Why Do Classic Cars Look Better?

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One of the benefits of owning a classic car is that most people consider them to be better looking than modern cars.

Classics are generally more shapely, have more pronounced lines, and stand out far more than the cars of today. But why do classic cars look better?

Classic cars look better because in the past manufacturers didn’t have to consider as many safety laws or worry about aerodynamics for fuel efficiency when designing their cars. They also didn’t need to bother reducing weight, or think about incorporating any modern luxuries such as infotainment systems.

So most people consider classic cars to be more appealing than modern cars, but why do modern cars all have to look the same, and why can’t manufacturers remake their classic cars?

Why are Old Cars Better Looking?

Old cars are better looking simply because designers weren’t constrained by the same laws and regulations that they are today.

It seems absurd to think that driver, passenger and pedestrian safety weren’t really considered a priority in days gone by.

There were certainly attempts to introduce safety features such as seat belts and airbags, but in some cases these features were seen as a nuisance to the manufacturers.

Whilst some consider classic cars to be unsafe, it’s for this reason that we regard older cars to be better looking.

Why are Old Cars so Beautiful?

Building beautiful cars was once vital to making a model successful as a large percentage of consumers would base their purchasing decisions on how the car looked. Manufacturers also didn’t have to worry about differing tastes in emerging countries, as exporting to these markets was less common.

Nowadays manufacturers get away with building some of the ugliest cars we’ve ever seen, as long as their car is practical, cheap and reliable.

These days the accountants and shareholders have far more power than the designers.

Certain manufacturers (we won’t name names) are also now pandering to the tastes of newer markets such as China. Unfortunately tastes vary wildly all around the world, and what looks great to residents of one country may look abhorrent to residents of another.

Why Do I Like Older Cars? 

People like older cars because they’re rare, distinctive, and visually pleasing. When you see an old car among the modern cars on the road today, it stands out because it’s unique. If you’re a car enthusiast, you’re also more likely to love the cars you grew up with.

Most modern cars on the roads today look very similar, so it’s a welcome break to see something different.

A classic BMW M1 alongside a modern 8 Series

Not only that, but engine noise plays a big part in people’s love for classic cars. As we move towards all-electric cars, the roar of a naturally aspirated V8 is becoming a thing of the past.

Despite this, there could be an element of confirmation bias at work. People generally only maintain cars worthy of being preserved, so most of the unattractive cars of yesteryear have rusted away or been scrapped. That just leaves the attractive ones we still see on the roads today.

Why Don’t Cars Look Cool Anymore?

Whilst looking ‘cool’ is subjective, it’s widely agreed that cars don’t look cool anymore due to the various regulations that manufacturers have to abide by when designing their vehicles.

There are many reasons to think that older cars look cooler, but back in the 80s and 90s people thought the same thing of cars from previous generations.

There were plenty of cars back then that looked boring and samey, but only the cool cars from generations gone by have been saved.

Why Do Cars Look So Bad Now?

Car design follows trends, and currently bloated, overstyled, and aggressive looks are in fashion. Whilst many people think this styling looks bad, cars wouldn’t be styled like this if they weren’t selling. So unfortunately, it’s a question of taste.

The choice when buying a modern car is seemingly: a) boring and dull, or b) overstyled and exaggerated. Of course, there are some car designs that break the mold and look great, but on the whole people agree that modern day cars look bad.

Why Do Modern Cars All Look The Same?

When one car manufacturer tries a new design and it’s successful, other manufacturers follow suit and soon many cars on the road look very similar.

Also, car companies want their cars to be recognisable which is why you often see multiple cars in their ranges with the same front end, for example.

Modern Mercedes

We do forget that this has been the case throughout automotive history, but we choose to ignore the memory of identical cars from yesteryear and focus on the unique and appreciated examples instead.

Why Did They Stop Making Classic Cars?

Classic cars haven’t stopped being made, rather our views on what constitutes a classic car have changed over time. What we now see as a classic car from 20+ years ago may have been seen as a regular car at the time of manufacture. In 20 years from now, a selection of today’s cars will be seen as classics.

To become known as a classic car, the car needs to have some sort of redeeming feature, such as rarity or being the first to bring a particular feature to the market. 

As strange as it seems, we can predict that some of the first Teslas to have hit the market will become classics in years to come, as Tesla is pioneering the electric vehicle market.

It’s true that cars we consider as classics today are very different to modern cars. They tend to have larger engines, fewer safety features, and they rarely have onboard computers. 

These are features that changed over time simply due to modern technologies and advances in automobile safety.

There was no decision to stop building classic cars with these features, it’s just that the market progressed.

Why Don’t Car Manufacturers Remake Classic Cars?

Manufacturers can’t remake their classic cars due to advances in safety laws, emissions standards, and component quality. The cars simply wouldn’t be approved for sale in the majority of countries around the world, nor would people want to buy them without the modern luxuries found in today’s cars.

Despite car enthusiasts calling for classics to be remade, it wouldn’t make financial sense for automotive companies to do so. It would be hugely expensive, and only a handful of aficionados would be interested in buying them.

Some manufacturers do choose to remake their classic cars but with modern design and updated features. Jaguar, for example, chose to remake their classic E-Type when they launched the modern F-Type.

Lister F-Type
Lister’s take on the modern Jaguar F-Type

It includes the same ingredients as the original car and appeals to the same customer-base, but has modern safety features, better fuel efficiency, and modern technology to assist the driver.

Whilst it would be great to see classic cars remade, unfortunately we’re going to have to maintain and preserve the originals long into the future to experience the joys of owning them.

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Adam Chinn writes about the intersecting worlds of classic cars, driving pleasure, and smart investment strategies. Starting his journey at 26, he’s proven that one doesn’t need to be wealthy to begin investing in classic cars.

Adam’s insights have been recognized on platforms such as MoneyInc, Swagger Magazine, and Top Speed.

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