The ‘20-year rule’ philosophy dictates that design trends come around every two to three decades. The fashion industry accounts for the most obvious examples – think flares and chunky trainers.

So, what if car manufacturers also looked backwards to look forwards? There are isolated instances, such as Ford bringing the Capri back, but as a crossover rather than a coupe. As such, we’ve imagined notable features of vehicles from the 1990s and early 2000s on the next generation of cars from several manufacturers.

Taking MINI Back to Its Roots

The classic Mini remained largely unchanged in a production run that lasted 41 years and built more than five million units, before BMW took over and released the new-look ‘MINI’ in 2001.

20 years on mini

Our retro-inspired render takes things back to the early days, however, with a modern interpretation of the smaller shell that it was first known for. It also acknowledges the car’s sporting heritage with rally car lights, flared wheel arches and a wide track for even greater stability in the corners.

Upgraded headlights, in the same recognisable shape as the pre-2000s models but with LED tech, sit above an embossed grille pattern – we’ve imagined this as an electric model so a functioning grille isn’t needed.

MG’s New Era Could Take Inspiration from the Original ZS Saloon

MG, the born-again British car brand, was an obvious test subject for the 20-year rule. Despite having a difficult time in the 1990s and 2000s, suffering several ownership changes and even a bankruptcy, the badge is back and making up for lost time.

20 years on mg

Now owned by Chinese automotive company Nanjing Automobile, MG is embracing the electric era of motoring with four EV options, including the MG ZS EV. Despite now adorning an SUV, the ZS tag was originally on a saloon – and it’s this model that we’ve reimagined with the 20-year rule in mind.

It retains the signature features of the first version, such as the spoiler and round headlights, but brings them up to date as LEDs. As an electric car, it also has a similar frontend pattern to the ZS EV and a set of alloys inspired by the original but tweaked to improve aerodynamics and therefore range.

How Ford Can Apply the 20-year Rule to the Fiesta’s Replacement

The Ford Fiesta is the latest victim of changing consumer trends, with falling sales prompting the brand’s decision to drop the model in summer 2023. It’ll be replaced by one of several electric crossovers and SUVs planned for the next few years – but how would it look if designers took inspiration from Fords of the ‘90s?

20 years on ford

The most notable return is the blocky headlights found on many models like the Ford Granada, but brought into the 2020s with LED daytime running lights. It also gets a streamlined version of the three-spoke alloys that set off some of the best-looking Fiestas pre-Millennium.

Colour-wise, it gets the popular pastel grey finish that many manufacturers are now offering, to modernise the classic features.

The Future-proof Cybertruck Gets a Retro Redo

Tesla’s first model, the 2008 Roadster, was released only 15 years ago, so the American carmaker doesn’t have an earlier creation we can apply the 20-year rule to. What we can do, though, is imagine how the Cybertruck would look if it was inspired by ‘90s styling.

20 years on tesla

The load bed does away with the sloping sides and takes on a more traditional style, while the integrated light bar makes way for a row of spotlights. Paired with pop-up headlights upfront, this retro take on Elon Musk’s Cybertruck is certainly not short of visibility.

A chrome strip runs around the pickup’s exterior, accenting the two-tone colour scheme and toned-down alloys, which are fitted to tyres with white lettering.

Check our blog for more of our automotive features, such as our Comeback Cars designs, or browse our latest leasing deals if you’re considering an upgrade.


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