Some cars age incredibly well. Whether it’s because they ushered in trends ahead of their time or just have clean designs that have stood the test of time, some vehicle’s designs belie their age. Third Auto has compiled a selection of five vehicles from the 1990’s that fit the criteria below.
1996 Ford Taurus
When the 1996-1999 third-generation Ford Taurus made its debut in the mid-90’s in caused a stir with is radically ovoid styling. At the time it was criticized for being over-styled, which it was alongside its staid contemporaries. However, over the decades consumers have embraced the complex surface treatments seen on the Taurus and we can now find similar forms on current vehicles, like the 2018 Toyota Camry. Relatively small headlamps for the era make the Taurus fit well with more modern sedans as lighting technology has advanced to allow for smaller fixtures. Around back, contoured metal and curvy window openings lend the Taurus a clean and airy look.
1998 Volvo C70 Coupe
Volvo’s shapely coupe and convertible of the 90’s was the C70, which was produced from 1998-2004. Introduced at a time when the brand’s design philosophy was morphing from boxy to sleek, the C70 handsomely meshes both looks together. The coupe with its gorgeous greenhouse has aged better than the convertible, which can look tired nowadays with its ragtop up. A high trunk lid has long been a Volvo design signature and having that present has allowed the C70 to age well as traditional sedans and coupes had increasingly tall trunk lids as the 2000’s progressed. The muscular C70 has aged significantly better than contemporaries like the droopy 1996 Acura CL and extremely low and wide 1993 Lincoln Mark VIII, which are both at odds with taller vehicles of modern times.
1996 Chrysler Minivans
Simplicity is key to creating enduring designs. With attractive organic forms and minimal ornamentation, third-generation Chrysler minivans have aged remarkably well. Compared to Mazda MPV’s, Mercury Villagers, or Chevrolet Ventures of a similar vintage, the Chrysler minivans are cleaner and better proportioned. Especially now as modern CUVs have become increasingly shorter in height, they’ve essentially reached a parity with those of 90’s minivans, allowing these bastions of a bygone era to look right at home on the road among a herd of brand-new crossovers. The minivan formula has not evolved significantly in terms of styling since this generation, in fact some might argue it has since devolved as designs became increasingly un-harmonic into the 2000’s with the introduction of the oddball 2003 Nissan Quest and awkward 2011 Honda Odyssey. Even the Chryslers minivans struggled to gain back the handsome styling of this generation right up until the 2017 introduction of the Chrysler Pacifica.
1994 Mercedes-Benz C-Class
The oldest design example on our list is the early-90’s Mercedes-Benz C-Class, which was produced 1994-2000. It ushered in a modern design language that would make its way across the brand throughout the 90’s. Classic proportions, clean lines and a high trunk lid make this baby Benz still look fresh and modern. Stacked up against the 1994 BMW 3-Series with its black plastic door and bumper trim, the C-Class looks sleek and elegant.
1996 Subaru Legacy Outback
Subaru’s saving grace came in the form of the “world’s first sport utility wagon”. By hitching up the suspension and adding a veneer of ruggedness to their Legacy station wagon, the brand was able to ride the SUV wave beginning with the 1996 Subaru Legacy Outback. Prescient in many ways, the Outback signaled the market potential for crossovers, which were essentially tall station wagons designed to look like sturdy SUVs.
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