Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Three 1990s Designs That Still Matter Today

The 1990s seems like a long time ago and technology has progressed leaps and bounds between then and now. The smartphone in your pocket has more pixels than the finest TV of the decade and more computing power and memory than the desktops of the day to boot. Likewise, the automotive industry has progressed significantly with minivans that have more power than sport scars of the day and automatic gearboxes with triple the gear count. Yet not all is lost from the decade as the following three designs have each left a lasting legacy that is visible in many vehicles on the market today.

Volkswagen New Beetle

Introduced as a concept in 1994 and as a production car for the 1998 model year the New Beetle was a tremendous sales success for Volkswagen, particularly in the United States. The New Beetle would kickoff the retro themed design party that would last well through the next decade and into the current. Once the hottest trend in automotive design the PT Cruiser, Thunderbird, HHR, Mustang, Camaro and the Challenger would follow in the Beetle's footsteps. While not all proved to be successful in the long run and the retro theme in general appears to be losing steam, the New Beetle has certainly created a long lasting legacy perhaps only overshadowed by its famous rear engine predecessor.


Dodge Ram 1500

The 1994 Dodge Ram 1500 was a styling force in the pickup market unlike any other before it and quite possibly since. It was literally a design ten times better than the Ram 150 it replaced and miles ahead of immediate competition from Ford or Chevrolet. The Ram 1500 brought style to the pickup truck market and no future pickup generation could ignore design and solely rely on its truck capabilities any longer. While pickups are mostly an American phenomenon they exist elsewhere but those feature almost zero style and purely utilitarian designs. Many clamor for VW to bring the Amarok to the US, but it has almost zero style compared to American offerings and would face an uphill battle from its utilitarian styling alone.

Honda Accord

The fourth generation Honda Accord featured boxy styling in line with its contemporaries and was an evolution of the third generation. It wasn't until the fifth generation before the Accord would gain some significant styling. However, there was one aspect where the fourth generation Accord was miles ahead of its competition, it featured clear headlights. Unlike anything else on the market (except the Acura Legend) the Accord clearly stood out from its competition. It took a while for the rest of the industry to switch but the future was just a little brighter going forward.

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