This could be my defining moment. The day you realize I am either a brilliant, savvy savant in the automotive blog world… or just a blathering idiot who had the audacity to put a Yugo on a list of the 100 coolest cars. It could also be the moment you realize some folks take these “Best Of” lists waayyy too seriously, and actually enjoy reading one for a change. Just throwing that out there.
The point of writing this article was to see what cars inspired my imagination, made me drool a little, or were just so unique that they transcended obvious flaws to become cool. There are a few from my childhood (that I envisioned owning once I was a super cool 80’s stock broker with a blue shirt that had a white collar and pants that had more pleats than was legal in some states). There are a few that I still fantasize about. And there are bunches that are just wicked-cool cars.
I hope this list stirs up conversation. Matter of fact, write your own in the comments! Tell me what I left out and why your list is better! Take time over your next game of poker to discuss with friends what would make your list (and why the Yugo is a proud and noble car)! I hope this list reminds you why you love cars, why you eat sleep drink and breathe cars and will never change your ways. More than anything, I hope in some small way it it helps you Have Fun in Your Garage!
100. The Pontiac Aztek. I’m still enthralled with the idea you could turn your car into a tent. Not sure what four days of camping in the car would smell like but I still love the idea. This ugly puppy earns a spot on the list purely because I don’t think there is a car this bad, that gets as much press and attention as the Aztek… That and I love beating up on one of the ugliest cars ever in the history of American automobiles. I really think you need to go back to the Horsey Horseless to find a worse design.
99. The Yugo GV. With a hope, a dream, a prayer, and $3,900, you too could be the proud owner of a Yugo GV. The base model of the cars available in the US during the 80’s, there was nothing cool about this car, which really makes it cool. Made in Yugoslavia, it came with a 10 year warranty. Funny how that warranty outlasted Communism and most of the cars!
98. Mercedes Unimog. The Unimog refers to a group of highly capable off road medium and heavy duty trucks. My personal favorite is one most commonly associated with pictures of Unimogs, the 404. Tough, reliable, unstoppable, and even capable on the off road race circuits, the first truck to crack the list is certainly worthy of being called cool.
97. 1972 Mercury Monterey. The absolute personification of the ‘beast from back east’ mentality that gave American cars the reputation of being big, clunky, gas guzzling, design wasteland-ish, boats of the road. Demolition derbies beware, you could run one of these over with a tank and still not kill it! I think driving one would be a hoot.
96. 1978 Pontiac Trans Am, Bandit Edition. Does this even need an explanation? Didn’t everyone run out after watching the movie and talk like a moonshiner trucker as they rode their BMX bikes to 7-11 for a Slurpee? I know I did and this is a cool car, no doubt… 10-4 good buddy… over?
95. The Hummer H2. I know. It runs on spotted owls, the carpet is made from brushed tiger pelts, and a wealthy oil sheik sends you a hand written thank you note when you buy one. That all being said, I love this truck. It’s everything you don’t need wrapped up in a soccer mom from hell image. LOVE it.
94. Ford Crown Victoria Police Package. It’s got cop shocks, cop brakes, a cop suspension, and a really cool cop spot light. These cars are cool only because they really are beefy souped up versions of the clunky grandpa car, plus you can scare people on the road by pulling up behind them quickly and pretending to run their tags.
93. 1979 Ford Country Squire. Another Detroit whale makes the list. Famous for being the ‘Family Truckster’ of the “Vacation” movie fame, this was everything that was wrong about being a station wagon. Ultra dated styling, wood paneling, horrible handling and more square footage than that cute starter home you bought. Uber-ugly and I love it. I’d roll one with big rims and a big stereo in it every day!
92. The Chevy El Camino. Spawned several knock offs, went through multiple changes and facelifts, started as a muscle car and most ended up just being the mullet mobile we all know and love. If only every combination of form and function worked out so well… The good ones are awesome the neglected ones are, well, not.
91. The Amphicar. “It’s the sports car that swims” quipped one version of the advertising done for this plucky little sailor. Odd idea, infamously leaky, not particularly good on land either, but it’s just so cool you can’t help but want to take a swim with one!
90. Audi Quattro. The S1 version turned out to be quite possibly the most powerful car Group B rally racing had ever seen. A monster on the tarmac and the dirt, the Quattro race cars literally flew. The production versions were a lot more tame, but still enjoy popularity as good rally cars.
89. The BMW 2002. Probably the BMW you know and love. It’s arguably the most famous BMW and certainly one that cemented their foothold in America. It’s a cool little car. The tii and turbo versions are fun to drive, a blast to ride in and even cooler to be seen in.
88. 1958 DeSoto Firedome. Fins. Fins. Fins. There are moments you can’t help but stare and dream, and every time I see fins that big… I have one of those moments. Fins so big they make yo mamma look small, the DeSoto will live on in my heart. Maybe Jimmy Buffet was singing about a Firedome in “Fins”.
