The 16 Best Retro-Inspired Production Cars

Jan 24, 2022

Category: Rides

The 1980s took design language in a novel direction, with a proclivity for sharp, jagged lines and vibrant, neon colors becoming the norm. In the years leading up to the new millennium, the ‘80s and ‘90s aesthetic had reached a logical conclusion, and as we entered into the 2000s, the general public began longing for a sense of the past. This would ultimately usher in a new demand for all things nostalgia, with retro-inspired items becoming increasingly popular across a broad array of spaces and industries.

This love for vintage designs began spiking around the turn of the millennium, eventually reaching a fever pitch within the last few years. This trend has permeated everything from watches to motorcycles to clothing to cars — with the latter industry having massively embraced this design direction, looking to its more characterful roots when seeking out inspiration for novel models. And with more contemporary, old-school-flavored models to pick from than ever before, now seemed the perfect time to explore this rapidly-growing sector to deliver this guide to the best retro-inspired production cars.

Vintage Values

What To Consider When Shopping For A Retro-Inspired Car

Purchasing a modern, vintage-inspired production car is a pretty similar experience to purchasing any other type of ride, however, there are a few finer points that are worth exploring when shopping in this particular space. Below, we’ll briefly touch on half a dozen of the most crucial areas to consider before making your final purchase.

Outward Appearance: We’ll start with the most important element, as a model’s outward appearance is what potentially places it in the retro-inspired category. For this reason, we urge any and all shoppers considering this sector to thoroughly scrutinize the exterior design of each model that catches their eye, taking in its shapes and lines from a myriad of vantages and angles. And while aftermarket paint jobs are always an option — though they do hurt a car’s resale value — we’d also recommend looking into the available factory color options each model is offered in.

Technology: Though they may have a retro appearance, underneath the surface of most retro-inspired production cars lies a host of thoroughly modern, cutting-edge technologies and systems. As such, we highly recommend fully delving into the various tech features available for any model you’re reviewing — especially because some of these systems can be fairly game-changing, plus they often account for what’s not an unsubstantial portion of a car’s MSRP.

Powertrain: Whether retro-inspired or modern through and through, a powertrain is the heart of any car, making it a wildly important area to look into when shopping around. On top of exploring if a vehicle is available with an automatic or manual transmission, you’ll also want to learn about an engine’s layout, size, induction system, and power output. For electric vehicles, you’ll want to review aspects such as how many motors are being used, what kind of motor(s) is/are being utilized, how much power it makes, and what kind of range its batteries offer (if it is of the EV variety).

Available Trims & Specs: The vast majority of modern cars are offered in multiple trim levels, and retro rides are no different. Depending on the spec, the same model can hugely differ in terms of performance, power, comfort, features, and of course, price. In a similar vein, it’s also almost just as important to look into the various optional systems and features offered for a particular car.

Brand & History: Driving a vintage-inspired car affords the driver a connection back to previous generations of automobiles and the gear-heads that piloted them, whether that be driving the modern version of a model that was important in your family’s history, or simply getting behind the wheel of a modern-day model that harkens back to a vintage car of historical significance.

Performance: Horsepower and torque figures are helpful, however, these specs are far more illuminating when viewed next to a model’s weight, 0-60mph time, and top-speed, as this gives a much better sense of real-world performance capabilities. A car’s braking and suspension package will also play a major role here, as will the electronics systems and aids that a model may be equipped with. Just because these vehicles are inspired by the models of yesteryear, that doesn’t mean their performance prowess isn’t entirely modern, with many of these retro-styled designs even boasting surprisingly slippery drag coefficients.

The Best Of Both Worlds

The 16 Best Retro-Inspired Cars Currently On The Market

Now that you’re privy to what to look for when shopping, let’s dive into our picks for the best retro-inspired production cars currently available at dealerships — and in some cases, for preorder.

Photo: MINI

Mini Cooper

A modernized take on the ‘50s-era British automotive icon, the Morris Mini-Minor, the current MINI Cooper is a pint-sized, urban commuter car that’s powered by a turbocharged BMW engine and offers go-kart-eqsue performance in a sub-3,000lb package. The MINI is also offered in a limited-edition, track-focused, 301-hp John Cooper Works GP spec.

Vehicle Class: Subcompact
Year Revived: 2002
Engine: Turbocharged 1.5L Inline-Three | Turbocharged 2.0L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 134 – 228

Purchase: $22,900+

Photo: Fiat

Fiat 500X

Originally developed to meet the demand for economical and utilitarian modes of transportation in post-WW2 Italy, the Fiat 500 is one of the most iconic Italian cars of all time. After being reintroduced in 2007, Fiat has more recently debuted a bigger — though still compact — crossover variant that still retains the distinctive design language of the original model from half a century ago.

