We are living through a banner year in automotive history.

Rarely has there been so much birthday gridlock around notable vehicles. The Porsche 911 is on a protracted 50th anniversary tour, which will culminate with an official celebration in conjunction with the Frankfurt motor show in September. The Jeep Wagoneer, a vehicle that set the luxury SUV template nearly a decade before the Range Rover, is 50 years old. Maserati’s Quattroporte, redesigned for 2013 to better compete with luxo-saloons from Germany and England, has retained its titular four doors, but has evolved dramatically since 1963.

As the 911 and Quattroporte demonstrate, many nameplates turning 50 this year still occupy the product portfolios of the world’s most prestigious automakers, while others have transitioned – at times inelegantly – into the archives.

On the occasion of their golden anniversaries, BBC Autos celebrates the nameplates that were, that are and that may yet be again.