Cars That Stand the Test of Time
Thousands of new cars, trucks and SUVs have come and gone since the introduction of the automobile more than 100 years ago — vehicles that companies conceived, manufactured, marketed, sold and eventually drove off into the sunset. However, some stalwart models have stood the test of time — they may have changed over the years, but the spirit and the name remain indelible in consumer consciousness. How do some vehicles stay relevant while others end up in the weeds? Bold design? Raw power? Historical significance? Granted, some of the following models disappeared for a while, but all vehicles listed here had their beginnings at least 50 years ago and are still around today.
The Ford Mustang and Chevrolet Camaro had both been on the market for a few years when Dodge introduced its muscle car entry, the Challenger. Slightly longer than the Plymouth Barracuda with which it shared a platform, the Challenger was available as a 2-door hardtop or convertible. A wide range of engines were available for the 1970 Challenger, ranging from a 145-horsepower 6-cylinder unit to the 426-cubic inch HEMI V8 “Elephant Motor” that generated 425 horsepower. Colors such as Plum Crazy and HEMI Orange made the Challenger a visual standout, as did the optional “shaker” hoods and rear wings. The original Challenger was only built for five years; however, it did come back briefly in the late 1970s as a sad little 77-horsepower coupe imported by Mitsubishi.
Dodge Challenger Today
In 2006 Dodge stole the show in Detroit when it took the wraps off a Challenger concept that boasted modern features, a HEMI engine and classic Challenger styling. Two years later the Challenger arrived in showrooms. Since that time Dodge has continued to keep the Challenger alive and relevant with colors from the 1970s as well as variants that include the 707-horsepower Hellcat, the 797-horsepower Hellcat Redeye and the limited-edition Demon with an insane 840 horsepower. The muscle car is alive and well at Dodge.
Nissan (Datsun) Z Car
In late 1969 the first Z car appeared on the American market for the 1970 model year. The Datsun 240Z (the Nissan name wouldn’t be used in the U.S. until 1981) featured a 2.4-liter engine producing 150 horsepower teamed with a 5-speed manual transmission. Considered advanced for its time, the stylish sports car had 4-wheel independent suspension, magnesium wheels, front disc brakes and a 150-horsepower engine. The name continued to be adjusted over the years as the engine displacement grew with the 280Z and 300ZX. The 300ZX ended production in 1996.
Nissan Z Car Today
The idea behind the Z car hasn’t changed much from the original, but performance has undoubtedly moved forward. As the name 370Z indicates, the current rendition utilizes a 3.7-liter V6 rated at 332 horsepower, available with either a 6-speed manual or 7-speed automatic transmission. The NISMO version boosts output to 350 horsepower. To celebrate this iconic car’s 50th anniversary, Nissan has introduced a 50th Anniversary Edition 370Z. The special edition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the original 1970 Datsun 240Z with exterior and interior details that recognize the legacy of that historic sports car. The two-tone exterior design is inspired by the #46 BRE (Brock Racing Enterprises) Datsun 240Z that won multiple SCCA National Championships, driven by John Morton. Rumors abound it that an all-new Z Car is in the works, expected to be revealed later in 2020.
Toyota introduced the Corolla in Japan in 1966, and the small economical car came to America two years later. Available as a 2-door coupe, 4-door sedan or 2-door wagon, the Corolla had a starting price around $1,700 and its simple design gained popularity quickly. The first model had a 1.1-liter engine that delivered 60 horsepower through a 4-speed manual transmission. A Corolla model has been on sale every year in America since that first one came across the Pacific, with almost 50 million copies sold over 12 generations.
Toyota Corolla Today
Corolla is one of the most time-honored names in the Toyota lineup, and recently the company celebrated the 1 millionth Corolla built in the brand’s Mississippi assembly plant. All new for the 2020 model year, the Corolla gets updated styling and a wider stance, as well as signature LED headlights and a range of new features — vastly different from the original model more than 50 years ago. Corolla is available with three powertrains including a very efficient hybrid system that has a U.S. EPA rating of more than 50 mpg. Toyota equips all levels of the new Corolla with Toyota Safety Sense 2.0. This suite of advanced safety features includes automatic emergency braking, lane-departure alert with steering assist, automatic high beams and road sign recognition.
