I thought old Kona's were popular classics because that's what quite a lot of people started out on and have fond memeories of them?
Partly that, mainly that they were a simple, great riding and good looking design in an emerging market that in hindsight got it spot on very early on, not first but close to, and the distinctive graphics helped. They were a step above the rest back then.
There's not much around now that has the same level of distinction. An SB66 or a Pitch is a nice bike, a couple of many 'best in category' contenders but I can't see it being revered as a defining moment in MTB in the same way as an '88 Explosif, or a Brodie. There were some nice evolutions of that type of bike, 10 years after that the Chameleon was quite a classic but one of many in a wider market, then after that? Not so sure.
There's a lot of nice retro bike projects around though, most are more personal classics more than anything else. Still, there's Austin Healeys and Escort Cosworths and both have fans, both are classics.