autoevolution

Automotive Antiquities: Five Of the Oldest Cars Still In Production

American stand-up comedian Aries Spears once said that “to sustain longevity, you have to evolve.” This choice of words holds water even in the automotive sector. As you might have guessed from the headline, an ever-shrinking geezer club is this story's focal point.
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Before we press on with the five of the oldest cars that are still being produced despite their old age, what sort of car qualifies as a four-wheeled old fogy? First and foremost, it must be a passenger vehicle, nothing else.

In addition to that, it must be noted that facelifts, be them visual or mechanical, as well as name changes are also taken into consideration. As long as the platform remains unchanged to the original, everything goes.

Abiding by the “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” adage, the following cars are automotive icons in their own right, save for an unpardonable creation that comes courtesy of mid-2000s General Motors. Of the five fuddy-duddies autoevolution picked for this write-up, one of them is from Japan, one from Great Britain, one from Russia, and the remaining two are of German origin.

Having said that, here are five of the oldest cars still in production:

Suzuki Jimny

Suzuki Jimny \(3rd generation\)
The third-generation Jimny is a car that needs no introduction. Despite its size and seniority, the Japanese mountain goat provides one of the purest off-road experiences there have ever been. For all intents and purposes, the present-day Jimny is the spiritual successor of the LJ10 from 1970, the car that put mini SUVs on the map and paved the way for Suzuki’s 4x4 tradition.

Presented at the 1998 Tokyo Motor Show, the Jimny achieved iconic status almost instantly. There are three primary reasons why fate smiled upon the Jimny. Starting with its cutesy yet rugged design, this is a sport utility vehicle in the most proper sense of the term: the body-on-frame chassis, dual-ratio transfer box, vacuum-locking hubs, and high ground clearance are just what the off-road doctor ordered. What’s more, the tried-and-tested technology the third-generation Jimny prides itself with is a recipe for solid reliability.

The downside to the Suzuki Jimny, however, is that it’s pretty spartan inside. Exposed wires, exposed screws, ridiculously powerful heated seats, and a sea of hard plastic is what the cabin has to offer. It’s also pretty snug inside, especially for the rear passenger. Also, never try your luck at provoking the Jimny with a maneuver like the moose test (i.e. aggressive swerving).

Lada Niva

Lada Niva
The Lada is the arguably the best-known car to originate from Russia. Having made its debut in 1979, what the Western world calls the Riva was phased out of production in 2012. Be that as it may, the Riva is preceded by the Niva. Introduced in 1977 and holding the title of first mass production off-roader with a unibody, the Niva has yet to be consigned to the history books.

Previously known as the VAZ 2121, the Niva is Russia’s equivalent to the CJ series and, to some extent, the Jeep Wrangler. When Auto VAZ was working on development, the engineers and design team had only a handful of high-priority pointers: cheap, easy to maintain, and capable when the going gets rough. And yes, first models were rudimentary as a child’s drawing. The current-day Niva, which is dubbed Lada 4x4, is no rocket science either.

The bottom line is, the magic can be found in this compact SUV’s simplicity and capability. Instead of gratuitous praise, it’s more worthy to mention that the men and women who work at the Bellingshausen research station use Nivas to get around. In Antarctica. At sub-zero temperatures. ‘Nuff said.

Morgan 4/4

Morgan 4/4 80th Anniversary
Arguably the oldest car featured in this story, the Morgan 4/4 is characterized as being “a nimble and agile drivers’ car.“ That’s half true, though, especially if you bear in mind that the 2016 Morgan 4/4 is pretty much the same car as the 4/4 Series II from 1955. Be that as it may, just looking at it takes you back to an epoch where gentlemen wore tweed jackets and smoked pipe tobacco.

Only 386 units were made in the period from 1955 to 1960, all equipped with an asthmatic Ford 100E 1.2-liter four-banger. The current model, which dates back to 2009, ships with the Ford Sigma 1.6-liter and a Mazda-sourced five-speed stick shift. With 110 hp and 97 lb-ft (131 Nm) on tap, it’s far from being as exciting as a modern sports car like the Mazda MX-5. But still, the 4/4 is universally regarded as one of the purest sports cars money can buy.

There’s no question that Morgan 4/4 ownership is a truly unique experience, like the car itself and the driving dynamics alike. Like all Morgans, only the finest materials are used to handcraft the 4/4, piece by piece. As an added bonus to jumping on the Morgan bandwagon, the low-volume British company can tailor the 4/4 according to the customer’s wishes and budget.

Opel Antara

Opel Antara
Oh dear, what the heck was General Motors thinking about when it developed the Antara? Marketed as the Opel Antara, Vauxhall Antara, Holden Captiva 5, Chevrolet Captiva, Daewoo Winstorm MaXX, and closely related to the U.S.-spec Saturn Vue, this fugly crossover is one of The General's lowest points.

The Antara could’ve been a truly beautiful thing if the production version were a more faithful reiteration of the Antara GTC Concept presented in 2005. But when the Antara debuted in 2006, just about everyone who was willing to give it a chance was disappointed by the damn thing. Beyond the unsightly design, this crossover is a regular with the lower end of reliability surveys.

Niggles also include an inexplicably small trunk, cheap-feeling cabin, and high running costs. To its defense, the Antara can hold its own off the beaten path, coping well with not-too-serious scenarios like greenlaning. But the truth of the matter is that the Antara is a mediocre successor to the Isuzu-based Opel Frontera. Fingers crossed Opel’s upcoming flagship SUV will be a better effort.

Mercedes-Benz G-Klasse (W463 generation)

Mercedes\-Benz G\-Class \(W463 generation\)
Few things can hold a candle to the G’s timeless appeal. Not only that, but the G-Wagen overflows with class, style, and magnificence that are befitting to the three-pointed star. Even the G 350d Professional, which comes with manual winding windows, is built by hand and it kicks off from €79,968. That’s $88,900 or thereabout at current exchange rates, a.k.a. SL territory.

Internally referred to as the W463, the G-Class we have today is best viewed as a significant revision of the W461 generation from 1979. In the strangest twist of fate Mercedes-Benz could have ever imagined, the military-spec G-Wagen feels at home in war zones as the civilian models do on Rodeo Drive. And it’s easy to understand why people are willing to spend big on Gs, especially an AMG-ified model or the utterly absurd 6x6 behemoth.

It’s unashamedly luxurious, it offers a commanding driving position, closing the doors might sound remarkably similar to shutting a safe, and it has not one, not two, but three full-locking differentials. It’s no wonder, then, why Albania’s army and the Kardashian family roll in Gs. On that note, here’s what Canadian singer The Weeknd has to say about the G-Wagen: “Infatuated by the fame status / She wanna ride inside the G-Class Grain, matted."

Editor's note: Curious which are the longest-enduring nameplates of the auto industry?

 
 
 
 
 

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