Home » These Are The Oldest Vehicles Still In Production, Dating Back To 1965

These Are The Oldest Vehicles Still In Production, Dating Back To 1965

Stick 1536x864 Ts

In markets like the United States, Western Europe, and Australia, things move fast. Automotive journalists, emboldened by their hallowed positions in society, will openly mock automakers for keeping a model in production for a decade or longer (*cough* Nissan 370Z *cough*). In the rest of the world, people are less obsessed with cutting-edge looks and the latest developments in crash safety and efficiency. Or, at least, they can’t afford to be obsessed. In these countries, a model can stay in production for decades as long as it still fulfills a basic need for its customers.

Today, we’re looking at some of the oldest vehicles that have hung on in production like cockroaches after a nuclear apocalypse. Auto writer Corey D Lewis has been coordinating a thread on Twitter to identify which vehicles have been in production the longest, with this crowdsourced effort identifying models that stretch far back into the distant past of the 20th century. We’ll start at the oldest, and walk our way back to some of the more contemporary designs that are still getting stamped out en masse to this day.

Vidframe Min Top
Vidframe Min Bottom

Russian manufacturer UAZ is a standout in this realm. The company is well-known for still building the UAZ-469, which first greeted the world in the distant past of 1971. It’s since gained a higher profile worldwide by virtue of its inclusion in the popular PUBG: Battlegrounds battle royale game. However, this isn’t actually the oldest vehicle UAZ still has in production. No, that title instead goes to the UAZ-452, a humble van that very obviously hails from a long time ago, namely—1965. Man had not yet walked on the moon; Iron Butterfly were yet to come together in music. The UAZ-452 was developed from the UAZ-450, itself based on the GAZ-69, but was considered its own model. Its resemblance to a loaf of bread got it nicknamed “bukhanka” — “loaf” in Russian.

It was originally built with a 2.4-liter inline-four good for 75 horsepower, and could run on awful gasoline with an octane rating as low as 72. The engine was later upgraded in 1985, putting out a full 99 hp, while the 2000s brought such luxuries as plastic side mirrors and headrests for the front seats. Amazingly, today, it still looks straight out of 1965, with the exterior virtually unchanged. Today, it’s boasting a mighty 112 hp from its Euro-5/Euro-0 compliant engine, paired with a five-speed gearbox and a proper dual-range transfer case for off-road use. Oh, and did we mention it’s available in the most lurid shade of green? Bonkers.


UAZ doesn’t get an outright win here, though. China, too, has a car that has been in production since 1965. Enter the Beijing BJ212, which has been manufactured by a number of Chinese factories and concerns over the last 58 years. It’s most closely associated with the Beijing Automobile Works (BAW), and has also been known as the BJ2020 and the Zhanqi over its long history. The off-roader sits in a similar class to the UAZ-469, and is often noted for its similarity to the Soviet-era vehicle. The basic design of the BJ212 was shared among a wide variety of Chinese automakers, many of whom took the basic form and used it to build all kinds of pickups, vans, and wagons. It even ended up as the basis for some weird clones of the XJ Jeep Cherokee.

Screenshot 2023 12 14 142312

Screenshot 2023 12 14 142133
It’s available in a camouflage finish if you so desire.
Screenshot 2023 12 14 142246
The BAW International website directly compares the 212’s design to the Jeep Wrangler and Suzuki Jimny.

The BJ212 is still on sale to civilian users from BAW. Like so many live-axle four-wheel-drive designs, it’s still fit for purpose, and so there’s been little reason to change the basic layout over the years. However, it does have a nicely modern powerplant, with a 2.4-liter turbocharged Mitsubishi engine good for 207 horsepower and 236 pound-feet of torque. It’s paired with a six-speed manual transmission for good old-fashioned three-pedal fun. Even the latest models still come with manual-wind windows and external hood tiedown latches, even though the interior has had some updates to bring it up to an early-2000s stripper spec.

It’s not clear which between the UAZ and the BAW first entered production; it may have come down to a matter of months or even weeks. Regardless, we’ll crown them both equally unless some other champion should come to light. Honorable mentions go to vehicles like the Lotus 7 and the original Jeep, but modern versions have varied so much as to hardly be considered the same vehicles they were when they began so many years ago. It’s worth noting too that the original Volkswagen Beetle had one of the longest runs ever, being built from 1938 until 2003, but it sadly was then put out to pasture by the last factory still building them in Mexico.


Zamyad doesn’t share its website with the Western world, but tidbits exist around the Internet. This photo from the company’s Instagram account shows just how cool the Zamyad Z24 looks today. It hasn’t abandoned any of the charm of the 1970s era Nissan Junior that it’s based on.

