Recent years have seen big brand car manufacturers suffering fits of nostalgia, digging through their archives for earlier success stories deserving of a second life. These highly popular updated classics might well have taken inspiration from Porsche, who has had consistent success for nearly five decades with the famous 911 model, born in Zuffenhausen in 1963. Today, just one year shy of its 50th anniversary, Porsche has launched another all-new 911 Carrera. More distinctive, elegant and powerful than ever, it has also made moves toward environmental friendliness, proving that the marriage between vintage style and contemporary technology is a durable one.
Completely redesigned, the 2012 Carrera is wider, longer and flatter than previous versions, and has an ideal height-to-width ratio that sketches its sportier, more athletic curves. Weight reduction was a priority in its development, with doors, luggage and engine compartment lids made of aluminum, highlighting the Porsche’s ‘Intelligent Performance’, merging high functionality with reduced emissions and better fuel efficiency. It has the world’s first seven-speed manual transmission for a passenger car, with the dual clutch automated-manual Porsche Doppelkupplungsgetriebe gearbox, better known as the PDK, coming as standard.
But the 2012 911 is only the latest in a string of strong historical reissues from various brands, many of which, unlike the 911, have spent time out of production.
With over 21 million vehicles manufactured, the VW Beetle holds the record for the longest production run of a single car. It has weathered the storms of a world war, coal and material shortages, and weak buying power throughout its history – its secret? Good performance in all climatic conditions and on any type of terrain, and a global supply of replacement parts. The Beetle made its comeback in the early 1990s with a modernized design of the classic model that won several awards, such as “Design of the Century Award” from the Industrial Designers of America.
Another globally recognized car, born in 1959, is the classic Morris Mini-Minor with its 848 cc engine and 4-speed manual gearbox. With its distinctive profile, strong performance and mass-market appeal, Mini quickly developed into an icon that enjoyed worldwide popularity. By March 1965, one million vehicles had been produced. In 1994, BMW Group acquired Mini, and by 2001 the new version was on the roads: larger and heavier, it had shifted from a city car to a compact car but was still true to the iconic design. Very different from the Mini, the Chevrolet Camaro is one of the most popular sport coupés in the automotive industry – muscular, aggressive, powerful and loud. Born in 1967, it was famed for being beautiful, practical and affordable, with a performance that could rival European Gran Turismos. The first Camaro was powered by a 3.2 liter V6 engine that produced 155 horsepower (hp), with the option of a 5.4 liter V8 engine that delivered 275 hp. Production of the classic sport coupe was steady for 36 years until the discontinuation of the fourth generation in 2002. Eight years later, the all-new Chevrolet Camaro made its comeback with a modern design, and more engine power (standard Direct Injection 3.6L V6 engine, 323 hp, SS version’s 6.2L V8 engine, 462 hp).
Finally there was the Dodge Challenger, the quintessential muscle car: bold, stylish, handsome and powerful, with its legendary V8 426 Hemi engine that yielded a mighty 425 hp. But because of rapidly rising insurance premiums and gas shortages, and the oil crisis following the 1973 war in the Middle East, demand for muscle cars decreased and production of the Dodge Challenger ended in 1974. The year 2008, however, saw the Challenger’s comeback. Styled like the original 1970 to 1974 generation, the new muscle car was taller, bulkier, heavier, and packed with luxury features as well as new technologies. Powered by a 6.1 liter 425-hp Hemi V8 engine, it did zero to 100 kilometers per hour in 5.1 seconds.
Whatever the story behind the model, these remakes allow their manufacturers to tap into a valuable market that spans brand loyalty and adds a contemporary spin, allowing them to sell an updated idea at premium prices. Be it a facelift or something more, the remakes will probably keep on coming for yet another ride.