What makes a classic? The question has been asked countless times before and it can almost become a bit tedious having to hear it again. There is no definitive clarification, though many have tried with simple rules and doctrines.
One thing is certain – and this declaration is of course at my very own expense – classic status has more to do with timelessness, rather than age in itself. Of course, some age is required in order to prove and demonstrate over time that the design has real substance. Often, it is the design which forms the basis of our judgment, and to a lesser extent the technical and mechanical components of a car, although they too have some say. The design is what we almost always relate to, and we have an expectation that it should exude elegance, cuteness or attitude and should invoke some sort of passion. For old cars it is especially important, as we have often experienced the glory of the design back when the car was new.
For a car’s design to be timeless, it is often defined by one or more of the car’s many design elements. Their forms and shapes can make such an impression that they are ingrained in our consciousness forever. The aesthetic value will at best correspond to ergonomic functionality, and in particular, have a function – a real use. But many examples show that they can also just be sheer cosmetics that will help form a cars “personality” or unique features. Design elements become markers of recognition for many, even for those without much knowledge about cars. Some car’s silhouettes are so characteristic that they alone are sometimes enough for recognition to instantly take place. Often, a very small image slice is enough for us to know exactly what we are looking at. Car enthusiasts, of course, go much further in recognizing smaller sections or lesser known design elements.
There have been bold and “loud” angles that we all lean to know from childhood, and there have been the subtle and refined ones which we only learnt about as our immersion in classic cars grew. One thing they all share is their place in the automotive history og design, but more importantly, they are the reason for a little boy’s excitement on a street corner with his small index finger pointing towards an old car.