Unless you haven’t noticed, anything retro or vintage is cool again, be it in fashion, graphics, or even car design. Hyundai recently paid homage to its humble past with its Ioniq 5 EV, and Aston Martin unveiled a V12 Speedster in an old-school DBR1 livery. On the other hand, British electric conversion specialist Lunaz takes pride in converting 1950s luxury cars into all-electric models. And even here at Budget Direct we haven’t been spared the retro-bug as is evidenced by our research into the world’s most desired extinct motors.
But discovering what extinct cars people still loved wasn’t quite enough for us. We wanted to know, ‘What if cars from these defunct brands made a comeback?’ After that it didn’t take long for our noggins to kick into overdrive. We rounded up some of the most iconic car brands from a long-forgotten era and got cracking. The results, as it turns out, surprised even us.
We couldn’t think of a more iconic roadster than the AC Cobra. The British carmaker is relaunching the world’s most popular sports car as an all-electric restomod with an electric motor hiding under a vintage body shell. However, our modern interpretation of the AC Cobra is enough to make the late, great Carroll Shelby smile in motoring heaven.
The classic AC Cobra shape and detailing remain, but we enhanced certain areas like the front fenders, hood, and a rump that will make Marilyn Monroe blush in envy. We got rid of the classic round headlights to make room for teardrop-shaped lighting units with C-shaped DRLs. And check out those rims.
It seems the entire world got a taste of the Daewoo Matiz in one form or another. Now known as the Chevrolet Spark, the Matiz’s tall-boy styling left a lasting appeal, but we wanted to take it one step further.
We gave it a larger windshield and a slopier hood to give it a lower, sportier stance than the first-gen Matiz. Now, the window line is in sync with the base of the windshield. With edgier body lines and a redesigned façade with oblong headlights and familiar detailing, our modern Matiz looks good enough to give other superminis a run for the cash.
First released in 1967 to replace the aging Vauxhall Viva in Australia, the Holden Torana has a special place in muscle car culture, particularly the third-gen LX Torana SS and SL/R 5000 from 1976. Using the ’76 LX Torana as a baseline, we went bonkers in creating a modern Torana with a sleeker, more muscular shape, all without alienating the retro vibe.
We enhanced the wedge-inspired design and gave it a hatchback-like rear profile, bulkier fenders, and an aggressive face. Keen-eyed viewers will notice the front fenders are an extension of the hood line, extending to form the angular bumper.
We keep hearing the song All I Have to Do Is Dream by the Everly Brothers each time we look at the Hudson Hornet, and that’s not a bad thing. We like the song, sure, but the first-gen Hudson Hornet is not a bad car. It has a unique step-down chassis design with a lower centre of gravity, making the Hornet one of the best-handling vehicles of its era.
Our modern Hornet is a fusion of 50’s design and contemporary art, or so we think. The original Hornet’s ‘pontoon styling’ is still there, most notably in the rear, no doubt inspired by the hidden rear wheels of the Citroen DS. It also has a canopy windshield, a ridiculously long hood, and chrome detailing all around.
For those old enough to remember, General Motors made a next-gen prototype of the Pontiac Fiero in 1990, but it never made it to production. First introduced in 1984, Fiero’s mid-engine body style reflects the wedge-shaped craze of the ‘70s.
We took that shape and made it more streamlined. It now has a lower silhouette with a wraparound windshield, a longer hood, and a hatch-like rear glass. And instead of fitting hidden headlights, we gave it a permanent set of eyes and a pointier nose.
The Pontiac Firebird is associated with ‘fun’ and ‘hooliganism.’ Admittedly, it’s not easy to redesign an iconic GM muscle car shape and not make it look like a modern Camaro. We exaggerated the pointy bits and gave it a progressive coupe profile. The sharp body lines remain, but it’s clear this isn’t your grandpa’s Firebird.
Of course, we retained the hood scoop for its fire-breathing V8 engine, and we gave it a pair of nostrils that only a mother could love. With a face like that, even the Nissan GT-R will feel insecure.
We saved the best for last. The Reliant Robin is a three-wheeled British oddity that captured the hearts of pop stars, royalty, and commoners alike. It has a fiberglass body, three doors, and a dinky straight-four engine. Sure, it had a balance issue, to be quite honest, but three-wheel oddities are making a comeback in our modern times.
Our modern Reliant Robin may resemble a space capsule. Still, it remains a fun-to-throw-around daily driver with progressive detailing like flush door handles and a more streamlined persona.
Taking a Blast From the Past, or Winding Back the Clock?
Carmakers are reviving old names and vintage designs to recapture the nostalgia of a bygone period. Expect to see more classic revivals as the entire auto industry shifts to an electron-powered realm.
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