What Car Designs Have Stood the Test of Time?

Colin
By Colin Wood
May 17, 2021 | Classic Cars, Design

Photograph Courtesy Jaguar

When discussing timeless automotive designs, a few popular examples come to mind: The Jaguar E-type, Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa and probably a Talbot or two.

But those aren’t the only good-looking cars to ever exist, so we did some digging to find out what cars truly have timeless designs. You can read our list of cars that will transcend the ages over on Classic Motorsports, but let us know what cars you think have timeless designs–regardless of what era they were built in.

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Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/17/21 11:32 a.m.

So as one of the resident classic Japanese car guys I have a few:

Obvious picks -Datsun 240Z, Toyota 2000GT, Supra, 2nd gen MR2, FD RX7 and Miatas. 

Not so obvious - Datsun 510, S14 240SX and CRX. None of these are jaw dropping gorgeous but they have such a following that appreciates their girl next store good looks (it's a Mary Ann vs Ginger thing).

   

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
5/17/21 11:40 a.m.

I think the 1953 Packard Caribbean has always been elegant and wonderful to look at.  

spacecadet (Forum Supporter)
spacecadet (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltraDork
5/17/21 12:01 p.m.

NSX, Mclaren F1

There's a bunch from the 90's that have just aged so so well.

WonkoTheSane
WonkoTheSane GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/17/21 12:10 p.m.

Any list of most beautiful cars without FD Rx-7 is questionable..  That's a top 3 for me..

wvumtnbkr
wvumtnbkr GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
5/17/21 12:12 p.m.

Agreed.  Fd rx7.  

 

I have an rx8 in my driveway right now.  I would put it on an honorable mention list (if just looking at the outside.)

 

None of my neighbors knows what it is and they all think it's a new car....

pres589 (djronnebaum)
pres589 (djronnebaum) UltimaDork
5/17/21 12:14 p.m.

The RX-8 is.... unique looking.  The FD is quite pretty.

asphalt_gundam
asphalt_gundam Reader
5/17/21 12:25 p.m.

I'd throw the DB5 in there too.

Javelin (Forum Supporter)
Javelin (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/21 12:30 p.m.

FD RX-7, 993 Carrera, 65-66 Mustang

noddaz
noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
5/17/21 12:32 p.m.

timeless designs and transcend the ages...

I would have thought an air-cooled Beetle would fit that description, but by now there is probably 2 generations of people in the US that don't know what an air-cooled Beetle is. 

californiamilleghia
californiamilleghia SuperDork
5/17/21 12:52 p.m.

XKE

Austin Healy 3000

240Z

911 - 356

Karmann Ghia

most 50s-60s Alfa sports cars,

300SL - 190SL

A110 Alpine

 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
5/17/21 12:56 p.m.

32 Deuce. The measure by which all potential hotrods will be judged for all time. 

Pete. (l33t FS)
Pete. (l33t FS) MegaDork
5/17/21 1:02 p.m.

 

Still the best looking car from the 70s.

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/17/21 1:04 p.m.

In reply to WonkoTheSane :

Note I edited my list because I meant FD. Yes a great looking car.

 

Chris_V
Chris_V UberDork
5/17/21 1:06 p.m.

Biased, but I think they still look great:

 

Same with these:

93gsxturbo
93gsxturbo SuperDork
5/17/21 1:16 p.m.

Buick Grand National

Square Body Chevys

Pontiac Fiero GT

87-92 Mustang Coupe

3000GT VR4

1970 Chevelle

 

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/17/21 1:16 p.m.

In reply to Appleseed :

As much as I respect the 32 Ford  it is a blatant steal of the earlier Duesenburg  

Absolutely the XKE. But that was a development of the type of 1954. 
  More original was the XK 120 OTS of 1948. 
      Plus the XK6/12 of 1972 which is still giving styling clues to Jaguar. 
     While the XJS was initially a disappointment when introduced in 1975   It was a disappointment because it wasn't a sports car, rather a GT car.  It did remain in production for 21 years and vastly outsell the XKE 

 The MG J2 of the 1930's remained the MG's styling pattern through the MGTF of 1955. 

John Welsh
John Welsh Mod Squad
5/17/21 1:21 p.m.

'88 BMW M5

RustBeltSherpa
RustBeltSherpa New Reader
5/17/21 1:35 p.m.

In reply to Tom1200 :

Totally agree.

