Grading the New Generation of Old Friends

2013 Chevrolet Camaro ZL1 Convertible

Let’s face it, gearheads are very sensitive people when it comes to cars. Whether it’s a preferred maker, type of oil or tire, opinions abound and arguments fly when it comes to the auto industry and its faithful followers. When I hear someone proselytizing a certain oil weight and viscosity, I often ask myself, “Where is this passion coming from?” Have you ever seized an engine with the oil you’re currently portraying to be the asbestos of the auto industry? No, you probably just found a coupon for the synthetic that’s currently in your engine, and because it’s 5W less than what the manual recommends, you’ve now figured out the meaning of life.

Really want to piss off the ornery oil objector? Ask that person about what they think of the new Dodge Dart compared to what it used to be. Watch out, you might start a fire. The auto industry is all about comparisons and fortunately, we as car fans love to weigh in. With so many classics seeing a resurgence in recent years, it’s only fair that we bring this debate into an open forum and watch the sparks fly.

Totally Nailed it!

Dodge Challenger

1970 and 2013 Dodge Challengers
Grade: A
Looks-wise, the current-gen Challenger is probably the most true to original form. The front end, body lines and glass remain virtually untouched. While it’s a bit heavier than it used to be, the Challenger’s V8 can be had with 5 of its trims and is more than adequate to pull the weight.

Fiat 500

1971 and 2013 Fiat 500s
Grade: A-
Surprisingly roomy, the current generation of the Fiat 500 stayed close in design to its former self. Retaining the circular headlights and a few other characteristics, the Fiat 500 is a nice blend of new and old and is definitely not short on innovation. I know it’s not for everyone, but when comparing the 500 to the Fiat of yesteryear, one can only tip their cap.

Chevrolet Camaro

1971 and 2013 Chevrolet Camaros
Grade: B+
Whether it was “Transformers” that got you hooked or just general highway envy, the current-gen Camaro, which came back in 2010 after an 8-year hiatus, pays homage to its predecessors in style. The front-end styling is a modern take on the first and second generations, a synergy of the pointed nose and the wide stretching grille. I know I’m stepping on sacred territory here by bringing American muscle into this conversation, but I think it’s safe to say that the new Camaro is carrying the torch more than adequately. (Hey, the C7 Corvette even decided to borrow some of its features!)

Nice try, but back to the drawing board

Volkswagen Beetle

Grade: C+
I think that the 2012/2013 Beetle is a major step in the right direction, albeit tweaked only slightly since the last generation, which ended in 2010. The elongated front end gives it more of the traditional Beetle look and marks a positive move away from the whole vase-in-the-dashboard thing that was going on for a while. Still, it would be nice to see VW shrink the overall size of the Beetle to more of a subcompact look to build upon the improvements to the front end.

Dodge Dart

1973 and 2013 Dodge Darts
Grade: C
This isn’t a total indictment of the Dart, please don’t get me wrong. I seems like every time I see the Dart in a stock photo, I get really excited about it. Then, when one passes me on the street I remark about how great the new Neon looks. Sure, Tom Brady brings us back to the drawing board multiple times in the Dart’s most popular ad, however it just feels like some external flair is missing. Perhaps a standard hood scoop would do the trick?

Jeep Cherokee

2001 and 2014 Jeep Cherokees
Grade: C
Where to begin? To be honest, the new Cherokee is growing on me. I’m not sure if it’s just the idea that the Chrerokee is returning, or if I’m actually coming to terms with the new styling. It could be both, but whatever the case may be, can we work on that front end a bit? Let’s face it, the Cherokee will never return to its boxy form now that we’re in the era of drag coefficients and approaching CAFE standards. It just seems as though something could be done to make the 2014 Cherokee lose a bit of the crossover look.

What do you think of the new generations of classics like the Cherokee, Camaro and Beetle? Do you have any additions to either section of this list?


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1 Comment

  1. The Camaro and Challenger aren’t real classics. They’re pony car wannabes. And the Dart, Beetle and Jeep are classics only to geeks. Real car buffs don’t put a beetle in their driveway to impress the other car guys. And a Fiat 500? Ugh, even thinking about that car as a classic is repugnant. Now something like a Sunbeam tiger, Toyota 2000 GT, Mustang Cobra, shucks, even a 62 Tbird convertible….now that’s classic.

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