15 Cars Whose Original Version Looked Better Than the New One

Car enthusiasts of a certain age will always claim that vehicles were more pleasing to the eye back in their day. Currently, models are built for functionality, and looks are a secondary concern.

Over the history of vehicle manufacturing, initial versions of specific models are far more aesthetically outstanding than their replacements.

1. DeLorean

Image Credit: DeLorean.

Those who have waited over forty years for the new DeLorean to come out would have wished they’d invented a time machine. It would have saved energy to jump in the car, accelerate to 88mph, and see what has happened with the new version.

DeLorean enthusiasts will feel that the upcoming Alpha 5 isn’t worth the wait. While there was undoubted controversy around John DeLorean and the production of the original gull-winged car, it was a design classic. The Alpha 5 isn’t even a pale imitation, as it looks nothing like its predecessor.

2. Volkswagen Beetle

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

While the VW Beetle appeared from 1938 onwards, it enjoyed its heyday in the 1960s. Its unusual, round design identified with the era and became the car of choice for much of the hippy generation.

Production of the original Type One ended in 2003. A comeback proved popular, but the later Beetles needed to have the style of the originals. The appearance was similar to that of a ladybug, and the vehicle has finally said its goodbyes.

3. Toyota Supra

1985 Toyota Supra P-type
Image Credit: Mr. Choppers, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Few, if any, cars have transformed like the Toyota Supra. Initially produced in 1978, the vehicle spent the next 24 years competing in the Grand Tourer market. After four generations of the car, the original Supra ended in 2002.

The Supra’s history took an unusual twist in 2019 when the model re-emerged as a sports car as part of a collaboration between Toyota and BMW. It’s a strange move; few understand why a new name wasn’t used. The Supra story is far from finished, but many will always associate it with its original incarnation.

4. Ford Cortina

Ford Cortina Mark 1
Image Credit: Duncan Harris – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

The original, which marks one version of the Ford Cortina, was rolled off the production line in 1962. It was typical of the decade with stylish fins, and the vehicle would often be fitted with a contrasting colored trim to make it stand out even more.

There was even a Lotus version of the Cortina for added class and status. The Mark two version was a simple box, and by the time the car was retired in 1984, the Mark five had become soulless and devoid of style.

5. Honda Odyssey

1996 Honda Odyssey
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

Some drivers claim the Honda Odyssey has worsened since the manufacturer discontinued the initial 1994 edition. In this instance, however, the concerns are mechanical rather than design-related.

The Odyssey is a minivan often used by cab drivers. Early versions resembled a box on wheels, while later models are sleeker and more pleasing to the eye. The issues lie with the mechanics, particularly the gearbox problems that came with Mark 2 onwards. The Odyssey continues, but many think the original version is the most reliable.

6. Ford Mustang

1969 Mustang
Image Credit: CC BY 2.0/Wiki Commons.

While Ford is a global brand, the Mustang is iconically American, and owners in the US were unhappy with the manufacturer’s attempts to capture an international market. For many, the design of the Ford Mustang declined when it tried to break into Europe.

A regular complaint is that later models were “too aggressive.” The Mustang was always designed to be a muscle car, but maybe Ford took things too far.

7. Scion TC

Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

For those unfamiliar with this vehicle, the Scion is manufactured by Toyota. It’s a compact vehicle, even though the initials TC (touring coupe) suggest otherwise. Discussions on forums point to a generalization of Japanese cars, which all comes down to looks.

The original Scion TCs appeared in 2004 and were stylish-looking cars. At first glance, little has changed in those later models, but several owners are unhappy with the later look.

8. Mercedes-Benz 300 SL

Mercedes 300 SL Hardtop-Convertible
Image Credit: Semnoz, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Much of this round-up focuses on looks, and good reasons exist. When a manufacturer upgrades its models, it’s often because they want to enhance performance or work on a niggling mechanical fault.

In the case of the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL, later models up to 1993 retained the style, but they couldn’t match the original, which first hit the production line in 1954. As with the DeLorean, this car’s crowning glory is the gull-wing doors. They’re a stunning feature, and removing them would be a big turnoff for fans of the series.

9. Dodge Viper

Dodge Viper RT 10
Image Credit: Alexandre Prévot – CC BY-SA 2.0/Wiki Commons.

Why do we often feel that first-edition vehicles are the best? Are our brains wired to resist change? The Dodge Viper is another car for which nostalgia wins for most owners and vehicle enthusiasts.

The first edition appeared in 1991, and it was a classy sports car with striking looks. The second and third editions were ugly by comparison, although the fourth was the worst of the range. Drivers like curves, and this edition of the Dodge Viper was too “boxy,” and the make lost its charm.

10. Ford Taurus SHO

Ford Taurus SHO
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

We’re not getting at Ford here. The brand is mentioned several times in this round-up, but that’s down to the manufacturer’s longevity and diverse range. In the case of the Taurus SHO, looks and functionality declined for motorists following the initial release in 1989.

By the time the third generation arrived, Ford had become obsessed with oval styling. Everything in the car was oval-shaped, which is fine if you like driving an egg.

11. Acura TL

1999-2001 Acura TL
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

The Acura brand was the luxury arm of the Honda manufacturing company, and the TL first appeared in 1995. In this case, the vehicle’s decline focuses on looks, but owners are also concerned about the performance of later models.

Honda’s intended improvements centered around the transmission, but later vehicles were not well received, and the Acura TL ended in 2014.

12. Aston Martin

Aston Martin DB5
Image Credit: DeFacto, Own Work – CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

In this case, we’re not singling out any particular model. Overall, the Aston Martin went from being stylish to a high-performance, noisy brute. James Bond loved his Aston Martin, and even though he’s fictional, the fact that he dabbled with other brands, such as BMW, tells a story.

It’s another case where increased performance means that looks have been sacrificed.

13. Toyota MR2

1989 Toyota MR2 Supercharged
mage Credit: CC BY-SA 4.0/Wiki Commons.

All opinions are subjective, and some prefer the chassis and styling of later MR2 models. Those are minority views, however, and most feel that the vehicle’s appearance and engine performance dipped as it progressed.

The original Toyota MR2, released in 1984, has become a sought-after classic, but its successors have not fared as well.

14. Porsche

1991 Porsche 964 Turbo
Image Credit: Mr. Choppers, Own Work – CC BY-SA 3.0/Wiki Commons.

Like Aston Martin, Porsche is another brand many feel has lost its way. The badge is synonymous with drop-top, two-seater sports cars that turn heads on every corner.

Did the manufacturer need to expand its range and compete with Range Rovers and similar models? Opinions split on the matter, but there is a theory that the quest for a supercharged SUV destroys the legacy of Porsche and other brands.

15. Ford Escort

1972 Ford Escort
Image Credit: Wiki Commons.

The evolution of the Ford Escort was similar to that of its stablemate, the Cortina. The Mark One version was sleek and rounded, while later versions resembled a box on wheels. It’s another vehicle that suggests advancement in car production wasn’t always positive.

It is hard to argue that later variants of the Escort were more powerful, so there is a valid argument for the Mark One and its ancestors. In terms of pure aesthetics, however, the original car is a clear winner.

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