Believe it or not, many vehicles of today have a long history that can span decades. Some of the sleek sports cars sold today are inspired by vintage race cars from the mid-20th century, while others may even be direct predecessors of automobiles that date back nearly 100 years!
Check out some of the most iconic vintage cars, as well as their modern counterparts that are sold to this day. Take your pick, you’ll certainly have a hard time choosing between the original versions of these cars or their modern variants.
America’s favorite pony car needs no introduction. Ford unveiled this beauty back in 1964 for the following model year. The Mustang was unlike any other vehicle, hence it needed the creation of the all-new pony car segment. Car enthusiasts around the globe quickly fell in love with the stylish sports car.
The original pony car proved to be a massive success. In fact, it was Ford’s best-selling vehicle ever since the Model A from the mid-20s. Ford Motor Company sold over 400,000 units of the Mustang within the first year. The 1-millionth Mustang left the factory just two years after the car’s debut.
Ford Mustang Mach-E
The legacy of the Ford Mustang continues to the present day. Although Ford currently sells the sixth-generation of the beloved pony car, the controversial Mustang Mach-E is arguably even more interesting. Although this electric crossover proudly wears the horse badge on the front grille, the Mach-E is not related to previous generations of the vehicle.
Instead, Ford refers to the Mach-E as the spiritual successor of the original Ford Mustang. The car produces between 266 and 480 horsepower, depending on the variant. Luckily, Ford reportedly has no plans to replace their iconic pony car with this electric crossover.
Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing
Very few automobiles are as legendary as the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL Gullwing. Back in the early 1950s, the German automaker built this gorgeous grand tourer as a roadgoing version of the W194 race car. A three-liter straight-six under the hood, as well as a lightweight body, made the 300SL an incredible machine.
Apart from the exceptional performance, the 300SL was simply jaw-dropping. The styling is truly timeless, and the vehicle can instantly be recognized by its innovative gullwing doors. No wonder the Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing was voted the sports car of the 20th century, back in 1999.
Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG
Much like the previously mentioned Mustang Mach-E, the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG is a spiritual successor and not a direct one. Although this grand tourer theoretically replaced the Mercedes McLaren SLR, the SLS AMG pays tribute to the legendary Gullwing. Just like the original 300 SL, the SLS is even fitted with gullwing doors.
Under the hood, the SLS AMG packs an enormous 6.2L V8. This grand tourer can reach 60 miles per hour in only 3.8 seconds, while the top speed is nearly 200mph. While the car has been replaced by the AMG GT in 2015, its successor is not related to the original Gullwing.
In 1965, shortly after the debut of the Mustang, GM was rumored to release a competitor to Ford’s pony car. The project was code-named Panther. A year later, the Chevrolet Camaro was officially unveiled for the 1967 model year. The car was built on the brand new F-Body platform, shared between the Camaro and the Pontiac Firebird.
While the base model came powered by a small flat-six motor, Chevrolet offered the Camaro with a variety of different V8 powerplants as well, including a 427-cubic inch big-block. The Camaro turned out to be a success, with over 220,000 units sold within the first year.
Chevrolet revived the Camaro nameplate in 2010, following an 8-year long absence on the market. The latest, sixth-generation of the Camaro, went on sale for the 2016 model year.
The base model is fitted with a fuel-efficient 2.0L flat-four, ideal for the daily commute. Those who want more performance from their Camaro can opt for the V8-powered SS variant. The ZL1, just like the one photographed above, is the ultimate version of the Chevrolet Camaro. It packs a powerful 650-horsepower supercharged V8 under the hood!
Back in the mid-1980s, all automakers that wanted to compete in the Group A Touring Motorsport series had to create 5,000 roadgoing units of their race cars. BMW had to turn their race car, based on the E30 3-Series, into a homologated production vehicle. Just a year later, the performance-oriented BMW M3 was born.
The original M3 came powered by BMW’s S14 four-cylinder motor, rated at just below 200 horsepower. The powerplant was mated with a 5-speed manual, no automatic variant was offered.
The latest, sixth-generation of the BMW M3 debuted in 2020 for the 2021 model year. One of the most distinguishable features is the car’s front fascia, complete with an enormous grille. Although the controversial exterior design polarized the BMW fanbase, there are no doubts regarding the vehicle’s impressive performance.
