2012 Mini Cooper
- Starting price: $20,200
- What's retro: Swingin' '60s styling
- What's modern: Fuel-efficient, four-cylinder engines
The Mini Cooper is one of the more successful revivals of an iconic 1960s brand, thanks in part to clever marketing, an appealing design and high U.S. gas prices.
The car first launched in 1959 with enough room inside created by pushing the wheels all the way to the corners and turning the engine sideways. In 1961, race car designer John Cooper began his transformation of the Mini into a competitor at several road races of the time.
By 1969, more than 2 million had been sold, including pickup truck and station wagon versions. The Mini never got a chance to catch on in the U.S. because of new emission standards introduced in 1968.
Mini was relaunched in the United States in 2002 by parent BMW Group. Today's retro car lineup includes six different body styles all with the same basic look, including a convertible and a four-door with cargo space. It offers snazzy limited editions -- the Baker Street, Bayswater and Highgate -- as well as high-performance "John Cooper Works" models.