100 Most Beautiful Cars of All Time
The Cars That Turn Heads, Grab Hearts and Inspire Songs
Great-looking cars aren't just long and low and wide. They're eye-candy adventures in themselves and they cast shadows that are better-looking than most of the stuff humanity has churned out over the eons. Up close they fascinate in details like door hinges crafted with elegance and fuel caps that would look at home on ocean liners. From afar they inspire memories of legendary races, glorious moments in the past, great crimes and the pinnacles of human achievement. They are machines that promise freedom, glory, speed and sexual conquest. They are why cars are art, even if the art world is too self-referential to know it.
Here are the 100 cars that, no matter how old or new they are, still manage to take our collective breath away and beat up our car-loving souls. They're not necessarily great cars, but they all manage to attract attention, even when they're parked in a barn for a few decades.
100. 2010 Bugatti Veyron Super Sport: From its horse collar grille up front to the rising spoiler in the back, the most super of supercars. Milled out of a single block of unobtainium, its NACA ducts, tunneled rear window and ground-bound missile stance have it looking as if it's going 268 mph even when parked.
99. 1973 Pontiac Grand Am: The most daring nose ever put on a GM product. Clean elegance for the everyman, but still masculine. Looks best with honeycomb wheels and the optional Ram Air hood with two NACA ducts.
98. 2009 Volkswagen CC: The sleek coupe styling you want in a popularly priced everyday sedan. Low nose, raked windshield, arrowlike windows and a tapered tail. A sex machine for the family man.
97. 2013 Ford Fusion: Hit of the 2012 North American International Auto Show in Detroit. It's a Fusion that looks better than some Aston Martins. And a lot like many Aston Martins. Will redefine style in the midsize market when it hits dealers this winter.
96. 1999 BMW M5: The first V8-powered "E39" M5 is still the best-looking. The deep front spoiler, clean flanks and deep-dish wheels make it both brutish and handsome. Four exhaust outlets complete a legendary sedan.
95. 1967 Toyota 2000GT: It looks as if it's been carved out of a bolt of silk. It's svelte but strong, sleek but friendly. And it has a perfectly tapered tail. The first good-looking car Japan ever made.
94. 1995 BMW 7 Series: The first big BMW sedan to look better than Mercedes' big sedans. Impeccably tailored and yet absolutely athletic, it remains the archetype for big sport sedans.
93. 2003 Bentley Continental GT: It's the epitome of road presence: a wide, low and muscular coupe that looks like it plays linebacker for the Steelers. That grille is old-school blower Bentley, but the rest of the car is 21st-century supercar.
92. 1985 Chevrolet Camaro IROC-Z: Wearing spectacular 16-inch wheels, adorned with hood strakes and finished with a small spoiler, it's the third-generation Camaro still worth coveting. The most timeless American shape to come out of the 1980s.
91. 1956 Lincoln Mark II: It looks as if it's carved out of marble. Slab sides, a grille big enough to swallow Oregon, a roof that looks like a top hat, and of course a tire bump on the deck lid. Cost $10,000 back then, looks like a million bucks today.
90. 1970 Chevrolet Chevelle SS: Quad headlights, a bifurcated front grille that today's Chevys imitate, fenders that bulge over white-letter tires, a giant rear chrome bumper and two of the greatest hood and deck stripes ever drawn. For many, the ultimate GM muscle car.
89. 1950 Mercury: One of the first, sleek postwar envelope designs that eliminated running boards and tucked everything within a single clean shape. Of course, it looked even better when it was chopped and lowered.
88. 2005 Porsche Carrera GT: An arrogantly drawn, over-muscled supercar that recalls the great midengine German racecars of the 1930s. It still looks like a Porsche, but one that's been gulping HGH and hanging with Arnold at Gold's Gym.
87. 2008 Mercedes-Benz CLK63 AMG Black Series: So brutally styled it was nearly criminal. Fender flares, huge spoilers and the promise of utterly vicious performance. A DTM car for the street.