The standard variant of the new BMW M3 is powered by the same 3.0L twin-turbo flat-six motor that can be found in the latest X3 M SUV. The engine peaks at 473 horses, though the optional M3 Competition package increases the power output to 503 horsepower. The 0-60 sprint was not disclosed just yet, though it is expected to be around 3.5 seconds.
Mercedes-Benz G Wagon
The G-Class is one of the oldest Mercedes-Benz vehicles that are still in production today. While the modern G Wagon is an exclusive luxury SUV, its predecessor was a lot more spartan. The first-ever production G Wagon debuted for the 1980 model year.
The vehicle quickly became renowned as one of the most capable off-roaders on the market, while still being relatively civilized. Powerplant options varied from a 2.0L flat-four up to a 2.8L flat-six, diesel engines were offered as well. The W460 generation of the G Class was eventually replaced by its successor in the early 1990s.
Mercedes-Benz G63 AMG
The latest G-Class went on sale in 2018. Mercedes-Benz managed to preserve the spartan spirit of the original G Wagon, while fitting the SUV with an array of luxurious features. The G has gone from a utilitarian off-roader to a much more sophisticated vehicle, which has become a favorite among wealthy car buyers.
The base model of the latest G-Class is fitted with a monstrous 416-horsepower twin-turbocharged V8 under the hood. The top-of-the-line G63 AMG is the most powerful variant, rated at 577 horses. It can sprint to 60 miles per hour in just 4 and a half seconds!
The Dodge Charger, one of the most recognizable American muscle cars, originally debuted back in 1966. The first generation of the car, which was only on the market for two years, shared the front fascia with the Dodge Coronet. Over the next years, the Charger evolved into one of the most iconic muscle cars of all time.
The original Dodge Charger was offered with different powerplant options under the hood, all of which were naturally-aspirated V8 motors. The base model was fitted with the 318-cubic inch engine. Dodge even sold the Charger with the monstrous 426-cubic inch Hemi V8!
There is absolutely no doubt that the legendary Charger has come a long way. The vehicle was discontinued in the late 1980s, following a dramatic decline in sales largely due to the oil crisis. Then, the iconic nameplate returned in 2006. Unlike its predecessors, the 21st century Dodge Charger was a 4-door sedan and not a coupe.
Despite a change in the body style, the muscle car DNA of the Charger was carried over to the newest model. In its most powerful variant, the Charger SRT Hellcat Redeye, peaks at a whopping 797 horsepower from its supercharged 6.2L V8.
Shortly after the debut of the original 8-Series, many car buyers believed that the stylish grand tourer was a successor to the 6-Series. In reality, the E31 8-Series was an entirely new model class. This upscale coupe came powered by a V8 engine as standard, and the German automaker even fitted a V12 motor for the highest trim level!
The base model 840Ci makes 282 horsepower from its 4.0L V8. The rare 850CSi variant is the most powerful version of the E31. The car’s roaring V12 powerplant makes a whopping 375 horses in total!
BMW revived the 8-Series for the 2019 model year, following a 2-decade long absence on the market. Like its iconic predecessor, the new 8-Series was initially only offered as a 2-door coupe. Shortly after the debut, however, BMW added convertible and 4-door sedan variants to the lineup.
Unlike the E31, the latest 8-Series is available as a souped-up M8 developed by BMW’s Motorsport division. The M8 can reach 60 miles per hour in just 3.3 seconds, thanks to its 591-horsepower 4.4L twin-turbocharged V8. The optional Competition package adds over 20 horses more, improving the 0-60 sprint by a tenth of a second.
The history of Porsche’s flagship sports car, the legendary 911, dates back to the late 1950s. The 911 was developed as a successor to the Porsche 356. It launched in late 1963 and took the world by storm. The car’s lightweight body paired with an air-cooled boxer engine mounted behind the driver made the 911 a great all-rounder.
Throughout its production, the classic 911 saw a wide array of different trim levels and variants. One of the most sought-after models from that era is the Carrera RS, which debuted in 1973. The Carrera RS, short for Rennsport, was the ultimate version of the German sports car at the time.
Porsche 911 (992)
The latest, eighth-generation of the Porsche 911 went on sale in 2019. The iconic exterior styling has remained a distinctive feature of the sports car, complete by a variety of sleek-looking modern touches. There is no doubt that the 992 is a proper Porsche 911.
