Last week, Nissan showed off a new Frontier styled with inspiration from its classic Hardbody pickups, and in one fell swoop made me a truck guy. It got me thinking: What’s a car out now that could really benefit from a retro version or package? Assuming it’s well done of course, and assuming it doesn’t pan out like an embarrassment of the vehicle it’s intended to tribute.
I say this because automakers get this sort of thing wrong all the time. Take Jeep’s Renegade Jeepster, for example. The brand says the trim package is “inspired by the legendary vehicle of the same name,” but comparing pictures of both, I struggle to see where the new rendition draws its inspiration from the old. Where’s the white roof? The funky color combinations? The sporty stripe across the belt line? It’s a missed opportunity in the most brazen way.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are cars like the Beetle Dune. Sure, the Dune wasn’t even half an inch higher than the normal Beetle and wasn’t any more capable on trails, despite all that gratuitous plastic cladding. A Dune buggy it surely wasn’t. But it looked convincing to those who didn’t know any better, and still plain cool and weird even to those who did. Jason Torchinsky called it a “Beetle in a costume.” I reckon if there’s any car that deserves to wear costumes, it’s the Beetle.
Considering all the uncertainty and trepidation much of the public still carries around electric vehicles, automakers are desperate to cash in on whatever good will they have left to allay the public’s concerns and make prospective buyers feel all fuzzy inside. That’s why Volkswagen is doing the ID.Buzz; that’s why Renault is bringing back one of its most iconic nameplates in the new 5. You can bet we’re going to see many more retro-inspired versions and trim packages of cars in the next few years.
What’s a retro take on an existing vehicle that you’d be excited to buy? Respond in the comments below or on social media, and we’ll round up and share the best answers later today.