You never know if I'll take requests—I don't exactly advertise it—but if something interesting comes up I'll definitely file it into the queue. My friend Mike suggested a few vehicles and, yesterday, my friend Brian—after seeing the Matra-Simca Rancho—sent me a note, saying…
"Tomorrow: Show me another car from the 70s which would look at home on the new car lot of today."
Er, ok. Demanding much? Here you go. An Italian concept track car with front-drive Peugeot supermini mechanicals and strikingly simple bodywork.
It's modern because track cars are now a viable business. Not only do the more well-heeled enthusiasts have money, but driving quickly is altogether more safe than it ever has been.
With the HANS device, modern helmets, harnesses, and track day instruction, it's possible to have fun with cars safely, too.
Track days are offered all over, track cars are offered at most price ranges, and a few thousand dollars will get you into an old Mazda Miata if you get the itch and have little to spend.
In 1976, Pininfarina's goal was to design a small, cheap sports car for young people that was quick, handled well, and was versatile.
There are eight body panels in total, six of which are interchangeable—the doors are swappable, as are the hood and the trunk. The design is simple, yet functional: besides being simple and inexpensive to replace panels, with the trunk off it becomes a small truck.
What modern car has interchangeable plastic body panels, citing those same reasons? The smart fortwo.
Pininfarina showed two versions of the car in subsequent years, the first with a conventional windscreen and convertible top, the second with a single seat layout for circuit racing. Power came from a 57 horsepower 4-cylinder engine, with a front-drive layout and chassis from the Peugeot 104 ZS.
Car Magazine, who drove the car in period said, "It came zipping out of Pininfarina's research centre, low and stubby and wide, dramatic and appealing, demanding attention, nattily aggressive, modern, and different."
Later, they remarked, "Like Pininfarina, we believe the concept is [an] extremely valid one; we see it as the sort of concept that could give the masses a decent sports car again…"
Where have you heard this before? There have been many small sports cars before, and many since.
But they're stories for another day…