WHAT if the cars we know and love today were in fact conceptualised and built decades ago?

That was the thought that occurred to Dutch illustrator Ruben Ooms. He’d previously developed concept sketches and visualisations for the likes of BMW, Renault and Volkswagen, so it wasn’t a huge leap for the Amsterdam-based artist to turn his hand to reimagining how modern cars would look if sent back in time.

It’s a fascinating concept, and automotive historians among you will no doubt be able to draw parallels between the cars that Ooms has sketched and contemporary vehicles that were possibly ahead of their time. We’ll let the pictures do the talking from here.

1974 Audi R8

Retro R 8 Jpg

The amalgamation of the modern R8’s sideblades with the design influence of the original Audi 100 C1 (1968-76) works surprisingly well. We particularly love the deep dish wheels and classic wood laminate paint hue. The stance borrows heavily from that of the Lancia Beta Montecarlo, but as a precursor to the ur-Quattro, this would have been a cracker. We’re already trying to imagine it in rally livery.

1956 BMW i8

Retro I 8 Jpg

The modern i8 is an unashamedly futuristic design. How could you possibly send that back to era of Marty McFly and Biff Tannen? By imagining it as the logical progression of the beautiful BMW 507, that’s how. The nod to electric power is particularly neat in this illustration with the bowser jockey having plugged the scissor doored and flying buttressed BMW into a period charging station. We’re not too sure how far up Route 66 it would have progressed with 1950s battery technology. It’s interesting to note that BMW reversed this process with the Z8, effectively a millennial reimaging of the classic 507.

1979 Range Rover Evoque

Retro Evoque Jpg

There’s an argument that the original Spen King three-door Range Rover wasn’t actually that far off the concept of the modern three-door Evoque. The baby of the contemporary range is actually a bigger car than the original Range Rover, occupying a larger road footprint. Nevertheless, Ooms has sketched a more aggressive fastback shape that evokes a more lifestyle image than the utilitarian classic. Granted, back in the late Seventies, lifestyle meant golf, shag pile and the great smell of Brut 33, but it’s a start.

1972 Porsche Cayenne

Retro Cayenne Jpg

Range Rover might well have pioneered the modern notion of the sport utility vehicle in 1970, but this Porsche imagining, arriving a couple of years later would demonstrate a very different take on the theme. There’s a whole heap of Volkswagen Type 4 in the genes here, as well as some classic 911 cues. Cast your mind back to how closely the original Cayenne aped the 996-generation 911 and we reckon it’s spot on the money. It also looks agreeably light, tough and green. We approve.

1936 Tesla Model S

Retro Tesla Jpg

Electric cars aren’t anything particularly new. In fact they predate the production of internal combustion powered cars by over 20 years, Thomas Parker’s rechargeable battery-powered EV creating range anxiety on London streets back in 1884. Therefore the notion of a 1936 version of the Tesla Model S isn’t as outlandish as it may seem. Even the in-screen display could, in theory, have been developed from the bestselling Baird Televiser cathode-ray screen that sold over a thousand units in the UK between 1930 and 1933.

1977 Toyota Prius

Retro Prius Jpg

The perfect solution for a world economy crippled by the Oil Crisis, this ’77 reimagining of the Prius also draws on technology that isn’t exactly box-fresh. Porsche had already developed a petrol-electric hybrid in 1898 with the System Lohner-Porsche. This used a gasoline engine to supply power to an electric motor that drove the car's front wheels and was well received, with over 300 were produced. It was the 1997 Prius that really kickstarted the hybrid revolution, with its XW20 successor selling almost 1.2 million units. The Prius’ Kammback profile also makes it absolutely ripe for a spot of plastic louvring.

1970 Dodge Viper R/T

Retro Viper Jpg

Given that the Viper always was a throwback concept wearing 1990s wraparounds, the idea of a 1970s version isn’t actually that much of a stretch. In fact, this rendering of an old-school Viper would fit right into any muscle car meet. The canted forward rear pillars, subtle side pipes and targa top are all recognisable Viper R/T motifs, and teamed with the split front bumpers and aggressive grille treatment result in a design with the requisite attitude to carry a big ol’ Hemi under the hood.

Video of Ruben Ooms at work: https://youtu.be/zhb80c-Riyw