Jaguar’s luxury sedan had its beginnings in the late 1960s as an experimental Jaguar — which is how the XJ name originated. Introduced at the 1968 Paris Motor Show, the XJ6 was envisioned by Jaguar founder Sir William Lyons as a saloon (sedan) with the handling of the E-Type sports car; it was promptly named Car of the Year by Car Magazine. “The XJ6 was profound. It had so much visual power,” said Ian Callum, Director of Design at Jaguar from 1999–2019. “The wheels were enormous. Nobody had seen anything like them before. They filled the whole body. I remember collecting a brochure from the local dealer and going back the next day for another. I still have them both.” Several generations of XJ followed, including the third generation, which was the first vehicle to feature an all-aluminum body and chassis when it premiered in 2003.
Jaguar XJ Today
Now in its fourth generation, the Jaguar XJ is reaching the end of its current form. Going out with a bang, the 2019 Jaguar XJ is available as the limited-edition XJR575, built on the long-wheelbase Jaguar XJ sedan with bespoke styling features inside and out. The XJR575 further differentiates itself with a gloss-black grille and side power vents, a sports exhaust with quad pipes, hood louvers, red brake calipers and 20-inch gloss-black wheels. The interior is equally special with sport seats featuring diamond-quilted leather and 575 branding throughout. As one might guess from the name, the XJR575 is equipped with a unique version of Jaguar’s supercharged V8 engine that generates 575 horsepower. Jaguar ended production of the XJ last summer, and has plans to bring the flagship sedan back to the lineup as a fully electric vehicle within the next year.
Fiat 124 Spider
The original Fiat 124 Spider debuted at the Turin Auto Show in 1966 and sold in the U.S. from 1968 through 1985. Considered one of the most affordable, mass-produced sports cars of the time, the Fiat 124 Spider was designed by Pininfarina; the car was so successful it was not extensively redesigned during its 19-year production run. A 2-seat rear-wheel-drive convertible, the 1968 Fiat 124 Spider was powered by a 1438cc twin-cam 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission and 4-wheel disc brakes. The watertight soft-top could be lowered easily from the driver’s seat, and rear quarter-wipers improved visibility. Nearly 8,000 copies of the original Fiat 124 Spider are still registered in the U.S. today.
Fiat 124 Spider Today
The current Fiat 124 Spider arrived for the 2017 model year, marking its return after a 30-year absence from the U.S. market. The result of a collaboration between Fiat and Mazda, the Fiat 124 Spider is based on the Mazda MX-5 Miata, but with Italian styling and a Fiat drivetrain, suspension and tuning. The new Fiat 124 Spider was designed in Turin, Italy, and takes styling cues from the original 124 Spider, including the hexagonal upper grille, power domes on the hood and sharp horizontal taillights. The double-wishbone front suspension, multi-link rear suspension and steering are all tuned for a dynamic driving experience. The soft-top can be manually operated from the driver’s seat and stows behind the seats without a tonneau cover. The rear-wheel-drive 124 Spider is powered by Fiat’s 1.4-liter MultiAir Turbo 4-cylinder engine that produces 160 horsepower (164 in Abarth) and 184 lb-ft of torque, teamed with either a 6-speed manual transmission or a 6-speed automatic.
The original 1967 Camaro hit the streets of America in 1966 at the height of the muscle car era. Based on the Chevrolet Nova, the front engine, rear-wheel-drive Camaro was rushed to market to compete with the Ford Mustang, which had become an unexpected sales success. In its first year Camaro was offered as both a coupe and a convertible, with a long hood, short rear deck, 2+2 seating and a broad range of engine choices — from inline 6-cylinder units to big-block V8s — to appeal to a wide range of customers. Camaro went through several iterations over the years, with the fourth generation ending production in 2002.
Chevrolet Camaro Today
After an eight-year hiatus, Camaro returned to market as a 2010 model with styling cues heavily influenced by the 1969 Camaro. Refreshed last year, the Camaro received a revised front-end design with a new grille, hood, dual-element headlights, LED signature lights, front fascia, LED taillights and rear fascia. The Camaro is offered in multiple trim levels and all are available as either a coupe or a convertible. In keeping with its muscle-car heritage, the current Camaro has a range of powerful engines; the current chart-topper is a supercharged 650-horsepower 6.2-liter V8 powerplant in the Camaro ZL1.
