By on December 1, 2021

FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock.com

You finally did it, didn’t you? You beautiful disaster, you did it! You spent nearly $30,000 US American dollars on thirty-seven-year-old Toyota Corolla because of a comic book, and you aren’t even mad about it. Hell, you paid a little extra for the “authentic” Fujiwara Tofu Shop decals on the doors. You. Kick. Rear. And now, after you didn’t think it could be possible to feel better about your automotive purchase, I’m going to make you feel better about your automotive purchase – because you can now buy factory-fresh parts for your Corolla AE86, straight from Toyota.

That’s right kids, through its captive motorsport brand, Gazoo Racing, Toyota is reproducing spare parts for the Corolla Levin Sprinter Trueno “AE86” as part of the GR Heritage Parts Project. The project reproduces new original parts that have been discontinued and sells them as genuine parts with a standard new part warranty, “in order to support customers who wish to continue driving older vehicles that are full of memories and that they truly love.”

All kidding aside, you have to admit that the concept of a Heritage Parts program is great, even if the Initial D AE86 isn’t exactly your cuppa – but it sort of begs the question, what other new-age classics might be worthy of a heritage program? I’m glad you asked!

GMC SYCLONE

The cover of the September 1991 issue of Car and Driver occupies a huge amount of my mental real estate. If you haven’t seen it, it features a dramatically slanted view of a GMC Syclone pickup alongside a Ferrari 348 ts. The text reads, “The $96,000 Sting!” and implies – quite correctly – that if faster is better, then the Syclone is better than the Ferrari.

If ever an American pickup deserved a heritage parts program, it’s the one that made buying a Ferrari seem pointless and stupid. That’s a statement made even more true by virtue of the fact that virtually every example of the GMC Syclone (and its SUV stablemate, the slightly more practical Typhoon) has been bought, tuned, and absolutely driven into the ground. Even the “nice” ones show signs of abuse, here and there, and I can’t blame their owners for a single 13-second ¼-mile blast.

Cars are meant to be driven, after all. Even the trucky ones.

The best part? If GM did the heritage thing right, that would also give anyone who finds an old S-10 or S-15 Sonoma/Jimmy a fresh supply of genuine parts for restoration. Even if you don’t put the Syclone up on the same pedestalic (I swear that’s a word) heights that I do, there can’t be too many Gen-Xers out there who can’t appreciate a minty, first-gen S-10, right?

Right.

DIAMOND STAR TURBOS

If you were an import drag racer in the 1990s, your world revolved around the black art of EFI tuning and turbocharging – and no car had a better chance of getting you into the 9s than the all-wheel drive Mitsubishi Eclipse, Eagle Talon, and Plymouth Laser triplets. Collectively, they were referred to as “DSMs”, for the Diamond-Star Motors factory in Normal, Illinois, where they were built.

In their day – and even by today’s standards – the DSMs were fast. They benefited from a low curb weight, all-wheel drive, and 195 turbocharged horsepower straight out of the box. They were relatively affordable, too, which is why almost every single one of them was (more or less objectively) beat to absolute dog shit.

I remember when they suddenly dropped off the planet, too, after being almost everywhere for the better part of a decade.

“What ever happened to all these cars?” I asked Tym Switzer, one day, while we were poking under the hood of his own white Talon.

“They’re fast and idiots can afford them,” was his only reply. He didn’t even turn his head.

Fast forward another decade or so, and it’s nearly 2022. Mitsubishi could use a halo car, badly, to help restore its fortunes in the US – a market that, frankly, has mostly forgotten Mitsubishi even exists. Similarly, the CJDR stores seem to be flush with buyers willing to spend big money on high-horsepower internal combustion machines, and they might fancy the positive vibes that a heritage parts program for its sportiest Rad-era might bring to the ICE faithful, especially in these trying, electrified times.

Mitsubishi needs a PR win. A program like this – along with a few “restored” CPO Eclipses in the few Mitsubishi showrooms still standing – could be a big one.