How about some Euro picks

Obvious: Lamborghini Miura, DeTomaso Mangusta/Pantera, Mercedes 230/250/280SL, C111-C1,C2.

Not so obvious: Fiat 124 coupe/roadster, Ferrari Dino, Alpine 110, Alfa Romeo Montreal. It's a Gabriella vs. Sofia thing. 

80sFast
80sFast Reader
5/17/21 1:44 p.m.

G-wagon, shark nose 6 series, land cruisers, Jeep's....basically all classic 4x4s have held up well. 

Tom1200
Tom1200 SuperDork
5/17/21 1:44 p.m.

In reply to RustBeltSherpa :

The M5 pictured above is one of my favorite Euro cars.

80sFast
80sFast Reader
5/17/21 1:46 p.m.

tuna55
tuna55 MegaDork
5/17/21 1:53 p.m.

I went to the Detroit Auto Show in college as a jaded American car lover and drag racer. I stared at this on the turntable for probably twenty minutes.

 

ShawnG
ShawnG UltimaDork
5/17/21 2:08 p.m.

Will never stop looking great:

ShawnG
ShawnG UltimaDork
5/17/21 2:14 p.m.
frenchyd said:

In reply to Appleseed :

As much as I respect the 32 Ford  it is a blatant steal of the earlier Duesenburg  

 

The 32 Ford is a scaled up Ford Model Y from England. Ford even states this in the book "Wheels For The World" as they ran out of time trying to design what would have been the '32 Ford.

It's very easy to see Ford's styling progression from 1928 thru 1932 and most cars of the 30's have a similar but not the same front end design.

The Duesenberg J came out in 1928 but the X it was derived from and the A before that all have a similar look too.

AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter)
AngryCorvair (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/17/21 2:25 p.m.

In reply to Chris_V :

E38 is timeless

 

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/17/21 4:15 p.m.

I am kind of partial to the LM corvair...

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
5/17/21 4:32 p.m.

Not much to argue with. Although I do find it interesting that the BMW E9 hasn't been mentioned while the e38 and M5 have. IMO the E9 remains the best looking bimmer ever. 

 

 

I'm also a big fan of Studebaker pickups. Their styling looks much less dated than other trucks of the period (at least on the outside).

earlybroncoguy1
earlybroncoguy1 New Reader
5/17/21 4:45 p.m.

C2 Corvette roadster

Jag E type 

69-70 Mustang fastback

GM bubbletops

Duesenbergs

'32 Fords

early Broncos

square body chevy trucks

62 Thunderbird convertible

BMW M1

DeThomaso Pantera (series 1)

69 Dodge charger

 

Opti
Opti Dork
5/17/21 8:44 p.m.

90 BMWs from the 3 series all the way up to the 8 series only excluding the z3

 

GM pickups from 68 to 98 and the earlier art deco(?) Trucks

C5 vette

FD

Z32

2000GT

F355

550 Maranello

First gen fbodys less 69 firebird (67-68 front end is just too elegant)

65-66 mustang fastback also include upt o 70 fastbacks to a lesser degree.

C3 vettes

Early new minis

 

I think a design that's going to age well is very easy to spot. I see a new car and may think man that's looks good, but it's a whole different thing to say that's still going to look good in 30 years, and not for nostalgic reasons just because it's handsome and will always be handsome. Proportions have to be right with no element that offends. Plenty of cars match the times or grow on you, but those rarely hold up to time.  For example I wasn't a huge fan of the c8 but it's grown on me. I think it looks good, but I also know it won't age well.

 

Off the top of my head the only normal car I can think of that may age well from the last couple years is the Kia telluride. It's got classic suv proportions, and no offensive features.

 

I think GM was real close with the 16-18 Camaro, except for the c pillar/quarter panel is a little too big, don't know how to fix it besides make the car smaller. Full disclosure I just bought one so I'm biased

 

It's all subjective though so who knows

 

Appleseed
Appleseed MegaDork
5/17/21 9:02 p.m.
ShawnG said:

Will never stop looking great:

The highest point in American automotive styling.

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
5/17/21 9:16 p.m.

I always find it interesting how "cool" cars she over time.  I agree with many posted here, but I'm always surprised at how some cars I like once are now ugly and cars I didn't really like age well.  
 

For one, I think The NB Miata is aging better than the NA or NC.  

Boost_Crazy
Boost_Crazy Dork
5/17/21 9:36 p.m.