Making its debut on January 1, 1966, the Charger had a Dodge Coronet chassis but its own body style — the brand’s first fastback, built as a high-speed street racer. The unique design evolved from the Charger II concept car shown a year earlier, featuring hidden headlights and four buckets seats. Standard power came from a 5.2-liter V8 engine with 230 ponies, but a massive optional 426 cubic-inch HEMI engine boasting 425 horsepower and 490 lb-ft of torque really put Charger on the map. Sales were not tremendous in the first few years of production, so in 1968 the Charger was restyled, greatly improving the muscle car’s popularity and eventually becoming one of the most historic Chargers. By the late 1970s the Charger had become more luxury car than performance machine, and in 1982 the Charger had a brief run as a small front-wheel-drive coupe before ending production in 1987.
Dodge Charger Today
The Charger returned to the Dodge lineup in 2006 as a 4-door sedan, carrying some styling cues of those original muscle cars and offering a powerful V8 engine. Today’s Charger is still a large 4-door sedan with sporty styling and a comfortable, spacious interior. Replete with plenty of high-tech features, Charger is available with an 8.4-inch touchscreen display, electric power steering, pushbutton start and a high-end audio system. And in keeping with tradition, Charger has powerful engine choices including the R/T Scat Pack with a 485-horsepower 6.4-liter HEMI V8, or the latest entry: the SRT Hellcat Redeye with a supercharged 6.2-liter HEMI V8 producing a mind-blowing 797 horsepower. With a top speed of more than 200 mph, the Hellcat Redeye is the most powerful mass-produced sedan in the world.
On April 17, 1964, Ford showed its Mustang for the first time at the World’s Fair in Flushing Meadows, New York. The original sales forecast for this new sporty coupe was 100,000 units in the first year. With its popular styling and low price of $2,368, Ford sold that many Mustangs in three months. Four different engines were available at launch, ranging from a 170-cubic-inch six cylinder making 101 horsepower to the classic 289 cubic-inch V8 with 271 horsepower. For the next nine years Ford continued to iterate on the Mustang with fresh styling, more powerful engines and special versions that included the Mach 1 and Boss 302. Like many models in the mid-1970s, the Mustang succumbed to the need for fuel efficiency and became the less powerful Mustang II. However, potent V8-powered Mustangs eventually returned, with classic Mustang styling making a comeback on the 5th generation in 2005.
Ford Mustang Today
The latest-generation Mustang debuted for 2015 with a lower, wider stance; a lower roof height; wider rear fenders and a wider track. For 2018 the Mustang received updated styling with a lower hood, wider grille and new front splitter designed to create what Ford calls “a meaner, leaner look.” While Ford has added a range of powerful turbocharged 4-cylinder engines to the mix, the Mustang GT still gets a proper V8 engine producing 460 horsepower. For those seeking ultimate performance there’s the Shelby GT350 and GT500 — the latter boasting a supercharged V8 grinding out a prodigious 760 horsepower.
The Malibu debuted in 1964 as the top variant of the Chevrolet Chevelle lineup, offering a combination of a sporty design and a high level of standard equipment. Popular right from the start, the new model sold a total of 200,000 units in its first year. Chevrolet offered the Malibu in four body styles during the first generation: a 2-door hardtop, a 2-door convertible, a 4-door sedan and a station wagon. The Detroit automaker also offered a Malibu SS that eventually would be available with a big-block 396-cubic-inch 375-horsepower V8 powerplant. The Malibu carried its muscle-car looks into its second generation, but by the mid-1970s the convertible had been dropped and the car became more family-oriented. After four generations Malibu took a break, returning in 1997 as a front-wheel-drive sedan.