87. Lancia Delta Integrale. Anyone who has played a racing video game knows the power of this Lancia. In real life it was mean, small, powerful, looked amazing and didn’t cost a whole lot. 46 WRC wins, 6 Constructors’ Championships, what more do you need to say?
86. Citroen Traction Avant. You had to know, as a huge fan of front wheel drive cars, the Traction Avant would make my list. The TA was not the first with front wheel drive, but it was the car that made it a viable and effective configuration for a car. The use of FWD married well with an ingenious monocoque body. The car was wildly popular and has enticing lines that make you at ease and calm.
85. Ferrari 330 P4. Ok, so it’s the first Ferrari to crack the list, but there is something you cannot ignore about the pure power and grace of this car. Wildly successful in racing, it eats sleeps and breaths Ferrari racing heritage. If you see one, you’ll cry tears of joy.
84. The Hudson Hornet. Perhaps not as much of a cobweb memory thanks to the Disney movie “Cars” with Paul Newman playing the voice, but nonetheless, people forget the Hornet won pretty much everything NASCAR had to offer in the late 40’s. It was a cool car and a cool race car, thanks to being super lightweight for its time.
83. Renault 5 GT Turbo. Drool. One of the original hot hatches, this car changed the game. An insane amount of power stroked from a teeny tiny 1.4 liter engine made this car a favorite of the street racers and rally racers of the day. The turbo cars never quite got the toe hold in the States thanks to emissions laws and the damage done by the first Renault 5 to come ashore, the ‘Le Car’.
82. The AE86 Toyota Corolla. I had to struggle to not put every Toyota I ever liked on the list but this one certainly deserves to be here. The GTS was a pocket racer for the masses though strangely enough, it didn’t really gain fame and notoriety until later in life. Today it’s highly sought after by drifters and touge racers all over the world.
81. VW Beetle. Is it cool? I’m not entirely sure, but to deny the most iconic car of all time a spot on the list would be blasphemy! Quirky, cute, small, easy to work on, cheap and mostly reliable-ish, kinda, sorta. The Beetle was the best selling car in the world for a LONG time. Old version only please, the new one is no where near this list.
80. Trabant 500. Okay so now you’re really questioning some of my picks and I don’t blame you, but check this out. The Trabant was made from recycled materials! It was so much cooler than the Prius. The Trabant continues to vintage race and enjoy popularity as Communist East Germany’s favorite car made from recycled materials and crushed hopes, mixed with a few dreams and ambitions. I still like them. They’re cool in my world!
79. Willys Jeep. Just a cool example of something neat to have, fun to play with and easy to maintain. The Willys Jeep also can take credit for being the grand pappy to all the Wranglers and CJ’s running around today. Like my pappy said in dubya dubya two, if you ain’t got a Willys on your list, you is dern tootin crazy!
78. Nissan Skyline R30 through R34. The crown prince (get the historical reference pun? Ha!) of the import tuner family. More power than you can shake a stick at, uber cool round tail lights, a heritage that stretches back to the budding age of Japanese speed and a status that borders on Unobtainium. Got one? Please stop by to give me a ride. Want to sell one, I’d love the sedan or wagon version.
77. Meyers Manx. Some would argue this is just another iteration of the VW Beetle, but this isn’t. This is a cool little buggy that spawned the dune buggy craze was actually the creation of Bruce Meyers. While he used a lot of VW compatible parts, the Meyers Manx stands alone as the king of the Dune Buggy, desert raid and rally champion and overall cool car.
76. Porsche 917. The only reason it’s so low on the list was purely because I wanted to avoid purpose built race cars, but I can’t help but slip this one in. I could go on for hours, but really to sum this perfect piece of racing history I offer you this: Steve McQueen, Gulf Heritage Blue, LeMans. Enough said.
75. Rolls Royce Phantom Coupe. The three-quarter century mark on this list goes to the sexy coupe from across the pond. I’m partial to the cabriolet feature and am still awestruck by the sheer size of this immense beast. Combine that with the world famous quality and it’s a force, and a very cool car.
74. Scion xB. The second Toyota to crack this list really made an impact on the “tuner” scene. The quirky rolling study in ninety degree angles was an affordable, well built little car that helped introduce Americans to what the Japanese have known for years; small and strange is cool! (yes, I’ve owned two of them, sheesh!)
73. The VW Thing. If there is one car that makes me smile every time I see one, it’s the Thing. Part beach buggy, part military vehicle, they were flimsy on the inside, VW tough on the outside. The Acapulco versions with the frilly rag top are the best, always sporting a very cool beach-y color.