Abd4f00f11ec42b487dbb9001e8c08ba Big

Of course, there are plenty of other old vehicles still in production; just seldom few that measure up to the extreme 58-year careers of the BAW BJ212 and the UAZ-452.  We’ve already mentioned the popular UAZ-469, dating back to 1971. There’s also the Nissan Junior, which hails back to 1970; it’s still in production today as the Zamyad Z24, hailing from Iran. That’s a darn sight longer than another Iranian long hauler which we recently discussed, namely, the Peugeot 405 cum Peugeot Pars which has been in production for 36 years. Indeed, most of these models trump the conventional long haulers we think of in the West; in comparison, the 70 Series Toyota Land Cruiser is a baby that’s just about to celebrate its 40th birthday.

I’d also like to raise a special mention to the Wally’s 619, also identified by Lewis’s hunt for the oldest vehicles on sale. It’s still in production today in Tunisia, based on the 1987 Kia Pride/Ford Festiva/Mazda 121. As someone who owned a three-door model a decade ago, I have a lot of love for these vehicles. They were cheap tin sheds that nonetheless handled like a little go-kart if you slammed them on a low set of springs. Fast, they were not, but they always got you where you were going. Pull the back seats out and you could even sleep in the boot, if you were mad, drunk, or otherwise so inclined. Indeed, it’s still available as a pickup truck too—as the Saipa 151, built in Iran.




1096986 10201694475746845 1311452439 O
Top, the Wallys 619. Bottom, the author’s three-door Mazda 121. I’d love to own another one day, especially the pickup, but Wallys and Saipa should really adopt the sharper Mazda front end design.  

As car enthusiasts, we’re often obsessed with vehicles from yesteryear, for both our own relationships with them, and what they represent. Hearing that these old designs are still in production elsewhere reminds us that our own past is still relevant. We can imagine that maybe someone else overseas is making fond memories in a car we loved so many years ago.

Of course, while these vehicles are still in production, many of them will remain unobtainable for most of us. Short of flying to a foreign country, you won’t get to drive one of these, unless maybe you import one in 25 years. That is, if you can find someone who’s kept one that long and is willing to sell it to you. Ultimately, the automotive road is a rich and varied milleu, all the more so the further you cast your gaze. It pays to take a look around now and then to see what interesting creatures inhabit the shores beyond our own.

Image credits: UAZ, BAW, Zamyad, Wallys, Lewin Day

Share on facebook
Share on whatsapp
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on reddit
Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Jon L
Jon L
4 months ago

Do motorcycles (especially those with sidecars) count? And how do you define still in production? If so, I would recommend the Ural Gear Up. The history is a bit fuzzy and the below is my best to shorten a complex history as much as possible, but the most widely agreed history is BMW started production of the civilian motorcycle sidecar unit R71 in 1938. Production ended to make way for the R75 military version and the R71 tooling was sold to the Soviet Union, a Soviet engineer was also trained as part of the deal. That tooling was used first in Moscow (MMZ), and then in Irbit (IMZ) producing a motorcycle originally called the M-72 and known today as the Ural Gear Up. Other factories produced the M72 and variations over the years as well but I wont cover those here. The IMZ factory tooling was upgraded and the original BMW tooling was sold to China. That original BMW tooling was used for many years in China for serial production but that has since ended; with the tooling still being used to produce small batches of parts. Chang Jiang, the Chines company that was set up to build the original “model 1957” as the called them, still makes a modern sidecar unit today that can be purchased pretty much everywhere but the USA. The IMZ factory/motorcycle company was purchased by an American in the 1990s and is currently headquartered in Washington state. Today’s modern IMZ Ural Gear-up is made from parts built in over 100 countries with the frame and most body parts still in production in the Irbit factory, but final production assembly takes place in Kazakhstan. I guess this is sort of a Theseus’ paradox; is the R71 still in production because the original 1930s tooling is still being used to make small batches of sidecar units (I tend to think ‘no’ since it doesn’t meet the definition of production), does the Ural count since the factory has been operating since the 1940s and what is being produced today would fit right in on a 30s/40s bike (I tend to think ‘probably’ since the changes have been more evolutionally one-part-at-a-time changes, rather than a full redesign), and would the Chang Jiang count since they still look like the old bikes (I tend to think ‘no’ for this one since there was a full stop in production and something totally new is in production).

4 months ago
Reply to  Jon L

Of course it counts ! What a bike. To bad it’s so expensive here in europe…

Would love your thoughts, please comment.x