BBC Autos

Evolution of Design

Class of 1963 reunion

  • 1969 McLaren M7C and 2013 McLaren 12C Spider
    Founded 50 years ago by Bruce McLaren, the second-oldest team in Formula 1 has spawned an equally illustrious street-car manufacturer. (McLaren Automotive)
  • McLaren MP4-28
    This latest McLaren Formula 1 car is being campaigned by drivers Jenson Button and Sergio Perez. (McLaren Racing)
  • 1963 Maserati Quattroporte Tipo 107
    Fewer than 1,000 Type 107 sedans were produced, making them highly sought by collectors. (Maserati)
  • 2013 Maserati Quattroporte
    More than 550 horsepower is produced by the latest model's V8 engine. (Maserati)
  • 1964 Porsche Prototype 911 Type T8
    The brainchild of Ferdinand Alexander Porsche, known to friends and colleagues as Butzi, the 911 presented a new sports-car archetype. (Porsche Cars)
  • 2013 Porsche 911 Carrera
    Internally known as the 991, the latest 911 is equipped with electric steering, a feature that has polarised the Porsche faithful. (Porsche Cars North America)
  • 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
    A Corvette for racers, the Z06 was an outgrowth of the Corvette Sting Ray, new for the 1963 model year. (General Motors)
  • 2013 Chevrolet Corvette Z06
    The original Z06 inspired a line of contemporary Corvettes, possessing increased horsepower and upgraded components. (General Motors)
  • 1963 Buick Riviera
    The Riviera was envisaged as a lighter-weight, more sporting breed of Buick. (General Motors)
  • Buick Riviera Concept
    An interpretation of a resurrected Riviera (the last model left production in 1999) debuted at the 2013 Shanghai motor show. (General Motors)
  • Jeep Wagoneer
    The first luxury SUV, the long-lived Wagoneer delighted its occupants with an array of comfort and convenience features and a decidedly carlike driving experience. (Chrysler Group)
  • Mercedes-Benz 230 SL (W113)
    Introduced to fanfare at the 1963 Geneva show, the Paul Bracq-designed "Pagoda" roadster/coupe filled the big shoes of Mercedes' vaunted 300 SL and 190 SL models. (Daimler)
  • Lamborghini 350GTV
    The star of the 1963 Turin motor show, the luscious 350GTV prototype previewed Lamborghini's first production car, the lovely, if slightly less heart-stopping, 350GT. (Lamborghini)
  • Trabant 601
    East Germany's answer to VW's Beetle, the oft-maligned 601 defied critics with longevity: From 1963 to 1990, Trabant built some 2.8 million of them. (Jonathan Smith/Getty Images)
  • Aston Martin DB5
    It owes a good deal of its enduring appeal to a certain secret agent, but the DB5 — with a 282hp engine and Superleggera body — had plenty of star power on its own. (Aston Martin)


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.