86. 1971 Buick Riviera: With its plunging beltline, arching fenders and daring pointed tail, this Riviera revived classic styling themes from the '30s and combined them with utter confidence.
85. 1957 Pontiac Star Chief Custom Bonneville: When Bunkie Knudsen took over Pontiac, he quickly ordered up the Bonneville convertible — a high-end car to blow away Pontiac's staid image. And blow it away it did thanks to dramatic styling that included nearly full length rockets made of stainless steel and chrome trim along each side. It was the first beautiful Pontiac.
84. 2003 Lamborghini Gallardo: The Gallardo made Lamborghini cool again. It perfectly mixes the brand's traditional sledgehammer visual impact with modern minimalist sensibilities. Will look good for decades.
83. 1993 Mazda RX-7: Designed using finite element analysis, the turbocharged FD RX-7 was just enough car to be a great sports car and no more. The body looks vacuum-packed around the car, and GM swiped some of the styling cues for the C5 Corvette.
82. 1950 Chrysler Town & Country: A well-crafted hardwood boat that happens to have four wheels and operates on roads — almost literally a land yacht. This is the car Chris-Craft should have built.
81. 2000 BMW Z8: The styling was a reimagination of the old 507 from the '50s, but sharp-edged and dramatically detailed. Only a bit more than 5,700 Z8s were made over four years. Designed by Henrik Fisker, creator of the Karma.
80. 1995 Dodge Viper GTS: Unapologetically retro with a phallic hood, spectacular fastback roof and a kick spoiler at the tail. It's brutal, intimidating, thrilling and should always be painted blue with white stripes. A fantasy made real.
79. 2011 Cadillac CTS-V Wagon: The best example yet of the "Art and Science" design language is a knife-edge, low-slung, hard-core performance wagon. An example of Cadillac regaining its arrogance and putting it behind a chrome mesh grille.
78. 1997 Land Rover Defender 90: It's rugged simplicity raised to a high art. Flat aluminum panels and the nose of the world's strongest bulldog over two straight axles with tall wheels. It's Winston Churchill equipped with four-wheel drive.
77. 2005 TVR Sagaris: A shock to the aesthetic system, it has so many vents and openings that it looks filleted. Wild curves, insane window shapes and a massive rear undertray that seems to be scooping up the ground. Gloriously ludicrous.
76. 1948 Buick Super: The last of GM's prewar designs bursts over with a grille filled with chrome teeth and a low body that seems to go on for weeks. The hood opened to the side for extra drama.
75. 1970 Dodge Challenger T/A: The road-racing variation of Dodge's first pony car included side pipes, loud graphics down its flanks and a flat black snorkel hood to feed the 340-cubic-inch V8.
74. 1954 Cadillac Eldorado: The Eldo first appeared in '53, but it was the '54 with its stainless-steel rear fender appliqués, longer silhouette and lower beltline that became something worth lusting after.
73. 1959 Chevrolet El Camino: A car that's also a truck and featuring almost ludicrous winged rear fenders and an incredible wraparound backlight. It's still astounding 53 years later. One of Harley Earl's last and best.
72. 1936 Cord 810/812: The "coffin-nose" Cord features hidden headlamps, hidden door hinges and a hood hinged at the rear, and doesn't bother with running boards. It's mechanical innovation fine-tuned into rolling art.
71. 1984 Audi Sport Quattro S1: Audi hacks more than a foot out of its Quattro, adds vents throughout the hood, widens the fenders to cover oversize tires, and the result is a beautifully awkward design that looks tough, eager and powerful.
70. 2005 Mercedes-Benz CLS: Redefining the sedan by turning it into a four-door coupe. It's Mercedes' low, wide sports car grille leading to a curvaceous body of utter sensuality and a tapered tail. A sporting four-door that looks the part.
69. 2006 Aston Martin V8 Vantage: Traditional Aston styling — particularly the grille — updated for the new millennium by Henrik Fisker. A clipped nose and foreshortened tail makes it tauter, meaner and more muscular than the DB9.