 


 

 

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/17/21 9:53 p.m.

Sure, mention the BMW E9, E28,  and E38  (obviously I like all of these) but forget about the timeless 507. Even in the 50's BMW could pull off a large interpretation of the kidney grill in a beautiful way, wtf is wrong with them today! lol

The 507 takes the cake for that era of BMW but the 503 had amazing lines as well.

I wonder how the all aluminum OHC V8's in these stacked up against all of the ones to follow, did they eat timing chain components? Have leaking valve seals? VANOS rattles? Worn cylinder coatings? Eat rod bearings at regular intervals?

Boost_Crazy
Boost_Crazy Dork
5/17/21 9:55 p.m.


 

A bit biased on the LGT wagon, but I think it still looks great 16 years later. 

Run_Away
Run_Away Dork
5/17/21 10:02 p.m.

 

Also these.

Datsun310Guy
Datsun310Guy MegaDork
5/17/21 10:10 p.m.
Pete. (l33t FS) said:

 

Still the best looking car from the 70s.

I agree - kinda like the Corollas too.
 

CJ (FS)
CJ (FS) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/18/21 12:10 a.m.

See the source image

XK120

'63 split window

DB4

5-window Chevy PU

MG TC

1800ES

TR 3

AH 3000

Datsun 510

Edit - SS100!

captdownshift (Forum Supporter)
captdownshift (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
5/18/21 5:29 a.m.

Volvo Amazon

P1800

BMW M Coupe

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
5/18/21 7:47 a.m.

BMW has quite a few designs that have aged very well.  The E28, E31, and E38 were already mentioned.  I'd also include the E24 6 series.  The E34 5 series has aged well, but not quite as well as the others. 

spitfirebill
spitfirebill MegaDork
5/18/21 7:59 a.m.

I'm going to throw out the 2nd generation Corvair.  

Aaron_King
Aaron_King PowerDork
5/18/21 8:15 a.m.

I will throw in the Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale:

Got to see one at the NAIAS when the Giulia came out, drop dead gorgeous.  

TurnerX19
TurnerX19 UltraDork
5/18/21 11:33 a.m.

In reply to adam525i :

BMW 502,503,507 V8 engines have push rods. Very compact too. My folks had a 503 cabrio for about a year when I was pre-teen. I wish I had some photos of it.

rustomatic
rustomatic Reader
5/18/21 6:29 p.m.

So much Beemer here, correctly so with E9 and E28.  That said, I don't think anyone's mentioned the 1963.5 Ford Falcon or Galaxie.  They are the ideal post-jet age design.  Chevy just couldn't match the style.  Were I allowed to post pictures, I would visually stimulate the opinion . . .

Petrolburner
Petrolburner Dork
5/18/21 7:36 p.m.

Honda S2000

pimpm3 (Forum Supporter)
pimpm3 (Forum Supporter) UltraDork
5/18/21 7:53 p.m.

8 series BMW

M coupe

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
5/18/21 9:44 p.m.

People's reaction to styling is fascinating. We have multiple references to the Z3 couple but none to the Z4. I think that the Z4 is a prettier car, but the Z3 has more character. And barely a peep about Porsches or the Italian exotics.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/18/21 10:59 p.m.

Pantera

Detomaso Pantera | Pantera car, Pantera, Classy cars

Lotus Esprit.  The SE still gets me moist.

450 HP ATS Racing 1990 Lotus Esprit SE - One Take - YouTube

Many of the GMs of the 60s do it for me, but this is my favorite style.  And thanks to Duke, I own one.

160 67 Pontiac LeMans Convertible ideas | pontiac lemans, pontiac, pontiac  gto

Insert nearly any early 70s American iron as well.

1971 Plymouth Fury III, Flat flexible Refrigerator Magnet, 40 MIL Thick

1972 Lincoln Continental Mark IV

 

As was mentioned, NSX.

The First Generation Honda NSX | Gray Beard Council

And whoever said it (don't want to interrupt to scroll back)... E38.  I have wanted a 2001 740 iL sport for so many years that my DREAMS have gray hairs.

2001 BMW 740i Sport for sale « The Motoring Enthusiast in 2021 | Bmw e38,  Bmw, Bmw 740

Jag X308.  Moist again.

