What, or indeed who, has been the car industry’s most regrettable victim during this economic downturn? Tens of thousands have lost their jobs, factories have closed, companies have gone under. And still the pain goes on.

For me, two victims in particular have made me cry into my cornflakes. They weren’t laid-off workers or bankrupt brands, tragic as those cases are, but small, affordable sports cars with enormous potential.

Both projects were cancelled due to the massive shortfall in demand for new cars. And now, looking back, I can’t remember which I was more excited about: the prospect of a new Renault Alpine roadster, or the much anticipated replacement for the Nissan 200SX.

We started reporting on both of these cars back in 2007. Because news of the projects emerged at more or less the same time – and because Renault and Nissan collaborate on so many projects – our understandable assumption was that their development would be linked. But only this week I discovered that, if the credit crunch hadn’t happened, they wouldn’t actually have been related ‘alliance cars’ at all.