72. Fiat 500. New or old version, I want one. From the original diminutive people’s car to the road tearing Abarth SS version available in the updated version, the 500 is almost as iconic as the Beetle. Racers loved them, collectors love them today, who doesn’t like them? I picture older ones with a bag of groceries with a baguette sticking out poking through the open roll back roof and a guy in a thin horizontally striped shirt, thin mustache and beret driving.
71. Dodge Viper. This is the car that jumps up, screams “booga booga booga” and makes you nervous enough to have heart flutters. When Dodge brought the Viper to market it shocked us that the company could build something so visceral, so powerful and so “check your hankies at the door because if you’re a girlie man, this car demands you as a ritual sacrifice”. I’ve driven the first and latest generations and am still in love with the palpitations from my chest.
70. Datsun 240Z. Some say the most pivotal moment in modern Japanese sports cars was the Z. I say it didn’t look like anything else, it out performed most of its contemporaries and sounded like what a sports car should sound like. Though there is also an argument for dropping ITB’s with trumpets and letting it sing. It launched clones and still lives on in its newest form the 370Z. The Z is a cool car and you can’t deny it.
69. 1959 Cadillac Eldorado. Fins make another appearance but this car is on the list for another reason. This was the car that made longhorns on the hood famous. Also, this is the car you buy if you want to be seen making the statement, “I drive a better, cooler car than you.”
68. Citroen 2CV. Okay, another car that isn’t cool. Matter of fact it’s so uncool, it’s cool. Name another car that didn’t have a major face lift for 42 years and could get away with being as underpowered as they were. You can’t because there isn’t one. The 2CV earned its nickname of the ugly duckling but even Inspector Clouseau drove one so it can’t be all bad, matter of fact, it’s downright cool in all it’s forms.
67. Austin-Healey Sprite. The little frogeye was just so darn cute I had to include it on the list. Other reasons for inclusion include the dream of traditional British sports cars zooming through the autumn leaves with the top down in a fleet-footed drive to Cape Cod or the fact that no woman on earth could resist you pulling up for your date in this car and with it’s irresistibly cute looks.
66. Alfa Romeo Spider. Another small convertible, this one from the boot shaped country of pasta and pizza. The Spider just looked sleek and sexy and had a great track record. They are simple, quick, easy to drive and a blast to have around for those runs to the beach.
65. Cord 810 Roadster. Art deco styling doesn’t do the 810 justice. One of the most iconic cars ever made in America, this was the defining style for Cord. Big swoopy curves, hidden headlights, an available supercharged V8 and all the visual appeal you can cram into a car turned heads then and still will turn heads today. Sensual, is perhaps is a better way to describe the feeling of seeing one.
64. De Tomaso Pantera. Is it Italian? Is it a Ford? Is it the best of both worlds? Made in Italy and imported to America by Ford, the Pantera is an excellent example of when a car ‘just is’ cool. Big engine, nice construction, killer looks and a get in, sit down and strap in attitude makes it a favorite of mine and a cool car indeed.
63. Ferrari 599 GTB Fiorano. What do you call perfection with 612hp? That would be the 599. Don’t even think of telling me it looks good in black because it doesn’t. Rossa is the only color this prancing horse needs to sport as it blows by you on the street, the track and on the freeway. This car is the pinnacle of “All That and a Bag of Chips”.
62. Maybach 62. Do you have a largely parts-bin car hand built to extreme proportion, designed to be the best way on earth to flaunt your money? Didn’t think so. Maybach 62 owners shell out well over the MSRP of $409,000 to get an individually crafted masterpiece from the Maybach ‘studio’. How do you know when you’ve arrived? When you do it in a Maybach.
61. Subaru WRX. I like them all. I love the original bug eye, but even the slant nose and the pig nose are awesome. 4 wheel drive, turbo charged, heart stopping, dirt eating, platypus stomping, raw fury are unleashed all from a pancake 4 cylinder. Huh… whodda thunk.
60. Lotus Europa. Once, a Europa owner asked if I would like to sit in his car. I said yes. Three days later when I was able to wiggle my way off the ground and get out of the car I was still enthralled with the experience. One of the most odd ball studies in design, this Lotus is cool by any standards even if you can never look cool trying to get out of one.
59. Tesla Roadster. The roadster offering from Tesla brings us the one and only electric (or truly designed to be “eco-friendly”) car on the list. I’m a car guy, I didn’t do eco-friendly, but I was persuaded by the Tesla. 0-60 mph in 3.7 seconds and a electronically limited top speed of 125 mph does indeed turn my head when one silently whooshes by. I never thought I would actually say that an electric car is cool, but I think if I didn’t, Captain Planet might drive his Tesla over to my house and beat me up!
