Famous Cars That Got Better with Time
text size: A- A+
Everything new is good, and everything old is no so good – depressing isn’t it. But that’s not really how the world works. Glossy magazines are filled with incredible celebrity transformation stories, and the readers are gobbling them up. A year of gym membership, a nutrition expert, a bit of lip gloss and mascara can radically transform somebody.
Well, it works much the same way for cars, and much like those glossy magazine readers like their transformation stories, it’s time we enjoyed our own. Here are some of the cars that have become better versions of themselves.
In 2005, Lamborghini took the changes it made to the special edition Gallardo SE and made them mainstrea. These included a new exhaust that have 20 more hp, a suspension revision, a new steering rack and different gearing. The next year, they took the top off, and two years after that they introduced the LP560-4 with a 560 PS 5.2-liter V10 with direct fuel injection.
In 2010, they launched the 570-4 Superleggera with carbon fiber panels and 10 more hp. They also created two rear-wheel drive version, a coupe and a spyder. Starting with the 2013 model year launched in October 2012, the Gallardo will be facelifted once again.
So, just like those Hollywood celebrities, the Gallardo has lost weight, put on some muscle, sharpened up its look and verbal skills. It will certainly be in production for at least 10 years in total, proof that cars can get better with time.
If the 911 was a Hollywood star, it would be one freakishly obsessed with the details. A normal person who doesn’t know about cars wouldn’t know the difference between the 996 and the 991, separated by 14 years, and that’s because every little bit of the car has been re-engineered a little bit. That’s like working out a whole year for a major role as a famous athlete, moving every muscle a bit until its perfectly placed.
It has always been a rear-engined car, but since its introduction in 1963, it has evolved. It gained all-wheel drive and raced in the desert, it became a convertible and the Americans liked it, and with the launch of the Type 996 in 1998, it got water-cooled engines and a big chassis.
How did the 911 get better over time? Well, it stopped being a deathtrap, since the engine moved forward bit by bit. It’s always been relevant, modern and generally well received… a bit like Madonna. I agree that electric steering might not sound fun in the 991, but this car is probably the most efficient sportscar in the world right now, and that’s also evolution.
The first generation came in 1976 as a collaborative project between Cologne and Essex offices. You though the 1-liter Ford engine is brand new? Back the, the Fiesta came with a 957cc motor, which as little as 40 hp and a top speed as low as 85 mph (137 km/h). Does 0 to 100 km/h (62 mph) in about 18 seconds sound fun to you?
What’s more, superminis built in 70s and 80s came with this sort of “build them and make people squeeze in ideology”. It was only 3,575 mm (140 inches) long and there are cars of that time that were even more crammed. I seat four people… sure you do big boy!
By comparison, the current one looks positively huge, doesn’t it. And that’s because it is. We’re not fans of the underpowered motors everybody offers in superminis, but there are no horror stories with the current car, and we haven’t gotten to the best part yet.
The styling for the new Ford Fiesta is a million times better than the old one. From a box with the face of a van, it has has become an automotive expression of art. It has sweeps and curves, an Aston Martin-like grille and headlights inspired by the eyes of an angel. I’m exaggerating of course, but most superminis are much better versions of themselves.
Just look at it sitting there with its ugly grille, ugly headlights and 1.8-liter engine, laughing at you because you couldn’t buy anything else. It looks like something not even a mother would love, but somebody repeatedly kissed this frog to make it better, and while it still lets out the odd ‘ribbit’ once in a while, you can almost call it a price now.
While we’re on the Hyundai subject, no other brand has ever improved so much over time. They got their own turbo small engines, their own 8-speed automatics, their own styling which they don’t steal from the Germans any more and their own racing divisions.
Production of the first generation Prius began a full year before the Ford Focus, so it’s quite a revolutionary idea, but my God was it ever a nasty piece of machinery. The first one looked like a Nissan Micra with a boot glued onto it. With time, it got steadily prettier, and the 2011 facelift is so good to look that they gave it a bespoke color, “Blizzard Pearl” white. Having a hybrid powertrain doesn’t sound so impressive, but the current model has an electric water pump, which made it the first production car with no accessory belts. That, the 50 mpg IEPA estimate) and the cool better looks makes this a cool evolution. This is the automotive equivalent of the housewife makeovers – it’s not the Mona Lisa, but we’re glad they fixed the face.
Take the Golf GTI for example. This bad boy is the granddaddy of the hot hatchback. When it came onto the scene, people realized British sportscars weren’t all that fun, fast or practical to live with. The first generation arrived in 1976 and instantly became an icon. Yet by the fourth incarnation it became heavier, bigger, uglier and slower. The MkV that followed was good, but the MkVI was only marginally improved and the MkVII coming next year is much the same story. Sure, it’s shed a few pounds, but it seems to have forgotten where it came from and it uses basically the same engine, with only 20 hp added across two generations and almost a decade.
UP NEXT: AFT Halia, A Custom Fighter Built by Models [Photo Gallery] Tip: navigate with ← and →
comments written so far
On 7 October 2012 at 12:00 UTC, Konrad Szejdewik said:
First comment on this site.
all testdrives →