26 May 2015

The Five Most Striking Classic Cars Ever

The adjective “striking” cuts a fine line between gorgeous and simply arresting. While the cars on our list might in some cases be among the most beautiful (in a conventionally pretty way), more often, they combine those good looks with an attention-grabbing and unconventional aspect to their beauty. Here are five jaw-droppers:

  1. 1961-67 Jaguar E-Type: Seeing an E-Type in 2015 is still an experience that makes onlookers pause or do a double take. So imagine the response in 1961 at the Geneva Motor Show. The E-type was like a UFO. Almost other-worldly, particularly at its price of just $5,600. Legend has it that the E-type made Enzo Ferrari weep and exclaim that it was the most beautiful car that he’d ever seen.

    [Video: Jaguar E-Type buyers guide]

  2. 1935-36 Cord 810/812: Like the E-Type, the Cord had an otherworldly air; it might as well have come from a “Flash Gordon” comic strip. In the depths of the depression, the Indiana auto-maker launched a front-wheel-drive car with revolutionary styling and an optional supercharger. Alas, in a world of bread lines and 25 percent unemployment, it was not to be. Cord folded along with its stablemates Auburn and Duesenberg, victims of the Great Depression.

  3. 1966-67 Oldsmobile Toronado: The 1966 Toronado gave us a glimpse of what might have been had Cord survived. The Toro’s designers took many styling cues from the Cord, including hidden headlamps, front-wheel drive and even the wheel and grille designs. Unlike the Cord, the Toronado was at least a moderate sales success and its front-wheel-drive system proved to be rock-solid reliable, more than able to cope with the massive torque of the Olds Rocket V-8.

  4. 1974-89 Lamborghini Countach: Lamborghini and designer Macello Gandini knew precisely what they were doing with the Countach. Exactly 10 years after the Jaguar E-Type, they created the same Ferrari-baiting sensation at the Geneva Motor Show. Even the name was striking: In the Piedmontese Northern Italian dialect, it is roughly the equivalent of the exclamation “holy crap!”

  5. 1963 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray coupe: Although it bowed over a year after the Jaguar E-Type, its rival, the Corvette Sting Ray was just about as arresting. Perfectly proportioned, with hidden headlamps and striking finned knock-off alloy wheels as an option, the one-year-only split rear window of the coupe put the car over the top.

