What makes a car truly “classic”? Design Elements are the key.

Classic car

We often hear the word “classic” and attribute that to age. But what makes something classic is not age, but rather timelessness. A styling that can always be relatable, always feel elegant and always invoke a deep passion in people who have witnessed its glory.

What makes a Porsche classic? The fact that the nose hasn’t needed an upgrade since its inception is one reason. The lines are smooth, and while it creates a sense of high-end sass, it is simple. Whether you are driving a 911 Turbo or an old 944, you feel like you are worth a million bucks when you drive, or even ride shotgun in this work of art. Porsche also is known for the high-quality leather finishes, the low-to-the-ground stature, and while it is not a “design element”, the engine’s purr can give you goosebumps.

Classic Car - Porche












How about a BMW? A company that has focused its efforts on creating “the ultimate driving machine”, BMW has managed to balance their investment in performance with a luxurious appeal to drivers and riders alike. What makes it classic? How about that kidney grill? An irrefutable trait of BMW is also what provides its first impression as you see it drive towards you. BMW has managed to modernize and adjust the lines and curves of their surfaces to appeal to a multitude of generations. They have done this a bit more than Porsche, but BMW has been playing more in the world of sedans where creating a sexy appeal while requiring the capability to haul child safety seats and a trunk full of soccer balls.

Classic car - BMW



Next up… Ferrari… Unlike the previous two examples, Ferrari is a more exclusive make as it is highly expensive to acquire, drive and maintain this sportscar. Practicality is a joke, however, date cars cannot be overrated. What makes a Ferrari classic? How about that Ferrari Red paint color? Truly a statement of being hot, fast, and something to watch. You cannot deny that Ferrari’s entire lineup are classic. That aerodynamic front-end, the contrast of the red and black on the tail, and the sharp edges… Oh, and we mustn’t forget the round tail lights! There have certainly been some subtle design adjustments over the years, but more remains than has been changed.

Classic car - Ferrari



And America’s Corvette… It has withstood decades of styles and changes caused by environmental standards and performance expectations. However, Corvettes are truly classic because, once again, they have an allure that makes you want to see how far you could push it. Corvettes may not be as insanely powerful as a Ferrari, nor as elegant as a Porsche, but the balance of those values seems to create a uniqueness and collectability.

Classic car - Corvette


So, as a designer, what are you doing to create the next classic car? How are you learning from the consumer to apply their wishes to the creations in your studio?

Next up: Creating Collectability – 5 Steps for Today’s Automotive Designers


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