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The Sports Car Boom

July 8, 2009

What’s the deal with affordable sports cars?

When I was a kid, they were everywhere. The domestics were unleashing their third generation Mustangs, Camaros, and Firebirds. Nissan had the 300ZX, Toyota the Supra, and Mazda their rotary-engined RX-7.

Then, around 1995, they started to vanish. The Japanese cars went too upmarket, got too expensive, and ultimately got discontinued. The domestics soldiered on, but in a sad state, their development neglected by the rise of the SUV. A few survived. The Mustang. The Miata. But for the most part the affordable sports car category was abandoned.

Now, it’s back with a vengeance.The retro-tastic Mustang that saved Ford’s reputation back in 2005 has just received a major update. Dodge has the gorgeous-but-bloaty Challenger, and the new Chevy Camaro is gobbbling up accolades and sales.

On the Japanese side, well, the 350Z brought Nissan’s sexy back some years ago, and the new 370Z seems even better.

Nissan 370Z

Hell, the Koreans are even getting in on the game with the Hyundai Genesis Coupe.

2010 Hyundai Genesis Coupe

And now there are strong indications that we’ll be seeing two new sports cars at this year’s Tokyo Motor Show…

The first is a sports car being developed by Toyota and Subaru that’s attracted the moniker “Toyobaru” among the auto blogs. Rumor has it it’ll be a successor to the vaunted Supra and, knowing Toyota, will probably be packing some hybridy goodness.

The second is the long-expected revival of the  Mazda RX-7, and if the renderings are any indication, it looks pretty damn hot.

So…what on earth is going on here? Why are sports car suddenly the business again?

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