The 992 911 continues to have a rear-mounted powerplant, though it is no longer cooled by air. In fact, the last 911 fitted with an air-cooled motor was the 993 from the 1990s. Even the base version of the 992 packs a punch, it’s capable of sprinting to 60 miles per hour in just 4.2 seconds!
Rolls Royce Phantom
Aside from being one of the most luxurious vehicles of the 1920s, the original Phantom doubles as the oldest vehicle on our list. This lavish British sedan has been around for nearly a century! The first-ever Phantom debuted back in 1925.
The original Rolls Royce Phantom came powered by an enormous 7.7L flat-six motor, that made around 50 horsepower. Interestingly, the British manufacturer offered the Phantom with either a 3-speed manual or a 4-speed automatic transmission. It was the only automatic Phantom all the way until the 1950s!
Rolls Royce Phantom
Rolls Royce, which is now owned by BMW, released the latest eighth-gen Phantom in 2017. The sedan became the true epitome of luxury. Car buyers who would like to own one should expect to pay upwards of $450,000. All units are assembled by hand at the Rolls Royce plant in Goodwood.
Not only is the new Phantom gorgeous, but it is also rather powerful. Under the hood, the lavish sedan packs a 6.75L V12 rated at 563 horsepower. It can reach 60 miles per hour in just 5.3 seconds.
Land Rover Defender
The original Defender, much like the previously mentioned Mercedes-Benz G Wagon, was initially designed to be a utilitarian off-roader. The Defender, first introduced on the market in 1990, was just that. It quickly gained the reputation as one of the most capable British 4x4s.
Land Rover sold all kinds of the original Defender. At first, the vehicle made a little over 100 horsepower from its diesel powerplant. Land Rover continued perfecting the Defender throughout the next decades. The vehicle was eventually discontinued in 2016.
Land Rover Defender
The Defender returned for the 2020 model year, following a four-year absence on the market. The revised SUV features a dramatic change in styling inside and out, as well as an arsenal of new powerplant options.
Buyers can choose from 3-door and 5-door body styles of the new Defender, as well as an array of different motors under the hood. Available motors range from a 2.0L diesel, through hybrid electric powerplants, all the way to a supercharged V8. In its most powerful configuration, the 2020 Defender can sprint to 60 miles per hour in just 5.2 seconds!
The Soarer first went on sale in 1981 and the coupe proved to be an instant success. The vehicle quickly won the Car Of The Year Award in Japan essentially directly after its debut. The first-gen Soarer came loaded with some of the most modern tech features available at the time, including a touchscreen-controlled air conditioning system, or a digital gauge cluster.
Toyota offered five different engine options during the four-year-long production run of the original Soarer. The base model was powered by a fuel-efficient 2.0L flat-six, while the 3.0L flat-six was the most powerful variant.
The Lexus LC, short for Luxury Coupe, debuted for the 2018 model year. Although it is not theoretically a Toyota Soarer, the LC is a direct successor of the Lexus SC, a grand tourer from the early 1990s that replaced the Toyota Soarer.
The Lexus LC is more than just a great-looking grand tourer. It packs anywhere between 295 and 471 horsepower, depending on the variant. The LC500h is a petrol hybrid powered by a V6 paired with a 132kW electric motor, while the LC500 is fitted with a powerful 5.0L V8 under the hood.
Nissan Skyline GTR
The legacy of the Nissan Skyline dates back to the late 50s. The Japanese automaker unveiled the Skyline, a brand new luxury vehicle, in 1957. The original Skyline came fitted with an economic flat-four under the hood.
At first, Nissan focused on luxury rather than performance. The first souped-up GTR variant arrived in the late 1960s, based on the third generation of the Skyline. The GTR was fitted with a brand new flat-six powerplant, similar to the one found in Nissan race cars at the time, rated at 160 horsepower.
The Nissan GTR made a return in 2007. This time, however, it was a completely separate model and not a souped-up version of the Skyline. Contrary to popular belief, the newest Nissan GTR is indeed not a Skyline.
The GTR R35 received a major facelift in 2017. Apart from a much-needed visual refresh, the supercar now makes nearly 100 horsepower more than the pre-facelift model. The ultimate GTR Nismo is even more powerful, its total power output is a whopping 601 horsepower.
