This is for Bob Lutz. It's the gist of a thread I started on Autoweek.com.
I'm throwing this challenge out to any or all automakers. We want somebody to build us a:
GREAT SIMPLE DRIVER'S CAR:
The prerequisites are:
1) Powerful 4-cyl engine (160 hp or greater)
2) Rear wheel drive
4) 3-box design (conventional trunk)
In fact, we already have 4 cars with suitable platforms with the necessary hardware in place to make this happen:
Remember the late great Sentra SE-R? Although it was front-wheel drive. when it came out it was heralded as a spiritual successor to the BMW 2002. Well, one of these 4 automakers could do the same thing. Take any one of these very capable platforms and slip it under a practical 2-door sedan body. They all would be easy for us home-grown mechanics to work on - how tough would it be to change the spark plugs, oil, air filter, etc., on a front-engine RWD sedan?
It would have plenty of room for us to get us through our everyday chores, offer reasonable gas mileage, and because of their design, probably give us a fuel tank with more than adequate capacity. It would be comfortable to live with everyday, with a decent ride. The room would also be there for us to use the car as a weekend getaway vehicle, or to take on a long trip. This would be an excellent and less costly alternative to the Evo or WRX; I don't need to drive a 4-wheeled hand grenade every day.
The powertrain would provide us with an entertaining ride on the twisties; imagine the crisp gearshift throws and the responsive engine! This car would also make an excellent SCCA weekend racer. And since it wouldn't be seen as a pure sports car by the insurance companies, insurance would probably be reasonable.
Because it's a simple car, it'll be simple to modify. So if we want to install our own stereos, Recaro seats, whatever, all we need is a socket set.
I'd even be happy with a manual sliding steel sunroof instead of a power moonroof, to save complexity and weight. You could even throw front vent windows on it, we all loved those! And with that genuine transmission residing below the gearshift lever, and not just a collection of rods and cables, you can keep an automatic transmission off of the options list!
How enjoyable would this car be?
There is no reason this cannot be done; it could be brought to market for less than $20K, base price. I would personally be thrilled to see this come out with an American nameplate (Pontiac Tempest? Saturn Calypso or Hyperion?)
Bob, please make this happen!