2000 Jaguar XJR - X308 | Classic Driver Market

I know I'll get crap for this because I don't dig Rad stuff, but part of me always wanted an h-body LeSabre T-type

Pin 1987 Buick Lesabre T Type Coupe on Pinterest | Buick lesabre, Buick,  Buick cars

And who couldn't love the chiseled face of a T5R?

Volvo 850 T5-R wagon - a photo on Flickriver

Mk2 Scirocco was always a cool one.  Still looks amazing

1986.5 Volkswagen Scirocco 16V for sale on BaT Auctions - sold for $28,000  on October 30, 2019 (Lot #24,579) | Bring a Trailer

MkIII Spitfire.

1968 Triumph Spitfire - Pictures - CarGurus

I know James Bond had the DB5, but for me, the DB4 was SO much better.

Aston Martin DB4 Model Guide | Sports Classics London

 

dxman92
dxman92 Dork
5/18/21 11:06 p.m.

Mk1 VW Rabbit GTI and MK2 GTI get my vote. Volvo 850 Wagons still look amazing as well. 

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
5/19/21 7:03 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:

And whoever said it (don't want to interrupt to scroll back)... E38.  I have wanted a 2001 740 iL sport for so many years that my DREAMS have gray hairs.

A few of us mentioned those.  Although your picture was a short wheelbase car.  And after 2.5 years with my 01 740i sport, I'd say "just go buy one".  They're not super expensive or anything (although the 740i sport costs more than even some of the 750iL models).  And as good as they are, they have a pretty magic ability to just act like a good handling Camry when you need them to be "just a car" for a bit.  Plus, driving one on the highway is like piloting a cruise missile.  Cruise control is a safety feature, much like the XJ40 Jags (and presumably the X300 / X308 as well).  Without cruise and without other traffic to pace against, it's really easy to end up doing 90 and think you're still not going fast. 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/19/21 9:01 a.m.

In reply to rslifkin :

I have looked at several.  I'm torn because the iL sport is a fantastic ride, but a bit hard to find in a not-wasted condition.  My other option is the X308.  The bimmer is a better whip, but I'm not sure I can afford the upkeep compared to a Ford-era Jag

adam525i
adam525i GRM+ Memberand Dork
5/19/21 9:10 a.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

The iL sport is just an appearance thing, blacked out trim, M-parallel wheels, seats and steering wheel. The short wheelbase also got the lower final drive ratio and suspension package to go with it.

My dad bought an 01 740i Sport used off lease around 2004 and it was a pretty special car. We did a track day with it through the dealership right after he got it and that big car was so balanced and capable out there at the cost of the tires lol.

300zxfreak
300zxfreak Reader
5/19/21 9:43 a.m.

Unless my ancient eyes are deceiving me, I see no mention of one of the most timeless designs of all, the Z32 era 300ZX, of course I'm somewhat prejudiced here, but come on, it's still great looking after all these years, and especially compared to all the later Z's ( including the phantom 400). It's a car I can sit in the garage with a cold adult beverage and stare at for hours. Even better when sitting inside it looking out whilst navigating winding back roads.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
5/19/21 1:30 p.m.

In reply to Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) :

Adam has it right that the short wheelbase sports got the best goodies.  Maintenance wise, they're not that bad.  Other than the timing chain guide issue.  Beyond that, just keep an eye on suspension parts for wear, don't ignore the cooling system and keep up with any maintenance it wants.  They're not awful to work on and parts cost isn't terrible either.  It's the labor cost on some jobs if you don't DIY that's the killer.  I've DD-ed mine for 2.5 years and it hasn't tried to eat me alive yet.  And it's been only slightly less reliable than gravity.  

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/19/21 5:03 p.m.

I have a different take on this whole thing.  First off we need to define what "Standing the test of time" means. 

Google was helpful and defined it as: "To remain useful or valued over a long period of time; to last a long time. "

That has me going Hummmm.. . . .    Most of the cars proposed in this thread are certainly valued but are they still useful?  And that begs me to ask Useful at what?  As being a car that can be used in the modern sense?  Most older cars are not very useful if you use that definition.  Cool?  Absolutely!!!  But useful?  That made me ponder things.

I think saying a car is has stood the test of time can be applied to a specific element of a car. Take the Jag Collin posted up.  The body design of that car has absolutely stood the test of time.  I mean I would by a modern car that looked like that today.  The driveline on the other hand not so much.   I realize that this is extremely subjective. But with all the cars people has posted up I would argue that many have not stood the test of time.  They are many "cool cars"  There are many cars that "set the bar" for something at that period in time.  Many could even be considered "Iconic".    But if a car has to be "useful or valued over a long period of time" that weeds out many of them. 

