These old cars still look modern today
Cars are a product of their time, just the natural result of the ever-changing nature of the automotive industry. With countless trends to follow, automakers change their style codes every two years, introducing facelifts that keep their cars modern and ahead of the style curve, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse.
But overall, each decade has its own style of styling and design language, allowing cars of each period to be easily identified as products of their era. An ’80s offset car will always be distinctly’ 80s, just as the curvy, flowing styling defines cars of the 2020s.
But that’s not a hard and fast rule, and many manufacturers can and do design a car that still looks new over a decade later. While older cars (defined as 25 years of age or older) will always be identifiable as vintage, cars that are older, but have not yet achieved vintage status can be considered ahead of their time, predicting whether well modern style trends, or have a distinct style that remains unique to this day, that most people will think is brand new.
So read on, to see 10 cars that are at least 15 years old, but look like they could be sold new in showrooms.
2005 Alfa Romeo Brera
Released in 2005, the Alfa Romeo Brera was a magnificent sports coupe that we unfortunately never had in North America.
Developing a respectable 260 horsepower, the 2006 Alfa Romeo Brera is relatively fast and quite sporty. But, sporty features aside, the Brera outperforms almost any car it competed with in modern car styling. Designed by the legendary Giorgetto Giugiaro, the Brera has aged incredibly for a 15 year old car. Not to mention looking modern today, the sleek and sleek shape of the Brera is better and newer than most new cars today.
2005 Porsche 911 Carrera
From 2005, the Porsche 911 ditched its egg yellow headlights that were previously found on the 996 generation and updated the car in the 997 generation.
True to the mantra of ‘evolution rather than revolution’, Porsche makes subtle changes to the 911 when it is updated, rather than completely changing the car. Thanks to this philosophy, each generation of Carrera is easily identifiable as such, with the generation differences being minor compared to other cars. Result: At first glance, there is no way to tell that a 2005 997 is a 15 year old car.
2001 Lotus Elise
When you reach the top of a unique design philosophy, little change is needed to stay modern. A fine example of this is the Lotus Elise. Designed to be the ultimate track-ready lightweight sports car, the Lotus Elise is almost timeless.
While the first generation has a dated style, the second, which started in 2001, did the design so well that it looks new today. It’s thanks to those lavish body lines, predicting the sinuous shapes that define new cars today, as well as a sporty determination that stays the same over time. Park a 2001 Elise at an auto show, and not many people will know it’s a 19-year-old car.
2003 Bentley Continental
A modern classic in the luxury car world, the Bentley Continental is an iconic British beast that is both powerful and lavishly luxurious.
Undergoing a brand redesign in 2003, Bentley was acquired by Volkswagen and introduced a new design philosophy for their cars. This design style remains to this day, and when combined with the Continental’s subtle elegance, it looks like a modern car to this day, defying the 17 years that have passed since its debut.
2004 Aston Martin DB9
Some of the finest sports cars of each year in production, Aston Martin is as good as British luxury sports cars. Introduced in 2004, the DB9 was produced until 2016 with several revisions and facelifts along the way.
Even 16 years later, and the first iteration of the DB9 is still a beautiful and timeless design. With plunging curves and understated styling, the DB9 didn’t lean on trends, but rather on objectively beautiful styling, allowing it to age beautifully.
2003 Rolls Royce Phantom
The pinnacle of luxury and luxury luxury cars, Rolls Royce is synonymous with understated luxury and subtle elegance.
With this emphasis on subtlety rather than pure luxury, the Rolls Royce Phantom has remained an almost perfect design, remaining relatively unchanged for nearly 2 decades of production. With only minor details like fog lights to distinguish the old from the new, a 2003 Phantom is as modern as a 17-year-old can be, a testament to the timeless luxury that Rolls Royce exudes.
2001 Mini Cooper
A Mini Cooper and a Rolls Royce Phantom have one thing in common: they are British icons brought to life in modern form by BMW. Drawing inspiration from vintage origins, the Mini Cooper draws most of its styling from the iconic original Mini.
True to this philosophy, the Mini Cooper has remained essentially the same – in terms of styling, for its production life that continues today. With this adherence to the original styling cues, a 19 year old Mini Cooper is barely showing its age and looks quite modern to this day.
2006 Toyota FJ Cruiser
An example of retro-inspired styling done right, the Toyota FJ Cruiser uses the design language of vintage FJ Land Cruisers, but updated with modern, curvy body lines.
Discontinued from North America in 2014, the FJ Cruiser has remained unchanged for the 8 years it was sold here. Why would they change it though? The FJ Cruiser got it right the first time, perfectly combining vintage elements like the grille and headlights with a modern design philosophy. 14 years later, and that mix of old and new holds together today, looking like a brand new car rather than one over ten years old.
2006 Audi R8
Launched in 2006, the Audi R8 helped introduce a new wave of cars with supercar performance for sports car prices.
Using an incredible mid-mounted V10, the R8 is a true supercar, steeped in German technology and refinement. But, perhaps the biggest part of the R8 is its iconic design. Still in production today, the first-generation R8 looks as good as new today, with sleek body lines that look as modern today as they did 14 years ago when it was presented for the first time to the world.
2003 Ferrari Enzo
One of the world’s first hypercars, the Ferrari Enzo was the ultimate tribute to the brand’s founder, Enzo Ferrari.
First sold in 2003, the Enzo is a stunning example of automotive excellence. With crisp body lines and outrageous yet breathtaking design work, the Enzo was the ultimate car of 2003. Even today, with cars like the LaFerrari redefining performance and design, the Enzo remains modern 17 years after its debut, setting the pace and design philosophy for nearly every hypercar that came after it.
NEXT: Modern Classics: 10 2000s Cars You Should Invest In Right Now
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