Thought you'd seen the last of the Dodge Dart? Not so fast: Hoping to ride the wave of boomer nostalgia, carmakers are updating classics like the 1964 Mustang convertible shown here and reviving dormant brands like the Dart. We rounded up some old favorites and paired them with the updated models. They're new — but are they improved?
Its production spearheaded by Lee Iacocca, the first so-called pony car was an instant game-changer on its unveiling at the 1964 World's Fair: More than 22,000 models flew out of showrooms the first day, and over a million were sold in less than two years. Ford's yearlong 50th-birthday celebration will culminate with the release of a sixth-generation Mustang in April 2014.
The original 1960 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 discontinued it in 1976, the Dart was known as a granny car. Nobody's knocking it now: This zippy new version was inspired by Alfa Romeo's Giulietta.
Launched as a two-door coupe in 1966, the Charger was a hit with NASCAR drivers and lead-footed consumers. Though it would go on to TV stardom (as The General Lee on The Dukes of Hazzard), it was phased out of production by 1978. The muscle car charged back to life in 2006 as a four-door sedan.
What could compete with the Mustang? Chevy's answer — the Camaro, debuting in 1967 — peaked in popularity in the 1970s. Camaro sales slowly faded until Chevy retired the model in 2002. The revamped version returned in 2010, aiming to "unite customers with fond memories" of Camaros gone by.
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. Though it's still manufactured in Britain, the Mini's maximum sales are in the U.S.
First produced in 1953, the zippy Corvette took its name, aptly, from a small, fast gunship. Sixty years later, "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.
By the time Cadillac released its Eldorado Convertible in 1953, the carmaker's name conjured 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 recent hits like its CTS sedan (shown here) and luxury SUV Escalade.
The Italian import's adorable size (it was named for its 500 cubic-centimeter engine) made it legendarily countercultural in the late-1950s era of huge cars. Fiat — Fabricca Italiana Automobil Torino, Italy's largest carmaker and now the majority stakeholder in Chrysler — produced the 500 until 1976, then revived it in its current version for its 50th anniversary in 2007.
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 this sleek shape that honors the original.
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.
After an ignominious start — Hitler commissioned the first models — the Beetle chugged on to become the most famous small car on the planet. Its popularity flagged after its '60s heyday, then exploded when VW rebooted the brand in the late 1990s. A new model due out next year integrates iPhone technology: It will be called — what else? — the iBeetle.
PROMO:The '60s and '70s roar back — to a showroom near you