Chevrolet Malibu Today
In 2016 Chevrolet introduced a 9th-generation Malibu that featured a sleek new exterior design intended to catch the attention of midsize sedan buyers. The front-wheel drive sedan was lighter than the previous generation and was available with multiple engine choices including a 250-horsepower turbo as well as a fuel-efficient hybrid powertrain. In 2019 Chevrolet gave the Malibu fresh new styling, a range of upgraded features and introduced the Malibu RS, which stands out with a black sport grille, black bowtie emblems, a rear spoiler, dual exhaust and 18-inch machined wheels.
Designed as a 4-seat replacement for the Porsche 356, the 911 debuted as a prototype at the 1963 Frankfurt Motor Show. Originally named the 901, the moniker had to be revised to 911 after Peugeot insisted 901 was too similar to their naming convention. On sale for the 1964 model year, the 911 was motivated by an air-cooled 1.9-liter flat 6-cylinder engine making 130 horsepower — enough to give the new sports car a top speed of 131 mph. Within a few years, Porsche introduced the 160-horsepower 911S, as well as the 911 Targa. Ten years later the 911 received its first major overhaul, and that second generation lasted longer than any other — until 1989. There would be five more generations of innovations, including all-wheel drive, turbocharging and great leaps in performance, all leading up to the current generation that debuted in 2019.
Porsche 911 Today
The Porsche 911 has carried the same basic shape since the first generation premiered at the Frankfurt Motor Show more than 50 years ago, and folks at Porsche remain locked on that look. For 2020 the 911 moves into its eighth generation with the latest technology, more power, better performance and a more muscular look — at the same time remaining as familiar as that first-generation car. Known as the 992, the latest-generation 911 gets updated styling that is wider and more aggressive. The front is about 1.7 inches wider, while the newly-developed headlights are inset into the fenders. Available as a coupe or convertible and with rear- or all-wheel drive, the new 911 Carrera gets a 379-horsepower turbocharged engine. The 911 lineup recently expanded thanks to an all-new 2021 Porsche 911 Turbo S that has 640 horsepower and the ability to reach 60 mph in a mere 2.6 seconds.
Alfa Romeo Giulia
The original Alfa Romeo Giulia was a sporty 4-door sedan produced from 1962 to 1978. Founded in Milan, Italy in 1910, Alfa Romeo developed a rich racing history including five World Championships and 11 European Championships. With the Giulia, Alfa Romeo was one of the first manufacturers to offer a powerful engine in a lightweight 4-door car, creating one of the first sport sedans. The original Giulia was a rear-wheel-drive sedan powered by a 90-horsepower 1.6-liter inline 4-cylinder engine with a 5-speed manual transmission. A total of 572,646 Giulias were produced during its 16-year run, and today Alfa Romeo aficionados highly regard the original Alfa Romeo Giulia, along with the Giulietta Coupe and Convertible of the same era.
Alfa Romeo Giulia Today
Alfa Romeo’s sport sedan returned to the U.S. market a few years ago, offered in six trim levels ranging from Giulia base to the high-performance Quadrifoglio. The Giulia draws power from a 2.0-liter turbocharged 4-cylinder engine producing 280 horsepower and 306 lb-ft of torque. Although Giulia is not offered with a manual gearbox, the 8-speed automatic transmission shifts in a very quick 100 milliseconds. The top-line Giulia Quadrifoglio gets a 2.9-liter bi-turbo V6 engine rated at an impressive 505 horsepower and 443 lb-ft of torque, which is available as low as 2500 rpm, making this the most powerful production car ever from Alfa Romeo. The Quadrifoglio sprints to 60 mph in a mere 3.8 seconds on its way to a top speed of 191 mph. The Giulia Quadrifoglio lapped the famed Nurburgring racetrack in 7:32, making it one of the fastest 5-occupant production sedans in the world.
The original Mini Cooper was the brainchild of Alec Issigonis — an engineer with the Morris company — who had the daunting task of designing a small, fuel-efficient but affordable car that could carry four passengers. By pushing the wheels to the corners and turning the engine sideways, Issigonis maximized interior space while at the same time created a car with excellent balance and handling. When the car was first launched the public wasn’t sure what to make of the tiny machine, but the small size, low price and fun-to-drive nature made the Mini an instant hit. Shortly after the Mini’s introduction, British racing legend John Cooper got his hands on one. After giving it a more powerful engine, bigger brakes and sport tuning, the Mini became a race car. By 1977 more than 4 million Minis had been sold worldwide, and in 1999 the last classic Mini rolled off the assembly line.