58. International XT. Another insane truck makes my list. The XT makes the list purely because it is huge, it is street legal and its one of about two trucks I can think of that stock from the factory, look DOWN on a Hummer. You could buy a Maybach or 4 of these… tough choices… I also love that it’s one rank higher than the super eco friendly Tesla.
57. Ford Mustang. Notice the Mustang drops in one slot behind the Camaro. This is due solely to Mustang II. I don’t care how good a rear end or suspension it had, it was still horrible. That being said, a ’65 drop top really does need to be recognized as one of the coolest cars of all time.
56. Chevrolet Camaro. Personally, I’m really not all hot about including a car that spawned the Iron Duke, but in all fairness, a 1970 Camaro in red with white stripes is pretty much one of the hottest things going. Certainly for me, it ranks higher than the Mustang for the first two generations alone. When not on blocks in the front yard of a hill billy, this pony car is king.
55. Aston Martin Lagonda. The biggest wedge of cheese to drive down the road. Also, the Lagonda was the first car to use a digital dash and be managed by a computer. Pretty nifty stuff for a car that always struck me as the ultimate early 80’s four door ultra luxury car. Every time I see one I think of guys with slicked back hair, gold pinkie ring, blue shirt with the white collar talking on his brick cell phone and brushing dust off his pleated black chino pants as he brokers stocks and bonds.
54. Mazda Miata. Micro Machines have nothing on this mighty mini marauder. What was supposed to be a top down cute little roadster turned into a motorsport phenomenon. Even though it appeared otherwise, developers of the Miata always had one thing in mind. Performance. I love them, especially the cultish monster Miata customs that get an insane 454 shoehorned under the hood
53. VW Microbus. Another VW tempts me with visions of smoke billowing out the windows, a surfboard hanging out of the back,and two hippies driving and laughing with delight each time they conscientiously pass up showers at the campgrounds. I love the microbus and all of its configurations but the crown jewel for me is a 21 window.
52. Lamborghini LM002. To prepare, take one part Italian supercar, add one part military spec off road monster, sprinkle with gigantic wheels and tires and what do you get? The LM002. No one can deny this beast its place on the list. Remember, it’s called the Rambo Lambo. You wanna mess with that? I AXED, do YOU want to be MESSIN WIT DAT? Didn’t think so.
51. Buick GNX. Let’s bring the original Darth Vader-mobile to the list. Thunderous power, black paint, black wheels and black trim and accents, this one had all the ingredients to be an awesome car. Still is a very cool car, and on my list of must-haves at some point in life.
50. Ford / Lotus Cortina. To finalize the first 50, one of the coolest cars ever to be driven in a road race, the Cortina was helped made famous by Jim Clark; a personal hero of mine. Light, nimble, good power to weight and easy to fix or replace, the Cortina just oozes cool as a race car. As a people mover, it still had great style, small fins and a great stance.
49. Mazda RX-7. Take car, remove pistons, add some weird new rotor system and you’ll wind up with the RX-7. Notoriously strange and quiet, Mazda had to fit a buzzer to the tach to warn drivers of the impending 7k rev limit! A favorite in motor sport, a few RX-7’s raced at LeMans and many more of them raced into peoples’ garages.
48. Land Rover Defender. They still sell for huge money. They are still ‘eats nails for breakfast’ tough. When you think Land Rover, you think of a Defender. When you think British Military, you think Land Rover Defender. I think only the Jeep is more iconic, but it never came in British Racing Green.
47. Pontiac GTO. I love the fact the nickname for later versions of the car is “The Judge”. It just sounds so cool. Then again, the “Goat” is pretty cool too. The 1964 version is thought, by most, to be the first true ‘muscle car’. Very cool in all but the very last generation, the GTO, by any name, earned it’s spot on the list.
46. Alfa Romeo Montreal. Another car cracks the list that was not sold in the US. I just really appreciate the car’s lines, style and use of NACA ducts, even if they were fake!!! This car is another Lake Como with a pretty young 70’s movie starlet dream inducing machine and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
45. Plymouth Road Runner Superbird. What can be said about this car that hasn’t already been said? I love the use of the ginormous wing, the Road Runner horn, and the dark eyelids over the headlights, and last but not least the 440 six pack… ahhhhhhhhh.
44. Toyota Land Cruiser. The immortal FJ40. Toyota has several iconic vehicles but the FJ40 might very well be the most recognized. The lineage officially starts in 1951 and is still going. It started as a tough little bruiser, go any where, do anything rival to a Jeep. Now it’s a big luxury cruiser that can pretty much do the same stuff with extra style to spare.
43. Datsun 510. Some folks call it the “poor man’s BMW” and let’s face it, you can see a lot of parallels with the 1600’s and 2002’s from the great German automaker. However, the 510 became a symbol of Japanese reliability and also happened to pick up quite a motorsports reputation as well. Lots of Nissan / Datsun interchangeable parts, inviolable mechanicals, and a very clean, crisp style make the 510 a favorite.