ALFA ROMEO SPIDER

Despite being built from 1966 to 1993 – a full 27 years! – the Alfa Spider was old-tech almost as soon as it launched. It didn’t matter, though, because you didn’t buy a Spider to drive fast or impress the kids with the latest in electro-wizardry. You bought it to drive on twisty back roads with wind in your hair, the sun in your face, and your mechanic’s phone number in your back pocket.

Despite being unreliable rusty turds at the worst of times, a fresh-faced Alfa Spider is an instant contender to get parked up front, especially as the number of nice ones continues to dwindle and mid-range Lambo Gallardos continue to trickle down to the Dogecoin millionaires. The Alfa has style where others have fashion, and (as Coco Chanel put it) style endures.

With sales continuing to – well, suck – Alfa Romeo is another company that could use a PR win, and helping bring a bunch of old Spiders back from the grave would surely be one. Heck, they could even give it an environmental spin, calling the cars “recycled” and marketing the new Alcantara seats as “vegan leather”, at least until Stellantis get their EV line sorted.

As with Mitsubishi: what have they got to lose?

[Lead image: FabrikaSimf/Shutterstock.com]

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49 Comments on “Opinion: Vehicles That Deserve A Heritage Parts Program...”


  • avatar
    ajla

    This list reads like a Jalopnik writer took a wrong turn at Albuquerque and ended up on TTAC.

    • 0 avatar

      I don’t hate this comment. The difference, I feel, is that the Jalops tend to have ironic interests in 80s/90s cars, whereas the TTAC interest feels more sincere. I’ve wanted a Syclone since I was a kid, I had a DSM, and probably should have bought that Spider when I had the chance (I bought a Lancia, instead). If I was ACTUALLY a Jalopnik writer, I feel like I’d have wanted a Syclone but bought an S-10 with 170,000 miles on it, passed on the Eclipse in favor of a trubocharged Expo, and … I dunno. Let’s go with an Alfasud for the Italin entry? ;)

  • avatar
    Lightspeed

    Lexus LS400, they’re going to be around forever, so they need a few parts.

  • avatar
    cimarron typeR

    Now that you mention it , within the past 2 weeks I’ve seen 2 mint z32 300zx’s and one mint Starion. 90s JDM sports cars should have OEM body parts made available.In the future, I ‘d hate for some poor 70 year old Gen Xer having to use a Kaminari fender on his resto of his HS dream car.

  • avatar
    dal20402

    In the current atmosphere of off-road mania the answer is obviously old off-roaders: CJ-5s/7s, first-gen Broncos, Scouts. You’d make a lot of money with such a program for old pickups, too.

    Personally, I’d love to buy a few thousand dollars’ worth of new-build parts for my Legend (in particular, axles and some interior pieces), but ain’t never gonna happen. If ever Honda did such a program, it would surely be for the S2000.

    • 0 avatar
      Lou_BC

      70’s to early 90’s era pickups, Jeeps, Bronco’s, Ramcharger’s are selling for outrageous coin. I’m seeing resto-mod Bronco’s sell for 250,000 USD and up. I saw a 70’s era F250 resto-mod go for 130,000 USD. Crazy.

      I bought my neighbour’s ’76 CJ5 for 3,200 CAD which I thought was a bit much but my buddy who’s a hardcore Jeep dude said it was a great deal.

      • 0 avatar
        DenverMike

        I’d rather drop 130K on a ’70s F-250 resto-mod than 80K on a new one. Guess which one is more fun, you can use it for a year or two and it’s worth the same or more? There’s a cottage industry that are doing a lot of these with a year or two waiting-list.