68. 1976 Porsche 911 Turbo (930): The slim-hipped 911 evolves with radically flared fenders, a whale tail rear spoiler and a deep front chin spoiler. The masculine, engorged look is both intimidating and perfect high school poster material.
67. 1973 BMW 3.0 CSI: The luscious "E9" predecessor to the BMW 6 Series used delicate roof pillars over a low-slung body to become BMW's one true, elegant, tailored coupe. The 3.0 CSI model adds larger wheels and tires for a more powerful stance.
66. 1938 Alfa Romeo 8C 2900 Touring Berlinetta: When length equaled glamour, this car was the longest. The hood has almost infinite louvers and the roof provocatively tapers down to the rear bumper. Its erotically shaped fenders need to be caressed.
65. 1967 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale: Franco Scaglione took the Tipo 33 racecar and turned it into one of the sexiest road cars ever built. Smaller than it appears in photos. Powered by a 2.0-liter V8, only maybe 18 were built. Glorious.
64. 1990 Nissan 300ZX Twin Turbo: A gunship that looks absolutely ballistic. No chrome to distract and no funky scoops to muck it up. It's one clean bullet with faired-in headlamps and taillights that practically disappear.
63. 1987 Ferrari F40: Built to celebrate Ferrari's 40th anniversary, it took the midengine, V8-powered car to the edge of reality with a scraping nose, a huge rear wing and more NACA ducts than almost any other car. It's brutalism as a sex object.
62. 1930 Stutz M Lancefield Coupe: The proportions are pure gangster. The roof is low, the hood ridiculously long, and the rump is perfectly arched. England's Lancefield Coachworks builds one of the most American of coupes.
61. 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado: A science-fiction body — hidden headlamps, wide grille, razor-topped fenders and a tapered fastback roof — for GM's huge, front-drive technological tour de force.
60. 2001 Aston Martin Vanquish: Aston roars back in the 21st century with Ian Callum's powerfully proportioned V12 Vanquish. The nose tumbles down like a Ferrari 250 GT SWB, while the roof has a touch of the Zagato Astons. Better-looking every year.
59. 1940 Lincoln Continental: Edsel Ford's idea of a personal luxury car is a formal roof, a fantastic waterfall nose, fenders that swoop like eagles, and a rear tire behind the trunk lid. It's what an American luxury car would be for 60 years.
58. 1955 Buick Roadmaster Hardtop: All-new styling for '55 included a lower body, a wider and toothless grille, towering taillights and a graceful hardtop roof. It's finished with one grand chrome spear down the flanks and four portholes in the hood.
57. 2010 Audi RS6 Avant: A station wagon that looks as if it's ready to eat an entire family. The front fascia is filled with LEDs and big grille openings to feed the frenzied engine. Who knew flared fenders would look great on a wagon?
56. 1962 Chevrolet Bel Air Sport Coupe: The "bubbletop" roof is glorious — the single greatest arch in Chevrolet history. But look at how the grille tucks under the front bumper. And how the entire side of the car is shaped like an arrowhead. Brilliant.
55. 1957 Ford Thunderbird: Ford's final year for the original two-seat 'Bird uses a low front grille, chrome vent trim high on the front fenders, portholes in the hardtop and a small set of fins atop round taillights. It's the perfect '50s personal roadster.
54. 1968 De Tomaso Mangusta: An uncompromised piece of automotive sculpture. It's low, wide and shaped like a prison shiv. Almost understated due to its lack of trim. Incorrectly overshadowed by its successor, the Pantera.
53. 1955 Chevrolet Nomad: A luxurious two-door station wagon unlike any seen before. Thrilling, from its egg-crate grille to the chrome strips over its tailgate. Its magic has never been recaptured.
52. 1968 Jaguar XJ6: Set a new standard for large sedan lusciousness. It was graceful but modern, with an athletic stance. The headlights were eyes and the front grille a cat's voracious maw. Pure feline beauty with four doors.
