9 Times Retro Design Worked Great On Cars


Designing an automobile is a long, expensive and painstaking process. Designers go back and forth with the engineering team, sketching out different looks, with agreements or disagreements on how it will fit into the brand’s corporate identity, aerodynamics, ergonomics, etc One of the key elements of designing a car is to take inspiration from other things.

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They could be fighter jets, like most modern Lamborghinis. It could be a mustache, like the Top of the line the team’s i-Eagle Thrust electric car. Sometimes it can mean looking back and bringing up cars of yesteryear, both in general or those previously made by the automaker. Although the retro design is one of the biggest mockeries among enthusiasts (see Chrysler PT Cruiser), sometimes it works surprisingly well.

9 Nissan Figaro

This charismatic little convertible was part of Nissan’s Pike series of cars, alongside the Pao, Be-1 and S-Cargo. Like these three, the Figaro was also based on the K10 Nissan March (Micra).

The body was inspired by various European microcars and convertibles of the 50s and 60s, notably the Vespa 400. The Figaro had a turbocharged engine, an automatic transmission, and the best part was that it didn’t try to modernize an old design ; it just looked like an old car from the start.

8 Hyundai Ioniq 5

Front 3/4 view of the Ioniq 5

The Ioniq 5 is one of the hottest electric cars these days, and it’s not hard to see why. A major focus on comfort and a lineup that rivals Tesla, all wrapped up in a practical crossover body with some of the best retro styling we’ve ever seen.

The back of the Ioniq 5

Hyundai didn’t design it to evoke a specific car from its (admittedly terrible) back catalog, but its nods to the 1980s and the pixels in its design are evident. The result is one of the most distinctive electric vehicles of all time, and certainly worth considering if you’re in the market for such a vehicle.

seven Fiat 500

Front 3/4 view of the new 500

the original Cinquecento was one of the most revolutionary cars of all time. Easy to work with, spacious but small and cheap to buy made it an absolute hit in Italy. When BMW revived the Mini in the early 2000s, Fiat wanted in on the action, so they put together their own revival of the 500 for 2007.

Rear 3/4 view of the new 500

Today, the 500 is in its second generation, and it has gone fully electric. Fiat hasn’t given up on retro styling, and although it’s much bigger than the original, it still evokes all the Cinquecentoand, for the modern automotive age, it’s still quite a small vehicle.

6 Porsche 911

Front 3/4 view of a 992 911 Targa Heritage Edition

You can’t talk retro styling without mentioning the Porsche 911. Apart from a few growth spurts and small updates, the design of the rear-engined marvel from Stuttgart is essentially the same as the 1964 original.

Rear 3/4 view of the 992 911 Targa Heritage Edition

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Porsche clearly hasn’t forgotten the 911 heritage either, as just about every generation has received some sort of retro-inspired special edition. From the modern Targa Heritage Edition (photo), to the 911R darling of speculators and the 911 Sport Classic. Along with the current 992 generation, the 911 is a stunning and still very distinctive car.

5 honda

Front 3/4 view of a Honda e in motion

It seems that electric vehicles are giving more and more automakers the opportunity to experiment with retro styling. One such automaker is Honda, with its adorable new e.

Rear 3/4 view of a white Honda e in motion

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It’s one of the best examples of retro styling we’ve seen recently, and it’s designed to evoke cars like Honda’s first-generation Civic from the ’70s, as well as others like the Mk1 VW Golf. Although the interior is not retro at all, it is a truly wonderful place. If it had a longer range, that would be an obvious recommendation.

4 Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The front of the new G-Wagen

Until a few years ago, the G-Class that Mercedes sold was a classic case of plastic surgery. They constantly dressed up the interior and exterior, but at its core it was still a 70s military SUV.

The front of the new G-Wagen in the snow

Everything changed in 2018 with the introduction of the current generation G-Wagen. The retro styling is still there, and it still looks great, but it now benefits from much improved mechanical components, ergonomics, powertrains and technology. It is still very, very expensive.

3 Mini hatch

The front of the Cooper S facelift

The original single-handedly launched the FWD small family car into the mainstream. What was known as the Morris Mini lasted 41 years, from 1959 to 2000. After that, BMW acquired the rights to the Mini name and brought it back as a retro-styled subcompact.

The rear of the Cooper S facelift

The Mini Hatch has been around for 22 years now, and while it’s spawned countless derivatives, the original three-door is still going strong, with tons of luxury features, heaps of retro styling, and that famous driving experience. of karts.

2 Ferrari Daytona SP3

Daytona SP3 front 3/4 view

Tons of hubbub surrounds some of Ferrari’s most recent design decisions, or rather those made after the automaker ditched Pininfarina and started designing its cars in-house. The latest member of the exclusive Icona family, the Daytona SP3, aims to reverse this trend. As the name suggests, this is the third car in the Icona lineup, following the wild Monza SP1 and SP2 twins.

Daytona SP3 rear 3/4 view

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The SP3 is inspired by the style of the iconic Ferrari LeMans drivers of the 60s, with its optimized aerodynamics and overall silhouette. It borrows its powertrain from the 812 Superfast, for a healthy dose of V12 drama, and Ferrari will only build 599 units of the SP3. Needless to say they are all reserved.

1 BMW Z8

Z8 front 3/4 view

You know a car is spectacular when 007 has driven one. When it comes to retro design done right, few have done it quite as well as BMW did in the early 2000s, with the flagship Z8. The main styling inspiration was BMW’s iconic 507, which actually wasn’t a very good car.

Z8 rear 3/4 view

Beneath the beautiful knee-bent bodywork is the E39 M5’s 4.9-litre V8 engine, mated exclusively to rear-wheel drive and a 6-speed manual transmission. The production run was very small, and combined with the styling and that much-vaunted powertrain, it’s not hard to see why the Z8s go up in value.

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