42. Ford GT40. The GT40 was spawned from an angry business deal gone south between Ford and Ferrari. Don’t you just love revenge? LeMans winner, CanAm racer, motorsport hero and ledged. If you ever get the chance to be near one, listen to the rumble, feel the growl and imagine what it must have been like to fly across the line in 1st position at LeMans. Exhilaration.
41. Volkswagen Golf GTi. Often credited with starting the ‘Hot Hatch’ wars, the GTi represented affordable fun. It was an easy car for young people to afford and offered performance like nothing else in the price range. Also, the GTi was well built, easy to maintain and had a lot of interchangeable parts. All of this added up to a winning combination. Still sought after by both enthusiasts and motorsports aficionados
40. BMW E30. As much of a Toyota nerd as I am, I cannot ignore the most successful chassis ever to go racing. More wins to its credit than any other in history. The E30 also represented attainability for BMW as a whole new generation of buyers realized they could work hard and buy an amazing car for just a little more than the typical Detroit rabble of the day. The E30 is quite honestly, an icon that might never be overshadowed. There was no iteration of the E30 cooler than the M3 with its futuristic body lines and bulletproof performance. Don’t lie, you know you want one.
39. Panoz Esperante GTLM. The Panoz makes the list completely for its gut wrenching track performance, factory racing program and the styling which is almost ethereal. A modern day American supercar, even the road versions are too-cool when you seen one. The most neglected example in the world will still cause neck cramps from all the straining you’ll do to catch a glimpse.
38. Porsche Spyder 550. The car that James Dean was driving when he died. Unfortunately, that’s how people know this car, not it’s dominance of track events all over the world, its revolutionary design, and it’s cutting edge technology or its sheer simplistic beauty. One of the very few Porsches I would give my left a uh… “kidney” away for with out even asking the wife.
37. Lotus Esprit. The car was originally going to be named the Kiwi. Imagine Richard Gere driving around in a Kiwi. Not cool. James Bond driving a Kiwi? Probably would have never happened. Not even the pristine handling, the Lotus mystique or the insane power to weight ratio in the car could have saved it from the horrible mistake that would have been naming it the Kiwi. I have nothing against Kiwi’s, its just a car with revolutionary styling, and all that Lotus goodness needs to have a traditional Lotus name beginning with the letter “E”. Good thing they went with Esprit because Eiwi would have just been awkward.
36. Aston Martin DB5. Tough to choose the DB that best cracks the list, however, the DB5 seems to me, at least, to be the one. James Bond finds another one of his cars on my list and rightly so. All the minor kinks from the DB4 were worked out, and the style very slightly tweeked to be just oh so much more refined. Rhythmic lines and an engine note that makes the coldest heart in the world warm with feelings of pure elation. If you want to experience all that is right and perfect with vintage British motoring, don’t look anywhere else.
35. TVR Tuscan Speed 6. I’ll punch you in the nose if you don’t think factory chameleon paint is cool. Oh, and behind that paint is the performance you’d want out of a car like this. Fast but not too fast, loud but not too loud. A very flashy and very cool car. Also of note, TVR leadership’s belief at the time that ABS, traction control and airbags are not safety devices and are better left out of their cars as they interfere with a driver’s ability to control the car and own the road.
34. Lotus 7. The British invasion of this list continues with the 7. Lightweight and well balanced, the 7 holds to Colin Chapman’s philosophy that “Any car that holds together for an entire race is too heavy”. The 7 continues to be copied by many, and produced in refined original form under a rights deal with Caterham. One car I always have on my wish list because of the open wheeled, fast as quick silver, light as a hummingbird mentality of a super cool British rocket.
33. Ariel Atom. One word gets the Atom on my list. Exoskeleton. If you can stop staring at the car long enough to get in, strap in, and start it up, you’ll be delighted by a supercharged Ecotech motor or a supercharged Honda KA20. Either way, take motion sickness pills because you’ll be able to hang so deep in turns and put your butt so far back into the seat on acceleration it will be ludicrous. Agile doesn’t even begin to describe this gem and even with a top speed of 140, you’ll get there faster and cheaper than most supercars.
32. McLaren F1. The supercar’s supercar. We’ve all had posters, desktop backgrounds, pictures and dreams about this car because it was “the” one for so long, it makes you dizzy. Blistering would be the only way to describe the feeling as one whooshes down the straights and watching an F1 in motion is akin to seeing a star born. Epic doesn’t even begin to describe the cool factor on this car.
31. Bentley Brooklands. The next British car on the list is the by comparison, tame Bentley Brooklands. Tame compared to an F1, but amazing in every other respect, the Brooklands is heir to a long line of Bentley heritage. Hand built, limited production and the exclusivity of owning one of the world’s most luxurious cars has the Brooklands on this list.
