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Classic Cars Then and Now

The rides of our youth are hitting the road — from a showroom near you.

Back to the Future

En español | Hoping to ride the wave of boomer nostalgia, carmakers are updating classics like the 1964 Mustang convertible shown here and reviving dormant brands including the Dodge Dart. We rounded up some old favorites and paired them with their contemporary counterparts. Let's drive!

Tom Kelley/Getty Images

Ford Mustang

Spearheaded by Lee Iacocca, the first so-called pony car was a game-changer on its unveiling at the '64 World's Fair: More than 22,000 models flew out of showrooms the first day. Ford's yearlong 50th-birthday celebration culminates with the release of a 6th-generation Mustang next spring.

1964: FPG/Getty Images. 2013: Ford Motor Company

Dodge Dart

The original model was a full-size sedan but the Dart is best remembered in its 1967 compact form, often modified for drag-racing. By the time Dodge ended production in 1976, the Dart was known as a granny car. Nobody knocks it now: Today's Dart was inspired by Alfa Romeo's Giulietta.

 

1960: Bettmann/Corbis. 2013: Dodge Brand Media/AP

Dodge Charger

Launched as a two-door coupe in 1966, the Charger was a hit with NASCAR drivers and lead-footed consumers. It achieved TV stardom as The General Lee on The Dukes of Hazzard but was out of production by 1978. The muscle car charged back to life in 2006 as a four-door sedan.

1966: Performance Image/Alamy 2012: Transtock/Corbis

Chevrolet Camaro

What could compete with the Mustang? Chevy's answer: the Camaro. Debuting in 1967, the car peaked in popularity in the 1970s. Sales slowly faded until Chevy retired the model in 2002. It returned in 2010, aiming to "unite customers with fond memories" of past Camaros.

 

1967: Pat Brollier/Source Interlink Media/Getty Images. 2013: General Motors

Mini Cooper

The original Mini's tiny-box design made this British import a touchstone of the 1960s. BMW purchased the Mini line in the mid-1990s, then brought out its new version in 2001. Although the car is still manufactured in Britain, the Mini's maximum sales are in the United States.

1960 and 2013: BMW

Chevrolet Corvette

First produced in 1953, the zippy Corvette took its name, aptly, from a small, fast gunship. Today, "Corvette" is synonymous with "American sports car." The model has never gone out of production. The 2014 version is the first since 1976 to carry the "Stingray" moniker from the '60s and '70s.

 

1953: Car Culture/Corbis. 2014: Alan Vanderkaay/General Motors

Cadillac

When Cadillac released its Eldorado Convertible in 1953, the carmaker's name was a quintessentially American brand of success. Sales dipped at the end of the 20th century, but Cadillac — 111 years old this year — has rebounded with hits like the CTS sedan (shown here) and luxury SUV Escalade.

1953 and 2014: General Motors

Fiat 500

The Italian import's adorable size (it was named for its 500 cubic-centimeter engine) made it countercultural in the late-1950s era of huge cars. Fiat, which is now the majority stakeholder in Chrysler, produced the 500 until 1976, then revived the car for its 50th anniversary in 2007.

c. 1959: Chrysler Group, LLC. 2013: PRNewsFoto/Chrysler Group LLC/AP Images

Dodge Challenger

Eclipsed by the more elegant design of the Mustang and Camaro, the Challenger was produced only from 1970 to 1975. The name briefly reappeared on a late-1970s subcompact, then roared back to life — and to its muscle-car roots — in 2008 with a sleek shape that honors the original.

1970: Tom Wood/Alamy. 2013: PRNewsFoto/Chrysler Group LLC/AP Images

Ford F-Series

If it ain't broke, don't fix it: The classic American pickup truck was introduced in 1948 and has been in production ever since. Each year brings a few new tweaks, but the country's best-selling truck for more than half a century proves that consistency yields success.

1948 and 2013: Ford Motor Company

Volkswagen Beetle

After an ignominious start (Hitler commissioned the first models) the VW Beetle became the most famous small car on the planet. Its popularity flagged after its '60s heyday, then exploded after a '90s reboot. A model due next year uses iPhone technology: It's called — what else? — the iBeetle.

1967: Performance Image/Alamy. 2014: Volkswagen of America

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Originally published May 2013

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