I’m always interested in old iron. It’s nice to think about how good the old days were! These cars are the ones that have changed the automotive market significantly in various ways. Many of them have also changed the economy of many countries.
- Original Mini Cooper: James Bond, 24 Hours of Le Mans podium finishes, rally wins, etc. I’ll bet you that you can’t think of another British car that has sold more than 5 million units before it got redesigned in 2000. Yep, it sold 5 million cars worldwide from 1959-2000. The original design was sketched on a bar napkin in 1957 by Alec Issigonis.
- Porsche 911: No sports car has stuck it’s tongue out at Sir Isaac Newton for 49 years other than the Porsche 911. Some may argue that the Corvette holds that title, but the Corvette was already 11 years old when the 911 came out. Some people may tell you that the 1998-present 911 isn’t a 911. Why? Because it’s not air-cooled. Just because Porsche switched to water-cooling in 1998 doesn’t mean that the 911 isn’t a 911. You could park a 2013 model next to a 1964 model and a kindergartener could tell you that they are both a Porsche 911. Warning: If you like the 911, good for you. Get one. Soon. Once you get a passion for the 911, it’s nearly impossible to get rid of it. Just ask any 911 owner.
- 1989 Lexus LS400: This Japanese luxury car made such a large impact on the luxury car market when it debuted in 1989 that it sent all the other luxury car brands scrambling for the drawing boards. It even kicked Maserati out of North America for 15 years! Alfa Romeo hasn’t sold an Alfa Romeo since 1991. That’s how good the 1989 Lexus LS400 was. Owners got a car that looked like a combination of all the European competitors (it looked classy, to say the least), and performance that rivaled a Ford Mustang’s. When you go to a dealership with excellent service, thank the 1989 Lexus LS400. The LS400 had a seamless v8 powertrain that would give power to redline, and the list of amenities still rivals that of many luxury brands. Plus, it’s relatively cheap price ($35,000) brought middle-class buyers to the showrooms like never before. To this day, no car has matched the 1989 Lexus LS400 in terms of the hit it made on the automotive world.
- Ford Mustang: Few sports cars have made such a large impact on the sports car market as the Ford Mustang. While the original stock Mustangs may have not been serious rivals to its European competitors, the Shelby-tuned Mustangs could whip a Jaguar E-Type just about anywhere. As the Mustang has progressed, the Mustang has appealed to a larger audience with each generation. It’s one of those cars that gets better with each generation. Kind of like my family…
- Honda Civic: When Honda first started making the tiny Civic in 1962, it was about the same size as a SMART ForTwo. Okay, that’s a bit of an exaggeration, but it wasn’t much bigger. However, it was reliable, cheap, economical, cute, and fun to drive. It was the perfect car for many crowded American cities like Los Angeles, Washington D.C., and San Francisco. My uncle had one (banana yellow, four-speed manual), and he LOVED it! To this day, no compact car has been so successful other than the Mini Cooper in North America. Today, the seventh-generation Civic is frugal, good-looking, okay to drive, and economical. Honda obviously likes to stick with their formulas.
- Volkswagen Beetle: The cute little VW was the brainchild of the founder of Porsche, Ferdinand Porsche. Adolf Hitler commissioned a car in 1935 that would be affordable to all Germans. Thus, the VW bug was born. Hitler himself had one in his personal collection, but it was stolen by fleeing Nazis (or so the story goes). The car stuck with the same formula until 2003, when the Beetle became the New Beetle. In 2012, the Volkswagen Beetle was reborn. Not the chintzy New Beetle, a bigger, better Beetle.
- Chevrolet Corvette: Before the Ford Mustang was even a dream in Lee Iacocca’s mind, the Chevrolet Corvette was unveiled at the 1953 GM Motorama. Sit back for a second and imagine that the Corvette was never here. Zora Arkus-Duntov would be an illegal attempt to win Scrabble, the closest thing to the Corvette would be the Jaguar XK150 or the Mercedes-Benz 190SL. But, the Corvette prevails, and may be more American than pie. Just maybe.
- Chrysler Town & Country: While rumors float around about the Chrysler Town & Country not being around for the next generation, there may be no need to doubt. The Chrysler Town & Country has been an icon in the name of the automobile since 1982. Lee Iacocca had yet another dream, and the minivan was born. It was a good thing that it came into being. Why? Because growing families had a couple of gas-guzzling choices: A full-size sedan, or a Chevy Suburban. Now that the iconic Chrysler Town & Country is here, it is here. To stay. It remains a best-seller in the minivan market (worldwide), and it’s a legend. We own one. I dare you to think of somebody you know who owns one.
- Volkswagen GTi: Volkswagen, listen up, and listen carefully – when two of your iconic cars sell more than 50 million units worldwide, they both deserve to be on this list. The Volkswagen GTi was the world’s first real pocket rocket. Some may argue that the Mini Cooper holds that title, which it might, but the GTi has sold more units than the Mini. 29,000 more, to be exact. The GTi is considered to be one of the most successful cars that started in the 1980s and is still here to tell the tale.
- Toyota Camry: One of the first Japanese family sedans to rival the large American family sedans was the Toyota Camry. People say that Toyota’s last forever. Nothing does, except for energy. But, Toyota’s are some of the most popular cars in the world, so it should make sense that they last a long time. The Toyota Camry is just one of those cars that keeps improving with each generation. Except for this current generation – the current generation failed IIHS testing (I dare you a subscription to Motor Trend to go onto YouTube and look up “IIHS Toyota Camry”)! Ironic for a car that’s supposed to be very safe.
What are your top ten postwar cars? Sound off in the comment section.