Ranked: Sports Cars with the Longest Production Run

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The sports car is a fickle beast. It has to be. The sports car market is competitive, and as one manufacturer releases a new model, another must respond. What’s more, a sports car must also satisfy the whims of its owner, who often decide that a new and improved model must replace their current one. This is why production runs are often short.

We’ve compiled a list of sports cars that defied the odds by remaining in production for at least 10 years. Some are iconic in the automotive world, while others are just fun to drive but didn’t sell enough to remain on the market for very long. Regardless, these are the top 10 longest-running sports cars:

Ranked Sports Cars with the Longest Production Run (2)

1. Chevrolet Corvette: 1953 to Present  

The Chevrolet Corvette is an American icon that has been continuously produced since 1953 when it replaced the Chevrolet 150. 

The first generation of the car (C1) was produced from 1953 all the way through to 1962, and even though the car went through several changes during that period, the original design was kept relatively unchanged. It’s no surprise that it’s still considered an icon in American history.

In its 69 years of existence, the Chevrolet Corvette has been through seven generations of development, with each new model carrying on a long-running legacy.

2. Ford Mustang: 1964 to Present

Ford Mustang GT Orange Fury

The Ford Mustang has been in production since 1964 and celebrated its 57th anniversary in 2021. The iconic American classic was introduced at the New York World’s Fair on April 17, 1964, and was named after the P-51 Mustang fighter plane from World War II. 

Today, the Mustang is still in production, continuing its status as one of the longest-running automotive designs in history. It has undergone several redesigns over time, but its unmistakable style and shape have remained the same for over 50 years. [1]

For more information on Ford and other major manufacturers in auto racing, check out our detailed guide on Auto Racing by the Numbers.

3. Porsche 911: 1964 to Present

Black Porsche 911 cabriolet

The original Porsche 911 was designed by Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche, the grandson of Ferdinand Porsche, who founded the car company. It is one of Porsche’s most iconic models. First released in 1964, the 911 has been continually manufactured for over 50 years and has made a name for itself due to its unique and timeless design.[2]

As of 2017, there were four main variants of the 911 on the market: the Carrera/Carrera S, the Targa, the Turbo, and the GT3. The base 911 is a 2+2 design featuring a 3.0-liter twin-turbocharged flat-6 engine that produces 370 horsepower and 331 lb.-ft. of torque. The top-of-the-line Turbo S model features a 3.8L twin-turbo flat 6 that produces 580 horsepower and 516 lb.-ft. of torque.

4. Chevrolet Camaro: 1967 to Present

Chevrolet Camaro

The Chevrolet Camaro is a pony car introduced in 1967 as a direct competitor to the Ford Mustang. The first-generation Camaro was built through the 1966 model year and was available as a two-door, 2+2 seating, and hardtop or convertible with a choice of six-cylinder and V8 power plants. The second-generation Camaro, which was built through the 1981 model year, saw the introduction of factory fuel injection, turbo hydra-Matic automatic transmission, 4-wheel disc brakes, 16-inch wheels and tires, and hatchback body styles. 

The car has undergone many changes during its long history. It started out as a compact car but is now considered a mid-size sports car or muscle car. But whatever category you put it in, it is definitely one of the longest-running sports cars on the market today. [3]

5. Jaguar XJ-S: 1975 to 1996

1993 Jaguar XJS oldtimer car at the Fuggerstadt Classic 2017 Oldtimer Rallye

The Jaguar XJ-S is a luxury grand tourer produced by the British manufacturer Jaguar from 1975 to 1996. The XJ-S superseded the E-Type (also known as the XK-E) in September 1975 and was based on the XJ saloon. It was developed as the XK-F, though it was very different from its predecessors in character.

