There are plenty of motor manufacturers that have resurrected an old model name from their back catalogue and stuck it on the back of a modern car to try and milk the nostalgia value. Some, like the new Mini, have been a roaring success, while others like the revitalized Beetle have been less so.
Wouldn’t it be nice though to see some of these classics reimagined for the modern age but without losing the essence of what made these cars so great in the first place. We aren’t opposed to electric power or modern electronics but there is little point in totally reengineering a car and just sticking a name on it. Some have such iconic lines that the changes could be limited to the running gear and interior alone.
We picked a few of our favourite classics that were great in their day and imagined what they would be like if their manufacturers were to offer them as refreshed models today, not necessarily as cutting-edge new cars but something more in the vein of the Jaguar E-Type Zero, a vehicle that manages to combine the best elements of both the past and the present.
BMW 02 Series
The 02 Series BMW was a development of the ‘New Class’ saloons that had put the company back on the path to profitability, and with models like the 2002 tii and Turbo, they also became a preeminent sports luxury saloon manufacturer.
The closest modern equivalent is the 2 Series which is a fine car but what we want to see is a modernized version of the old car, with its manual transmission, naturally aspirated engine and lightweight bodyshell.
Such a thing would be impossible thanks to modern safety and emissions regulations but a base model of the current 2 Series with a few retro touches could be the perfect entry-level driver’s car that BMW used to excel at.
The P1800 is still one of the most beautiful cars ever made and definitely the prettiest Volvo around. Its looks got it noticed in its home country and Roger Moore gave it global appeal as he swanned around in one in The Saint.
The upcoming Polestar 1 recaptures some of this style but what we really need is a lightly updated P1800 with a few extra airbags and safety devices and Volvo’s T8 twin-engine hybrid for good measure.
Alfa Romeo Spider
Alfa Romeo have been back on form recently with great sporty offerings like the Giulia saloon and 4C sports car but where is a modern rendition of the classic Spider convertible?
A slightly modified Spider that has echoes of the original’s beautiful lines would be perfect. The base 200 bhp 2.0-litre petrol engine would do nicely as long as the sole transmission option was a six-speed manual.
Rolls-Royce Silver Ghost
Considered to be the ‘best car in the world’ by many, the Silver Ghost was a technological marvel that showed Rolls-Royce were capable of matching the best auto makers in the world.
That was back in 1906 though, and while there is little doubt that Rolls-Royce are still making some rather fine (albeit BMW-influenced) automobiles, a new Silver Ghost with unique 1920s coachwork and either a silky-smooth V12 or perhaps a new-fangled electric motor could be just the thing for the ultra-wealthy.
Getting something similar in size and shape to the original car to pass any sort of safety test would be impossible, so perhaps a loophole would need to be found where it could be registered as a truck (like the Americans do to avoid emissions regulations) or maybe even an ‘occasional luxury conveyance’ that could bypass such middle-class issues.
Saab were ahead of their time in a number of areas, for one they went the turbocharged route across most of their range way before everyone else.
In fact, the 99 Turbo was one of the very first turbocharged production cars ever. Sadly, that cool Scandinavian design style and quirky features were progressively watered down until what remained was a badge engineered Vauxhall. Better to forget that era and focus on the glory years, and the best way to do that is to revive the 99 and 900 models with their weird hatchback profiles and oddly-placed ignition barrels.
Now to find a petrolhead billionaire investor willing to take the plunge.
There may be prettier Lamborghinis and there are most definitely faster ones, but the most striking and famous of them all is the 1970s Countach.
It is best remembered in its more angular and aggressive 1980s facelifted form although the earlier unadorned versions also have their charm. Imagine driving a subtly updated Countach today, perhaps with an air conditioner that actually works and some minor changes to allow you to actually see out the back. Then install the latest version of the 730 bhp 6.5-litre V12 from the Aventador in the middle and you have what is possibly the coolest retro-revived supercar around.
It would have to retain that gated five-speed manual gearbox naturally and perhaps the engineers at Sant’Agata could work some magic on the suspension to ensure that it stays on the road.
Mid-engined V8 Ferraris have been the ‘entry-level’ offerings in the marques line-up ever since the 308 was introduced in 1975. However, whereas the original car made 252 bhp and could reach 60 mph in around 6-seconds, the latest 488 GTB is a 661 bhp monster that gets to 60 in half that time.
It is impressive but as with most new supercars its performance is only really accessible on a race track and you would have to be a racing driver to get the best out of it. So why not take the 308, which is still utterly stunning today, put in a (slightly) more powerful motor and update the admittedly dated interior? 400 bhp would be more than enough and a nice modern touchscreen could replace all those knobs and buttons that festooned the centre console.
A set of lower profile tyres and tastefully designed LED head and taillights would make for the perfect sporty daily-driver.
Porsche have been on something of a roll with their new model releases of late but while they cover just about every segment a modern sports car manufacturer should, it is still missing a big front-engined GT car like the 928 from its range.
The new-generation Panamera is perhaps the closest in spirit to the old two-door fastback and surely it would not take too much modification to build a two-door version of the Panamera. The 928 was the range-topper back in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, its water-cooled V8 and technologically advanced electrical system was a far cry from the ageing 911 it was designed to replace.
We aren’t for a second suggesting that a modern 928 would or should replace that icon but when the world is full of over-powered Porsche-badged SUVs, surely a modern take on the 928 would be well received.
The XJ-S was the belated replacement for the ultra-successful E-Type but thanks to high prices, shoddy early build quality and a focus on luxury rather than outright speed, it never really captured the public’s imagination in the same way.
The two-decade long production span ended in 1996 and with the benefit of hindsight we now know how good these cars could have been if only they were built properly. Now imagine a modern iteration of this V12 grand tourer with up-to-date electronics and a rust-free body shell.
It would be the perfect car for the Jaguar fan who wants something a bit less sporty than the current F-Type.
TVR have been operating on life support for some years now and while its new owners are releasing a brand-new model using the existing Griffith nameplate, we think that they should rather focus on modernizing some of their older cars like the ultra-cool Cerbera.
The interior still looks space-age and those flowing lines only need a few minor adjustments to make it look like a contemporary supercar. We would put the same Cosworth-modified 500 bhp 5.0-litre V8 that TVR are using for the new Griffith in this car.
Everyone’s favourite time-travelling machine has been begging for a modern makeover almost since the day it was released.
John DeLorean’s vision was curtailed due to various production and ‘legal’ issues so while the car looks the business, the 2.8-litre V6 only made 130 bhp and its handling was nothing to write home about either. Now a modern car with a decent turbocharged V6 or even an electric engine to go with the futuristic styling would be the perfect retro-remake.
It would have to be called something else though seeing as DeLorean went out of business in spectacular fashion back in 1983.