There are some designs that are simply classics. They were perfect from the word go and won’t change for years to come. The same can be said of cars. Some manufacturers are constantly updating and tweaking the design of their best-selling cars, often with mixed results. But there are those out there that have managed to stay successful by doing the complete opposite. Certain car designs were so brilliant that they’ve lasted for decades and are still as popular as ever. Once you’re onto a good thing, you can easily ruin it by trying to change too much. There are plenty of companies that have made that mistake, but these are the ones that didn’t
The Mini Cooper
If you ask anybody what the most iconic British car is, they’ll say the Mini Cooper. It was immortalized when it became the star of the movie, The Italian Job, but even before then, it was an instant classic. When it was released in 1959, people had never seen anything like it. Nobody had ever been so ambitious when it came to fitting a decent amount of functionality into such a small car. It became the inspiration for the efficient city car and to this day, there are thousands of cars out there that owe it all to the Mini Cooper. It was such a triumph of design that they didn’t change a thing for over forty years. It has since been bought out by BMW and given a bit of a makeover. The new design is a contentious one and, like the remake of the Italian Job that it featured in, opinion about it is split down the middle. Whether you like it or not, the new design still maintains everything that people loved about the original and proves that this design classic isn’t going anywhere.
If the Mini Cooper is the most recognizable British car, the Mustang is the most recognizable American one. 52 years after the first model was released, it’s still going strong. There’s nothing cooler than a classic Mustang. The latest model is the first one to be sold across the Atlantic, with a right-hand drive model being developed for British use. Over the years, a few tweaks have been made but the essence of the design is still the same. The simple design means that it isn’t too prone to breakdowns, and even if it does, there are plenty of places that you can book your car service online to keep your classic Mustang on the road. That’s why, to this day, it’s the fastest selling car in the United States and one of the best selling sports models in Europe. Most cars lose around 20 percent of their value after the first year, but a Mustang will only lose 0.1 percent.
Over the years, the Corvette has come close to being dropped multiple times, but it’s managed to hang on due to popular demand. It has fought strong competition from European sports car manufacturers like Ferrari and Lamborghini to last over 60 years. When it was first released, it was a popular alternative to these established sports cars because it was way more affordable, but it came close to being dropped because it couldn’t match them on performance. Chevrolet kept the classic design and beefed up the engine and nowadays, it’s every bit as powerful as its more expensive rivals. As long as they don’t mess with the formula too much, it looks like the Chevrolet Corvette is here to stay.
Toyota Land Cruiser
A lot of off-roaders have lost their spark because they tried to change too much and people didn’t respond to the new models. They’ve put looks over functionality and so, even though they might look good, they’re all but useless once you get out of the city. The Toyota Land Cruiser has managed to last 65 years because, although they updated it, they kept the off-road capabilities that made it so great in the first place. The new model has the perfect balance of luxury interiors and a robust frame that makes it great for city driving as well as off-road exploring. It’s for that reason that it’s lasted so long, and doesn’t show any signs of slowing down.
The very first model was built in 1936 but technically, the modern version is based on the series 2 that first hit the market in 1955. So, even though it isn’t based on the original, it’s still lasted over 60 years. There is one reason that the Morgan 4/4 is popular to this day; tradition. Some cars have staying power because they’re cheap, or reliable, but it’s the traditional look of the 4/4 that people love so much. The insides have been updated over the years but the body is still the same old style sportster that it was when it first came out. This piece of sports car nostalgia is likely to survive for years to come, as long as they don’t mess with it too much.
VW Type 2 Kombi
The Type 2 Kombi is recognizable all over the world. You can’t say the word camper van to somebody without them automatically picturing one of these. It’s so iconic that it became the trademark of an entire generation of hippies, but it’s still as popular now as it was when it was released in 1967. While Volkswagen themselves haven’t played around with the design that much, enthusiasts have made their own modifications to them and created all sorts of crazy versions. The classic aesthetic, coupled with its versatility has made this one of the most popular cars ever.
The rest of the cars on this list have survived because they are simple, yet effective designs that haven’t been changed too much over the years. The Bristol Blenheim doesn’t have any of this and its long life is a bit of a mystery. Since it came out in 1976, it has been slated for its outdated technology, terrible handling and just being a generally rubbish car. So, why are people still buying them for $250,000? The only answer is that it’s become something of a status symbol. It seems to judged by nothing more than its price tag and car snobs the world over are keeping this awful car alive. They only make a very small amount, but all of them are selling. As long as there are snobs, there will be a Bristol Blenheim.
You might be thinking that the Jetta isn’t that popular anymore. It was first released in 1984 and it never took off in a huge way. Not over here at least. To this day, it is still one of the most popular cars in China, and with such a huge population, there is enough of a market over there to keep the Jetta alive for years to come. The middle-class in China is growing and more and more people can afford cars. As long as the Jetta is still popular over there, that will be enough sales to keep the brand going, regardless of the fact that it isn’t popular in most other countries.
Volkswagen makes the list for a third time with the Beetle. It’s surprising that a car that has such a tricky history has managed to last so long, but that’s just a testament to how great the design is. It was first commissioned by the Nazi’s during World War Two but it has since managed to shake those bad associations and become one of the most popular cars in the world. It has been so successful because the design is so unique. There isn’t another car that looks quite like it. This is the only car on the list that was dropped from production. They were discontinued in 2003 but since then, a new design has been brought back to life. The new model doesn’t have the charm of the original, but people still love it. What’s more, the originals are so robust and easy to repair that enthusiasts have kept them going for years. It’s likely that they’ll still be around for a lot longer than all of us.
Alfa Romeo 105 Series
German car manufacturers are renowned for their simple, yet robust engineering, but the Italians can match that as well. The Alfa Romeo 105 Series is the perfect example of that. With its no-nonsense design and reliable engineering, it’s the perfect car for somebody looking for something to go the distance.
Every single one of the cars on this list has one thing in common. Simplicity. They’ve all managed to survive for so long because they didn’t overstretch themselves or rely on any frills. They rested on good, reliable design and didn’t change any of the things that made them so popular in the first place. That’s why you’re going to see these classic designs for years to come, and they may even outlive us.