Vehicle Class: Compact Crossover
Year Revived: 2007
Engine: Turbocharged 1.3L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 177

Purchase: $26,215+

Photo: Ford

Ford Mustang

The Ford Mustang has remained in constant production since its debut in 1964, undergoing a series of major redesigns with each new generation, before unleashing a heavily retro-inspired, fifth-generation model in 2005 that was styled as a contemporary version based on the legendary ‘60s-era pony car. The slightly-less-retro sixth-gen ‘stang is now offered in a total of ten different specs, at the top of which sits the 470-hp Shelby GT500 (seen here).

Vehicle Class: Pony Car
Year Revived: 2005
Engine: Turbocharged 2.3L Inline-Four | 5.0L V8
Horsepower: 310 – 470

Purchase: $27,205+

Photo: Dodge

Dodge Challenger

American muscle starting at below the $30,000 price point, the Challenger represents another beautiful modern interpretation of an automotive classic, remaining more faithful to the original design than its Charger counterpart, thanks to its rounder headlights and more traditionally-styled back wing and tailgate. The highest trim level of this model — the supercharged HEMI-powered SRT Hellcat — also represents one of the single most powerful mass-produced cars currently available.

Vehicle Class: Pony Car
Year Revived: 2008
Engine: 3.6L V6 | 5.7L V8 | 6.4L V8 | Supercharged 6.2L V8
Horsepower: 303 – 807

Purchase: $29,680+

Photo: Jeep

Jeep Wrangler

The eventual successor to the original Willys MB, the Wrangler has long been Jeep’s most iconic model, so much so that it’s often used interchangeably with the marque itself by the common public. While it’s designers have managed to achieve an admittedly modern appearance, the Wrangler is also probably the most faithful design of any modern retro, with its decidedly boxy and rugged aesthetic remaining entirely intact.

Vehicle Class: Compact SUV
Year Revived: N/A
Engine: 3.6L V6 | 3.6L EcoDiesel V6 | Turbocharged 2.0L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 260 – 285

Purchase: $29,725

Photo: Suzuki

Suzuki Jimny

Japan’s take on a classic Jeep, the Suzuki Jimny is a charming modern recreation of the original boxy Jimny LJ10 model from 1970. Just like the Wrangler, the Jimny is still rugged and fairly off-road capable straight off the showroom floor. Unfortunately, this charming little off-road SUV isn’t sold in America.

Vehicle Class: Mini SUV
Year Revived: N/A
Engine: 1.5L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 102

Purchase: $32,990+

Photo: Alpha Motor Corp.

Alpha Motor Corp. Saga Estate

Based in Irvine, California, the Alpha Motor Corporation is a new EV startup that, despite having recently launched, has already unveiled ten different models across four different ranges, one of which is the classically-styled wagon known as the Saga Estate. Weighing just 4,520lbs, the electric wagon boasts a 6.3-second 0-60mph time, a 300+ mile range, and seating for five, along with 35-cubic feet of internal cargo space that’s supplemented via a roof rack.

Vehicle Class: Compact Wagon
Year Revived: N/A
Engine: Electric Dual Motor AWD
Horsepower: N/A

Purchase: $39,000+

Photo: Nissan

Nissan Z

As the Datsun Z series has slowly evolved into the latest Nissan 370Z, the design has grown increasingly modern, however, for the Spring of 2022, the Japanese automaker has returned to the iconic tuner car’s 240Z roots, with a modern take on the design that leaves little doubt as to where the new car draws inspiration from. Under the hood, the new Z packs a twin-turbocharged 3.0-liter V6 that’s good for some 400hp.

Vehicle Class: Sports Car | Coupe
Year Revived: 2022
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 3.0L V6
Horsepower: 400

Purchase: aprx $40,000

Photo: Honda

Honda E

Another freshly-released EV, the Honda E harkens back to urban-focused Class B subcompact cars of the 1980s like the Honda City — or the “Jazz” as it was known in some markets. The E is armed with an AI-backed camera-guided smart side mirror system, a 50/50 weight distribution, a 100kW EV powertrain, an ultra-sleek interior, and a battery with a 137-mile range that can be recharged in as little as 31 minutes.

Vehicle Class: Subcompact
Year Revived: 2022
Engine: RWD Electric Motor
Horsepower: 134

Purchase: $47,115+

Photo: Alpine

Alpine A110

If you’re unfamiliar with its 1960s and ‘70s era predecessor, you could easily be forgiven for thinking the A110 is simply a sleek, exotic modern sports car — which it is. However, with its unique quad headlight arrangement and distinctive silhouette, the mid-engined machine sports a remarkably similar design to the original A110, making this model’s retro influence less readily identifiable.

