wheelbase, leaning the car further into that “pure sports car” market. I wonder what that might be like.
Our collective memory of the A80 Supra is tainted by tuners, Texas miles, and a somehow more himbo-filled remake of Point Break. Nostalgia tells us the ‘90s car is better than the modern iteration: It has a manual transmission, it’s more pure, it’s 100% Toyota with no involvement from any automaker which is inherently better for vague but totally meaningful reasons.
Yet, we forget that the Lexus SC came first. Toyota took a luxury grand-tourer platform, chopped it down to some slightly sportier dimensions, and rebadged it. That’s less involvement than the company had in designing the BMW-codeveloped A90. And now tuners are pushing absurd numbers through the new Supra’s engine, which is the one thing that cemented the old car in popular culture.
The old car was just an old car. Built by a company to sell to a certain target customer. The new one takes the same formula, a comfortable sporting coupe based on a luxury platform, but adds more performance to the mix. Same as it ever was.
Now, we’re seeing the same situation with the new Integra. Acura announced a successor to their five-door luxury sport compact, and everyone’s up in arms that it’s a five-door luxury sport compact. Never mind that every Integra has been based on the Civic, never mind that it’s always been available with two rows of doors, never mind that Acura is skipping all the forgettable base models with this generation and jumping right to the equivalent of a GS-R.
No one can be disappointed that the new Integra isn’t the same as the old ones. You’re disappointed that it is the same, and that in being the same it ruins your nostalgia for the car of your youth. Sure, the Type R was special, but an upcoming Integra Type S is the worst-kept secret in cars right now. You all wanted a world-beating three-door liftback that revved to 9,000 RPM, and that’s a perfectly fine thing to want — it just isn’t an Integra.
Take off the rose-colored glasses, and really look at some of the ‘90s cars you’ve always loved. They’re good cars, very good cars, but they are consumer products — built for a target market, sold for a retail price. Any “soul” the revivals lack isn’t something that came from the factory, but something added later — either by mods and tuners, or by your own bedroom-poster memories.
Try out the new ones. Make some memories. Approach them as the continuations of a car, rather than of your memories of that car. Then, see how you feel — if you still dislike them, just remember that the cars haven’t changed. You did.