2020's Biggest Automotive Anniversaries

2020 looks set to be a busy year on the classic car scene with a number of iconic machines reaching important milestones. Let's take a look at a few of the most memorable.

Note that there are many more that do not appear on this list. We tried to keep it interesting and relevant to the South African audience. If you think we've missed an important car, please let us know in the comment section below.

Range Rover Mk1 (50 years)

range rover

Launched in 1970, the original Range Rover was quite utilitarian (especially compared with the vehicles the brand produces these days!) and offered as a 2-door only until 1981. 

Peugeot 404 (60 years)

Peugeot 404
Launched in 1960, the neatly styled (by Pininfarina) 404 quickly built a reputation for toughness and comfort. No wonder it served as a taxi in so many countries, for so long. Nearly 3 million were built in a model life that lasted until 1975. The 404 was also assembled in South Africa.

Toyota Celica (50 years)

toyota celica
First launched in 1970 and then followed up by another 6 generations, the Celica is sadly no longer part of the Toyota line-up. The first Celica (A20/A30) was based on the underpinnings of the rear-wheel drive Carina (one size bigger than the Corolla), and was initially more of a sporty GT than an outright sportscar (which it evolved into later).

Lamborghini Diablo (30 years)

lamborghini diablo

Replacing a car as iconic as the Countach, at a time when company finances were hardly in the rudest of health, and then having new owners come into the process late, could not have been easy. The Diablo had a troubled birth, then, but it certainly doesn't lack for drama!

Alfa Romeo Montreal (50 years)

alfa romeo montreal

First shown as an unnamed concept car at an exhibition in Montreal, Canada in 1967, Alfa Romeo adopted the name for the production version that arrived in 1970. The stunning Montreal was powered by a 2.6L V8 and production continued until 1977. It was never massively successful, however, mostly because it was too pricey compared with its rivals.

Audi Quattro (40 years)

audi quattro

This legendary machine arrived on the world scene in 1980, but the idea was first proposed back in 1977 when an engineer discovered that a four-wheel drive Volkswagen Iltis would outperform anything in the snow, no matter what their power output. And so the Quattro was born, based on the Coupe version of the Audi 80. It became a fierce rally weapon in the subsequent years, and catapulted Audi's brand image to new heights.

Opel Kadett 2.0 GSi Superboss (30 years)

South Africa's iconic Superboss turns 30 years-old this year and local enthusiasts of this increasingly coveted car are preparing to throw it a proper party (at a racing circuit, of course!). We will be there with our own Superboss (see video above).

Datsun 240Z (50 years)

Datsun 240Z

The sexy Japanese coupe was introduced late in 1969 as a 1970 model, featured glamorous styling and a 2.0L straight-6 engine. It proved popular all over the world, particularly as it was significantly more affordable than rival sportscars. It was eventually replaced (and grew fatter each time) by the 260Z and then the 280Z. It is the grand-daddy of today's 370Z.

Lotus Esprit Turbo (40 years)

Lotus Esprit Turbo

Although some dealers had been offering turbocharged conversions on the Esprit, Lotus officially jumped onto the Turbo bandwagon in 1980, initially as a special edition model sporting the colour scheme of its F1 team sponsor, the Essex Overseas Petroleum Corporation.  

Volkswagen Citi Golf CTi (30 years)

vw citi cti

Right at the end of 1990 Volkswagen delighted its fans by essentially relaunching the Golf Mk1 GTI. The Citi Golf CTi boasted a fuel-injected 1.8-litre engine with 82kW, and period advertising claimed "0 to 80kph in a sportscar-bashing 6.1 seconds!" Try find a good one today... it's tough.

Opel Manta (50 years)

Opel Manta

Launched in 1970 as a counter to Ford's Capri, the Manta was based on the Ascona (which actually made its debut a few months later). The Manta name disappeared from the Opel line-up in 1988, with the coupe role fulfilled by the new Vectra-based Calibra. 

Suzuki Jimny (50 years)

Suzuki JImny

The charming Jimny arrived in 1970, carrying the LJ10 code. It very quickly built a reputation for toughness and go-anywhere ability. The LJ10 had an 18 kW air-cooled 359 cc 2-cylinder engine. Measuring just shy of 3.0 metres in length, it became the first 4-wheel-drive Kei car to enter production, with a lifecycle that spanned 11 years (1970-1981).

Honda S2000 (20 years)

honda s2000

Introduced in 1999 for the 2000 model year, this car has future classic written all over it. Sporting sleek styling that has hardly dated at all, and a screaming naturally aspirated 2.0L engine with a red line close to 9 000rpm, the S2000 is a bucket-list drive.

Renault Fuego (40 years)

Renault Fuego

Often ridiculed, but the Fuego (Spanish for "fire") was once Europe's top-selling coupe, though we wonder how many are left. The Fuego used the Renault 18 platform, and remained in production (in South America) until 1992!

Dodge Challenger (50 years)

dodge challenger

The mighty Dodge Challenger first thundered into existence in 1970 as a rather late response to the Ford Mustang. The twin of the Plymouth Barracuda, the Challenger was offered with a wide variety of engines, and these days are prized collectors' items. The Challenger nameplate is still with us today, positioned as the most ferocious muscle car you can buy. 

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