Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Published 7 years ago by , Updated February 9th, 2012 at 9:50 pm,

As a follow up to my previous post talking about the possible redesign of the Enterprise NCC-1701 in Star Trek 11, I thought it would be interesting to do a design comparison based on another thing that many people are very passionate about.

Classic Cars.

How do classic cars figure into talking about Star Trek? Have I completely lost my mind? Well let’s find out…

We’ll start off with the main subject of our attention: The original series version of the starship Enterprise NCC-1701. Below you can see what the “classic” Enterprise and the “modern” version of what is supposed to be the same ship:

The Original Series USS Enterprise NCC-1701
compare ncc 1701 Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

The USS Enterprise NCC-1701-A
compare ncc 1701 a Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Back in 1979 when the new NCC-1701 premiered, instead of being outraged, fans fell in love with the new design. Why? Two reasons:

1. While obviously updated, it was incredibly faithful to the original design of the ship. There were subtle changes made to most of the ship, mainly in added detail to the outer hull. The biggest changes were to the nacelles and pylons which deviated quite a bit from the original design.

2. It was in fact, a redesign of the ship and that was made clear in the film. It was stated that the original was 20 years old and was due for a refurbishing.

Regardless, the new look was quite faithful to the original while at the same time in many ways much more beautiful.

At this point it’s unclear just how much they’ll change the original design for the new Star Trek film, but here we do have an obvious difference: It’s supposed to be the same ship. I could actually live with a version of the ship very similar to the 1979 version, but with straight pylons and cylindrical nacelles. I wouldn’t argue with that and I can understand the cinematic reasons for adding detail to a big screen version of the ship. Anything beyond that however, is bound to aggravate existing fans.

So just for fun, let’s compare some classic vs modern versions of popular sports cars and how they might relate to the redesigned Enterprise…

Classic Camaro
60s camaro Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Modern Camaro
new camaro Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Above we have a classic 1960′s Chevy Camaro and the brand new redesigned version that will be available soon. Let me say that I think the new Camaro is really, REALLY hot and from a design standpoint pays homage to the classic version, but that degree of change for the Enterprise would be completely unacceptable.

Classic Corvette
60s corvette Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Modern Corvette
new corvette Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Here we have a classic Corvette and the latest generation version. This latest model is a vast improvement over the previous and is actually the closest in overall look to the classic Stingray than we’ve seen in over 20 years. Transfer that to the NCC-1701 and while it would still be too much, it’s not as radical a change as far as I’m concerned compared to the Camaro.

Classic Mustang
60s mustang Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Modern Mustang
new mustang Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Here we have the classic Ford Mustang and the newest model. Here again, like in the models above the designers have obviously attempted to pay tribute to the look that made the original a classic (and I’m a huge fan of the new version). It’s more streamlined but all the main lines of the original are still there. I would say there’s a bit of a stronger difference between these two cars than there is between the 1960′s and 1979 NCC-1701, but not too much more. This is about the upper limit of change I think I’d be willing to accept in a new Enterprise. The very upper limit.

Classic Porsche
classic porsche Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Modern Porsche
new porsche Classic Enterprise Update vs Classic Cars Update

Finally we come to the classic Porsche 911 and it’s modern counterpart. I think that here we are approaching the level of difference that we see between the classic Enterprise and the first movie version. Yes, it’s different in many details but overall I think if you could transport the new one back to the 1960′s people would still recognize it as a Porsche 911. I might not be ecstatic about it, but I could probably live with this degree of upgrade to the classic model.

Keep in mind I’m a hard core Star Trek fan and that my favorite series is in fact the original. Maybe I’m mellowing with age or I just understand the fact that some things do need a bit of updating 40 years later. .. it’s just unrealistic to expect them not to make some updates to the design.

But to J.J. and crew I’ll say this: Please just don’t go too crazy trying to put your own personal stamp/vision/design on such an iconic spaceship.

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  1. I think its safe to say that Abrahms will change the look of the Enterprise.
    I think alot of us longtime fans are afraid were going to see radical changes like the NX-01′ voyager style nacelles.
    Whatever he decides to do if he changes the ship too much this film will loose alot of longtime fans.
    If Abhrams thinks that a new design will somehow capture new fans I really feel he’s totally wrong.
    I personally didn’t mind the changes along the way that the Enterprise went thru in the past but to make the ship look more futuristic than the Original will be a mistake I believe.

  2. Heheh, I never really thought about the whole classic versus modern car relation to the Enterprise debate, well done sir. I do think you are right though, despite being the die hard next generation fan, the NCC 1701A Is still the best looking Enterprise in my book, so I can’t be completely against an update design. Having said that though, the one from this movie IS the one from the original, so you just can’t fiddle with it too much. The whole thing of trying to get new fans is fine, but are new fans going to give two craps if the ship is the same as the old one, or a complete redesign? I doubt it. Can the same to be said of the many people that are already Star Trek fans? I don’t think I need to waste time typing an answer to such an obvious question.

