When you’ve got a winning formula on your hands, it normally doesn’t make sense to reinvent the wheel. Manufacturers know this all too well when it comes to their most loved models.

These retro classics were originally designed to meet the basic requirements of past generations, but motorists now expect a lot more from their cars.

By encapsulating the essence of the original design, improving performance, and ensuring it’s kept up-to-date with modern safety aids and plush finishings, manufacturers certainly aren’t lost for ideas when it comes to finding new ways to revive their trusty cash cows.

Fiat 500

Originally launched in 1957, the Fiat 500 was fitted with a small, two-cylinder, air-cooled engine. First released in 2007, the modern version had a 1.2L engine and produced 51kW, which is pretty quick when compared to the feeble original! Sadly, only the flamboyant looking Abarth-tuned 595 Competizione model is currently available from new in NZ, which produces 132kW and 250Nm of torque!

The modern Fiat 500 received an impressive five-star safety rating from ANCAP, which extended to the entry-level Pop model. This is a pretty special result for a vehicle that’s still very small by today’s standards.

There is also an electric version – the Fiat 500e - available in some markets, although we’re yet to find out if this will be available in New Zealand.

Volkswagen Beetle

Although they’ve recently stopped production of the modern-day Beetle, this list wouldn’t be complete without a mention of the fourth-bestselling car of all time.

The original was in production for an incredible length of time, spanning from 1938 to 2003. The modern-day equivalent was first introduced in 1997, and received several facelifts before it was finally retired last year. It had been refined and boasted a turbo and a supercharger, pushing its power output to an impressive 118kW. With the inclusion of a seven-speed direct shift gearbox (DSG), the Beetle was a fun car to drive.

The car still looks relatively modern, and there are rumours that Volkswagen might resurrect the bug-shaped hatch again as an electric vehicle (EV).


The cute MINI was also brought back to life when BMW bought the rights for the car at the turn of the millennium. The German manufacturer injected a lot of luxury and comfort into this small modern hatch, whilst maintaining the styling of the original, with a central media center, vintage chrome embellishments and toggle switches.

BMW has also produced other variants of the MINI, including convertibles and the Countryman station wagon, both of which have been relatively successful. The original MINI was also available in different forms, including a pick-up truck with a capacity of 680kg.  BMW have yet to revive this variant so far, although we’re sure there would be a market for it.

We’re all still watching BMW closely to see what they’ll do with future models, but an EV MINI has just been released in NZ, alongside a hybrid version of the Countryman wagon.

Find out how the AA can help you when buying a used car:

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