30. Ferrari Dino. I hold personal affection to this car as it was the first Ferrari I had the pleasure of driving. I drove a GTS targa, which lent itself beautifully to the strategic curves and sumptuous rear end of the car. Built as a tribute to Enzo Ferrari’s son who had passed away, the Dino brand was the “affordable” Ferrari. The Dino is breathtaking, innovative, technologically advanced for its time and considered by many to be one of the most beautiful cars ever built. Certainly worthy of this list!
29. Citroen DS. Classic and Sports Car magazine voted the DS the “Most beautiful Car of All Time”. It deserved to win. More technological advances were crammed into this car than pretty much anything out there at the time and the body work was so stunning it made other cars look like bicycles. The French word for goddess is déesee, which coincidentally is the phonetic pronunciation of DS. The convertible is king again being the absolute coolest but all versions from Safari to wagon, sedan to convertible are just plain cool.
28. Marcos TSO. The last in a line of the mighty Marcos. Known for wild styling, the Marcos brand was always associated with speed and aerodynamics. That made the TSO series unique because, while it was fast and it was aerodynamic, I believe it was best described by Richard Hammond when he said it was a British muscle car. Powered by a small block V8, its raw power in the refined classy package we’ve come to expect from the Brits in coupes. Too bad the company is done because this would have been a dream to drive.
27. Acura NSX. Who says supercars need to cost $250,000? Not Acura, that’s for sure. Using an Accord motor, they managed to get Ferrari performance for a fraction the cost. Using an aluminum chassis, suspension and body gave weight savings unheard of in production cars. Most folks are so captivated by the cars’ subtle and unique style, they overlook the fact that it was designed by Pininfarina. A good used NSX can be found in the 30k-40k range these days and for that money, there is no cooler supercar out there.
26. AC Cobra. Born to run, the Cobra is a righteously cool car by any stretch. When you also consider the Shelby Cobra in the mix, it’s status become the stuff of legends. The cars are still cloned today in attempt to capture that moment in time when the Ford V8 met the AC cars frame and body. Original examples are among the most sought after cars at any auction, they drive loud, they scream “look at me!” and they have curves that make you weak in the knees. You could be a pimple faced techno nerd from the planet Fojurnik 9, but driving one of these, you might as well be Rico Suave.
25. Austin Mini Cooper. Itsy bitsy doesn’t begin to describe this car, but mighty-monster might start. These cars were intended to be people’s cars. Cheap, decently built, easy to afford and timeless enough to hang on to for a while, the Mini quickly found itself being raced, modified, placed on top of bridges, reassembled in people’s apartments, and a symbol of all things chic. It was built with little change in appearance by the British Motor Corporation in multiple various forms from 1959 until 2000! If you were too cool for a Beetle, you had a Mini. That, or if you were a rally race driver who wanted to win! Mini’s won the Monte Carlo 4 times from 1964 until 1967.
24. Porsche 911. I recently had the opportunity to drive a 993 in the Rocky Mountains. The pure thrill of this refined balanced sports machine was, to put it far too simply, entrancing. Exceptional build quality, amazing engineering and attention to details set the Porsche apart from almost all other. My only gripe is the fundamental design doesn’t appeal to me the way it does to the millions of fans around the world. I think it’s beautiful, just a little too dated for me. Design aside, if you’ve ever driven any version of the 911, you are in the same mouth open letting the drool hang out situation I am and know how cool of a car it is.
23. Chrysler Woodies. Woodies are cool and you’ll never convince me otherwise. They were made of WOOD for crying out loud! The building materials aside, they were nice cars for the era. Similar to their pre and post war counterparts, but made more special by the construction techniques that had to be employed to use wood as a structural material. Surf wagons are iconic thanks to the woody, and well restored cars are now among the highest priced cars from the era. Your mother would be ashamed of you for lying if you said you didn’t think they were cool.
22. DeLorean DMC 12. This car is an oddball. The design certainly earned it the movie roll it’s no famous for, but the whole DeLorean story adds to the strange but cool aura surrounding this car. Gull wing doors, stainless steel unpainted exterior and a flux capacitor… wait, that wasn’t a standard option. Okay, I’ll admit it, the DMC boondoggle is cool for all the wrong reasons but it did have that one special feature that kicked in a 88 miles an hour and for that, I salute the DeLorean.
21. Lancia Stratos. Another juggernaut from the rally scene cracks the list. 400 production cars were made to satisfy the racing regulations of the day and the rest is history. A very successful rally racer, the Stratos had a Ferrari sourced Dino motor and drove like it was on fire. They were powerful, well designed, lightweight and easy to drive. Perhaps what I like the best about the Lancia is the utter lack of convention in the design, and the attention to what would make the car a rally champion. As cool as this was, be glad Lancia didn’t go with the initial concept which literally looked like an isosceles triangle on wheels.