  3. Call in and check out our interview tonight at 8pm EST with Ray Buchanan, founder and president of the Stop Hunger Now organization and veteran actor John Mahon ie. Admiral Gardner from Enterprise on

  4. Oh man, I seriously hope to see a retro-futuristic twist on the classic NCC-1701.. I’d dread to see something like the NX-01 being paraded as the new Enterprise or worse yet, a completely different design that has no resemblance to anything in Trek canon!

  5. I would prefer the exterior remain relatively unchanged. The smooth hull of the original Enterprise has a kind of retro-future look that is timeless.

    The interior I don’t care as much about. Go wild with the instruments but keep the same general lines.

  6. I think they should use the movie version, put on the original series warp engins and antenna and frankly the upgrade in the motion picture makes far more sense. Seriously, it’s hard to imagine what parts of the tv enterprise are still a part of the the movie refit. From my perspective they must have really, REALLY cannablized the heck out of that original series ship to come out with the refit. The new ship should borrow heavily from the movie and the tv show.

  7. Who cares what the ship looks like, Tyler Perry is in the film !!!!!!!

    Seriously. Tweak the ship too much and loose half your audience.
    And about Tyler Perry’s fanbase
    making the film a hit… Don’t see alot of repeat viewing from that crowd….especally when there’s no cross dressing or black themed humor.

  8. The classic car analogy is good and I agree with what you said about fans loving the refit NCC-1701 when it was released in 1979 and why… The change in design was explained and made sense. The series had moved on and the timeline matched. It wasn’t a replacement for the original series design and it didn’t pretend the original never existed.

    This is what Abrams will get wrong, re-designing the original series enterprise messes with ‘history’ and almost denies the original series ever happened. The original design could be faithfully recreated, all be it with a little extra detail in close up shots, as was done in the ‘In a mirror darkly’ episode of Enterprise. This would be like saying ‘look, here’s the original USS Enterprise, back and better than ever. Here’s all the little bits you didn’t see in the 60′s.

    I grew up with Star Trek but I think Abrams is going to destroy something I once loved. A sad day.

  9. I’d say your automotive comparison is dead on. When the Chevy Camaro was taken away, many of us who are die-hard Chevy fans were excited about hearing of the 2009 Camaro. However, after seeing the design, as awesome as it is, it just does not stand up to the traditional Camaro. It’s too futuristic, and looks quite expensive. At the same time, there are some features of the new Camaro that look like the old.

    All cars are loved by fans based on its power, appearance, cost, and its ride. Therefore, its look is certainly an important aspect of whether or not it becomes a beloved appeal.

    This new Enterprise design does not have the appeal as TOS or the Refit. When Star Trek TNG came out, I hated the new design because it looked too far out. At the same time, there were some features that I admired about it. After it was destroyed, to no surprise, I didn’t shed a single tear. In fact, I was over-joyed. *Laughs* When the Enterprise E model came out, I thought it was too high-tech, but at least it had a few hints of the Refit design.

    The JJ Abrams design is just unattractive. It has absolutely no appeal, and it looks to weird. The only hint of any traditional Enterprise is in the Primary Hull. The rest is just too, well, too twisty and out-of-balance. It doesn’t look like a natural Trek starship.

    Now I know there are those who will say that JJ is trying to bring in a new generation, and crowd. But you can’t convinced someone to become a Trek fan based on the design of a ship. In fact, the only thing you need to attract the new generation is this:

    1. Lots of nudity
    2. Mindless comedy
    3. A bit of mystery
    4. Profanity
    5. Rap music or hip-hop

    If Trek introduce the things listed above, you might just gain a huge audience. Without the things mentioned above, you don’t stand a chance.

    What about modern Treks? Well, to be honest. What killed Trek was the destruction of the USS Enterprise, and the death of Kirk. At least, that’s what done it for me. Now I know it’s natural that people die, so I won’t blame Kirk’s death. But Kirk’s death was pointless, and was not Heroic to say the least. The same for the most beautiful starship ever imagined; the Refit of NCC-1701. Her death was also mindless, and did not serve a heroic purpose, except to save a handful of people. Her service to Star Fleet deserved much more than that. At the same time, I understood that all good things must come to an end.

    I’m sorry if some of you will not agree with me, but this JJ Abrams version of Star Trek will not be successful based on its ship, or adventures. It must contain the attributes listed above. Other than that, forget about it. Trek wasn’t designed to attract the wild-at-heart. It was designed to set people’s imagination free from the corruption of the world, placing us in a happy time-frame where mankind explored the outer regions of space; a place some of us still dream of today. But I’m afraid many have forgotten that dream, and are no longer interested in the outer regions of space.