MINI Cooper Today
Considerably larger than the original version, the current MINI is still one of the smallest cars on the market. And like that original, the MINI is still front-wheel drive, fuel efficient and great fun to drive. MINI returned to the U.S. market in 2002 and has since expanded the range to include the Convertible, Clubman and Countryman. To honor the British racer who realized the potential of the diminutive car, MINI offers high-performance John Cooper Works editions, including the latest MINI JCW GP that produces more than 300 horsepower. And though MINI always honors its past, the brand also looks to the future with its latest model, the fully electric Cooper SE.
Chevrolet introduced the Impala in 1958 as the top-level trim of the Bel Air. Available as a hardtop or convertible, the Impala proved to be quite popular — so much so that the following year Impala became its own model line. That year almost 500,000 Impalas sold, making it America’s best-selling model. In 1961 Chevrolet premiered a new generation and introduced the Super Sport (SS) with a 409-cubic inch V8 under the hood. Impala received many redesigns over the years and was finally discontinued in 1985. The Impala name had a brief comeback in 1994 as the Chevrolet Caprice-based Impala SS. The Impala SS was slightly lower and meaner looking than the standard Caprice, powered by 260-horsepower 5.7-liter V8 engine. The Impala SS only lasted until 1996, and the famous name went dark once again.
Chevrolet Impala Today
The current version of the Impala — introduced for the 2014 model year — is the tenth generation to be sold since the model premiered in 1958, and the third generation since the name returned. One of the few full-size sedans left on the U. S. market, Impala is available with the latest high-tech features including active noise cancellation, 4G LTE wireless connectivity, adaptive cruise control, forward collision alert, a rearview camera and Apple CarPlay / Android Auto. Power comes from either a standard 197-horsepower 2.5-liter engine with start/stop technology, or a 305-horsepower 3.6-liter V6 that comes standard on the top-level Premier trim. Unfortunately, the 2020 model year could be the end of this time-honored nameplate — earlier this year the final Impala rolled of the assembly line.
The Fiat Nuova (new) 500 was designed to develop and revamp Fiat’s product range following the devastation of World War II. The small Cinquecento (Italian for “500”) delivered on its mission to provide efficient, affordable transportation during Italy’s period of rebuilding and economic recovery. Introduced in July of 1957, the 500 was less than 10-feet long and had space for two. The small 2-cylinder engine provided a modest 13 horsepower, but the 500 was just what the public and Fiat needed — almost 4 million 500s sold before production ended in 1975.
Fiat 500 Today
In 2001 Fiat returned to market with a contemporary version of the 500, and while it pays homage to that tiny, efficient original, the new subcompact 500 is thoroughly modern. Combining Italian styling with efficiency and technology, the 500 was offered in both coupe and convertible versions, as well as the all-electric 500e; however, 2019 was the last year for these two tiny offerings. The Fiat 500 will live on as the 5-passenger 500L and all-wheel-drive 500X crossover. The 500L is motivated by a 160-horsepower version of the turbocharged 1.4-liter MultiAir engine, while the 500X gets a bit more power from its 1.3-liter turbocharged powerplant.
Chrysler first introduced the 300 in 1955, and with the debut of that high-performance 4-seater some would say the idea of the muscle car was born. Over the next 10 years, Chrysler would bring to market a range of 300s now referred to as the “letter series,” starting with that first 300 and continuing on with the 300B, 300C, 300D — a new letter every year with the final 300L in 1965. These special Chryslers were among the fastest production cars on the road, equipped with the latest in luxury features. A 300M followed the 300L, but it was 34 years later and the front-wheel-drive sedan had little in common with those original 300s. In 2005 Chrysler introduced a new 300 (no letter) that returned to its roots of a large, luxurious and powerful sedan with rear-wheel drive, available with a 345-horsepower HEMI V8.
Chrysler 300 Today
The current Chrysler 300 has aged well if not gracefully, with only freshened styling and updated features since its introduction in 2005. One of the last large rear-wheel-drive American sedans, the 300 has a roomy, premium interior equipped with the latest Uconnect infotainment system and a large 8.4-inch display screen, as well as Apple CarPlay / Android Auto connectivity. Available with rear- or all-wheel drive, the 300 can still be equipped with a 5.7-liter HEMI V8 engine producing 363 horsepower.