Toyota Celica Supra
Some petrolheads may be surprised to hear that the Celica and Supra used to be the same vehicle. The first Celica Supra debuted back in 1978 as a lightweight sports car offered at an affordable price tag. Toyota offered three different flat-six engine options beneath the hood, ranging from a 123hp 2.0L up to a less powerful 2.8L rated at 116 horses.
Three generations later, the Japanese automaker decided to separate the Celica from the Supra. The first proper Supra was launched in 1986, alongside the fourth generation of the Celica.
Toyota revived the legendary Supra nameplate in 2019, following a nearly 2-decade-long absence on the market. The highly-anticipated model polarized die-hard fans of the older Supra. Nonetheless, there is no doubt that the fifth-gen Supra is the ideal all-rounder in its price range.
The latest Supra is a collaboration between Toyota and BMW, hence the sports car shares many of its components with the new BMW Z4, including the platform and the powerplant options. In its most basic variant, the new Supra peaks at 194 horsepower coming from its 2.0L flat-four engine. The optional 3.0L flat-six delivers nearly twice as much in its most powerful configuration.
Releasing the XK120 in 1948 was a major milestone for Jaguar. The British automaker had stopped producing sports cars, following the discontinuation of the SS Jaguar 100 in 1939. After a nine-year-long break, Jaguar returned to the sports car market in style.
The stylish XK120 was available either as a drop-top or a coupe. Under the hood, the sports car packed a 3.4L flat-six rated at 160 horsepower, though some units modified by dealers peaked at 220hp. Aerodynamics was not much of a concern when designing automobiles back then, the XK120 was actually quicker with the front windshield removed!
Jaguar’s flagship sports car line was resurrected for the 21st century. Although the British marque did make souped-up sedans such as the XKRS, none of the sporty models ever lived up to the XK120. Until the F-Type was unveiled in 2013, that is.
The car’s most powerful variant, the F-Type SVR, comes with a supercharged 5.0L V8 under the hood. The SVR is indeed a monstrous machine, although even the base model packs a punch. The standard F-Type is powered by a 300-horsepower flat-four motor, enabling the car to reach 60mph in around 5 and a half seconds. What’s more, the F-Type recently underwent a facelift for the 2021 model year.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W116)
The first generation of the lavish S-Class, short for Sonderklasse (German for special class), debuted in the early 70s. The German automaker had already been designating upscale sedans with the letter S for decades, though it remained unofficial. This is why the W116 from 1972 is considered to be the first real S-Class.
Just like its modern counterparts, the first-ever S-Class came equipped with all sorts of modern comfort and safety features. Its hydropneumatic self-leveling suspension system, never seen in a Mercedes before, ensured a smooth and comfy ride for the occupants. It is no surprise that the W116 won the Car Of The Year Award just two years after its debut.
Mercedes-Benz S-Class (W223)
The S-Class remained a vital part of the Mercedes-Benz lineup. The latest, eighth-generation of the lavish sedan debuted for the 2021 model year. As always, the newest S-Class is expected to set the standards for its rivals in the coming years.
The W223 S-Class is the first vehicle equipped with the all-new MBUX 2.0 infotainment system, complete with fingerprint recognition and a virtual voice-activated assistant. Some of the other impressive features found in the new S-Class include an augmented-reality head-up display. That way, the driver can see directions without ever having to take their eyes off the road.
We would have probably never gotten the iconic 250 GTO, if it wasn’t for motorsport homologation requirements. Back in the 1960s, every automaker who wanted to compete in the FIA Group 3 Grand Touring series had to create roadgoing variants of their race cars. Then, in 1962, the Ferrari 250 GTO was born.
The Italian automaker built only 36 units of the Gran Turismo Omologato, or GTO for short. The jaw-dropping Berlinetta came powered by a roaring V12 beneath the hood, mated with a 5-speed manual transmission.
The LaFerrari carried over the spirit of the 250 GTO. After all, even the Italian automaker refers to it as the definitive Ferrari. The hypercar saw a short production run strictly limited to just 710 units in total, 500 coupes, and 210 Aperta roadsters.
At the time of its release back in 2013, the LaFerrari was the most powerful Prancing Horse ever built. Its V12 powerplant mounted behind the driver makes a whopping 500 horsepower in total! The LaFerrari can reach 60 miles per hour in under 3 seconds, while the top speed is 220mph.
