ICONS – Part 1


.Models That Have Stood The Test of Time


Michael Schlee

Everywhere in life there are icons. They can be found in movies, music, business, sports, and yes, even the automotive world. Automotive icons are a rare breed. They represent more then just a model line for their manufacturer.

Car Icons represent a manufacturer’s ideals, technology, passion and purpose. Okay, that may be overstating things a bit, but for the most part it is true.

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

Ford Mustang Shelby GT500

So what qualifies as car as an Icon? Many great cars have come and gone in North America over the years, such as the Countach, Viper, Supra, Chevelle, Cobra, etc. But the question is, were they truly icons? Great cars, yes; amazing cars even, but true long lasting icons? They were all important during their time in history, but for one reason or another, they were all discontinued. Also, being that we live in North America, we are only dealing with icons that made it to our shores.

To be a true icon, I feel 4 stipulations must be met:

1. The model needs to have stood the test of time. I am speaking of models that have been around for decades, not just a few years. No flash in the pan models here.

2. The model needs to have not deviated from its original formula. Classic nameplates like Malibu, Charger and Impala may still be on sale today, but they have gone through many different interpretations over the years.

3. The model needs to still be on sale as of today. There have been other iconic cars in the past such as the Trans Am, original Beetle, 2CV and original Mini, but their time has come and gone.

4. The car needs to stir your soul. There are many other models that have been in production for what seems like forever. Vehicles such as the Civic, F-150, Corolla, Suburban, etc. However, these vehicles are missing that certain mystique and allure that true icons generate.

Do do the immense size of this topic, I had to split it up into two sections.  So here are the first 5 model lines that truly are iconic.   Part two of the post can be found here ICONS – Part 2

 Aston Martin DB Series:

Aston Martin DB5

Aston Martin DB5

The first DB, call the 2-Litre Sports (DB1) was produced in 1948.  Over the next 24 years 6 more DB models were produced.  Even though there was a 21 year hiatus (1972-1993), the DB series has been in production for 40 years combined now.   Power front engines, sporty chassis’s, and some of the most handsome bodywork ever created have always been these cars strong points.  Just ask James Bond.

BMW 3-Series:



What is quite possibly the quintessential sport sedan; the 3-series has been around for 34 years now.  Starting life as the 2002 in 1975, the 3 Series has always stuck to the same formula.  Luxurious appointments, a willing chassis, compact inline engines and comparably low weight have kept this car an enthusiast favourite for decades.  It has also achieved great racing success.

Chevrolet Camaro:

Chevrolet Camaro

Chevrolet Camaro

It is unusual for a manufacture to have two long lasting iconic cars, but Chevrolet does.  The Camaro has always been the budget muscle car.  It has always represented a cheaper way to get near Corvette performance and has been a long time favourite of budget racers.  Names like SS and Z-28 are synonymous with the Camaro and have helped make it a legend.  Even though there was a 7 year hiatus recently, it is now back and is currently in its 36th year of production.

Chevrolet Corvette:

Chevrolet Corvette

Chevrolet Corvette

What needs to be said about the Corvette that hasn’t been said before?  It has been around for 55 years, never deviated from its original purpose or design, and is currently better then it has ever been before.  Who cares if it has leaf springs, a pushrod motor and a fibre glass body?  The ZR1 will spank almost every European and Japanese performance vehicle thrown at it around a track; and for a much cheaper price.  This is part of the reason it has had such a storied racing career.

Ford Mustang:

Ford Mustang Bullitt

Ford Mustang Bullitt

The Ford Mustang is arguably right up there with the Corvette as the most recognizable American made car.  Its legacy in North America has been uninterrupted for the past 45 years (as long as you count the Mustang II days).  This car has stuck to its affordable roots of high horsepower motors driving a solid rear axle.  Always a best seller for Ford, the Mustang continues to roll through 2010 with a fresh redesign and even more powerful GT500 package.

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