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Retro styled cars: Is the trend over?

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Is the trend over for retro styled cars? It's starting to look that way.

A retro design fan had six cars to choose from in 2005:

  • The VW New Beetle, introduced in 1998, offered front wheel drive economy to go with its cute vintage style.
  • BMW's sporty MINI Cooper hatchback had been around since 2001.
  • Chrysler's PT Cruiser trucklet was a smash hit on its introduction in 2000, with waiting lists and heavy dealer mark ups.
  • Ford's revived two-seat Thunderbird was introduced for 2002.
  • Chevrolet introduced its stylish SSR sport truck with folding metal roof in 2002.
  • Ford's redesigned 2005 Mustang referenced its late 1960s classics with fastback styling.

What now?

  • Volkswagen's New Beetle is still going strong with a 2013 remodel and new name (simply "Beetle").
  • BMW's MINI Cooper recently introduced its third generation car, still retro, but updated to appear more modern than ever.
  • Chrysler's PT Cruiser ended production in 2010.
  • Ford's Thunderbird was a goner after 2005.
  • Chevy's SSR failed to find popularity and was canceled after its 2006 model year.
  • Ford's Mustang moved on from retro with its totally redesigned 2014 model. Though it retains some classic design details, it's a thoroughly modern Mustang.

Conclusions?

  • The retro trend is downwards. Original throwback cars have thinned from the first six offerings to two.
  • The two remaining brands, VW Beetle and MINI Cooper have been restyled with a more contemporary look.
  • A late addition to the retro club was Fiat's stylish 500. It's joined the Beetle and MINI Cooper, offering stylish design in a small car. It's proven a moderate success since its 2011 model year intro.

Is retro design only a viable sales attraction for sporty economy models? At the dawn of 2014 this appears to be so.

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