When we think of vehicles that would be much better being built today than during a time when they actually were built are more than just a little ahead of their time. Sometimes the automakers are onto something that the we would enjoy several years later, but when they offered these vehicles they were mostly sales duds. It’s too bad that we don’t see the futuristic value of these vehicles and choose to let them be the vehicles they were meant to be. Even though these were vehicles ahead of their time it’s good to see that these were some of the most innovative options of their time that helped to create some of the models we see today.
Pontiac Aztek – This small SUV was considered to be one of the ugliest vehicles ever made and might well be a big part of why Pontiac is no longer an active brand from GM. This concept was certainly ahead of its time as small crossover SUV hadn’t come to be popular at all. This was a rugged looking vehicle with a soft ride that gave it the feeling we wanted to enjoy in a vehicle that unfortunately ended up being axed as one that was not a good seller for GM.
Nissan Stanza Wagon/Axxess – This was a small subcompact sedan that actually had sliding rear doors which were the beginning of being a minivan and a feature that eventually led to minivans being built. This vehicle offered a small and practical shape for us to enjoy and gave us a ride that looked and felt great on the road. There was even available AWD to make this a car that you could feel would make its way confidently during a drive in inclement weather.
Suzuki SX4 Hatchback – Although Suzuki doesn’t make or sell cars and SUVs in the US anymore we have enjoyed the small and active hatchbacks that came from Suzuki for several years. The SX4 offered a good ground clearance and optional AWD to be a vehicle you could easily enjoy driving on any road or on the trails in your area. This was the vehicle that became the predecessor to the Mazda CX-3, Honda HR-V and Fiat 500X. Too bad Suzuki isn’t sold in this form anymore, the SX4 would probably be the most popular among these small hatchback/SUV models for us to admire and enjoy.
Ford Mustang SVO – Have you seen the base Mustang of today that carries in the turbocharged four-cylinder engine? Of course you have and that was not a new idea on this car as the 1980s featured a Mustang SVO that had the turbocharged four-cylinder engine under the hood but when all we wanted was to have more horsepower and a larger engine but this was a car that offered a different build for us. Unfortunately this was a build that didn’t catch on at the time at all, but thankfully we now have the Mustang with a new version of this engine that was originally in the SVO.
Dodge Vista Colt/Honda Civic Wagovan – These two cars were both tall subcompact wagons that were offered in the 1980s when we needed to have vehicles that were able to give us the size we needed and the fuel mileage that was required. This high seating position gave us the upright seating that was great for adding space and headroom in the vehicle. This design philosophy can be seen today in the Nisan Versa Note, Honda Fit and Toyota Yaris to give us some of the best tall riding hatchbacks that are easy to love and enjoy.
Porsche 959 – When AWD was first introduced to the market it was made for off road vehicles and rally cars to make use of and was one of the few advancements of the 1980s that we can be proud of. The Porsche 959 make waves by using AWD as part of the power output in the sports car to add to the high performance of the vehicle and offer a car that could rip around the track much faster than the competition on the track, and this car was the beginning of what we see nearly every sports car offer today.
Subaru Outback – Thankfully this is one car on this list that eventually found its way to be a sales leader. The Outback is one of the most appreciated cars on the market today and offered with the AWD that has become a staple of the Subaru lineup. This vehicle is the one that became the basis for the Honda Crosstour, Toyota Venza, Audi Allroad, Volkswagen Golf ALltrack and the Crosstrek from Subaru as well. The original Outback makes for a great basis for a collection of cars that are great for the drive and can head out on the off road areas of the world.
AMC Eagle – Even though the Outback was the basis for so many other vehicles, the predecessor to the Outback was the Eagle from AMC. This high riding sports wagon was the car you wanted to drive as it offered you four-wheel drive and a body on frame build that was being used in trucks and SUVs at the time it was being made. Too bad AMC was so far ahead of its time with this car, it could have actually been the vehicle that might have eventually saved the company and made it profitable if we had only seen the value of this awesome car.
1986 Buick Riviera – This car was one that actually gave us a center console with a touchscreen. Yes this Buick from the 1980s had a technology on board that has only just now become mainstream thirty years later and was a car that you would enjoy the ride and be able to use the system. At the time this was a system that was basic, slow and often didn’t work right, but it was there and it was the first time we saw something like this in a car.
GM EV1 – We all should know what this car was, it was the first modern electric car that offered a useful range and was actually offered to the public in a way that was only limited in its availability. This car offered a look that was futuristic, which may be a big part of why this car was not bought in a massive quantity at all. As a great project this car was cancelled after only a couple years in production but it showed us a bright future for the wonderful world of EVs that we know and enjoy today even though it would be another several years before we saw EVs hit the market.