Although it never had the same sporting image, the XJ-S was a competent grand tourer and more aerodynamically efficient than the E-Type. The last XJS was produced on April 4, 1996; by then, 115,413 had been produced during a 21-year production life.[4]

6. Karmann Ghia: 1955 to 1974

Classic Gold Volkswagen Karmann Ghia parked on seafront promenade

The Karmann-Ghia is a notable exception to the rule that sports cars must be low-slung, midengined, and expensive. Designed by Volkswagen, built by coachbuilder Karmann, and styled by Ghia, this car was inexpensive and accessible from start to finish.

Launched in 1955 as a Beetle-based two-seat coupe, it evolved into a two-seat convertible in 1957. In 1961, Volkswagen launched the second generation of its rear-engine model – the Type 3 – on which the Karmann Ghia coupe was based until 1969. In 1970, the third generation arrived with a new front-engine and four-wheel independent suspension. A year later, Karmann again offered a convertible version. The third generation remained in production until 1974.[5]

7. Jaguar E-Type: 1961 to 1975

Red Jaguar E-type, Lower Slaughter

Introduced in 1961, the Jaguar E-Type was an iconic and beautiful grand touring sports car. The last E-Types were built in 1975, and along the way, there were several changes to the engine, transmission, and basic body style.

The six-cylinder engine started out with 3.8 liters and grew to 4.2 liters by 1968, but it was also available as a 5.3-liter V12 starting in 1971. There were some variations on the front-end styling, too. Still, it’s hard to call that much variety over a 14-year production run.

8. Nissan 370Z: 2008 to 2021

2020 Nissan 370Z

Nissan started production on the 370Z in 2009, and only minor changes have been made to the car since then. The 370Z is powered by a rear-mounted 3.7L V6 engine that delivers 332HP and 270 lb-ft of torque. The engine is paired to either a six-speed manual transmission or a seven-speed automatic transmission. [6]

9. Morgan Plus 4: 1950 to 1969

Morgan Plus 4/4

Entering into production in 1950 and continuing to this day, the Morgan Plus 4 is a true British classic. With only minor modifications and improvements made along the way, the Plus 4 has remained largely unchanged since its introduction. Its retro appearance and unique driving experience have made it a favorite among auto enthusiasts worldwide.

The model was introduced after World War 2 in order to replace the pre-war Morgan 4/4.

10. Bugatti Veyron: 2005 to 2015

Beverly Hills

The Bugatti Veyron was a car that captured the dreams and desires of automotive enthusiasts from all over the world. The Veyron was the most powerful, fastest, and expensive production car in the world for many years, and it played a major part in changing the marque’s image, which had been tainted by some of its other models.

It has a top speed of 407 km/h (253 mph) and is powered by an 8-liter W16 engine with four turbochargers, producing 1,001 horsepower (736 kW; 987 PS) and 1,250Nm (922 lb.ft) of torque. The Veyron was made in limited quantities, but it was offered for sale for over 10 years, from 2005 to 2015. [7]

Conclusion 

The very nature of the sports car would seem to preclude long production runs. After all, sports cars tend to be associated with hand-built, high-performance vehicles whose limited production was always a foregone conclusion. Most collectors would be hard-pressed to explain why their sports car is collectible if their particular car was one of 500 built in a given year.

This apparent conflict makes it somewhat surprising that there actually are a number of celebrated sports cars with remarkable production runs lasting decades longer than one might expect.

To read about the automobile industry in detail, check out our detailed article on The Amazing Rise of the Automobile Industry.

References

  1. https://www.motortrend.com/vehicle-genres/ford-mustang-history-generations-models-specifications/
  2. https://www.topgear.com/car-news/heres-every-single-generation-porsche-911
  3. https://www.autoevolution.com/chevrolet/camaro/
  4. https://www.jagbits.com/jaguarxjs.html
  5. https://www.autozine.org/Archive/Volkswagen/classic/Karmann.html
  6. https://www.autoevolution.com/nissan/370z/
  7. https://www.cardekho.com/bugatti/bugatti-veyron-specifications.htm

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