I think an easier better standard for cars to meet is if they are Iconic.  Cars that for some reason made a statement or were unique or cutting edge or moved the bar in some aspect of automotive design.

The problem is that many cars that I would like to say have stood the test of time really have not.  They are cool cars (take the 944 or the first jen rx7) and they are both Iconic and really cool but they really have not stood the test of time.

In a weird way my current DD, a 9 year old Mercedes I think at the moment you could say it has stood the test of time.  It was the first year of the last design.  It still performs as good or better than most modern cars.  It still is useful (I drive it every day for work) and it is as useful as any modern awd sedan on the market today.  It even looks current and could be mistaken as a much newer car.  So at the moment my car has stood the test of time very well.  BUT I bet in another 5 years things will be different.  Mercedes will probably be on to another generation of design and the ground pounding V8 will now be looked at with distain as the modern cars will have some form of electric propulsion that will probably greatly surpass its performance.  It will probably be safer and generally easier to drive.  At that point my car will not have stood the test of time.  So this leads me to another question with "standing the test of time"  How much time defines standing the test of time?       

Anyway I have rambled on long enough.  I thought it was an interesting thing to ponder and take a deeper dive into what is the definition of and what is the litmus test that a car has to meet to be considered to have stood the test of time.

Steve_Jones
Steve_Jones HalfDork
5/19/21 5:36 p.m.

I will go a little newer but also point out this is 14 years old...
 

Streetwiseguy
Streetwiseguy MegaDork
5/19/21 6:04 p.m.

I figure my definition of "timeless design" is different, because there is not one picture yet, other than the Audi just above, that looks new.  All of them are very, very different when compared to anything modern, so, not timeless.  Just looking at them, it is easy to assign an age, or an era.

I still like lots of them listed, so I guess they are attractive, or could still be driven as a regular vehicle, but not my definition of timeless.

An American Standard toilet in white is timeless.  There may be other, newer or older designs, but you have been able to purchase a standard, white toilet for a very long time, and it would take a critical eye to tell the age of one.  Pink, or olive green toilet?  Not timeless.

 

 

 

OHSCrifle
OHSCrifle GRM+ Memberand SuperDork
5/19/21 6:15 p.m.

Miura

GT40

Citroen DS

Jeep 

Mini

 

j_tso
j_tso GRM+ Memberand Reader
5/19/21 7:19 p.m.

In reply to Streetwiseguy :

I agree there's a difference between "still looks good" and timeless.

On the other hand is a design timeless because a manufacturer is stubborn, like the 911?

I think the DB9 is one until they added LEDs later on.

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/19/21 8:22 p.m.
dean1484 said:

I have a different take on this whole thing.  First off we need to define what "Standing the test of time" means. 

Google was helpful and defined it as: "To remain useful or valued over a long period of time; to last a long time. "

That has me going Hummmm.. . . .    Most of the cars proposed in this thread are certainly valued but are they still useful?  And that begs me to ask Useful at what?  As being a car that can be used in the modern sense?  Most older cars are not very useful if you use that definition.  Cool?  Absolutely!!!  But useful?  That made me ponder things.

I think saying a car is has stood the test of time can be applied to a specific element of a car. Take the Jag Collin posted up.  The body design of that car has absolutely stood the test of time.  I mean I would by a modern car that looked like that today.  The driveline on the other hand not so much.   I realize that this is extremely subjective. But with all the cars people has posted up I would argue that many have not stood the test of time.  They are many "cool cars"  There are many cars that "set the bar" for something at that period in time.  Many could even be considered "Iconic".    But if a car has to be "useful or valued over a long period of time" that weeds out many of them. 

I think an easier better standard for cars to meet is if they are Iconic.  Cars that for some reason made a statement or were unique or cutting edge or moved the bar in some aspect of automotive design.

The problem is that many cars that I would like to say have stood the test of time really have not.  They are cool cars (take the 944 or the first jen rx7) and they are both Iconic and really cool but they really have not stood the test of time.