Toyota Land Cruiser
Originally developed in the early 1950s as a military vehicle and alternative to the Jeep for the Korean War, the Land Cruiser was the first motorized vehicle to reach the sixth station on the trail to the summit of Mt. Fuji. Toyota’s iconic off-roader arrived on American shores in 1958 and rapidly became the best-selling Toyota in the U.S. Initially Land Cruiser was available with a soft- or hardtop, and a few years later a Land Cruiser pickup hit the streets. After several iterations over the years, the Land Cruiser that we know in America became more of a family-friendly SUV yet still a fully-capable off-roader.
Toyota Land Cruiser Today
The current Land Cruiser retains the off-road capability of that first version — enhanced by the latest traction and stability systems. But Land Cruiser has become a fully-featured luxury SUV; in fact, there are no factory options — everything is standard. In addition to its off-road suspension and advanced 4-wheel-drive system, the 8-occupant Land Cruiser features leather seats with multistage heating, 4-zone climate control, a cooler in the center console, a high-end audio system with Toyota Entune, and several advanced safety features. For 2020 a special Heritage Edition of the Land Cruiser is available with unique styling and features.
When Chevrolet introduced the Corvette in 1953, no one could have anticipated how much of an icon this 2-seat sports car would become. Only a few hundred were built that first year, but the car was already special since it was the only American 2-seater on the market at the time, and it utilized a revolutionary new material called fiberglass. The first Corvettes were powered by a rather anemic “Blue Flame” 6-cylinder engine that produced 150 horsepower. Two years later the Corvette received a more powerful V8 engine — it would never be offered with a 6-cylinder powerplant again. Over the next several decades not only would there be seven generations of Corvette, but this now iconic sports car would have considerable racing success.
Chevrolet Corvette Today
After years of rumors about a mid-engine Corvette, Chevrolet introduced the eighth generation of this legendary sports car last year, and it is the first mid-engine Corvette in history. Still recognizable as a Corvette despite new styling, the all-new Stingray boasts better weight distribution, vastly improved performance and a high-tech cockpit. The C8 Corvette Stingray launched with the all-new LT2 6.2-liter V8 engine that produces 490 horsepower and 465 lb-ft of torque. Chevrolet does not offer the new Corvette with a manual transmission — instead, the engine gets paired with Chevrolet’s first 8-speed dual-clutch transmission. This combination allows the Stingray to jump to 60 mph in 3 seconds — the fastest time ever for an entry-level Corvette — and complete a quarter-mile run in 11.2 seconds at 123 mph.
Bentley built its first grand tourer shortly after the company was founded in 1921. Over the next 30 years the grand tourer evolved into luxurious, stately automobiles. After WWII, Bentley began experimenting with more streamlined designs, and in 1952 the company introduced the R-Type Continental. Designed with a long, low body, fastback roofline and fins on the rear wings to aid stability, it was able to easily cruise at 100 mph with four occupants — a stunning feat in 1952. Forty years later Bentley introduced the all-new Continental R at the Geneva Motor Show. At that time Rolls-Royce and Bentley were combined companies; however, the Continental R was the first model of the era that didn’t share a body with a Rolls-Royce. Following the same idea behind those first Continentals, Bentley introduced a modern high-performance Continental GT in 2003 that would change the face of the company for years to come.
Bentley Continental Today
The current Bentley Continental GT is in its third generation, which was introduced at the 2017 Frankfurt Motor Show. Although the general shape of the Continental GT remains familiar, the body lines are more sculpted with better definition, and up front a larger grille with stylish headlights adds to the new look. The interior is as elegant as one would expect from this legendary British marque, with the highest-quality materials and “diamond-in-diamond” quilted leather seats with 20 power adjustments, as well as heating, cooling and massage functions. The Continental GT can even be fitted with a Naim 2200-watt, 18-speaker system with Active Bass Transducers built into the front seats. Proper Bentley power comes from either a twin-turbo V8 or a 6.0-liter W12 engine producing 626 horsepower.
