One of my favourite vehicles is Alvin, a deep sea vehicle commissioned in 1964 but which has had numerous upgrades over the years; upgrades that have allowed Alvin to continue contributing to cutting-edge ocean research and exploration.
Alvin first came to my attention in the late 1970s when the famous “black smokers” were discovered. Those black smokers were a spectacular find and a reminder that there is still much to be discovered on this planet. I’ve kept an eye on Alvin over the years, noticing it in the background of various photos and documentaries. That’s one vehicle with a lot of history. True, with all the upgrades undertaken on Alvin, there is probably nothing left of the original vehicle; with the current planned upgrades, Alvin will replace itself! Alvin: Past, Present, and Future (pdf)
The other undersea vehicle that I knew a bit about in the 1970s was Trieste but only because of its feat of reaching the Challenger Deep in the Mariana Trench. But it is Alvin, with its habit of appearing at cutting-edge research and exploration, that has meant that this vehicle will be more than just a footnote in history. It’s a star in its own right.