In a weird way my current DD, a 9 year old Mercedes I think at the moment you could say it has stood the test of time.  It was the first year of the last design.  It still performs as good or better than most modern cars.  It still is useful (I drive it every day for work) and it is as useful as any modern awd sedan on the market today.  It even looks current and could be mistaken as a much newer car.  So at the moment my car has stood the test of time very well.  BUT I bet in another 5 years things will be different.  Mercedes will probably be on to another generation of design and the ground pounding V8 will now be looked at with distain as the modern cars will have some form of electric propulsion that will probably greatly surpass its performance.  It will probably be safer and generally easier to drive.  At that point my car will not have stood the test of time.  So this leads me to another question with "standing the test of time"  How much time defines standing the test of time?       

Anyway I have rambled on long enough.  I thought it was an interesting thing to ponder and take a deeper dive into what is the definition of and what is the litmus test that a car has to meet to be considered to have stood the test of time.

I appreciate your literal input, but I think the timbre of the discussion was simply design-related.  Which cars' appearance and visual design has endured.  I linked to a DB4 and a MkIII Triumph.  Neither of those have any practicality, reliability, nor real-world drivability, but I think the appearance of those cars is just as sexy now as it was then.

I understood the implication of the post to be "what looked good then, what still looks good now."

So to extrapolate from the definition you found:  To remain useful or valued over a long period of time, I don't think that we're talking about the practical, reliable, or functional use of the vehicle itself, we're discussing the aesthetic of the vehicle's appearance.  "Useful" in this context means, "does it still make our hootus tingle," not "will it be a practical choice for a DD."

We're not asking if the CAR remains useful, we're asking if the ART still plays to our hearts.

rslifkin
rslifkin UberDork
5/20/21 7:13 a.m.
Streetwiseguy said:

I figure my definition of "timeless design" is different, because there is not one picture yet, other than the Audi just above, that looks new.  All of them are very, very different when compared to anything modern, so, not timeless.  Just looking at them, it is easy to assign an age, or an era.

I still like lots of them listed, so I guess they are attractive, or could still be driven as a regular vehicle, but not my definition of timeless.

An American Standard toilet in white is timeless.  There may be other, newer or older designs, but you have been able to purchase a standard, white toilet for a very long time, and it would take a critical eye to tell the age of one.  Pink, or olive green toilet?  Not timeless.

Most of the designs posted here don't look new, but you can look at them and still think they look good.  Unlike, say, a 1997 Taurus.  You look back at that design and are left thinking "wow, what were they thinking back then?"

Opti
Opti Dork
5/20/21 10:04 a.m.

I dont think stood the test of time means that it still looks new. I think it just means it still looks good, even through todays eyes and fashion/design trends.

 

Think about it in terms of art. You have timeless art thats still appreciated today but it doesnt look new

Kreb (Forum Supporter)
Kreb (Forum Supporter) UberDork
5/20/21 10:08 a.m.

One test is if people bothered to take good care of the cars. For instance, when was the last time you saw a Ford EXP or a Chevette? (Might be a little different in redneckville)  Yet while I often see older BMWs, I rarely see roached out ones.  

Cchambers13
Cchambers13 New Reader
5/20/21 11:02 a.m.

The Usual Timeless: FD RX7, 65/66 Mustang, 69 Chevelle, 510, Landcruiser  FJ40, Shelby Cobra, 90s Supra

Personal Quirks: Bumpside/Dentside/OBS(94-97) Ford Trucks, 86 Z31(zenki taillights with the smooth fenders), Willys CJ3B, Conquest/Starion, Lotus/Locust 7s

Real Highboy Survivor! 1975 Ford F-250 – Barn Finds

Tail light swap? - Z31 Performance

List: Ten Lotus 7 Replica Kit Cars | カー, 車

Willys CJ3B Jeep for sale: photos, technical specifications, description |  Willys jeep, Willys, Vintage jeep

frenchyd
frenchyd UltimaDork
5/20/21 8:13 p.m.

In reply to Colin Wood :

Are race cars included?  How about Curtis Race cars. Both Midgets and sprints?  
    

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
5/20/21 9:59 p.m.

When I first read this "design that stood the test of time", I had one thought.

While not a huge fan myself, I think the '65 Mustang fits the bill in that the proportions and design theme has been carried through with continuous use even up to today's models.  Discard the Mustang II and the new Mustang EV and one look at any Mustang and you know its a mustang. A strong design theme/influence for 55+ years.

mad_machine (Forum Supporter)
mad_machine (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/20/21 10:40 p.m.
RustBeltSherpa said:

In reply to Tom1200 :

Totally agree.

