Ford, Dodge, and Chevrolet are three titans in the world of American-made automobiles. Each has over 100 years of experience under their belts — seatbelts, that is. They have something else in common. They’re all releasing new cars that look like classic cars from their early days.
You might like eye-catching muscle cars like the Dodge Challenger or distinctly vintage showstoppers like Ford’s classic T-Bird. Or, you can get behind the wheel of a slice of Americana history — old car models souped up with all the modern amenities. Start your engines — here are our top five classic cars that are coming back:
1. Dodge Challenger SRT8
The first-generation Challenger hit the open road in 1969 and was available as a two-door hardtop coupe or convertible. Buyers could also choose between an inline-6 or V8 engine. However, by 1974, the Dodge Challenger was discontinued. But that didn’t stop it from grabbing the attention of car enthusiasts. The 1971 action movie Vanishing Point featured a 1970 Dodge Challenger R/T in a leading role. The cult classic involves a man challenged to drive the sleek muscle car from Denver to San Francisco in under 15 hours.
The original Challenger may have vanished after the movie’s closing credits, but it reappeared in 1978 and made another comeback in 2008. The slick reboot’s body wasn’t as wide or low to the ground as the original, but its Hemi V8 engine retained its spirit. The modern Challenger SRT8 beats its predecessor by miles for performance and luxury features. Judging by its popularity today, this Dodge Challenger won’t be vanishing anytime soon.
2. 2008 Shelby GT500KR
The Ford Mustang has been a head-turning staple on the roads for decades, and one of the most sought-after is the 1968 Shelby Cobra GT500KR (the KR stands for King of the Road). This powerful beauty boasted a V8 engine under a custom fiberglass hood and a range of luxurious features inside and out, including a wood-rimmed steering wheel.
The 2008 remake of this classic is a car collector’s dream. The reboot packs a whopping 540 hp with its supercharged 5.4-liter V8 engine. The sleek body pays homage to the original’s sculpted KR hood and Le Mans-style stripe detailing. This modern variation on a longtime crowd-pleaser has been referred to as the most powerful Mustang ever, but with a limited production run, it might not be easy to catch.
3. 2005 Ford GT
Auto aficionados will remember the vintage Ford GT40 as a V8 supercharged speedster that won Le Mans in 1966. It went on to capture the prestigious title three more times, overtaking Ferrari. Forty years later, Ford resurrected this legendary classic by introducing the 2005 Ford GT. But could this remake still compete with Ferrari? It proved it could by once again beating out Ferrari at Le Mans in 2016.
The 2005 revival features a powerful 550 hp supercharged V8 engine, which can reach 60 mph in less than four seconds, and other aerodynamic features. The interior of the 2005 GT is also reminiscent of the ’60s classic, with retro features like toggle switches, roof cutouts, and “cooling holes” in the seats. If you want to look and feel like a racecar driver, the 2005 GT fits the bill.
4. 2002 Ford Thunderbird
The two-seater T-Bird convertible is an iconic figure of the 1950s. The Thunderbird has been featured countless times on the big screen. Suzanne Somers rose to fame as the “blonde in the white Thunderbird” in American Graffiti. Susan Sarandon and Geena Davis sailed off into the Grand Canyon in a T-Bird in Thelma and Louise. And the Beach Boys sang about how much “Fun, Fun, Fun” the car could be.
Of all the discontinued cars that are coming back, the Ford Thunderbird seemed like it was destined for greatness. And though the remake’s design remained true to the original, after a promising start in 2005, sales dropped until Ford curbed production of the car in 2005. Maybe it was because drivers didn’t want a two-seater with little storage. Or that, despite its hefty price tag, it lacked the high-tech features and luxurious details most expected. And then there was the engine. With a 250 hp V8 engine, it lacked the power and performance vintage car lovers craved. In short, it lacked that cool factor. The good news is that the retro version of the classic T-Bird has recently seen a boost in popularity. Perhaps lovers of the original are longing for the nostalgia of days past.
5. 2010 Chevrolet Camaro
Inspired by the first-generation Camaro from the late sixties, the Chevy Camaro got a makeover in 2010. The original version of the classic muscle car rolled out in 1966. Chevy offered it in both hardtop and convertible models. The Camaro was Chevy’s answer to the popular Ford Mustang, built for performance and sleekness.
In 2010, the Camaro’s revamp received high marks for its style and performance. The National Automotive History Collection awarded this head-turner, “Collectible Car of the Future.” The Camaro’s stunning styling takes its cues from the original classic and gets car enthusiasts’ hearts racing. Its inspiration comes from the sleek sophistication of the original classic — only it’s faster, slicker, and more muscular.
Honorable Mention: Pontiac Firebird Trans Am
The Firebird Trans Am was one of the coolest cars of the late ’70s. We couldn’t let this one drive by without a shout-out to the quintessential muscle machine, made famous by the action flick Smokey and the Bandit. In 2017, Pontiac released a Special Edition of this classic speedster. The reboot mirrored notable features of the original, including a T-top roof, a powerful V8 engine, and the signature Firebird insignia emblazoned on the hood. But with only 77 models made, you may have better luck searching for an original version.
Love the classics but on a tighter budget? Learn about affordable classic cars. If you have a vintage car that’s been restored or customized, it’s likely worth more than its depreciated value. With Progressive Classic Car by Hagerty, you’ll get coverage that ensures your classic car for a value upon which you and your insurer will agree.