Do you ever see a car and think “hmm, that looked dodgy when it was new but it looks alright these days”? It’s true, sometimes those designers you thought were mad at the time, were actually onto a slow burner. Often it’s the case that a particular brand or design era had a habit of creating multiple cars that grew into their looks. Where appropriate, they’ll get a shoutout alongside the headline cars we’re about to list. These are the cars that aged well...
Eleven cars that aged well
There was a lot of debate around what Ferraris we should put in here because honestly, many of them looked a bit weird from new and wound up growing into their looks. I happen to think the F50 has always looked excellent. Many others derided it on its debut for being frumpy and bulbous, following the sharp-edged (but let’s face it, not exactly beautiful) F40. Those same people would probably tell you the Senna looks good, the tasteless fools.
Ahhh, Bangle-era BMWs. He was the car designer everyone loved to hate in the mid-2000s but let’s be real here, a lot of his designs have aged wonderfully. The E9X 3 Series, the E63 6 Series and many more. None more so we think, than the Z4. At the time it was described as ‘wonky’ and criticised for its big slab of a bonnet. Today, it looks muscular and fantastically proportioned. The aggressive straight-six engines you can get them with perfectly reflect the smooth yet aggressive character of its looks.
Jaguar S-Type R
Hear us out, please. Yes, the S-Type was at the time so ugly, it inspired a continental shift in the entire Jaguar design direction. But we challenge you to find an immaculate S-Type R in the classifieds, with those smoked out mesh grilles and darkened lights and not go “hmmm”. We’ll concede it’ll probably never not be gawky but it’s certainly aged well. Hello? Are you still there?
Morgan Aero 8
No? Okay, well you probably weren’t going to like this entry either. The famous “cross-eyed” Morgan Aeros of the early 2000s. Even the Malvern masters conceded that the Aero needed a new look when they gave the Series 3 a Mini Cooper S eye transplant in 2005. But we’re here to defend the 2000-2005 variant and we’re not quite sure why. It still can’t see straight, but it’s aged well. We’ll take one of the eleven hardcore GTN variants they made, please and thankyou.
Ford Mustang SN95 ‘New Edge’
Like the S-Type, the so-called “New Edge” SN95 Mustang immediately pre-dated an aggressive step-change in styling direction. The ironic thing about the retro-styled S197 that debuted in 2005, which everyone loved at the time, is that these days, it looks pretty shonky. The New Edge car that preceded it, though? Very nice. Is this a sign that retro-futurism is played-out? Maybe...
Ferrari 308 GT4
In gaining seating for four, it was arguable on the Ferrari 308 GT4’s debut in 1975 that it lost something of that quintessential Ferrari elegance and athleticism. Of course, it also comes with the connotations with the ‘Dino’ name of ‘not being a proper Ferrari’. Now in 2021, we reckon this thing has come into its own – a sweet slice of ‘70s wedge. In fact, a lot of those previously-derided ‘70s and ‘80s Ferraris now look pretty good. Except of course the Mondial...
Okay, you’re going to have to bear with me for a minute. I’m fresh off the back of a Sopranos marathon, so yes, my lingering soft spot for the early 2000s Cadillac DeVille is softer than usual. I’ll argue, though, that it’s a top-class sleek, understated and elegant luxury saloon car. Handsome as some of the sharp-edged Caddis that succeeded it are, they make me appreciate even more-so, the soft svelte look of the DeVille. The perfect gentleman’s club owner’s express!
Lordy lord the Audi A2 looked gawky in the early 2000s, didn’t it? It was like the strange clever kid in school, at the time. Yes, everyone knew it was very smart but the dorkyness overshadowed that. Fast forward 20 years and somehow the genius of the A2 is even more apparent. The difference is now we have 20 years of dodgy styling trends and travesties behind us. All of a sudden, the A2 has a subtleness to it and seems to wear its innovation in its looks in a lot more obvious way. You’re alright, A2, and we’re sorry for the name-calling and wedgies.
The 1990s Jaguar XK and the Aston Martin DB7 more or less share a silhouette. And what a silhouette it is – a trendsetting sleek, sexy sports GT coupe shape. Then when the lights came on, it was an “oh wow” to the DB7 and “oh dear” to the XK. Quite how something shaped like a DB7 could look so awkward we don’t know, but it did. Now though, again, the subtle curvaceousness of the 1990s styling has softened. We’ll take a last-of-line supercharged 4.2 ‘R’, please.
We won’t sugar-coat it. Imposing, broad and indeed technically incredible as the Bugatti Veyron was on its debut in 2005, it was ugly. It looked as heavy as it was, which is very heavy. But as is often the way with these things, as cars of its type have gotten ever-more outlandish and tasteless, the Veyron and its subtlety have matured like expensive French wine. Beautiful it isn’t, but by the virtues of a more understated era for speccing cars, the Veyron at least has its dignity.
Maserati Ghibli Cup
The 1980s and 1990s boxy era of Maseratis was seen at the time by many as an affront to the marque’s ‘50s glory days of svelte panel-beaten sportscars and Grands Prix glory. Now, with hindsight, all eras of a marque’s past can be examined and celebrated. Not to mention, by comparison to many modern designs, those boxy Maseratis that, for us, peaked with the stocky box-arched Ghibli Cup. They look mighty handsome these days, especially if you park a Levante next to one...
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