    • 0 avatar
      SoCalMikester

      theres already a lot of aftermarket support for old broncos, scouts, jeeps. and supposedly every single body panel for the 64 mustang

  • avatar
    kcflyer

    Hopefully this will become a common practice for most automakers going forward. If the good folks at Krown can keep the tinworm at bay I’d like to keep my current fleet until ICE vehicles are banned all together. So far it looks like the parts most likely to take my 7.3 diesel ford off the road will be wiring harnesses / computers. Those are already out of production. Shame, because the mechanicals of the engine will last decades more.

  • avatar
    Crosley

    I remember when they suddenly dropped off the planet, too, after being almost everywhere for the better part of a decade.
    _____________

    It is amazing how quickly the DSM Eclipse/Talon cars dropped off the face of the Earth. Every person I know that owned one though felt like they were junk quality and fell apart. Despite being “Japanese”, so I’m sure that’s a big part of it.

    Most of the cars I can think of that would deserve a heritage part program probably have no issues.

    Buick Grand Nationals though are one that should be allowed to live forever.

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Grand Nationals are fairly common and they’re mostly just blacked-out Regals, body/cosmetics. They look cheesy compared to the GNX, except building a GNX clone out of a GN would be a good time.

    • 0 avatar

      Another one that vanished seemingly overnight was the Jaguar XJS. In Florida and Chicago, I would see one almost every day up until 2012-ish. At least one. These days? I haven’t seen one in weeks.

    • 0 avatar
      ttacgreg

      Still have my 1990 Lazer Turbo. 110k miles. Meticulously cared for from day one. Original clutch, brake rotors, turbo. Been through at least four pairs of hatch struts. Very few minor repairs. Biggest repair was a sheared exhaust manifold bolt, covered just a very few hundred miles short of the 70,000 mile warranty that was standard. My fear is that some irreplaceable part will fail and the whole car goes to the junkyard due to that.
      It draws lots attention lately, but anyway, my expereince feels like Japanese quality to me.

    • 0 avatar
      sgeffe

      G-Bodies in general!

  • avatar
    DenverMike

    Automakers have certainly noticed the exponential growth in the auto aftermarket (oops it can’t be mentioned here!), while new vehicles sales have been stagnant, going back years before Covid 19.

    Automakers have been sneaking into SEMA for years now through the Sally Port.

    Can you say new car and dealer “blowback” and “backlash”? Yes they know all about it. Sucker aren’t being born every minute like they used to!

  • avatar
    wjtinfwb

    With cars lasting so much longer now then in earlier years, I’d like to see all manufacturers maintain an inventory of parts for longer than the 10 years I believe is now mandated. Selfishly, it’s frustrating that parts for my 20 year old Ford Excursion are becoming difficult to obtain. Several body parts unique to the Ex are no linger available, and now I need a “Body Security Module” that controls the locks, Autolamp, Theft alarm and the retained accessory power. The only source appears to be a junkyard and then hope it is not fried and can be programmed to the options and codes in the vehicle by the dealer. Granted, the truck is 20 years old but it still runs perfectly and I have no intention of getting rid of it, but would sure like it to have all it’s functionality back.

  • avatar
    SPPPP

    – Alfa Romeo Milano / 75
    – Mazda 323
    – Mazda Protege
    – MN12 Thunderbird SC
    – Jaguar XJ6 / XJ8

    • 0 avatar

      Strongly agree with this list, save the Milano. It never did anything for me, and I’d rather see a well-sorted 164.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      What I need is all of the goodies to put a Coyote into an MN12 with a T56. This would include the Mark VIII.

      Also need everything to keep a gen 1 SHO on the road.

      Also a plug and play solution to get an LSA and T56 into a C4 Corvette that keeps the disco dash working.

      And can someone make a decent 1.5 DIN stereo that looks like it belongs in cars from the 80s and 90s. I have bought up a stash of Pioneers, but they are all 20 years old now and all the Alpine ones I’ve gotten from back then are DOA. I’m not hacking the dash to put a screen into a car that will end up looking terrible because screens were for your living room when the car was made.

      And for the love of God…an easy solution to remove any Bose crap from all of those cars that got it like it was something good back in the day.