    Good luck JJ and I hope you’re successful. As for me, I’ll watch your movie out of curiosity, but I will never accept your movie as part of Trek history, or Canon.

    Here’s a hint for you. Have you ever wondered why some of TOS casts have volunteered to help James Cawley with his production of non-profit Star Trek films? Just look at how many fans enjoy his movies….I’m a huge fan in what he’s trying to do.

    I’ll forever be a die-hard Original series fan; this includes the beloved design of the Refit which continued her historical history.


  10. Looks like we got your Camaro treatment on the new Enterprise which is a shame IMO.

    I was simply hoping for more details on the ship and maybe some refreshing of the gadgets/electronics. Hell even if it looked a lot like the NCC 1701 A I would be alright with it.

    Right now they only have the saucer down. I could live with the deflector dish–heck they could even have used a gold deflector and it’s powered-up status was glowing blue. The rest of the ship is odd imo–it looks more advanced than the TNG ship (NCC-1701 D).

    The nacelle designs don’t really have any precedent. I don’t know why they changed them so much and the engineering hull (that’s what I’ve heard it called–I’m not too familiar with it) or the secondary hull seems to short and tapers at the back for no good reason. They didn’t even bother to keep anything resembling the shape of the original secondary hull.

  11. I thoroughly enjoyed the new film, but:
    There were a couple of movie set designs and details which bugged me, in this new version.

    Like how Captain Nero’s ship, was suppose to be a large mining vessel, but didn’t look like one at all. Other than the drill, that is. For a mining ship, his vessel was extremely well armed.
    Where did the ship hide out, for 25 years, while Kirk was growing up?
    At least in the BBC TV series, “Red Dwarf”, the giant red ship looked like a mining and cargo ship.

    Also, judging from the amount of aluminum vats and large diameter water piping, the new Enterprise’s Engineering section was probably filmed at the interior of an Anheiuser Busch beer factory, maybe in Canada.
    No real ship interior, would have girders, columns, and exposed pipes like that, out in the open.
    It looks like the sort of location sets they use for “Torchwood” and “Dr. Who”, whenever they need to portray an enemy stronghold, or spaceship interior.
    I guess J.J. Abrams and Paramount Pictures had to save money somewhere.

    This new “Scotty” just seemed to waltz in, and take over the ship. Nobody contested it. He didn’t have any problems knowing where everything was, either.
    Where was the Enterprise’s other Chief Engineer, which would have been assigned to her, from their hasty space station departure?

    The Transporter targeting controls were not the best they could be. It looked more like a slant-top videogame console.

    Probably the biggest thing that looked odd, was that they had a forward window wall, on the Bridge, instead of a solid bulkhead, and a viewscreen.
    What’s the design logical of that, on a warp-speed vessel? At high velocity, anything could strike the ship. You know it’s going to crack, sooner or later…

    When Gene Roddenberry was interviewed, in the past, Someone once asked him, how come they keep beaming people down to the planet. Gene said it was because he couldn’t figure out how to land such a large ship, every week.
    I seriously doubt the Enterprise could have been built on the surface of a heavy-gravity well planet, like Earth, unless they had some sort of anti-gravity field in place. It would have to be “on” all the time, during construction to launching.

    On Delta Vega, which happened to be right next to Vulcan, that creature which almost ate young James T. Kirk, gave up very quickly when the older Spock showed up with some fire.
    Where was it, when they were heading for the Starfleet Outpost? It should have been upon them, as soon as they left the ice caves.


  12. I’m 46 and a fan of the original series. Still the best drama. I’ve been drawing the Enterprise since the 4th grade and know every curve by hart. I loved the Movie version even more. I think you are right that is is a faithful update to the original.

    The Enterprise I don’t like the most is the Next Generation. It looks like a Princess Cruise liner for space. Too pretty. Not a ship I would take into unknown territory or even into battle.

    I actually liked the Enterprise from “Enterprise” show (though the show sucked). It looked like a machine and that it was still in development and not perfected yet.

    As for the latest movie. I didn’t hate it, and I didn’t love it. But I liked the story and maybe that’s more important than spending 20 minutes flying around the ship to get a good look as in the first ST movie :)

  13. Regardless of what one does or doesn’t think about redesigns, the guys on board NCC-1701-A have a pretty big problem: they have their port and starboard running lights mixed up! Port (red) goes on the left and Starboard (green) goes on the right. One would have hoped that somebody might have just reversed the picture, but the writing on the hull is correct.