Most iconic cars by decade: from classic beauties to electric innovators
The automotive industry has witnessed numerous iconic cars throughout the decades, each leaving an indelible mark on popular culture and shaping the way we drive and experience automobiles. From the humble VW Beetle to the futuristic Tesla Model S and beyond, let's take a journey through time and explore some of the most iconic cars that have captured the hearts and minds of Australia and abroad.
1950s: VW Beetle
The 1950s marked the rise of the Volkswagen Beetle, affectionately known as the ‘Bug’. This compact and affordable car quickly became a symbol of freedom and rebellion. With its distinctive rounded shape, the Beetle gained popularity worldwide and became one of the best-selling cars of all time, maintaining its icon status to this day.
1960s: EH Holden
In the swinging sixties, the EH Holden hit the road and not only cemented its own legendary status, but also set a new benchmark for Australian manufacturing prowess. Known for its sleek design, red motor power, and solid build, the EH appealed to families and car enthusiasts alike, remaining popular among motorists and collectors long after the model was discontinued in 1965.
1970s: Datsun 120Y
The 1970s saw the rise of Japanese car manufacturers, and the Datsun 120Y was both a standout model and a polarising one. While gaining criticism for its under-delivery of power and handling efficiency, the vibrant colours, automatic transmission, and broadly reliable functioning ensured history remember this little engine that could as a beloved innovator of its time.
1980s: Ford Falcon
It might have taken Ford 22 years to unseat Holden as Australia’s best-selling vehicle, but in 1982, the Falcon finally swooped in and took top honours. An undisputed Aussie icon known for its power, durability, and spaciousness, the Falcon became a staple on our roads, and on the big screen, appearing in the original Mad Max movie amongst others. For many years it represented the epitome of the Australian family car, until 2016 that is, when production was finally discontinued.
1990s: Holden Commodore
General Motors Holden made a resurgence in the 90s with its wildly popular Commodore series, particularly the VT model that took out best-seller honours for 15 consecutive years from 1996 to 2010. Increased safety and performance features made it a firm family favourite then, and it remains the most common registered model car in the country to this day despite production ceasing in 2017.
2000s: Toyota Prius
While it didn’t attain the same level of popularity in Australia, the Toyota Prius was a game-changing vehicle around the world with its hybrid fuel-electric engine. The Prius became the poster child for eco-friendly motoring, showcasing Toyota's commitment to sustainability and fuel efficiency, while also revolutionising the automotive industry.
2010s: Tesla Model S
The 2010s saw the advent of electric vehicles (EVs), and the Tesla Model S emerged as a market leading game-changer. Combining luxury, high performance, intuitive function, and zero-emission driving, the Model S proved that electric cars could be both practical and desirable. With its sleek design, cutting-edge technology, and impressive range, the Model S redefined the perception of EVs and paved the way for a sustainable future in the automotive industry.
2020s: Toyota LandCruiser
As we enter the current decade, the Toyota LandCruiser continues to be an iconic and a hugely popular vehicle, particularly in the realm of off-road performers. Renowned for its reliability, off-road capabilities, versatility, and luxury, the LandCruiser has become a symbol of ruggedness, adventure, and ultimate Aussie style. It has garnered a loyal following worldwide and remains a top choice for both work and leisure purposes (and you could win your very own modified 79 Series in the current Cars for Cancer lottery)!
From the timeless charm of the VW Beetle to the futuristic innovation of the Tesla Model S, each decade has introduced us to iconic cars that have left their mark on the automotive industry. These vehicles represent the evolution of design, technology, and cultural significance. Whether through their affordability, performance, or environmental consciousness, they have shaped our experience on the road and in life.