How about some Euro picks

Obvious: Lamborghini Miura, DeTomaso Mangusta/Pantera, Mercedes 230/250/280SL, C111-C1,C2.

Not so obvious: Fiat 124 coupe/roadster, Ferrari Dino, Alpine 110, Alfa Romeo Montreal. It's a Gabriella vs. Sofia thing. 

the 124 looked so good it came back as a modern car.

 

I am sorry, I know everyone drools all over the E-type, but there are some areas on that car that ruin the whole design for me.  The Cockpit area on the roadster leaves a lot to be desired and for me the whole car looks to be about a foot too long.  I would take an Austin Healy over an E.

BigIron
BigIron New Reader
5/20/21 11:05 p.m.
Kreb (Forum Supporter) said:

One test is if people bothered to take good care of the cars. For instance, when was the last time you saw a Ford EXP or a Chevette? (Might be a little different in redneckville)  Yet while I often see older BMWs, I rarely see roached out ones.  

There's one in excellent condition that I occasionally see running around my town.

Doesn't mean it was a great or timeless design. And there are plenty of crapbox E30's and other BMW's out there.

The argument above stating that old cars can't be used as daily drivers is false. They just require more maintenance. And guess what. They did when they were new as well compared to modern cars.

It just depends on if the owner can live without modern conveniences and more frequent stops at the repair shop/weekends spent wrenching.

BigIron
BigIron New Reader
5/20/21 11:11 p.m.

1969 Camaro is timeless.

And still looks great with modern wheels/suspension.

 

Mr_Asa
Mr_Asa UberDork
5/20/21 11:24 p.m.

Chuck had one of these.  He never got to finish it and get it back on the road.  :-/

 

Curtis73 (Forum Supporter)
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
5/21/21 8:47 a.m.

In reply to BigIron :

Nah... 70 RS/Z28 for me.  Split bumpers rule.

1970 CHEVROLET CAMARO Z/28 RS CUSTOM COUPE

pinchvalve (Forum Supporter)
pinchvalve (Forum Supporter) MegaDork
5/21/21 9:10 a.m.

For something to be truly timeless, it has to avoid any styling cues unique to the period. Take Johnny Carson, a sharply dressed guy, but clearly from the 70's. Could not wear that today.

Now how about this suit from the 1920's?

Yep, could still wear that today. I would argue that no car can be truly timeless, they are affected by technology, safety regulations, materials, manufacturing know-how and so much more. All you can hope for is a car that people look at many years later and think, "that still looks good" and "I'd love to drive that." By that criteria, I think most of the cars on this list hit the mark.

My addition is the Lotus Elan

It was so right that Mazda just kept it going:

 

I also think that the S2000 has a classic shape with clean lines that betrays its age well.

 

Opti
Opti Dork
5/21/21 12:42 p.m.

I dont think the Viper has been mentions. Specifically the early GTS and the last gen styles

Mel9146
Mel9146 New Reader
6/7/21 6:28 p.m.

There is only one that has tested time and is still being built, the 911.

bmwwebb
bmwwebb New Reader
6/10/21 9:41 p.m.

bmwwebb
bmwwebb New Reader
6/10/21 9:43 p.m.

Rigante
Rigante New Reader
6/11/21 8:02 a.m.

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/11/21 8:49 a.m.
Curtis73 (Forum Supporter) said:
dean1484 said:

I have a different take on this whole thing.  First off we need to define what "Standing the test of time" means. 

Google was helpful and defined it as: "To remain useful or valued over a long period of time; to last a long time. "

That has me going Hummmm.. . . .    Most of the cars proposed in this thread are certainly valued but are they still useful?  And that begs me to ask Useful at what?  As being a car that can be used in the modern sense?  Most older cars are not very useful if you use that definition.  Cool?  Absolutely!!!  But useful?  That made me ponder things.

I think saying a car is has stood the test of time can be applied to a specific element of a car. Take the Jag Collin posted up.  The body design of that car has absolutely stood the test of time.  I mean I would by a modern car that looked like that today.  The driveline on the other hand not so much.   I realize that this is extremely subjective. But with all the cars people has posted up I would argue that many have not stood the test of time.  They are many "cool cars"  There are many cars that "set the bar" for something at that period in time.  Many could even be considered "Iconic".    But if a car has to be "useful or valued over a long period of time" that weeds out many of them. 

I think an easier better standard for cars to meet is if they are Iconic.  Cars that for some reason made a statement or were unique or cutting edge or moved the bar in some aspect of automotive design.

