With new cars emerging all the time, it’s amazing how quick some designs can age. Here in the U.K, cars are subject to strict rules and regulations on safety and emissions, making it difficult for manufacturers to keep production running. Still, some cars manage to hang on in there and enjoy long production runs – think Mercedes’ G Wagen or the recently departed Land Rover Defender.
Not every market is subject to the same regulations of course, and if you look in the right places you’ll quickly discover cars that you thought were long dead are – in fact – thriving at different corners of the globe.
Toyota Land Cruiser 70 Series
Production of this era of Land Cruiser, the J70, began way back in 1984 yet you can still purchase one from an Australian Toyota dealership right now.
The boxy, rugged and astonishingly reliable Land Cruiser remains a favourite among farm folk and thanks to a significant rework its now more efficient, comfortable and quiet than ever before. The J70 even scored a full five stars in Australia’s ANCAP road safety ratings, proving there’s plenty of life in the old girl yet.
Here’s one that I wasn’t expecting. China still builds Ford’s old smiley-faced Mk4/5 Transit that Europe kissed goodbye to before the millenium, albeit in a facelifted version. Available with a choice between two diesel engines or a petrol unit rather than the workhorse banana engines fitted to UK Transits. All in, the Chinese Transit or Classic Transit as it’s affectionately known, is said to have seen 70 improvements from the commercial vehicle it is based on.
European buyers kissed goodbye to Peugeot’s 405 in 1997 following 10 years of faithful service. The same can not be said for residents of Iran, who can still buy one brand spanking new from the ICKO group. There’s even a rear-wheel drive pickup that’s based on the same chassis.
Once again from Iran is the Zamyad Z24, which some of you may recognise as an ancient Nissan Junior pickup. In fact, these pick ups have been produced by the company under license since 1970. “With this little monster, no load is too heavy.” says the manufacturer’s site.
Lada’s Niva was the Soviet’s answer to a civilised four-wheel drive vehicle and dates all the way back to 1977. The utilitarian Niva rapidly became Lada’s most popular exports and was sold all across the globe. Even Russia’s own president Vladimir Putin was once a Niva owner. Today, production continues via Russia brand AvtoVAZ.
Other worthy mentions:
- Suzuki’s Gypsy – Suzuki’s aged SJ design that’s still sold to certain territories
- Mercedes Unimog – Another utilitarian beast that shows no sign of stepping down.
- Morgan 4/4 – Sure, it’s not the same car that it was in 1936 but save a hiatus during WW2 the 4/4 has been in constant production ever since!
- Daewoo Nexia – Based on a Mk2 Vauxhall Astra, the Nexia was old hat when it was introduced, yet it can still be bought brand new if you look hard enough.
- Lotus/Caterham 7 – Colin Chapman’s legendary design has been continually refined but has never strayed too far from what it was meant to be.
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