33 Reader Comments

  • 1
    Al Bloom Hamburg, N.Y. May 27, 2015 at 13:12
    I cannot believe that the 1953 Studebaker Lowery design didn't beat out those other 5 cars.
  • 2
    John Norman 34293 May 27, 2015 at 13:28
    When I was 16 there was a midnight blue 61 Chevrolet Impala buble top, 348 tri power.It was a 3 spd manual. 46 years later it still remains my favorite. It was an SS.
  • 3
    John Norman 34293 May 27, 2015 at 13:29
    When I was 16 there was a midnight blue 61 Chevrolet Impala buble top, 348 tri power.It was a 3 spd manual. 46 years later it still remains my favorite. It was an SS.
  • 4
    John Rauschenberger Michigan May 27, 2015 at 13:32
    If you will concede that "beauty is in the eye of the beholder," then I can think of no other vehicle produced that combines its "good looks" with "an attention-grabbing and unconventional aspect" to its beauty than the Volkswagen Beetle. You can pick any year from 1949 to 1967. Mine was a 1967. And she was a beauty!
  • 5
    Peter Gluklick Huntington Woods, MI May 27, 2015 at 13:46
    E-Type and Cord 812 are l logical choices. Toronado among the most striking classic cars ever? Whoever is making these lists needs a great deal of education as regards automobile design. I would hope that Hagerty could do a better job at this stuff.
  • 6
    Ken Reid Texas May 27, 2015 at 13:46
    You forgot one of the most iconic American designs....the 1953-54 Studebaker Starliner & Starlight coupes!
  • 7
    George Giese Las Cruces, New Mexico May 27, 2015 at 13:59
    You should have included a Tatra, any Tatra, but particularly a pre-war T-87 or the post-war 603!!
  • 8
    MARK DAYTON OH. May 27, 2015 at 14:28
    THE CORD IS LEADING THE WAY! #2 IS NOT EVEN IN THE REARVIEW MIRROR!
  • 9
    William Cervini Oceanside, CA May 27, 2015 at 14:35
    Come on now. The 1963 Corvette?? The 1963-64 Studebaker Avanti makes the Corvette look like an ungainly wannabe.
  • 10
    Diane Brandon Oregon May 27, 2015 at 14:35
    I'd add to the list, the Chrysler Air Flow, the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud standard steel saloon (or its sibling, the Bentley S), the 1949-51 Mercury 2-door, 1932 Ford 3-window coupe, the MB 300SL coupe (gull wing), 1954 Cadillac Eldorado, the XK120 and speaking of Jaguar the coupe E-type is, in my opinion, much better looking than the open one pictured. It also makes me cringe when I see the term "classic" used in non-classic cars. The Classic Car Club of America has a copyright on the term, and none of the cars you've listed are bonafide "classics".
  • 11
    Dave New Mexico May 27, 2015 at 15:24
    The Olds Toronado drive train was so "rock solid reliable", GMC produced a line of motorhomes using its front wheel drive system.
  • 12
    Yaron NY May 27, 2015 at 15:29
    What? Come on guys. No 1953 Studebaker Starliner? It's way better looking than the Olds Toronado, and still looks like it's coming from the future, and not a 62 years old relic.
  • 13
    Alan D. Reed Fort Wayne, IN May 27, 2015 at 15:42
    I would add one more "outstanding design" to the FIVE.... the 1953 Studebaker Starliner by Bob Bourke !!
  • 14
    Walt NJ May 27, 2015 at 17:55
    #1. (A) - 1965 Buick Riviera.
  • 15
    Ed Price Chula Vista, CA USA May 27, 2015 at 20:40
    Let's add the 1969 Fiat 850 Spyder convertible, the 1966 Studebaker President, probably the 1960 Pontiac Bonneville race trim and the 1959 Cadillac (ostentatious, but certainly striking).
  • 16
    George Poppenwimer Kissimmee, FL May 27, 2015 at 21:56
    Lamborghini Muria tops a Countach.
  • 17
    Neil Russell Statesboro May 27, 2015 at 12:40
    I agree that the Toronado was a beautiful machine, but I've always been more partial to the treatment Buick gave the same platform (albeit rear wheel drive) on the Riviera of the same years. Always looked a bit leaner to me.
  • 18
    Fred Indiana May 27, 2015 at 12:43
    How can this list not have an Auburn Speedster? The first car that was impressive from any view.
  • 19
    rick bradner vancouver May 27, 2015 at 12:47
    I can't imagine this list without the Citroen DS of 1955. 5 years ahead of the E-type is was equally other-worldly but it had four doors and would carry a family of five on their trip to Mars!
  • 20
    Chuck South Dakota May 27, 2015 at 12:49
    Excellent choices in classic designs that are still fresh today. It is my opinion that Corvette hit the design mother load with the C2 series and it's been down hill ever since.
  • 21
    Thomas Barbush Pittsburgh PA May 27, 2015 at 12:53
    You have included the series of E-types (61-67)...as well the others Why ONLY the 63 Stingray??...what about including 64-67 ?? ( I own a '64 coupe). Is that divided rear window really the only compelling reason??
  • 22
    Tom Jakeway Lewis, Colorado May 27, 2015 at 12:56
    I only agree with one on your list, the Cord. The FWD Cadillac Eldo is far better looking than the Olds. I'll give it to the Corvette and Jaguar, but the damn ugly Lambo should be replaced with the 1953 Studebaker, coupe. I know, it is all in the eye of the beholder and I don't thing these kind of comparisons should even be, because it is personal.....
  • 23
    Al Rustad Edmonds, Washington May 28, 2015 at 01:23
    What about the fabulously exotic looking Citroen ID and DS-19s ?(and the Maserati models)
  • 24
    David Moline, IL May 28, 2015 at 14:45
    "The adjective “striking” cuts a fine line between gorgeous and simply arresting." That sentence cuts a fine line between random words that sound good together and nonsense strung together to poetically introduce a story. Either way, my I have no idea what it means. My car is not on the list. So, is it "simply arresting", "gorgeous", or the #6 most striking car?
  • 25
    Joseph R Galvin Buffalo N Y May 28, 2015 at 06:37
    Everyone will have one more or their personal favorite to add to the list. My vote would be the 1959 Chevy El Camino. The tragedy of the El Camino history is that it was canceled during the years 1961-63. The 1959 was and will always be the most beautiful of this model line.
  • 26
    Mark C. S.E. Michigan May 30, 2015 at 10:43
    Iso Grifo. De Tomaso Mangusta, Ferrari 275 GTB/4, Lamborghini Miura, Maserati Ghibli. (Circa 1970).
  • 27
    agbjr USA May 31, 2015 at 23:25
    Two that are often overlooked and shouldn't be, both from Studebaker: 1953 Commander/Champion Hardtop, 1963 Avanti. Another jaw-dropper from an American independent auto maker is the 1954 Hudson Italia, only 26 hand-built beauties were made.
  • 28
    John Burrows Panama City June 1, 2015 at 16:02
    The MG TC is the seminal sports car that started it all. With its dashing good looks, light weight and peppy performance, it set the stage for the following British Invasion. The E-Type and the big Healeys were incredibly attractive and performed like no other - but the diminutive yet elegant TC is what originally captured everyone's imagination and still does to this day - a gorgeous car.
  • 29
    My911 Sc June 5, 2015 at 22:29
    Boy! Only 5 is a tall order....but I agree with many that Studebaker belongs ....with my favorite '51 Mercury!
  • 30
    Dr Jean-Claude Marcoux Mt-St-Hilaire, Québec, Canada June 9, 2015 at 19:17
    That Jag is striking indeed ! I always loved the Cord: good choice...And the Toronado shown is actually our son Bertrand's !! We had one in 1967 ourselves and he wanted to find the same a few years ago. He did (in Long Island, NY), and the same color too ! I still think the Toro was a revelation in so many ways !THANKS FOR THE MEMORY...
  • 31
    Jay Dallas June 9, 2015 at 10:14
    "Striking" does not necessarily mean beautiful. These are five excellent choices and with regards to the 1966 Oldsmobile Toronado, few automobiles have graced the cover of so many magazines when it was first introduced to the public.
  • 32
    Don Frederickson Edmonton, Alberta January 6, 2016 at 18:11
    I believe the E type is the most beautiful car ever made. I just don't understand the Corvette especially in certain years like the 63. I guess it takes all kinds. Isn't that Toronado gorgeous.
  • 33
    Lars Canada January 10, 2016 at 16:09
    I'd remove the Toronado and replace with Ferrari Dino.

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