This small 2-door, rear-engine car first came to market in Germany in 1938, but didn’t arrive in America until 1949 — after WWII. Two Beetles were shipped to New York City (and subsequently sold) by Ben Pon, Sr. — the world’s first official Volkswagen importer. Beetle sales were off to a slow start in America, but in 1958 the convertible arrived, boosting interest in the small German car. The original Beetle was sold in America until 1977, when the car no longer met increasingly stringent safety and emissions standards. By the time the original Beetle ended production in 2003, more than 21 million had been built.
Volkswagen Beetle Today
The contemporary Volkswagen Beetle is designed as a modern interpretation of Volkswagen’s most iconic model, but with the engine and drive wheels up front. The New Beetle joined the Volkswagen lineup for 1998, and a convertible version joined the party for the 2003 model year. The Beetle (sans “New”) was refreshed in 2017 with a revised exterior featuring more aggressive front and rear bumpers with chrome accents, and in 2019 Volkswagen announced the end of this beloved icon. The last of the third-generation Beetles rolled off the assembly line in early July of 2019, ending more than 60 years of Beetles in America. A special Beetle Final Edition was available, painted in Safari Uni or Stonewashed Blue — matching the beige and blue colors available on the last version of what most folks consider the classic Beetle. Beetle fans have no reason to fear; surely the nameplate will rise again.
Ford Motor Company began building trucks back in 1917, and the F-Series debuted as a 1948 model — the first all-new postwar vehicle line for Ford — with a redesigned cab and a new front end. The new trucks offered three new engines, a more comfortable seat and a one-piece windshield. The F-Series came in a wide range of cab and chassis configurations, from the half-ton F-1 through the 3-ton F-8. By 1957 the F-Series design took on a more modern style and offered 4-wheel drive as an option on the F-100 and F-250. Midway through the fourth generation in 1965 Ford introduced the first 4-door crew cab for the F-250. It wasn’t until 1984 that Ford dropped the F-100 designation, introducing the F-150. Ford continued to evolve the F-Series over a total of 12 generations through 2014.
Ford F-Series Today
Now in its 13th generation, the F-Series has evolved into a high-tech machine that spans the spectrum from work truck to luxury transportation. The F-Series is also Ford’s most important product — the line has been the best-selling new vehicle in America for almost 40 consecutive years. The current-generation F-150 was introduced in 2015, and last year Ford’s light-duty truck received exterior design updates throughout the model lineup, as well as a new fuel-efficient 3.0-liter Power Stroke V6 diesel engine. Ford introduced an all-new Super Duty truck in 2017, and for 2020 the big truck also receives a number of updates. With a new Power Stroke diesel V8, the heavy-duty truck boasts a class-leading maximum towing capacity of 37,000 pounds. An all-new 2021 Ford F-150 with updated styling, more capability and a range of new features will arrive in showrooms during the latter part of 2020.
A one-off design based on the Lincoln Zephyr, the original Lincoln Continental was built for Edsel Ford to drive while on vacation in Florida during 1939. This luxury model garnered plenty of attention and the Continental went into production in 1939 — mostly cabriolets, but a few coupes as well. Over the years the Continental name has served in different roles, from the top trim to entry level. In 1956 the Lincoln Continental Mark II launched Continental as a separate division. As the most expensive car ever produced by Ford, the Mark II only lasted for two years when Continental subsequently merged back with Lincoln. Lincoln Continental models were in production from 1958 until Lincoln discontinued the Continental after the 2002 model year.
Lincoln Continental Today
The Continental returned to the Lincoln lineup in 2017 as the flagship of Ford’s luxury brand with a focus on quiet luxury and elegance. Lincoln designers worked to create a soothing, relaxed experience for all occupants, enhanced by available Perfect Position seats that can be adjusted up to 30 different ways with heating, cooling and available massage functions. The rear seats offer available adjustable recline, heating, cooling and massage as well. The outside door handles are an interesting and unique design element, moved from the traditional position in the door to the chrome trim below the windows and operated by a microprocessor-controlled E-latch. For 2020 Lincoln is paying homage to the iconic 1960s Continental with a limited Coach Door edition featuring rear-hinged rear doors, often referred to as suicide doors. Unfortunately, Ford announced production of the current Continental will end after the 2020 model year.