20. SSC Ultimate Aero. The title of fastest production car in the world isn’t exactly easy to achieve, but in 2007, the SSC did just that. 256 miles per hour in a car NASA (yes the space NASA) says is theoretically capable of 273 mph. Words cannot express how cool it would be to travel that fast in a car. It simply cannot be imagined unless you were the SSC test driver. Less expensive than a Veyron, the SSC can be had for a princely $650,000 or so but after seeing one in person, I think it might be a good deal.
19. Koenigsegg CCX. I love everything about the car. The fact that I can barely pronounce the manufacturers’ name notwithstanding, the CCX is everything that is right in the world of super cars. The fact that I can barely pronounce the door opening action, “dihedral synchro-helix” just adds to the cool factor. It’s raw, guttural, mean, looks amazing and sounds like angels blew their trumpets right into your ears when you hear one. I think the thing that surprises me the most about the CCX is the CCXR variant is meant to run on E85 and still produces 1,018 bhp. Want one yet? Go quickly because Koenigsegg has said they are committed to building environmentally friendly cars and have started seriously kicking around their Quant solar car concept.
18. Chevrolet Corvette. The American legend and still king, the Corvette has been with us since the early 50’s. Like a fine wine or a fine looking cougar, they just get better with age. The new ZR-1 has a lot of competitors shaking in their tire warmers and even the base model C7 Corvette is capable of things that your mother warned against doing. One of my favorite things about a Corvette is the signature round tail lights. They seem to be watching you and winking as they pull away faster than a roadrunner runs from a coyote.
17. Maserati MC12. Built to usher in a new era of Maserati factory supported racing, the MC12 was long, strong and built to get the friction on… the road. 11.3 second quarter mile times signal that this Italian stallion has a lot to give under the hood. Notorious for being twitchy, the MC12 still managed to be a very successful race car. So successful is the MC12, that Maserati has actually developed a track-use only version called the Corsa that parallels the program Ferrari has with the FXX. If I had one, I would parallel park everywhere just to take up two spaces!
16. Toyota Supra Mk IV. You had to know it was coming. I debated this being so high on the list until I finally decided, it was a JGTC and GT500 all star, it’s been in movies, albeit at least one very bad one *cough Fast and The Furious*, and it’s one of the cars a builder will spend the fewest number of dollars on trying to get to 800+ horsepower. A heavy monster, it was best suited in the twin turbo version but even the tame NA livery was fast and fur… oh wait, I just can’t do that to you. The Supra rules! There, a cheesy reference-free way to say how cool the Supra really is.
15. Lamborghini Miura. Perhaps the most iconic of the vintage Lamborghinis and a classic in all rights, the Miura was essentially the car that made the mid engine layout cool for road cars and not just race cars. A style inspired by the GT40 but made uniquely Italian by the Bertone design firm, the Miura was so highly anticipated, when it debuted at the Geneva Motor Show, it was only a chassis and they still took orders for the car! History proves those buyers were smart to place orders and did not wind up with the proverbial pig in a poke, but more a bull in the garage! To this day I still think the Miura is one of the most breathtaking cars ever built.
14. Lincoln Continental Convertible. Only the ones from the 60’s and you all know why. Suicide doors, more acreage than a farm in Iowa, a body line that seems to get lower every time you see it. I always have the fanciful dreams of movie stars, jet setters and playboys using this car in its day. It always seemed so unique with its rear hinged doors and the slab side design. A collectable today by all rights, they look even cooler in my mind slammed to the ground with a wide set of whites and big chrome everywhere.
13. Lexus LF-A. Before you start in and tell me that they haven’t been delivered yet and how could a car with so little history be on my list, just understand I will not apologize for being a Toyota junkie. I need my fixes and the LF-A is like a long wonderful lingering sensation that courses through my veins like 40 weight. I love everything about this most recent Japanese super car right down to the carbon reinforced plastic used to build the car. Test drivers who’s credentials have ranged from test drivers to Nürburgring aces and beyond have been quoted saying things like “the best car I’ve ever driven”. 10 years of plotting and planning make it my lucky number 13. The only reason it’s not at the top? Price. It leans on the expensive side but in all honestly, who cares? I’ll take mine in white with black wheels please.
12. Jaguar E-Type. Some call it a car, others call it collectible. I call it a work or art that will never be duplicated or reproduced. The E-Type was something special and still is. Flowing body lines, powerful motors, a racing heritage, and warm fuzzies from images of zooming through the English countryside with the top down. Add it all up, and you see why this car received multiple accolades over the course of its lifetime and numerous successes on the track. While the Series One with its glass covered headlights will always be my favorite, the undeniable power from the V12 in the Series Three just adds to the mystique and the rocket ship imagery invoked by staring at the E-Type.
