Four of the most successful cars ever made have succeeded through generations of carefully calibrated industrial design, adapting not only to changes in consumer tastes but also improvements in global automotive safety regulations.
Ebay Motors, the automotive segment of the popular San Jose, California, online auction house, came up with a clever gimmick to promote itself in a dense online automotive marketplace. The company took a snapshot of every Ford Mustang, Chevrolet Corvette, BMW 3-Series and Honda Accord design ever made and merged them into four animated GIFs that show the evolution of decades of vehicle design in a matter of seconds:
The Chevrolet Corvette was unveiled in 1953, featuring one of the first all-fiberglass bodies and wraparound windshield. The first C1 Corvette didn’t have a lot of muscle, but the model lasted nine years with gradual improvements under the hood. The Sting Ray came out in 1963 to much fanfare for both design and performance. The seventh-generation Corvette, the C7, came out in 2014 with a weight-saving aluminum frame. It’s still considered one of the best American sports cars.
The Ford Mustang debuted in 1963 as the most successful car since the Model T up to that time. The appeal had a lot to do with the cost: The underpinnings of the first Mustang came from the Ford Falcon, so the company didn’t have to build the sports car from scratch. Fifty-one years later, the sixth-generation Mustang has made its way to the Chinese market and it still grabs the attention to American muscle car fans worldwide.
BMW’s compact executive car has been since its inception in 1975 one of the best entry-level luxury sedans ever made. The first generation, called the E21 3-Series, didn’t stray too far from its predecessor, the BMW 2002, including the distinctive forward-leaning front end. The four-door came out in the BMW E30 3-Series in 1984 and in 1987 a sporty 2-door version came out. In its sixth generation, the 3-Series name remains as a sedan or wagon while the two-door coupe has broken away to become the 4-Series.
It’s not the sexiest car to have been around for so long, but the Honda Accord remains one of the most popular mass-market sedans in the world. The first Japanese car to be manufactured in the United States, at Honda’s Marysville, Ohio, plant, the Accord debuted in 1976 as a modestly priced gas-sipper in the wake of the early 1970s U.S. oil crisis. Honda deftly entered the U.S. market as a humble maker of motorcycles and today has four manufacturing site in the U.S. and seven in North America. The ninth-generation Accord was released in 2013, and is considered a relatively bland but very reliable mid-sized sedan.