Vehicle Class: Sports Car | Coupe
Year Revived: 2017
Engine: Turbocharged 1.8L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 245 – 300

Purchase: $66,700+

Photo: Morgan Motor Company

Morgan Plus Four

Headquartered out of Worcestershire, England, the Morgan Motor Company doesn’t so much produce modern machines that are inspired by retro designs and instead continues producing the same 1950s-derived model largely unchanged, save for a few safety and emissions bits, as well as a few creature comforts. Morgan also recently celebrated its class win at the 1962 24 Hours of Le Mans with a limited-edition run of LM racer-inspired Plus Fours.

Vehicle Class: Sports Car | Roadster
Year Revived: 1985
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 2.0L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 255

Purchase: $74,250+

Photo: Mercedes-Benz

Mercedes-Benz G-Class

The now-iconic Mercedes-Benz G-Class — or “G Wagen” — was first developed for military use, starting out as a spartan utilitarian machine — referred to as the “Wolf” — before eventually becoming civilianized, receiving a slew of bells and whistles and creature comforts, and then finally becoming the rolling status symbol that it is today. In addition to being offered in a hand-built AMG spec, the G-Class is also a favorite of luxury tuner outfits like BRABUS.

Vehicle Class: Full-Size SUV
Year Revived: N/A
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 4.0L V8
Horsepower: 416 – 577

Purchase: $133,250+

Photo: Porsche

Porsche 911 Speedster

After an American importer convinced the suits in Stuttgart that the U.S. had a market for an open-top, stripped-down version of the 356, Porsche introduced the 356 Speedster in 1954. The German brand would then pay tribute to this beloved design with modern takes on the model variant, first with the G-Model 911 Speedster in 1988, then the 964 Speedster in 1992, followed by the 993 Speedster in 1995, the 997 Speedster in 2010, and finally the latest iteration, the 991-gen 911 Speedster from 2019 — a naturally-aspirated 502-hp 4.0L flat-six-powered 911 that’s largely based on the GT3 platform.

Vehicle Class: Roadster
Year Revived: 2019
Engine: 4.0L Flat-Six
Horsepower: 502

Purchase: $274,500

Photo: Ford

Ford GT

Despite being a cutting-edge supercar through and through, the current Ford GT does an absolutely phenomenal job of capturing the design language of the 1966 Le Mans-winning GT40 Mk II with its spit-hood design and ultra-aerodynamic teardrop shape. The latest version of this platform replaces the previous generation model’s supercharged V8 engine with a state-of-the-art 647-hp 3.5-liter EcoBoost V6, allowing for even more hair-raising performance.

Vehicle Class: Supercar
Year Revived: 2017
Engine: Twin-Turbocharged 3.5L V6
Horsepower: 647

Purchase: $500,000

Photo: Manifattura Automobili Torino

Manifattura Automobili Torino Stratos

First debuting in 2019, the Manifattura Automobili Torino “New Stratos” is a sleek, modern-day tribute to Lancia’s original Marcello Gandini-designed Group 4 homologation special that’s constructed around the naturally-aspirated 540-hp 4.3-liter V8 platform from Ferrari’s 430 Scuderia. This model’s more than $600K MSRP also affords buyers with a host of personalization and customization options, meaning no two specimens are exactly alike.

Vehicle Class: Boutique Supercar
Year Revived: 2019
Engine: 4.3L V8
Horsepower 540

Purchase: $618,000

Photo: Lamborghini

Lamborghini Countach LPI 800-4

Successor to the legendary Lamborghini Miura, the original Countach was a groundbreaking and highly-influential wedge-shaped supercar that remained in production for the better part of two decades. Over the summer of 2021, the Italian brand revealed that it would be producing a 112-unit run of a modern-day Countach that was based on the Aventador platform and featured a supercapacitor hybrid tech-equipped 6.5L V12 engine that allows for a 220-mph top speed and a 2.8-second 0-60mph time.

Vehicle Class: Limited-Edition Hypercar
Year Revived: 2021
Engine: Hybrid 6.5L V12
Horsepower: 803

Purchase: $2,500,000

Honorable Mention:

Photo: Kimera Automobili

Kimera Automobili EVO37

The Kimera Automobili EVO37 does admittedly tweak the bodywork design of the original Lancia 037 Group B rally racer — as well as replace its construction with carbon fiber — though we’d nonetheless place this honorable mention more in the restomod category. Like the ‘80s-era 037, this modern tribute is outfitted with a mid-mounted 2.1-liter four-banger, though through the use of the latest tuning techniques — and the addition of both a turbocharger and a supercharger — the EVO37 manages to put down a whopping 500hp and 406ft-lbs of torque, giving it in absolutely insane horsepower-per-liter ratio.

Vehicle Class: Homologation Special Tribute
Year Revived: 2021
Engine: 2.1L Inline-Four
Horsepower: 500

Purchase: $586,000

The 15 Best Retro-Style Motorcycles

Want to check out an additional array of vintage-inspired vehicles? Then be sure to cruise on over to our guide to the best retro-style motorcycles you can buy for more than a dozen old-school-flavored two-wheelers currently available on showroom floors.

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