Autech A10 'Nostalgic Sports Sedan'

Car of the Day #71: 1996 Autech A10 'Nostalgic Sports Sedan'

Autech A10 'Nostalgic Sports Sedan'
Autech A10 • via Autech

Well, we've made it: another Monday. To celebrate, I thought I'd quickly introduce one of my favourite factory-built specials and an example of nostalgia done right. Right?

To mark the occasion, I will quote the movie Mr. Baseball, starring Tom Selleck. His love interest is Hiroko Uchiyama, played by Aya Takanashi, who, during a business dinner, says to the American baseball player: “Japan takes the best from all over the world and makes it Hers”.

Whether or not that’s true is a matter of opinion, and today, this factory adjacent special gets awfully close to a more modern version of a European sports sedan. The Autech A10 is nothing more than an '60s Italian 4-door reinterpreted by Nissan tuning arm Autech, using parts from the corporate bin. 

Sorry, collectors: developed and shown in 1996, it remains a literal unicorn and one-of-one prototype.

Beginning with the square, all-wheel-drive Rasheen crossover (above), Autech converted the car to rear-wheel-drive only. Once you realize that underneath that slab-sided shape is a similar chassis to that of a Nissan Silvia’s, it was made to commemorate Autech’s 10th anniversary, and Japanese workers don’t typically set out to botch an important company project…you begin to assume, as I have, that this thing rips.

Is it a corporate project, was this 'Nostalgic Sports Sedan' conceived between rounds at the local izakaya, or both?

Autech built — and still does — many different vehicles. Cars and vans for disabled people, many of the small series production Nissan products (Silvia Convertible), as well as some Nissan prototypes…and I haven’t gotten into its once fruitful relationship with Zagato. Yeah, Autech knows what it’s doing.

The A10. A10 is rear-drive, wears just enough Alfa Romeo (and Renault 8 Gordini) styling cues to look convincing, and its breathed-on 180 horsepower 2.0-litre engine is controlled with five forward speeds, plus a limited-slip differential. Weight? Just 1,255 kg (2,766 lbs).

Exhaust? Centered:

I find the A10 intriguing because it’s a functional prototype of a historical car that neither Autech nor Nissan had ever built(?) Unless this is some kind of Skyline or Bluebird variant that’s slipped past the Eye of Sauron’s my gaze. While fellow Japanese remanufacturer Mitsuoka will do the same, its modifications of mainstream retro models are most often only skin deep.

Autech A10 engine compartment with 2.0 litre 4-cylinder DOHC SR20DE engine, long a favourite of car enthusiasts • via Autech

In my estimation, including most if not all high-end restomods and recreation cars that have been made in semi-serious production numbers, the sole A10 is a rare example of how to do retro right.

Production cars like the Chrysler PT Cruiser? Chevrolet SSR? Not so much. Volkswagen New Beetle? Better than you remember.

I can forgive a few of the A10 sedan’s awkward angles, owing to it being an extra credit project and not a full production model, but in hindsight, it is by definition good enough. With that engine, chassis, and friendly NPC face, A10 would have instantly found a home in all manner of modern motorsport, from rally to grip and drift.

If you're wondering just how serious Autech was in making its interior a worthy tribute to ’60s sports sedans, the tuner fitted a classic, leather-wrapped Nardi steering wheel, leather-trimmed seats and…well…that’s it. So, perfect then.

The car is still around, and makes it out for events, but our best shot at a long term relationship with the A10 will only be through the efforts of, hopefully, a forward-thinking video game developer.

This kind of concept car, prototype, commemorative sedan, whatever; it’s dead and buried. At some point in the past, we crossed a line where every concept vehicle will have electronic controls, every production vehicle will have a screen, and no Autech will look, sound, or perform like the A10 might have.

Forget Nostalgic Sports Sedans. Brace yourselves for a world where Nostalgic Hybrid Crossovers stoke a similar level of desire in you. ;)


Thank you to my supporting members: Ben B., Brad B., Chris G., Daniel G., Damian S., Daniel P., Drew M., Ingrid P., Karl D., Luis O., Michael J., Michael L., Michelle S., Mike B., Mike L., Mike M., Richard W., Sam L., Wiley H.