The Past and Present

Some cars are just iconic. They have been around for decades and many have carried their lines through time. You can look at the newest models and still see remnants from models past, some 50 plus years ago. I feel like there has been somewhat of a resurgence in bringing back older, retired names of popular models from the past. Others have just continued the evolution of the vehicles but are bringing back some old school styling cues to pay homage to their predecessors of yesteryear. I think either one is cool and it’s amazing that some lines of vehicles have stood the test of time for so long. This month we thought we would compare a few of the most recent iconic models with their ancestors whether they are evolutions or making a comeback.

So the mid 2000s saw the Ford Mustang harkin back to the late 60s and kicked off a whole deal with the big threes muscle cars. Soon after this the Camaro made a comeback with obvious cues from the 1968-69 model and Dodge brought back the Challenger name. I think the Challenger did its grandfather best with its styling that’s unmistakable. It’s also still the only one with the “retro” styling still going strong. GM and Ford have moved on from this phase but the Challenger has gone fairly unchanged body-line wise but has become more aggressive and much more powerful. Its my favorite retro styled model from the big three. Back in 1970 when the Challenger was released it was powered by either a 225 cu in straight six or a 318 V8. Optional engines included the 340 and 383 V8 engines as well as the iconic 440 and 426 HEMI. As great and powerful as these engines were, it’s hard to argue with the superiority of the whole package the newer cars provide. The new Challenger with its aggressive stance and optional Hellcat and Demon trims the cars are downright violent. 717 hp for the Hellcat and 800 plus hp for the Demon straight from the factory. It would be a tough choice for me between the new Mustang and the New Challenger but depending on the trim, I think id be handing my dollars over to Dodge.

Since we are on the domestic sportscar topic, it’s hard to ignore what is arguably the most significant car of 2019 the Chevrolet Corvette. Love it or hate it, it’s America’s sports car and is now blurring the lines between sports car and supercar. The Corvette debuted in 1953 after being rushed into production due to demand from the people. It wasn’t an initial success though and the program was almost cancelled in its early years. Only 300 were made in 1953 making them very collectible and at that time you could pick one up for about 3500 bucks! The Initial engine offering was a 235 cubic inch inline six that made 150 hp. GM did not have a manual transmission to put behind the engine at the time so it came with a 2 speed powerglide. Enthusiasts were not big fans so later years saw more powerful engine options. Fast forward 66 years and the C8 Corvette is the most capable platform in the Corvette lineage. Now that Chevrolet has moved to a mid engine design the new Corvette is a legitimate player in the sportscar world. We all know there will be more powerful versions to come but even so, the 495 hp 6.2L LT2 V8 in the Z51 package mated to an eight speed Tremec DCT helps the Vette scramble to 60 in under 3 seconds matching the almighty 755hp C7 ZR1. The C7 Corvette’s performance was limited by its front engine, rear wheel drive layout. The New Corvette is a gamechanger and it’s competitors should be worried!

O.J. sympathists recoice, making a return for the 2020 model year is the Ford Bronco! The Ford Bronco was originally introduced in 1965 to compete with the likes of the Jeep CJ-5 and International Scout. Later generations of the Bronco were built on a full size chassis and competed more so against the Chevrolet K-5 Blazer and Dodge Ramcharger. The Bronco was designed and release as an offroad vehicle or “ORV” but by the mid 1970’s there was a push for larger SUVs with better on road performance. Engines for the first generation Bronco were a 170 cu in inline six, later upgraded to a 200 cu in version. In its second year of production an optional 289 cu in V-8 was offered and was later replaced with the popular 302. The second generation was produced for only two years, 1978 and 1979, but it was my favorite. Mostly because those were my personal favorite years for Ford truck body styles and it was essentially the same front end as a Ford pickup, not surprisingly as it was basically a shortened F-100 chassis. It was much bigger and weighed 1,100 to 1,600 lbs more than the smaller first generation so they were only offered with V-8 engines, the 351 and 400. There were three more generations produced until 1996 before it was retired. Most of the specs for the 2020 Bronco are merely speculation but renderings make it look pretty sweet! It will be available in two and four door variants and those doors are removable as well as the roof, similar to the Jeep Wranglers. Engines are speculated to be the 2.3L turbo four cylinder from the Ranger and a new turbo V-6 is rumored for higher trim models. Ford has also confirmed there will be a hybrid powertrain offering as well. Without any confirmed specs we will leave it at that for now but look for more on the new Bronco in future newsletters!

In 1963 a German manufacturer created one of the most iconic cars of all time, the Porsche 911. The 911 was the evolution of the 356 and you can still see the body lines from the original cars in today’s 992. Porsche originally named the car the 901 but Peugeot claimed that monoker so Porsche settle on 911. With is rear-engine layout the 911 quickly obtained a reputation for being tricky to handle at the limit. The original engine was an air-cooled flat six, upgraded from the flat four in the 356, good for 130hp and was bumped to 160 hp just a few years later. By 1972 displacement had been bumped to 2.4L and the power output was now 190hp. That’s not a number that would make Chevelle SS owners worry but the 911 had a body weight of less than 2500 lbs making it quick and much more agile. In 1972 Porsche released one of the more iconic models within the 911 name, the Carrera RS. The Cerrera name came from the famous race in Mexico in the 1950s and the car was built for competition and could compete with the 12-cylinder ferraris and V-8 Panteras! While the days of super light weight and glorious air-cooled flat six engines are gone, the 911 continues to be at the forefront of today’s sports car line up. Its stayed with it’s rear engine, Rear-wheel-drive platform although all-wheel-drive is available on certain models. Porsche has done as many have, decreased engine size and added turbocharging to make better power and meet emissions. It used to be only the 911 Turbo that used forced induction but not anymore as base engines get the spinners and are good for 443 hp and 390 ft lbs which is more that the “Turbo” models from just 15 years ago. Power to weight is good enough for 3 second sprints to 60 and an 11.3 quarter mile time. Porsche is my favorite car company and over 55 years later they still hold true to their roots.

So I wanted to touch on this last vehicle briefly as it’s the longest running name in automotive history and while its not the most exciting there is no denying its popularity amongst the American population. It’s the Chevrolet Suburban. GM launched the Suburban in 1934, at least there version of it. GM wasn’t the only manufacturer using the name for their large transport vehicles as Plymouth, Dodge, Nash, and Studebaker used the nameplate as well but Chevrolet’s stood the test of time. GM was finally awarded the trademark on the name in 1988. The first model was designated the “Carryall Suburban” and was a tough station wagon body on a truck frame. The front end was shared with the pickup trucks of the period and featured a fully steel wagon body behind it. There was enough seating for the whole family with room for eight! Today the Suburban is still a main seller outlasting others such as the Jeep Wagoneer and Ford Excursion over the years. It makes perfect sense if you don’t need a truck bed as they share the same frames and drivetrains. Plenty of room for the whole family and their stuff and will pull the boat or camper to boot, no wonder they have lasted so long. 2015 marked 80 years for the nameplate and GM rolled its ten millionth Suburban off the assembly line. The model is still going strong and well be up for its 13th model redesign in the next few years.

There are many cars that have been around for decades and these are just a few notable ones. Others that are making a comeback like the Bronco are the Chevrolet Blazer, Toyota Supra, Land Rover Defender and in recent years, the Acura NSX and Ford Shelby GT-350. Some cars hold special places in people’s hearts and that’s true for manufacturers and automotive designers as well. I think this is why we see cars like these making returns and others like the Corvette, 911, and Suburban never retire. People like them enough to keep buying them decade after decade. From all of us here at gearbox have fun, be safe, and keep the shiny side up!

– Ryan

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