Surprisingly, the Chevrolet Suburban has been sold longer than any other American-branded vehicle. After experimenting with affixing a wagon body to a commercial chassis, Chevrolet launched the Suburban Carryall in 1935 as a heavy-duty truck-based wagon. With seating for up to eight occupants, the 2-door Suburban could be equipped with side-hinged rear panel doors or a tailgate. Power came from Chevrolet’s “Stovebolt” 6-cylinder engine producing 60 horsepower. After a major overhaul in 1955 with revolutionary new styling, Suburban was equipped with its first V8 engine; two years later came the first factory-installed 4-wheel-drive system. Suburban continued to evolve through multiple generations, and in 2010 a special edition celebrated the big SUV’s 75th anniversary.
Chevrolet Suburban Today
The Suburban has come a long way since that original Carryall, and this large American SUV is all-new for the 2021 model year. The new Suburban gets fresh styling inside and out, built on a new longer chassis designed to provide a more spacious interior, larger cargo capacity and improved driving dynamics. A wide range of advanced safety features are standard, and the interior gets the latest in infotainment technology. Multiple powertrains are available including a more powerful V8 as well as a new Duramax turbodiesel engine. The new Suburban will arrive in showrooms later in 2020.
Introduced in late 1906 during an era when the company built only one model line at a time, the Silver Ghost was the only Rolls-Royce produced until 1925. Quite advanced compared to other models, the Silver Ghost featured pressurized engine lubrication, dual ignition and advanced carburation that provide smooth power delivery as well as great reliability. The Silver Ghost’s abilities were proven in 1907 when it completed a 15,000-mile reliability trial. Improvements continued to be made over the years — ultimately almost 8,000 Silver Ghosts would be built.
Rolls-Royce Ghost Today
Rolls-Royce did not use the Ghost name on a new vehicle until 2009, when the all-new Ghost debuted at the Frankfurt Motor Show. Considered the “entry-level” model of the Rolls-Royce lineup, the Ghost became the brand’s most successful model ever. Now an all-new Ghost has been introduced for the 2021 model year with plans to expand this time-honored model’s success. The new Ghost gets built on Rolls-Royce’s aluminum spaceframe architecture, allowing engineers to place the engine behind the front axle. The new design also adopts all-wheel drive, all-wheel steering and a new suspension system. Still easily recognizable as a Rolls, the new Ghost features a larger Pantheon grille with accent lighting, as well as an illuminated dashboard that displays starlight to match the Starlight Headliner. The new Ghost arrives early next year.
The Rolls-Royce Phantom — called the New Phantom at the time — was introduced as a replacement for the Silver Ghost. Between 1925 and 1931 this elegant motorcar was produced both in Derby, England as well as in Springfield, Massachusetts, where the company had recently started building vehicles. Powered by a 7.7-liter 6-cylinder engine that made up to 50 horsepower, the New Phantom was typically paired with one of the coachbuilders of the time, so there were many different configurations. There would be a Phantom II and Phantom III, the latter being the last pre-war car built by Rolls and the only Phantom at the time to be powered by a V12 engine. There would eventually be six generations of Phantom before BMW took ownership of the brand in 1998; however, the last three generations were built in small numbers. The Phantom was the first new Rolls-Royce produced under BMW, arriving late in 2003.
Rolls-Royce Phantom Today
In 2018 the eighth-generation of Rolls-Royce Phantom debuted, taking the idea of a luxury sedan to the extreme. Easily recognizable as the Rolls-Royce flagship, the most recent Phantom possesses an imposing presence that is unapologetically elegant; and while there is nothing subtle about this car, at the same time it is extremely refined. Built on a new all-aluminum architecture developed and engineered to incorporate the latest technologies, this eighth-generation Phantom is lighter, stiffer and quieter than previous generation. Under the long hood purrs a 6.75-liter twin-turbo V12 engine that produces 563 horsepower with a focus on low-end power for smooth, quiet operation. Inside, occupants get surrounded by the finest materials available in any automobile, underscored by each of the four doors closing automatically with the touch of a button.