The Audi A3
Up first for our list of great things that aren’t made anymore: The Audi A3. Don’t let the “going-to-pick-up-the-groceries” look of the hatchback fool you—this ride was always a driver’s sports car in disguise. With a turbocharged 2-liter straight four and short wheelbase, the A3 had crisp handling and an engine that delivered epic quantities of torque (that is, it had great throttle-to-smile response). As of 2013 Audi ceased production of the A3 for american markets apparently in an effort to focus on it’s larger sedans.
Alas, although the A3 remains popular, it’s currently only in production in Europe where they have grocery stores and autobahns—until 2015, when the A3 returns to the US market with four engines all mated to Audi’s six-speed S tronic double-clutch transmission as standard!
BMW’s Boxer Cup Replica
Only made in 2004 and 2005, the BMW boxer Cup Replica was a street-legal version of BMW’s boxer cup racer. A modified version of their (then new) R1100s sports bike, the Boxer Cup had the racer’s unique styling, brembo brakes, a wider continental rear-tire and a souped-up 110hp version of their boxer engine. You might think you can’t put an engine in a motorcycle sideways—but you can—and BMW did (and still does). The main advantage of those parallel cylinders is that they cancel out each other’s torque-effect resulting in an unusually well-balanced engine. It’s been ten years since the Boxer Cup was made, but with some luck you might still be able to find a used example of this unique bike in good condition.
255 Computer Command
This one got us loving cars and computers. Check out the old commercial.
Today’s hiking packs all have the standard feature of an internal frame. But back in the 1970s the “external frames” ruled the day. Jansport manufactured it’s signature Explorer external frame pack from 1975 to 1983, and in spite of its hokey logo patch and dated materials, the explorer was brilliantly well-made, light-weight, easy to pack and infinitely adjustable. It had the kind of functional simplicity that’s been all but lost in modern equipment—now our gear lists are filled with complex techie and luxe items unthinkable years ago. The external frame pack may be a thing of the past, but the Jansport Explorer might exemplify a concept worth resurrecting—less is more.
In the world of rechargable cordless tools the 12 volt battery is all but dead. Cordless power now comes from lithium ion batteries which charge faster, are lighter, and deliver significantly more power than their 12V counterparts. While the 12V Makita M5 Cordless Drill, made throughout the ’80s and ’90s, is now out of production, it still stands as a supremely well-crafted tool. And though the long 12V batteries were heavy, they slid satisfyingly into the drill’s grip like an ammo cartridge, giving the drill a better balance and feel. Let’s hope Makita relaunches this model, only with modern power.