Cars are generally regarded to be pretty tough. But between taking the brunt of a crash or conquering Earth’s most remote places, no amount of toughness can save a car from the end of its production run — and that’s somewhat sad.
So when our friends at Wired wrote about the classic cars that still look great decades later, it made us cherish the iconic nameplates we still have around (Mustang, 911, Corvette) but more importantly – the ones that came back from the grave.
We’ve compiled eight of our currently in-production favorites, let us know which cars you would add!
The average car is not a cultural icon. Fiat’s teeny-tiny 500 is, however, exactly that. Weighing in at a slight 1,100 pounds and measuring no longer than 10 feet, the inexpensive 500 debuted in 1957 and effectively motorized the Italian public.
It would go on to yield the popular Fiat 126 in the ’70s and other small hatchbacks, before returning triumphantly in 2007. This version might put its drive-wheels and engine in the front (rather than the original rear layout), but it hasn’t lost any of its quirky appeal.
A good rivalry is the lifeblood of the performance automobile. That is until it becomes a knockout blow. That was the case of the Chevrolet Camaro, which had been squaring off against Ford’s Mustang for 36 years before it met its end in 2002 due to shrinking sales.
As you’ve surely noticed, its time away from the office only tightened and toned the breed. An edgier Camaro reemerged in 2010, and continues to be a match for the ‘Stang on track and in the showroom.
In the early ’80s, Honda decided to undertake a radical project to bring Formula 1 style performance to the road – we all waited feverishly until 1990. The end result was Honda/Acura’s incredible NSX, what with its midship V6, lightweight aluminum chassis, and hardcore ‘R’ variants. It hung around for quite a while too, before finally disappearing 15 years later in 2005. It is back however, and this 2016 hybrid version looks to be quite the performer.
Admittedly, the lovable Mini never really went away… but it did effectively change teams. Legendary car designer Alec Issigonis penned the original Mini designs in the late ’50s, and by the end of its lifespan in 2000, the revolutionary city car had sold to the tune of over five million units. BMW stepped into the picture in 1994 and sold off Mini’s parent company (Rover Group) in 2000, but kept a newly designed Mini around for the world to keep enjoying.
Sometimes the best new car is the one you’ve already made. Ford knew this and in 2005 the Blue Oval rebooted its legendary GT40 racer in the form of the road-going GT. It celebrated the automaker’s centenary and the GT40′s four-for-four winning streak at Le Mans. As a limited production supercar – it only stuck around for two years. Now it’s back, and with a twin-turbo V6 making over 600 horsepower, it looks as hardcore as ever.
Volkswagen New Beetle
Despite its rather humble appearance, the original Volkswagen Beetle was a watershed moment in automotive history. Its simple, dependable, and practical design paved the way for over six decades of production and a staggering 21 million built.
The redesigned Beetle made its return in 1998, and though its latest counterpart hasn’t exactly reached that same mass appeal, VW’s turbocharged and 210 horsepower R-Line model proves it’s certainly no slouch.
Dodge Charger / Dodge Challenger
Between the many performance cars of the ’60s muscle era, few rank higher than Dodge’s own Charger and Challenger, known for their bad-boy looks and hard-hitting Hemi thunder. But by the 1980s, that thunder was more of an unnoticed rumble… or a plane flying overhead.
The Challenger disappeared after 1983 and the Charger followed it out in 1987. Worry not though, the breed is quite healthy today as seen by the unbelievably powerful Challenger and Charger Hellcat models, capable of turning 707 horsepower into patches of bubbling asphalt.