Lumping bikes together by brand is pointless IMO, most larger manufacturers have had good and bad periods, and again they are all personal opinions. I love Kona pre about 92, can't stand most of the stuff afterwards..reason, well I guess it's to do with my age when I was developng the habit as Pete says..
Bit I think it reflects on the dynamic of the users of this forum, when most of us were growing up you didn't get Yeti's, FATs, Grove's in your local bike shop, so I would think most of us atleast start by trying to get the bike we looked at for hours on end in the LBS, and then maye look for something a little more high end.
i rode a gt karakoram and a khs. BUt if i am going out of my way and build a vintage bike now i am sure NOT going to build a karakoram. I will look for the handmade, special stuff which was NOT around my turff then. i look for bikes i had only seen pictures of.. i look for knowledge on bikes i didn't even know existed and then procceed to collect them.
it's not a nostalgia trip. i am looking for the ultimate ride.
LOL since 1959.