News that GM would continue to extend its GMT-900 truck platform for a few additional years to save money seemed to send shock waves through the auto industry — despite the fact that the design just went into production in 2007. When did platforms get such a short shelf-life? We were able to come up with ten basic car platforms still in production that were originally developed more than a decade ago, including three more than half-a-century old, just to prove that new doesn't necessarily mean better — but it usually does. Behold: Ten car platforms that just won't die.
In the mid 1990s, DeTomaso developed the Biguà platform as a replacement for its aging Pantera model. The name was eventually changed to Mangusta and the design sold to Qvale, which hoped to produce enough of the models to remain profitable. Eventually, the design and plant were sold to MG Rover Sport, which resurrected the platform to underpin the MG X-Power and its variants. It's basically an Italian car powered by an American Ford V8 and then transplanted to Britain. Wasn't that the plot of Keen Eddie?
Not to be confused with the MG company reproducing Qvale Mangustas, the non-sports-car side of MG/Rover was sold to a Chinese company, which has the rights to produce the original last MG two-seater model: the MG F/TF. The MG F/TF platform was developed as part of a reincarnation of the classic MG sports car and was relatively popular in Britain. When the company was sold to the Chinese they took over ownership of the MG F/TF design and are now reproducing them under the same name, including a MG TF police car.
The Peugeot 405 was a popular sedan in its day, offering a sharp-for-the-era Pininfarina design, good performance and sporty-yet-refined handling. It was also the last Pug officially sold in the United States. The 405 was replaced in 1997 for most of the world, but still carries on in Egypt as the Wagih Abaza/Peugeot 405. Our favorite current variant, however, is the Iran Khodro Samand. It's the sexiest way to drive through an axis of evil.
The Ford Ranger, introduced in the early 1980s to take on rival Japanese compact trucks, has always been a capable compact truck. While the rest of the market moved into larger, mid-sized trucks with "modern designs" and "interiors that don't look 20 years old" the Ranger remained what it always was. Though there have been significant changes in the body style, engines and other key parts through the 25-year life of the Ranger, it is fair to say it is essentially the same platform. We continue to be told of the death of the Ranger but it continues to be produced and, though volume is low, is actually seeing sales declines significantly lower than the F-Series, which is due for replacement.
The second generation Volkswagen Passat platform, which was launched in 1981, was replaced in 1987 by the third-generation Passat familiar to many of us for its classic boxy design. Shanghai Volkswagen Auto started building B2-based VW Santanas in 1985 and liked the car so much that they've never stopped. Currently, the Santana is one of the most popular cars in China and has been updated numerous times to include MP3/CD radios, ABS brakes and electronic fuel-injection. In addition to being a passenger car, the Santana is like the Crown Vic of China in that it sees significant use in taxi and civil service fleets. [Photo Credit: Flickr]
The Ford Panther has the current record for the oldest platform sold in North America now that Volkswagen has finally stopped making Type-1 Beetles. Originally sold as the Ford LTD way back in 1979, the Panther still underpins the current generation Ford Crown Victoria, Mercury Grand Marquis and Lincoln Town Car. Sure, it may be old, but we also kind of love it. If it ain't broke, right?
Thanks to Volkswagen's flexibility with design exportation, the very popular Mk1 Golf lives on in a perpetual state of hatchback bliss as the South African Volkswagen Citi. Variants of this Citi Golf abound, including versions not too-far-off from the original GTi, but the car is remarkably similar in style and design to that original and classic VW hatchback look.
The Fiat 124 may be the most prostituted car platform in the history of the automobile and, thanks to semi-solid Italian design and Russian thrift, it may never die. First produced in 1966, the 124 was the Turkish Murat 124, the Spanish Seat 124 and continues life, in reduced production, as the Russian Lada/AutoVaz Riva.
While the Morgan Aero 8 may look like a car designed around the mid-century mark, the Morgan Plus 4 was actually designed and produced in the 1950s. This post-war two-seater was produced until 1969 as the company moved onto other models. In the mid 1980s the company needed the Plus 4 to fill a gap between two other Morgans so it continued its reproduction until 2000. Then, in 2005, the company thought "what the hell?" and started re-reproduction of the Plus 4, which now caries a Ford 2.0-liter Duratec fourbanger, as part of their "classic" line. [Photo Credit: AvonHill]
Celebrating 60 years in production, we're sort of curious if the original designers of the original Morris Oxford knew it would live on in-perpituity. The Oxford design was carried, with some major changes, through multiple generations in Europe. The folks at Hindustan Motors in India, however, never thought there was much need to improve over the third generation Oxford and continue to make the Ambassador in a form not too removed from the original. Though not the official car of India, it is one of the most popular cars in he history of the country and one of the oldest continually produced cars in history. [Photo Credit: Picasa