51. 1956 Ford F-100: The pickup truck that proved a pickup truck could be ferociously good-looking. Look at that wraparound windshield and the big rear glass. Magnificent.
50. 1937 Mercedes-Benz 540K Special Roadster: Extravagant in every way. The fenders go on for acres, the windshield is raked perfectly, the side windows plummet to the rear deck and the side pipes were pure sensuality. The Greta Garbo of cars.
49. 1973 Lancia Stratos HF: Marcello Gandini drew up this tiny, thunder twerp of a car for Bertone. Provocative but practical, the skin barely covered the huge tires. And it won three World Rally Championships in a row — 1974, 1975 and 1976.
48. 1970 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Rally Sport: Styled like a Ferrari but detailed like a muscle car, the '70 Z/28 was at its best with split front bumpers and the short rear deck spoiler.
47. 1969 Porsche 911S: The first fuel-injected 911 ran a slightly elongated 89.3-inch wheelbase. The five-spoke Fuchs wheels themselves are design classics. Simple, slim and understated, it was the perfect air-cooled, street-going 911.
46. 1952 Siata 208S Spider: A body by Stabilimenti Farina, the 208S was high-glamour motoring in the tradition of Ferrari, but more accessible. Sexy but simple and finished off with a Ferrari California-like tail and visual chrome exhaust within its wheelbase.
45. 1965 Buick Riviera GS: Bill Mitchell's Riv debuted for '63 but was perfected when the headlights were burrowed under clamshell fender caps. It's well proportioned, but it's the car's face — an egg-crate sweep from fender tower to fender tower — that's iconic.
44. 1971 Plymouth Hemi 'Cuda: A widened variation on the original Camaro's styling themes, but it's best with quad headlights, fender gills, bold graphics, a shaker hood and some funky paint. To many, the ultimate muscle car.
43. 2012 Audi RS5: Audi's best-looking coupe is shaped with classic proportions and detailed with 21st-century tweaks like compound headlights with LED elements, and huge wheels that almost spill out of the wheelwells.
42. 1930 Mercedes-Benz SSK "Count Trossi": Side pipes sprouting from a long hood, fenders shaped like a Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, doors cut down to the driver's thighs and that upright Mercedes grille. It's the classic roadster defined.
41. 1933 Delage D8S De Villars Roadster: It's the allure and excitement of Paris in the art deco era, wrought in steel and chrome. It's not flamboyant, but understated and elegant in a way most 1930s classics weren't.
40. 1967 Shelby GT500: Carroll Shelby redecorates the Mustang fastback with oversize scoops, big spoilers, great graphics, some driving lights, and taillights swiped off a '65 Thunderbird. It's the car everyone thought they'd be driving when they grew up.
39. 1956 Ferrari 250 GT Zagato Coupe: With its double-bubble roof, large greenhouse, voluptuous fenders and raked and scooped hood, this is the first truly flamboyant Ferrari. A car that shouts its performance with every square millimeter of its skin.
38. 1984 Ferrari GTO: The basic 308 GTB stretched and widened to accommodate a longitudinally mounted twin-turbo V8. Perfectly proportioned with three vents in the rear fenders to tie with the classic 250 GTO. Often referred to as the 288 GTO.
37. 2012 Fisker Karma: So low, so wide and shaped with Raquel Welch curves. Its bold front grille seems to be almost grinning in delight of what lies ahead. This is the only hybrid we wouldn't be embarrassed to be seen in. Henrik Fisker also designed the BMW Z8.
36. 1965 Ford Mustang 2+2: The fastback roof completes the pony car and sets the stage for Shelby's GT350. Suddenly the Mustang is a serious sport machine: aerodynamic, lithe and muscular. And not just a pretty falcon.
35. 1965 Pontiac GTO Hardtop: For just one year the GTO comes with clean, upright styling, stacked quad headlights, taillights hidden under chrome streaks and a subtle, perfectly shaped hood scoop. Although restrained by today's standards, it still defines tough.
