When the subject of classic cars are brought up, most petrol heads would no doubt mention vehicles such as the legendary Aston Martin DB5 made famous in the James Bond movies or the Ford GT40 which won four successive Le Mans 24 hour races during the 1960s before being made into a high performance road car.
What made these cars special was not just their trend setting performance, but also their appearance with their styling ultimately going on to influence car design for many years to come.
So what vehicles will be thought of as classic to people forty years from now?
Cars that spark a revolution
Let’s start by considering what vehicles people will likely be driving in the future. With fuel prices continuing to spiral out of control; research by MoneySupermarket.com suggests that 65% of motorists are already considering purchasing a more fuel friendly vehicle the next time they are searching for a new vehicle.
It is therefore logical to assume car engine designs will be significantly different in the future as they will likely be designed to run on alternative fuels. At the minute, the two concepts which are thought of as being the most likely to replace petrol/diesel as the primary source of fuel is either electric or hydrogen.
Nissan is putting all of its eggs into the electric basket, with the company having become the first major manufacturer to release a fully electric vehicle in 2010 with the launch of the Nissan Leaf. The company claimed that it was the beginning of the electric car revolution and has subsequently committed to creating a whole electric fleet through subsidiary Renault by summer 2012.
Honda meanwhile believes that the time it takes to recharge an electric vehicle will ultimately impede adoption. The Japanese manufacturer believes that hydrogen fuelled vehicles are a much more realistic alternative as they take no longer to re-fuel than gasoline vehicles. It has therefore put the hydrogen fuelled Honda FCX Clarity into production on a limited scale. The only impediment which they face at the moment are the limited hydrogen refuelling station infrastructure and the fact that hydrogen would currently cost quite a lot at the pumps at the moment due to the fact that it is only extracted from its ores on a small scale.
It is difficult to predict which one of these concepts will eventually become the norm. However, if hydrogen fuelling stations begin to phase out petrol stations then it is likely that the Honda FCX Clarity will be heralded in the future as the car which sparked the green car revolution and will therefore be thought of as a classic. The same will be said about the Nissan Leaf if electric vehicles become the norm.
The Aston Martin DB5 became famous after it appeared in the James Bond movie Goldfinger in 1964, being the car of choice of Britain best known MI6 agent. It’s beautiful appearance and the aura that being associated with Bond created for the vehicle means that it became an instant hit and is still considered to be one of the most elegant designs ever created. This means that it is still highly sought after by car nuts, with an original Bond DB5 recently selling for £2.5 million.
Bond’s car of choice in the his most recent film appearance was a more contemporary Aston design; the DB9 which was designed by Ian Callum and Henrik Fisker. Like the DB5, the DB9 had also become famous for aesthetics prior to featuring in a Bond movie and will likely be viewed in the same esteem as its ancestor in the future.
Speed and performance
Ford Le Man challenger the GT40 became famous thanks to its record setting speed and performance. Henry Ford II ordered the construction of the model and stated that it had to beat Ferrari to victory at Le Mans.
This was a revenge on the Italian sports car company for refusing to sell to Ford in the 1960s despite Enzo Ferrari having previously made it appear that he would be interested in handing over the reins of his company to Ford. The design team met its objectives and then some, winning four consecutive Le Mans 24 hours race between 1966 and 1969.
One of highest performance cars from the modern era is the Bugatti Veyron which is powered by an astonishing 987bhp V8 engine; even more powerful than that in an F1 car. It has also been designed to the highest of aerodynamic standards, with the grip generated being just enough to make it possible for owners to be able to control the monstrous engine which is under the bonnet.
With fuel and insurance prices continuing to increase, the Bugatti Veyron is likely to be the last of the no-holds barred high performance cars to be produced. This combined with the fact that only 300 Veyron’s were ever produced means that it will no doubt go on to be a collector’s item in years to come.