This is a tough one. Firstly we need to ask “What is a modern car?” A car released this year? One with an onboard computer and airbags maybe? So perhaps we can say a car released in the last 15-20 years? For the sake of argument, lets say that it’s anything you might see on the roads today that has been manufactured in the last couple of decades (broad I know).
For the purposes of scoring, I made a list of categories that I believe are essential for a car to be considered a classic:
Style: Is it poster-worthy?
Groundbreaking: A moment in history? A record breaker?
Rarity: Are you going to be seeing 10 of them on your daily commute?
Character: Does it have any? Or does it blend into the background?
Unique: Does it have a distinctive design, future-gazing technology or fascinating quirks?
I’ll put forward 6 cars, some will be obvious, some not. We’ll rate each trait out of 5 and see where we are!
01. McLaren P1 - 2013
A strong start here. The McLaren P1 will surely be considered a classic in the future. Super rare – check (only 375 were made). Gorgeous, and part of the revolution of electric/hybrid super cars. Using F1 technology, McLaren also pushed the boundaries with the P1, showing us how fast a car could go and how hybrid technology was the way forward. This is a a true Hyper car. Not alone in it’s feats though, developed at the same time as the Porsche 918 and the Ferrari La Ferrari. But as an all rounder, the P1 comes out on top. They will all be classics in the future, mind.
Total Score: 23
02. Bugatti Veyron - 2005
Recognised (at the time) as the fastest street-legal production car in the world. The Veyron was a total game changer. The original is 14 years old this year - and still looks great. Highly collectable from the beginning, this will only increase with time. Like the P1, but with an even more ludicrously high purchase price, this isn’t classic for the masses.
Total Score: 21
03. MINI R56 - 2006
Let’s get a little controversial. Can a remake become a classic?
In a word – yes. BMW brought back the MINI in the early 2000s, and while the first models were good, it was in 2006 that they nailed the formula with the R56. Undoubtedly the best MINI hatch around. Small, nippy, tight in the corners and brought that Go-Kart feeling of the original. A joy to look at and a joy to drive. Then in 2013 they introduced the 2nd facelift, the F56 - I had one. I loved it. But it just wasn’t as good as the previous iteration. Still great to drive, and arguably a better engine, but something was missing – that little spark. I can’t put my finger on it, but it does make it clearer to me that the R56 will one day be a classic.
Total Score: 18
04. Tesla Model S - 2012
Whatever you think of the man behind Tesla, you can’t fault the vision. The world is changing, and electric cars WILL become the norm. No other brand has done more for the movement to electric than Tesla, so it only seems fair that we go back to where it all started. The Model S. It has to be a classic, it’s the Ford Model T of the future of motoring, the car we’ll all look back on and go, “ahhh that’s what kicked it all off”. It might not get the highest score, but the Model S is impossible to leave out.
Total Score: 18
05. Audi TT - 1998
Audi celebrated the TT’s 20th birthday last year. Making the TT the oldest car on this list, but one of the most worthy. Regarding style – the original wasn’t whole-heartedly embraced by everybody. Many people pigeon-holed the TT as yet another soft 2 seater sports car. But – it is so much more than that. The TT is a piece of history. Styling that has the classic Audi vibe (that I love), and in the right colour these things can really stand out. The quattro version drives as expected – amazingly. It’s a classic, and I believe it will hold up for many years to come.
And if you’re not in agreement, then think about this. Without the original TT, we’d never have got the R8 (which could/should have made this list).
Total Score: 18
06. Ferrari 458 - 2010
We had to have at least one Ferrari didn’t we! And in recent history, one Ferrari stands out above the rest. The 458. 4.5 litre, naturally aspirated V8 engine - even if you have no idea what that means it sounds good. A return to drop-dead gorgeous Ferraris that hold up on the track, the road, and the bedroom wall. I can’t think of a car that better embodies all the values of the prancing horse.
100%. Future. Classic.
Total Score: 22
So 2040? What’s that going to be like?
Who knows? Will we all be in electric cars enjoying the age of renewable energy? Or will it be a Mad Max style dystopian landscape where we’re fighting over the last scraps of petrol? Probably the former. Hopefully the former. Will autonomous vehicles catch on and ferry us around like futuristic taxis summoned from an app? Maybe cars won’t even have wheels and we’ll all be flying around in giant personal drones. One thing is for sure, the biggest change in over 100 years of the motor industry is coming. And classic cars (both current and future classics) like the ones on this list may well be branded as archaic and banished to the history books. Or if fuel becomes a commodity that not everyone can afford, we may only get to use a combustion engine on a track day style event. Either way, the world is changing, and we need to keep up. But that’s pretty exciting isn’t it?
A quick shout out…
I know I said only 6, but I need to mention a few other likely future-classics that didn’t quite make the cut:
Audi R8 (2008), Lamborghini Huracán Evo LP 640-4 (2019), Nissan GTR R35 (2009), Honda S2000 (1999), Nissan 350z (2003), BMW M2 Competition (2018), Fiat 500 (Remodel) (2007), Porsche Carrera GT (2003), Mercedes-Benz SLR (2003) and finally the Honda Urban EV – despite not even being out yet (2020 looks likely), with that design you know it’s going to be a future classic.