Back to the Future: 8 Retro Design Details Found On Modern Cars

Source: Ford

Car manufacturers have gone all out with technology in the last few years. But somewhere along the line, many of the latest model introductions started looking the same. You can chalk the latest vanilla models up to the quest for fuel efficiency, safety regulations, and improved aerodynamics.

But there’s something comforting about leaving a few throwback design touches in the newest models. We all need something familiar when we step into a car that talks to us or starts with the push of a button. Retro cars make us smile, and manufacturers have noticed. Here are eight of the best retro design details available in the newest car models.

Lincoln Continental Concept
Source: Lincoln

1. Lincoln Continental Retro Taillights

After a 13-year absence, the Continental is back as the 2015 Lincoln Continental Concept. It’s been the car of choice for music legends and presidents since the 1940s. Architect Frank Lloyd Wright considered the 1941 Continental “the most beautiful car in the world.” The new model is luxurious and has all the features a head of state could want — with a nod to the past found in the full-width taillights brought to the 21st century with light-through-chrome technology.

Source: Fiat-Chrysler

2. Fiat 500’s 1957 Edition Wheels

The 1957 Nuova 500 was a popular model for FIAT. Quintessential ’50s features included a range of pastel colors and a retractable white soft top. This year’s model has all the tech and conveniences we crave combined with vintage details like 16-inch wheels that match the automobile’s retro exterior colors and feature the old-school FIAT logo.

Source: Chevrolet
Source: Chevrolet

3. Chevrolet Silverado’s Split Grille and Stacked Headlights

The 2015 Chevy Silverado is on the cutting edge. It has the most fuel-efficient gas engine ever for a pickup truck. It’s also the first pickup to offer built-in 4G LTE Wi-Fi connectivity. But the stacked headlights and grill take a Chevy fan back to the nostalgic early 90s when Bob Seger sang the Chevy anthem, “Like a Rock.”

Source: Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet
Micah Wright/Autos Cheat Sheet

4. Volkswagen GTI’s Plaid Seats

Volkswagen isn’t messing around when it comes to their plaid. The 2015 VW GTI still comes with plaid seats as standard — a feature popular almost 30 years ago. And the gear knob ties the red, black, and grey plaid pattern in handsomely with red stitching on the black leather. In Europe, on the plug-in hybrid GTE, the plaid comes in blue. Neat.

Source: Ford

5. The Entire Ford GT

So far, the GT40 is the only American-designed and built car to win overall at Le Mans. The new GT is undeniably a modern supercar both under the hood and in appearance. But a closer look uncovers a few classic design features nostalgic GT40 fans would appreciate: The headlight shape and the big round tail lamps in back are a nod to the originals. Add the classic racing stripe detail, and you’ve got the coolest back-to-the-future supercar ever.

Source: Mercedes-AMG

6. Mercedes-AMG’s SLS Gullwing Doors

The SLS AMG supercar was a futuristic version of the ’50s-era Mercedes-Benz 300SL. The AMG race tuning and styling is incredible, but the coolest part of the car has to be the old school gullwing doors. Sadly, Mercedes-AMG didn’t bring them to the new AMG GT S that now sits in the seat previously occupied by the SLS. 

Source: Porsche

7. Porsche 991 Metal Targa Bar

Porsche offers their Targa bar design for the 991 models 4 and 4S that are equipped with the Targa roof. The original Targa design is a throwback to the 1967 911 Targa, named after the Targa Florio race held in the mountains of Sicily, where a top-down race was the perfect way to take in the sunny, balmy weather of the Italian island. The louvered vent on the rear deck is a nice retro touch as well.

2014 Dodge Challenger R/T Shaker
Source: Fiat-Chrysler

8. Dodge Challenger Shaker Hood

The 2015 Dodge Challenger channels its 1970s muscle car predecessor like no other car. Dodge has taken it a step further by adding the retro Shaker hood as an option for most of the V8 Challenger models; it got its “Shaker” name back in the ’70s because of the way the hood would shake when the crazy-powerful engine revved, but the hood isn’t for show any longer. The scoop is part of a cold-air intake system for maximum engine airflow.

Like classics? It’s always Throwback Thursday somewhere.