Once upon a time the majority of new cars had these funny things called carburetors, devices that would dump into a motor some guesstimated amount of leaded fuel that would mostly combust before being ushered through the catless exhaust and into the lungs of the guy behind you. During this time those fancy automatic transmissions were a dammed expensive option, so the car in your driveway most likely had four speeds that required you to work three pedals to direct drive to the rear two wheels. During this time, also referred to as the Mid-Sixties, that driveway might have been occupied by that sweet, new Rambler powered by a 290ci ‘Typhoon’ V8. Or maybe you wanted to be a little different and parked-up a nice Barracuda with a more sedate but adequate Slant-6.
Or…maybe you went with one of them there foreign jobbies.
For some, the nicest thing they could say was that they were different. One was considerably tiny, and after driving it you’d wonder if you could outrun it on foot. The other had some odd, frog emulating headlights, and for some reason they put the engine at the ass-end, like that Bug the college-chick around the corner had.
But their lack of familiarity was eased in the following decades. For one, a reputation of economy and reliability forged in the fires of fuel crises and the following regulations. The other, a champion in the crucible of motorsport, whether rain or shine, day or night, paved or raw.
Both born to the world in the Sixties, they’ve outlasted both previously mentioned nameplates and manufacturers. While the Toyota Corolla is occasionally shunned for having deviated from the more cooking models of yesteryear, its existence as affordable, economical transportation endures. Rally racing or Tofu delivery antics aside this has always beens its purpose, and with over 40,000,000 units sold its success cannot be ignored.
The same can be said of the Porsche 911. Just as recognizable as the Corolla (don’t snicker!), what was once an expensive replacement for the 356 has gone on to be one of the most successful vehicles at all levels of motorsport. It would be impossible to list all the variants and competition histories here, but over the last fifty years, any competition involving production sports cars would likely see a 911 somewhere in the lineup.
Fifty years on, these models and their manufacturers have stuck to what they’re good at; one still powered by a four cylinder more notable for its frugality than it’s accelerative force, the other still a sports car hanging its motor at the “wrong” end. Both however, have stayed true to their origins. These once “foreign” cars have risen to such levels of ubiquity that it’s hard to imagine a commute or racetrack without them.
It’ll be interesting to see what an updated pair of these will look like at their centennial.