Our ultimate guide to the best retro-inspired cars
In case you haven’t already heard, retro is in. When it comes to fashion (think 90s neon), music (Backstreet’s back, alright!) and yes, even the automotive industry isn’t immune to the wave of nostalgia sweeping the world.
What better way to cash in on millennials who hanker for a time when things were simpler and they were but teenagers?
Of course, you could always get an older car, but that comes with its own set of problems, from increased maintenance costs, to running costs, to insurance premiums.
The cars on this list, however, give you all the chunk without any of the funk — you’ll be able to live out your wildest retro automotive fantasies, but yet be able to enjoy all the benefits of a modern car, such as a plethora of cupholders and air-conditioning that will work day in, day out.
Unless you were born in the 1960s, you probably will have never heard of Alpine (pronounced Al-peen). Arguably its most famous model, the A110 ceased production in 1977 and the brand itself was shuttered by its owners, Renault in 1995.
After several false starts, including shelved revival plans owing to the global recession at the end of the 2000s, the second-generation A110 is finally here. It rolls in with styling that’s best described as faithful to the original, but seen through 2019 lenses.
We’d like to call it retro-modern, but we think that would be doing it a bit of a disservice. It’s instantly recognisable as an Alpine, but it doesn’t look frumpy or retro. It’s perfectly balanced, as all things should be.
BMW 8 Series
The last time a BMW 8 Series rolled off the production line, the year was 1999 and the world was still gripped in the dying throes of the 20th century. Quite appropriate, since the 8 Series of the day was still very much possessed by the 1980s. The first-generation 8 Series was launched in 1990, in a time when neon fuchsia and pop-up headlights were still very much in vogue.
The new 8 Series, however, ditches the pop-up headlights but keeps the original’s nameplate. A significant thing, since back in those halcyon days, the 8 Series was BMW’s rolling technical battleship, introducing technical innovations (four-wheel-steering, electronically-actuated throttle) that can still be seen on the current car.
Another thing that hasn’t changed is how the 8 Series is BMW’s premier grand tourer, and it really does live up to the grand part. Soft leather, premium wood and even cut-glass elements (its gearlever is topped with the material) feature in its cabin. It also has a pretty grand price — some 8 Series variants can cost over $600,000.
As with all long-lived car nameplates, they haven’t all been good, and the Ford Mustang, a car that was first introduced in 1964, is certainly one of them. It may have lost its way for a couple of decades in the 1980s and 1990s, but thankfully, the sixth-generation car is a stunning return to form.
Sporting triple vertically-oriented rear lights that’s a clear homage to the original, the new Mustang is every inch the modern sports car underneath its slinky retro-inspired skin. It’s got a whole new suspension layout, new engine… and well, just about everything, really.
Despite the newness, the current-generation Mustang stays true to its ‘pony car’ roots, given how it has big power, a relatively small price tag and of course, good looks to spare.
The original Suzuki Jimny of the 1970s was envisioned as a cheap to buy, cheap to run little runabout that also could handle the rough-and-tumble of off-road use. Ditto for the new Jimny that made its Singapore debut just a few months ago.
Differing greatly from its rather generic-looking predecessor, the new Jimny is offered in a range of fun, peppy colours including sand-beige and the colour pictured here, a fetching highlighter-yellow. Think one colour is too boring? The Jimny also can be had in two-tone options.
But we think the best part about the Jimny is its retro-inspired styling, beginning with its squared-off, blocky silhouette. Other elements on the car are also inspired by Jimny generations past, including the current car’s clamshell bonnet, round headlights and vertical grille slits.
Volkswagen ID. Buzz
The world at large has been begging Volkswagen to do a modern remake of the beloved Type 2, a car more commonly known as the Microbus, for years now. And Volkswagen has responded… in a sense.
It released a Microbus concept in 2001 and another in 2011, but with no plans for mass production. Up until two years ago, that is. Volkswagen announced it would be putting the ID. Buzz (bus, geddit?) on the roads by 2022, and in a clean break with the original, it would be electric-only.
Oddly enough, the ID. Buzz looks uncannily like the original, even though virtually every styling cue is different, save for the oversized VW emblem adorning its front. We like it, though. It’s a science-fiction reinterpretation of the original Microbus, and if VW can put its fully autonomous driving tech in by that time, so much the better.