34. 1948 Jaguar XK120: William Lyons' low-slung roadster: You didn't get in it, but wore it on your hip. So pure of line that headlights and a roof were afterthoughts. Sheet metal so voluptuous it makes teenage boys blush.
33. 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air Hardtop: Perfect fins, two-tone paint and a grille that personifies American optimism and confidence. The proportions of the '55 Chevy overlaid with flamboyant and thrilling details — like the stainless-steel side appliqué.
32. 1954 Maserati A6GCS Berlinetta: Wickedly low and extravagantly drawn; this is Pininfarina's most daring design of the 1950s. The fenders are pornographically ripe, the front grille obscenely provocative, and the roof is shaped like a stiletto.
31. 1929 Bentley Speed 6 Gurney Nutting Fixed Head Coupe: The original fastback. It's a car of unparalleled stance and presence, with the countenance of a chopped and channeled locomotive. It's the most striking of all Bentleys.
30. 1938 Packard 1601 Eight Graber Cabriolet: Swiss coachbuilder Graber builds a long, lean body for one of America's greatest carmakers. Extravagant in concept, it's beautifully restrained in detail.
29. 1932 Ford Three-Window Coupe: It was a junior Duesenberg. A grille capped by a graceful arc, leading to an elegant hood and a cockpit exactly long enough for one man to stretch his arm along the door's length. Balance and proportion you could afford.
28. 1933 Ford Cabriolet: A slightly stretched wheelbase made the '33 Ford a bit more aggressive than the '32. And the slanted grille, a bit Packard-like, made it uniquely dazzling.
27. 1938 Bugatti Type 57SC Atlantic Coupe: There isn't a straight edge on the Atlantic. Every curve is more sensual than the last one. Usually seen today with Ralph Lauren standing next to it.
26. 1968 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe: Patterned after Larry Shinoda's Mako Shark II showcar, it's predatory in stance and details. Fenders that almost fly, doors that dip down, a tunneled rear window and a flip spoiler at the tail. Totally underappreciated.
25. 1961 Ferrari 250 GT California: A broad-shouldered and square-cut roadster that brings muscle to Ferrari. The headlights are faired into the fenders, the grille stretches almost side to side, and the body is lean but aggressive. The car Ferris Bueller stole.
24. 1970 Dino 246GT: All the styling of a GT prototype racer in a midengine, V6 street car. The short nose is pointed low, with fenders grazing the tire tops. The longer tail finishes in a small spoiler. Everything is rounded and luscious.
23. 1963 Ferrari 250 GT Lusso: Ferrari's shark-nosed, fastback-roofed luxury car: an invitation to speed across Europe with a supermodel at your side. Inspired cars like the 1970 Camaro. McQueen owned one.
22. 1938 Delahaye 165 Cabriolet: Not so much a car as a bold, art deco sculpture that happened to be perched on a chassis. With full fender covers, it seems to hover rather than roll on wheels. And the chrome side decorations are pure Buck Rogers.
21. 1948 Cadillac Series 62 Club Coupe: The first Cadillac with tail fins, with the road presence of a P-38 strafing a German convoy. That massive cross-hatch grille still defines what a Cadillac should be.
20. 1931 Daimler Double Six 50 Sport Corsica Drophead Coupe: So wide and low it seems to be digging itself into the ground. The hood is 3 miles long and it starts at the front axle centerline. It has the regal stance of a king. A king that could kick ass.
19. 1955 Mercedes-Benz 300SL: The greatest road car of the 1950s from the big star in front, across the twin-speared hood, over the ovoid cockpit and back to the tapered tail. The only car ever built that looks better with its doors open.
18. 1955 Porsche 356 Speedster: A chopped windshield and a single chrome spear down its flanks make this minimal Porsche the best of the 356s. The top never worked, so never put it on.
17. 1970 Pontiac Firebird Trans Am: There's plenty of Ferrari in the second Firebird. Its shaker hood scoop and single stripe make it unforgettable. Throw in details like its tapered tail, deep-set split grille and functional fender vents and the result is indomitable.