Ford developed the GT40 race car to beat Ferrari at the 24 Hours of Le Mans endurance race, which the Italian automaker dominated for five years in a row since 1960. Ford developed 105 units of the race car, all of which were fitted with a rear-mounted V8 engine. The engine options varied from a 255-cubic inch powerplant all the way up to a big-block 427-cubic inch motor.
Ford’s efforts to beat Ferrari finally paid off in 1966. The Ford GT40 continued on a three-year-long winning streak. The vehicle was eventually retired and replaced by the Ford P68 race car.
Ford revived the GT nameplate for the 2005 model year when the automaker released a stylish supercar inspired by the legendary GT40 race car. Ford expected to sell 4,500 units of the car, though only ended up producing 4,038 examples before ceasing the production in 2006.
The GT returned yet again for the 2017 model year. The sleek supercar clearly draws inspiration from Ford’s legendary race car of the 1960s. Ford even won the 24 Hours of Le Mans in 2016 with the GT, shortly after the car’s debut.
The Miura is undoubtedly one of the most significant supercars in the history of the automotive industry. Apart from being one of the first cars ever made by Lamborghini, the Miura is also considered to be the first supercar ever. Without Ferruccio Lamborghini and his eccentric creation, we may have never gotten supercars as we know them today.
The Miura was unveiled for the 1966 model year. Lamborghini produced three different variants of the Miura, all of which were powered by a high-revving V12 mounted behind the driver. Only 764 units were built, hence the Miura has become a valuable classic that’s highly sought-after by wealthy collectors.
Lamborghini Aventador SVJ
The Aventador is Lamborghini’s latest addition to the extravagant V12-powered supercar lineup. The Italian marque refreshed the Aventador in 2017, six years after the car’s initial debut.
The Aventador SVJ remains the ultimate version of the monstrous supercar. It packs an enormous V12 mounted behind the driver, which is capable of generating up to 759 horsepower. In effect, the SVJ can accelerate to 60 miles per hour in less than 2.8 seconds! The top speed is nearly 220 miles per hour. At the time of its release in 2018, the Aventador SVJ held the record for the fastest lap time around the infamous Nurburgring.
Volkswagen Golf GTI
The original Golf GTI has one thing in common with the previously mentioned Lamborghini Miura. Just like the Italian supercar, the debut of the Golf GTI resulted in the creation of a whole new segment of the car market. The Miura created the supercar, while the GTI is the original hot hatch.
The Golf GTI was quite a hit back in the 1970s, though its performance figures are nowhere near as impressive by today’s standards. It can accelerate to 60mph in over 9 seconds, though the lightweight body dramatically improved the car’s handling.
Volkswagen Golf R
The latest, eighth generation of the beloved Volkswagen Golf was unveiled in late 2019. Although the powerful GTI trim level is still offered on modern Golfs sold today, the German automaker introduced a whole different version that’s even more performance-oriented!
The Golf R is the souped-up Golf that’s all about performance. Its 2.0L flat-four motor pushes out over 300 horsepower, enabling this hot hatch to reach 60 miles per hour in only around 3 seconds! Don’t expect it to be anywhere as fuel-efficient as the 89-horsepower base model, though.
The original Mini could very well be the most recognizable British automobile of all time. This cute city car first went on sale back in 1959, as a result of increased demand for fuel-efficient vehicles. The spike in demand was driven by a fuel shortage caused by the Suez Crisis of 1956.
The Mini was powered by an array of different flat-four motors throughout the car’s nearly 40-year-long production run. The car’s lightweight body made the Mini a great-performing car, and the little city car saw great success in rally motorsport throughout the 60s and the 70s.
The classic Mini may have been discontinued in 2000, though its spirit has lived on. The Mini marque was created by BMW following the German automaker’s divestment in the Rover Group. The latest, third-gen of the modern Mini, debuted for the 2014 model year.
The DNA of the classic Mini was successfully carried over to its younger cousin. The car is still a great-performing city car, many owners claim it handles like a large go-kart. What’s more, BMW created the powerful John Cooper Works GP for those who seek ultimate performance from the new Mini. It can accelerate to 60mph in just 5.2 seconds!