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Cars turning 40 in 2016

By raccars Published

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1976 was something of a vintage year in automotive terms. A number of great motors made their debuts in '76 and are celebrating turning 40 this year.

Mid-life crisis: cars turning 40

40 - it's a biblical number. Noah handled 40 days of flooding. For some, life apparently begins at 40 while for others it's the start of a midlife crisis. In 2016 Hollywood actors Ryan Reynolds and Reese Witherspoon turn 40, as does Spice Girl Emma Bunton. Now that will make you feel old! 2016 also marks the year these classic motors were released, many of which make turning 40 look pretty good...

Audi 100

The hugely successful second generation Audi 100 was an important vehicle for the firm, as its first foray into the premium territory until then held firmly by its German rivals BMW and Mercedes-Benz. Not only that but the Mk2 100 was also fitted with the first five cylinder petrol engine in the world. It ran until 1982, during which time almost a million units left the production line.

BMW 6 Series

The elegant 6 Series still looks amazingly fresh today. Essentially it was a coupe version of the 7 Series and was made available in a number of high performance variants. It remained in production until 1989.

Bristol 603

The 603 might have looked sleek and modern in 1976, but it was riding on a chassis which had been used since the 1940s. It was a typically eccentric British motor powered by large, American engines.

DeLorean DMC-12

It might be an Eighties icon but the DeLorean later used by Marty McFly was originally unveiled in the October of 1976. The rest of its sad story is well known and the DeLorean can now act as a cautionary tale to the wild young motors of today.

Ford Fiesta

Britain's best-selling car of all time was born in 1976, and is now entering middle age looking better than ever. A million were on the road by the time the Eighties hit and the second generation was introduced, and more than 16 million Fiestas have now been made. The rest, as they say, is history.

Lotus Esprit

At 40, the age defying Esprit still looks gorgeous. It was an Italian supercar from a British manufacturer and most famous for its submarining turn in the 1977 James Bond film 'The Spy Who Loved Me'.

Renault 5 Gordini

This pocket rocket was arguably the first car to earn the nickname 'hot hatch', released in France and arriving on the market just before the Mk1 VW Golf GTI. Elsewhere it was called the Renault 5 Alpine and was succeeded in 1982 by a ridiculously fast turbocharged variant.

Rover SD1

This European Car of the Year winner wore the internal designation 'SD1', meaning 'Specialist Division 1', but was sold under the model names 3500, 2300 and Vitesse. It also became known as the 'jam sandwich' due to the distinctive livery it wore as a popular police car. Unfortunately it became a victim of the British Leyland chaos. Today at 40 it's a symbol of nostalgia for many.

Triumph TR7

The bold TR7 arrived in the UK in May but had actually been released in the US a year before, where its radical styling was enormously popular. Unfortunately its distinctive wedge silhouette proved divisive on this side of the pond and, plagued by quality control issues and corporate restructuring at British Leyland, the TR7 was canned in 1981.

Volkswagen Golf GTI

The ultimate hot hatch, the Golf GTI came to define the market segment and spawned a mass of imitators. Early models are fast gaining popular classic status and prices are on the rise.

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