      Bonus points for 3rd gen F Body stuff. I’d say fox bodies too, but I think there is enough of an aftermarket to restore any mustang around a good door handle.

      Oh yeah, interior parts for fox body Thunderbirds and Cougars. I’d have an 87-88 Turbo Coupe, bit the ratty interior that I could do nothing about would drive me bonkers.

      Lastly, the Merkur XR4TI just because.

      • 0 avatar
        dal20402

        Gen 1 SHO owner here. “Everything to keep a gen 1 SHO on the road” is all of the parts that make up the SHO except for the engine (but the engine, for its part, has to have painstaking valve jobs every 60k).

  • avatar
    slavuta

    2010-13 Mazda3
    Nissan 240sx

    • 0 avatar
      DenverMike

      Unique original wheels and seat skins are the first to disappear or wear out. I managed to get SVO Mustang headllamps, turn/markers and the texture-finish lid spoiler/bi-wing out of the dealer back in ’95 that the SVO community would absolutely kill for.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      240 has a pretty healthy aftermarket, though I don’t know if that extends to things like interior parts.

      The Z32 300z deserves a heritage parts program though. That thing is the 1990s on wheels and it is full of technology that makes it hard to keep them on the road.

  • avatar
    Stanley Steamer

    All Ford Panther platform models.

  • avatar

    DMC-12 and Ford Taurus. Both have cult following. I become fan of Ford Taurus when I read article about Taurus and its designer Jack Telnack in October 1988 edition of “Amerika” illustrated magazine (it was cold war period magazine for Russian elite). There are three books about development of Ford Taurus and that only ones that I have in my library.

    • 0 avatar
      Art Vandelay

      I think the DMC-12 is pretty well served already.

      I saw a first gen Sable earlier this week and realized it was probably the only one I’ve seen in a decade. Sadly, it was a beater.

  • avatar
    ttacgreg

    Thing is there needs to be a high population of said vehicles to support legacy parts. Mazda recently announced legacy parts for the NA Miata. The deal is, I see lots of in a Miata’s (I mean relatively speaking), so there is enough of them out there, and their dedicated enthusiatic owners to justify manufacturing the parts.
    Legacy parts for the DSM cars makes little sense since they “dropped off the planet”

  • avatar
    JRED

    80s/90s Toyota Pickups and 4Runners.

    These things are a dime a dozen on the ground here in the Southeast, and they’re starting to gain some collector value in good shape. Mileage doesn’t seem to matter much to many of the collectors, though really low mileage models bring a big premium.

    Most of the running gear is available from Toyota, but there’s a market for new OEM body panels, interior parts.

    Toyota could do a limited run of new 22REs, and they would all be sold as soon as they came available.

  • avatar
    Jeff S

    If ICE is eventually regulated out of production we might have to buy parts to keep our ICE vehicles on the road. We will start to resemble Cuba with old cars and trucks on the road indefinitely. Might be worth the money to have your current vehicle restored after several years.

  • avatar
    FreedMike

    1) The O.G. ’83 Rabbit GTI (particularly the seats and the dash).
    2) 240Z, as part of the intro marketing for the new Z.

  • avatar
    Arthur Dailey

    “The Alfa has style where others have fashion, and (as Coco Chanel put it) style endures.” Jo, you are quickly becoming my favourite TTAC writer/commentator.

    No surprise, I would vote first for early/mid 1970’s Lincolns. In particular Mark IVs.

    Next would be late 1950’s Cadillacs.

    Then anything rear engined, and air cooled by VW. When was the last time anyone saw a Type III or a Type IV on the road?

    Finally any and all pre-21st century Jaguars.

    As I posted earlier this week, every day I see the same Toyota Tercel and 4th generation Grand Prix on their commute to work. Also numerous Astro/Safari vans, usually driven by a contractor/cleaner. And I forgot to mention that during the ‘good weather’ there is an Eagle Talon Tsi AWD that I see daily during our commute.

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