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Cars Marking Milestones In 2016


Another year has rolled in, which means special birthdays for some classics.

 

As humans celebrate landmarks like 40 and 50, so do the owners of classics when it comes to their vehicles. Here, we look at some models marking major milestones this year - one or two might just make you say 'never!'

 

60 years old - BMW 507

 

It's not BMW's best-known car, but just take a look at it - it doesn't look 60 years old, does it? This little beauty of a roadster was produced between 1956 and 1959 and was intended to be exported to the USA in its thousands. But it was simply too expensive and only 252 were built before BMW pulled the plug on the 507.

 

 

The idea was to produce a car somewhere in between cheap and cheerful roadsters from the likes of Triumph and MG and the top-end work of the Mercedes-Benz 300SL. But it simply didn't work out, which is a shame given how gorgeous the thing was.

 

50 years old - Lamborghini Miura

 

Whisper it - this legend of a supercar hits its half-century this year. It was seminal car, credited with starting off the preference for two-seater, mid-engined supercars and at the time of its release in 1966 the Lamborghini Miura was the fastest car on the road. Apparently developed against the wishes of founder Ferruccio Lamborghini by his engineering team in their spare time, it hit rivals Ferrari for six.

 

 

The Miura was produced until 1973, with updates along the way, and is today coveted among collectors and car fans. It was replaced by the somewhat outlandish Countach in 1974, the car that began Lambo's reputation for design craziness. Although it was built for seven years, the Miura was always rare, with just 764 rolling off the production line.

 

40 years old - Ford Fiesta

 

Still produced in name to this day, Ford's little hatchback is a slightly scary 40 years old this year. The Fiesta was introduced in 1976 with a little 0.9-litre engine in a variety of trims. Although today very much a European model for the American giant, it did sell for three years in the USA in its infancy.

 

 

Sporty versions, as we know, followed, including the legendary boy-racer favourite, the XR2. The Mark I Fiesta was produced until 1983 and, 40 years after its launch, is still one of the best-selling cars in the UK.

 

30 years old - Citroen AX

 

A quirky one from our continental cousins, the little Citroen AX is still a car with plenty of appeal for those with a love for Gallic motors. It was launched in 1986 as a three-door hatchback with 1.0, 1.1 and 1.4-litre engines and a five-door option and a 1.4 diesel engine followed soon after.

 

 

Typically French, its innovations included fully independent suspension and exceptionally low drag for very good efficiency in combination with its light weight of 640kg thanks to the use plastic panels where possible. There was a lot going on for what appeared to be a unexciting hatchback - but that has always been the French way.

 

A performance version followed the year after launch, the AX Sport, which had a 1.3 twin-carb engine putting out a heady 95bhp. The AX lasted an impressive 12 years, finally being dropped in 1998 after a whopping 2.4 million were produced.

 

20 years old - Lotus Elise

 

Another seminal car and it's hard to believe that the Lotus Elise was first hitting our roads in 1996. It was true to the Lotus philosophy of light, simple cars designed for driving thrills and the rear-drive, mid-engined Elise didn't disappoint. A fibreglass body shell and aluminium chassis kept weight down and the Elise could hit 150mph.

 

 

It weighed just 725kg, meaning its small 118bhp engine was good for 60mph in 5.8 seconds. Many variants have followed, with more power added, and the Elise is still going strong today.

 

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