Models That Have Stood The Test of Time
This is a continuation of the previous post ICONS – Part 1. To summarize, 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.
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, where 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.
Mazda RX Cars:
Mazda’s rotary powered vehicles first started to appear on North American shores in the late 1960s. Although the RX-2, RX-4 and RX-5 all featured the Rotary engine, it was the sportier version that made it a legend. The iconic names associated with the Rotary engine are RX-3 (1972-1978), RX-7 (1979-1995) and more recently the RX-8 (2004+). The light weight, high power motors have been a favourite for enthusiasts and racers for decades. 30+ years and the RX cars are still going strong.
Mercedes has been a defining brand in the Grand Touring segment for over a half century now. Sticking to this simple formula has served them well. Put one big torquey motor up front, power the rear wheels of a 2 door coupe, stuff it full of every luxury option available. From the legendary Gullwing 300SL to the awesome SL65 AMG Black Series, Mercedes has always made coupes people aspire to. I mean, who wouldn’t want 738lb-ft of torque in their daily driver?
Nissan Z Cars:
The original 240Z appeared in 1969. Nissan introduced a cheap, powerful, luxurious coupe that could handle with the best of them. Almost anyone could afford it allowing the 240Z to become a sales success in North America. Over the years the power and performance of these cars increased. Unfortunately so did the price. This helped seal the Z’s fate in 1996. However, after a 7 year absence a new interpretation of the Z reappeared in 2003. This car has continued to improve and made the current 370Z what its predecessor was 40 years ago, a relative performance bargain.
This is quite possibly thee most recognizable car in the world. Nothing else is ever mistaken for a 911. Even someone with next to no knowledge of automobiles can recognize one. Since 1964 the 911 has kept to its roots featuring a ‘Flat’ engine placed behind the rear axle all packaged inside a ‘bathtub’ shaped body. In fact, more so then any other vehicle on this list, place a year one 911 beside a 2009 911 and the family resemblance is unmistakable. With more worldwide racing wins then another model in history, why would you want to change anything?
Volkswagen Golf GTI:
Many may argue that this vehicle does not deserve to be on the list. I disagree. This is one of the most important cars as far as recent trends go. This is the original Hot Hatch, Import Tuner, Pocket Rocket, etc. It came out 2 decades before the fast and furious craze, and has lived on past it. The formula Volkswagen came up with in 1976 was simply; take a compact hatchback, stuff a powerful front-wheel-drive engine into it, tweak the chassis to sports car level handling, and viola, a budget racer. It’s been so successful that the Golf GTI hasn’t deviated from this formula in over 30 years.