At the moment I am researching a 1995 car, a model still around in considerable numbers today. It doesn’t seem all that antique to me. But does it seem ancient to others?
Here is another 1995 car, the Nissan Primera (above). This object still looks fresh and not especially antediluvian. Yet it’s 20 years old now which is a fair amount of time by anyone’s standards. In 1995, in contrast, a 1975 car (below), the few still around, looked extremely old and, moreover, tired. I am curious to know if readers have the same impression: that a 1995 car today doesn’t seem old but in 1995 a 1975 car did. Very much so.
While we are on the subject of shutlines this month, you can look objectively at the Nissan and note the various features which date it. The shutlines are very neat and dominate the graphics: the way the car had to be put together organised the way the graphics are handled, specifically the horizontal junction from bumper to body. The rake angles are steeper than is acceptable today. And of course, the sculpting of the car is very plain (admittedly this was an exceptionally plain car in its time).
That said, the car isn’t screaming that it’s as current as typewriters and landlines. The 1986 Opel Senator I tested felt clearly different from the cars I am driving now. However, the 1995 car I get to drive often and which I will be writing about feels as fresh as a daisy and is very robust.
One answer to this question is that it depends on your age. If you ask this question to a 20 year old I expect they will say the Nissan will look mysteriously aged as it is a product of a time before they can remember much. This was perhaps the case for the Renault I might have viewed in 1995. Or was it? Is it that cars from the 1990s were sufficiently well made and refined that they aged less quickly than cars from two decades before that? Seventies cars didn’t hold up that well and any survivor in the 1990s was an interesting fluke.
I’d be interested to hear from readers how old they think a car has to be to look ancient. And how old do they think a car has to be before others are sure to think it is ancient. Are these numbers the same? I am not talking here about a car that is viewed as being out of date because it’s seven years old and discontinued. Some people are quite fascist about cars’ ages and insist that anything older than three is an embarrassment. Rather, it’s about the perception of antiquity, of otherness, that a 1950s car certainly has and which a vehicle like a CX, 604 and Mercedes 230E has. The 1995 cars are old but do they seem old enough to make you feel they are classics?