The problem is that many cars that I would like to say have stood the test of time really have not.  They are cool cars (take the 944 or the first jen rx7) and they are both Iconic and really cool but they really have not stood the test of time.

In a weird way my current DD, a 9 year old Mercedes I think at the moment you could say it has stood the test of time.  It was the first year of the last design.  It still performs as good or better than most modern cars.  It still is useful (I drive it every day for work) and it is as useful as any modern awd sedan on the market today.  It even looks current and could be mistaken as a much newer car.  So at the moment my car has stood the test of time very well.  BUT I bet in another 5 years things will be different.  Mercedes will probably be on to another generation of design and the ground pounding V8 will now be looked at with distain as the modern cars will have some form of electric propulsion that will probably greatly surpass its performance.  It will probably be safer and generally easier to drive.  At that point my car will not have stood the test of time.  So this leads me to another question with "standing the test of time"  How much time defines standing the test of time?       

Anyway I have rambled on long enough.  I thought it was an interesting thing to ponder and take a deeper dive into what is the definition of and what is the litmus test that a car has to meet to be considered to have stood the test of time.

I appreciate your literal input, but I think the timbre of the discussion was simply design-related.  Which cars' appearance and visual design has endured.  I linked to a DB4 and a MkIII Triumph.  Neither of those have any practicality, reliability, nor real-world drivability, but I think the appearance of those cars is just as sexy now as it was then.

I understood the implication of the post to be "what looked good then, what still looks good now."

So to extrapolate from the definition you found:  To remain useful or valued over a long period of time, I don't think that we're talking about the practical, reliable, or functional use of the vehicle itself, we're discussing the aesthetic of the vehicle's appearance.  "Useful" in this context means, "does it still make our hootus tingle," not "will it be a practical choice for a DD."

We're not asking if the CAR remains useful, we're asking if the ART still plays to our hearts.

You are not wrong if you make all the assumptions that you are reading into Colin's post. The problem I have is that generally most of the cars that may get people all hot and bothered are just old cars that really have not stood the test of time.  Even more interesting is that if you went back to the 1990's it would be a very different story.  Many of them would still have relevant design ques.  And to your point yes they are all still "Art"  Every car could be considered art. 

I think you are reading a lot into the original post that really is not there.  When something stands the test of time it is about the highest praise you can bestow on something.  I think it has become an overused term that has resulted in its meaning becoming watered down over time and has become just another way of saying that is a cool car that makes your bits tingle.   I think that the term has become interchangeable with the term "Iconic" or even "Cool".   And that is ok I guess but In my opinion, there are few if any cars that stand the test of time and those that do at a given date and time may not a decade later.   Whereas an Iconic car will always be just that.  

Some cars are even weirder with respect to standing the test of time.  Take the Pontiac Astec.  It was about the weirdest and ugliest car when it was introduced and yet if you see one on the road today the design actually looks current.  So it was ahead of its time we just did not know it then and now you could argue that it has stood the test of time better than virtually any car.  

This is interesting to debate/discuss.  I don't think I am being literal. Overly Critical?  Maybe.  I am looking at context and to some degree looking at how a word or phrase used to describe things (in this case cars) has morphed into a different meaning to some people.  It does not make them wrong it is just an interesting thing.  

wspohn
wspohn SuperDork
6/11/21 5:20 p.m.

I think that 60s Italian front engined super cars had shapes that still resonate with car nuts - Ferrari Daytona, Maserati Ghibli and Lamborghini Islero.

 

noddaz
noddaz GRM+ Memberand UberDork
6/11/21 5:48 p.m.

 

BTW, just what is everyone definition of stands the test of time?

 

dean1484
dean1484 GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
6/12/21 10:53 a.m.
noddaz said:

 

BTW, just what is everyone definition of stands the test of time?

 

I would say that definitly has!!!!

AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter)
AnthonyGS (Forum Supporter) SuperDork
6/12/21 1:23 p.m.

To me it's always been a full size GM or Ford truck.  They still look and function just like trucks.  You can also do pretty much anything you can dream of to one due to a huge aftermarket.  You can make them modern, fast, rat rod, towing beasts, luxo barges, lowriders, cruisers, drag racers.... the only thing they don't really accel at is road racing, but you can do a lot better with well thought out mods there too.

 

I'm kind of disappointed in myself for not getting one ever. 

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