Production longevity

Having recently seen a review of the latest entry version of the LP12 on the Hi-Fi News website, it got me thinking about the longevity of some products, that with some updates or revisions are still in production today, either by the original manufacturer or by other companies.

For me, there are a few obvious candidates in the hi-fi world that have been in continuous production, the LP12 is one, another is the Naim 250, which has gone through several incarnations. Then there are the BBC speakers such as the LS3/5a that are still manufactured many years on and likely there are many other products out there that are still in production decades after being first manufactured. In the car world the Morgan is another example of exceptional longevity and continuous production. In domestic appliances, there is the Kitchen Aid mixer that is pretty much unchanged since being introduced.

So I am wondering what is it that makes a product last way beyond the normal product life of most? Is there something they have all in common, some design philosophy? Is it the quality of the original design or the ability for it to be modified and improved whilst still recognisably being connected to an earlier generation?

I am the owner of an LP12 manufactured in the 70s and updated, a Kitchen Aid mixer of similar vintage and recently serviced and a recent Naim 250DR, hence me using these products as examples. I am sure there are likely to be many more products owned or used by forum members with exceptional longevity that I am unaware of or have overlooked. So what are they and why do people think they keep selling?

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A few things I own fall into that category: my Rolex Explorer, the Dualit toaster, a set of Ercol Pebble tables and an Eames House Bird. Like the Linn and the Nait 2, they are high quality and a great design. The Dualit and Ercol are hand made in England, which is a big appeal both at home and abroad. Things somehow need to attain a cult status, perhaps by being quite hard to get and quite expensive, aspirational maybe.


This gets me thinking of what I have both in my own purchases and inherited.
Without a doubt the oldest is a Record block plane that formed part of my grandfather’s apprentice kit, so about 120 years old. The twin pinion Stanley hand drill is a little younger.
Swan Morton scalpel handles from my father’s kit when marquetry was a serious hobby.
A Johnsons universal developing tank from the 1950s which is fundamentally the design followed by any modern maker.
I have baking tins of my mother’s, mostly Prestige brand.
Of course Masonware mixing bowls found a renaissance with bake off and the like.
As a family we all had Kenwood mixers.
Leica cameras?
Whilst I don’t get on so well with modern Kef designs, where would UK speaker design be without B139, B200 and B110?
From my own hifi perspective of course EAR Yoshino shines out.

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