3. Volkswagen New Beetle (1998-2010)
Even icons get tiresome.
The Beetle traces its roots back to World War II but, by the mid-1970s, other compact cars began encroaching on the Beetle's turf and Volkswagen was staring down bankruptcy. To right the ship, Volkswagen had to ditch the Beetle in favor of the Golf hatchback.Thus began the more than 20-year absence of new Beetles from U.S. roads. Older models were still kicking around, but were tough to maintain even before they were "vintage." The rear-wheel-drive cars had their air-cooled engines in the back and were little match for the front-wheel-drive, water-cooled spacious hatchbacks that followed. The problem is that they and most cars sold in the U.S. during the '80s and early '90s were dull as drying plaster. The Jetta was considered VW's "cool" car in the '90s, and it was a convertible box on wheels. The market missed quaint and lovable cars and missed the Beetle something awful. By the time a concept car surfaced in 1994, engineers had figured out how to put the engine up front, how to give it front wheel drive and a more spacious interior and make it look like an updated version of the original while giving it little tweaks such as a flower vase in the dashboard. There was a lot of love for the New Beetle, and its overwhelming reception began the era of "new futurism" that brought drivers updated versions of beloved cars such as the Mustangs and Camaros mentioned just an entry earlier.