Back from the dead: Motorcycle and car brands love a comeback

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There’s something about cars and bikes that make them so much more loved than a desk or a TV screen, products you use everyday but couldn’t be more indifferent about.

Memories such brands conjure – the warm feelings of nostalgia or the sense of past excitement – mean that there are more reboots of road relics than there are movies about superheroes.

The classic designs of the past are often treated with less subtlety than a sledgehammer, and in some cases this is a good thing, although for many classics the dream can be instantly shattered.

Ahead of our motorcycle special issue this September, we’ve decided to bring you some of the best and worst car and bike brand resurrections of recent times:


Verdict – Bad


In England there are parked cars that have been given tickets for overstaying their welcome longer than the United States of America has existed. Having said that, it makes a legendary brand from the States that bit more special.

Indian Motorcycles is a brand beloved on both sides of the atlantic, and formerly the largest manufacturer of motorcycles in the world, so its recently announced resurrection was met with much anticipation.

The lightweight stylings of the classic inter-war bikes will sadly remain a distant memory as the new stylings have been unveiled as bloated 1950’s-style cruisers.


Verdict – Good

By keeping to its racing roots Norton, resurrected properly in 2008, has ensured that the traditional design DNA has continued to its new breed of Commandos.

Having been put into financial difficulties in the mid-1950s due to its racing activities, the company sadly fizzled away into the ’60s till present day where a reboot is seeing its roadbikes become desirable once more.

In-keeping with its racing pedigree Norton continues to compete at the IOM TT, while its road bikes, although rejigged from original designs are lusted after by riders of all ages.

A new design office and engineering facility at the stately Donnington Hall should form a stable base for future endeavours.


Verdict – Bad
It’s very likely that you’ll never own one of these super limos – something only fossil fuel conglomerate owners and Rick Ross can boast about – but frankly, you’re doing yourself a favour.

Stately and sumptuous, yes. Overblown ogliarch outing, more fitting. Maybach used to be about designing oppulent airships, a couple of cars and tanks before its closure in 1945 once demand for Nazi heavy artillery dried up.

The reincarnation is nothing more splendid than a Mercedes S-Class wearing a posh frock with leg room.

The brand is once again dying, this time from its unsustainable excesses. Set to be killed off next year, the cars will be replaced with? A Mercedes S-Class…


Verdict – Good
If any road car encapsulates the ultimate in design and engineering its the Bugatti Veyron – a vehicle that very nearly didn’t see the light of day.

Previously Bugatti was a French company, started in what was then Germany, by an Italian, Ettore Bugatti. Ettore came from a family of artists and saw his works as not only engineering but artistry.

Some amazing cars were the result, with race-honed prowess as well as beautiful design.

After Ettore’s death the company slowly died off with its aircraft parts business lasting through the 1960s. A brief revival in the ’90s brought the world the ridiculous EB110 from the designers of the classic Lamborghini Miura and Countach, before a fresh revival came in 1998 when Volkswagen bought the brand.

The singular car to roll of its production line is the Veyron: a 8-litre W-16 engine with four turbochargers that costs Volkswagen money everytime one is sold.

A 1,001bhp feat of engineering, it stays true to Ettore’s principals of beautiful lines as well as engineering excellence.

Post your favourite and most hated design resurrections below the line.

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