16. 1968 Dodge Charger: Ludicrously charismatic, perfectly proportioned and wickedly detailed with a flat nose, a tunneled rear window and a flip-up rear spoiler. Only '68s have round taillights and a huge open grille. Looks best in black running from a green Mustang.
15. 1977 Lotus Esprit S1: The midengine Esprit was a flawless wedge of Giorgetto Giugiaro-folded fiberglass. Later versions would lose the original car's elegance and ability to turn into a submarine.
14. 1964 Ford GT40: So low you could step on it. Spectacularly wide, with one of the greatest windshields to ever wrap around a car. The tail is decked for downforce and finishes in a kick-up spoiler. It won Le Mans four times — and looks the part.
13. 2009 Audi R8 Spyder: Muscular and modern riff on Audi's midengine racing heritage. Surgically precise body surfaces make the car seem to dance under different lighting. Superstar proportions. Buy this if you loaned Mark Zuckerberg money in 2004.
12. 1969 Ferrari 365 GTB/4 Daytona: The young Leonardo Fioravanti sculpts a completely different Ferrari for Pininfarina. Manages to be both aggressive and sensual in every detail. A long nose, curved sides and a tapered tail produce the last beautiful front-engine Ferrari.
11. 1961 Aston Martin DB4 GT Zagato: Ercole Spada takes the DB4 and rebuilds it into a low, wide and lightweight racer. The roof curves so sensually it deserves a foot massage. The fenders are like the perfect calves on a supermodel. Plain sexy.
10. 1966 Shelby Cobra 427:Like an atomic explosion, the engorged, rippling, muscle-bound Cobra 427 can't be ignored. It's the A.C. Ace as imagined on acid. A shape that's launched a million imitations.
9. 1969 Chevrolet Camaro Z/28 Rally Sport: Add the RS trim package's hidden headlights and straked taillights to a Z/28 along with the optional cowl-induction hood and spoilers and the result is still the best-looking Camaro. Make ours Cortez Silver.
8. 1973 Porsche 911 2.7 RS: The basic 911 finished off with a ducktail spoiler, slightly flared fenders and (usually) the brilliant "Carrera" script across the doors. The competition "Rennsport" 911 set the bar for Porsche beauty.
7. 1961 Jaguar E-Type: Long hood, short rear deck and lines that seemed to stretch forever. The E-Type defined glamour for the 1960s with its overwhelming presence and unmistakable profile. Equally beautiful as a coupe or roadster.
6. 1959 Ferrari 250 GT Berlinetta SWB: The stubby 94.5-inch wheelbase should work against it, but doesn't. The nose starts low and then climbs up and over the wheels. The cockpit seems pushed over the rear wheels, with a radical fastback roof.
5. 1971 Lamborghini Miura SV: The first midengine supercar. Gave Enzo Ferrari the vapors. Details like lay-flat headlights, intake strakes built into the doors and a roof that finishes in black slats instead of a window are still extreme.
4. 1967 Chevrolet Corvette Coupe: The fastback roof is perfectly tapered over ridgeback fenders and flatline wheelwells. The gills in the front fenders are slashes of brilliance, while the (optional) side pipes announce the car's seriousness. Poems could be written about the hood spear alone.
3. 1962 Ferrari 250 GTO: Sergio Scaglietti's voluptuous and brilliant world champion. The vents and scoops only make it seem more serious, while the ducktail rear spoiler inspired hundreds of imitators. It's the GT car all other GT cars want to be. One just sold for $32 million.
2. 1931 Duesenberg Model J Long Wheelbase Coupe: It has a grille that could be a temple, a hood punctured by gracefully curved louvers, fenders that look like a wave cresting over the tires and an exquisite aluminum roof. The ultimate American car.
1. 1974 Lamborghini Countach LP400: Marcello Gandini's masterpiece. Successor to the Miura. Outrageous in every way. The most visually provocative car of all time. The first bedroom wall poster car ever, it has defined automotive lust for three generations.