11. Morgan Aero 8. Few car companies manage to stay in business making just one car. Morgan hadn’t released a new car since 1948 when they brought the Aero 8 to market. Also, modern cars don’t fair to well being made of wood so it was a nice advancement for Morgan to swap over to aluminum. Whatever the car is made of, it’s beautiful. It looks like an old Morgan but has all the right modern bits and a tail to die for. Highly competitive in racing, the Aero 8 even made a few appearances at the ultimate, LeMans. I would want one parked right next to another one so I could appreciate both function and form!
10. Lamborghini Countach. This Lamborghini is iconic to say the very least. It is possibly the most recognizable super car ever made. It was fast, ultra light weight and was the talk of the town in 1974 when the car was released. The first versions were available without the trademark wing and were raw, powerful examples of the Lamborghini lineage. The one thing that most folks don’t know about the Countach is the origin of the name. Countach is a bit of local Italian regional lexicon equivalent to a lewd wolf whistle in America. Basically it means, drop dead gorgeous woman. I couldn’t agree more.
9. Mercedes 300SL. Some say cars are works of art. I would modify that statement to be a little more like “cars are working works of art.” The 52′-63′ Mercedes 300SL has to be on everyone’s list. It had it all: style, performance, total sex appeal and a ton of technological innovation. Matter of fact, the 300SL was the first production car to feature direct injection. The 300SL was the darling of motorsport and winner at the 24 Hours of LeMans, Carrera Panamerica, and in its first attempt, managed 2nd and 4th place at the 1954 Mille Miglia. Now that we’ve talked about all that, I’ll mention the wicked-cool, superbly awesome gull wing doors. You thought I forgot about those didn’t you?
8. Ferrari 250 California. This is my favorite car of all time. I think it eipitomizes the top-down roadster and sets an image of wonder and amazement when you see one in person. How anyone could not be completely sucked in by the fluid lines, the wire wheels, the voracious grill and the smooth, well thought interior is well beyond me. Someone (Bueller? Bueller?) had a great sense of style when he took one into the city for a “day off”. If they ever put James Bond in one, my world would be complete, I would die a happy, happy man.
7. Sunbeam Tiger. This car is the first one I think you might question in my top 10. Max Smart drove one in “Get Smart”, they have awesome racing history and really; ask yourself for a moment how you would feel to see a teeny tiny Alpine thunder past you with a guttural growl coming from under the hood. These beasts had almost everything you needed. Power, grace, style, the Tiger was another gift from Shelby as he had a lot to say in the early stages of production and with a small Ford V8, they set out to build this wonderful gift to motoring. Pretty cool from a car that was otherwise just another British roadster.
6. Bugatti Veyron. Named for a French race car driver from Bugatti’s storied days of racing, the Veyron is the fastest, most expensive, highest horsepower production car in the world. I have been up close to two of them and both times, my breath was ripped away and stomped on by the sheer size and elegance of the car. It is simply put, amazing. 1001 horsepower are unleashed on drivers and the sheer quantity of technological advances this car made are staggering. Using a W16 engine configuration, the Veyron is the standard in supercars and should all cars be converted to jewels and put in a crown, the Veyron would be at the top. The only thing keeping it from the top of this list is the staggering price tag that comes along with it. Close to 1.5 million dollars. Sigh…
5. Caparo T1. Have you ever wanted to own a race car? Have you ever wanted to drive your race car on the street? The Caparo T1 would be your perfect match. Designed to be a street legal F1 style race car, the T1 isn’t comfortable. It’s built for speed and comes with data logging equipment instead of a leather trimmed dash. It gets decent reviews, but more to the point, it gets people staring. I saw one at a car show (and only for a few moments) and I swear to you, I walked away a changed man. If there was ever an award for “Most Drool Inducing Car” this one would win in a heartbeat.
4. Toyota 2000GT. The highest ranking Japanese car to make the lust, I meant list. The 2000GT showed the world the Japanese were not going to go quietly into the night when it came to sports cars. Carroll Shelby once again gets his name mentioned because he successfully campaigned two 2000GTs in the 1968 SCCA production car races. The other famous gent who I’ve mentioned a few times also has a connection to the Toyota. James Bond’s You Only Live Twice, made the car a star. Though what’s even more cool, Toyota never made a convertible. It was made especially for Agent 007. Considered by most in the know to be the first truly collectible modern Japanese car, it’s also considered Japan’s first true super car.
3. Pagani Zonda. The Zonda is everything I love crammed into one car. Given the money and the choice, the Zonda is the first car I would lean toward. I think it looks nicer than the McLaren, eats corners, and has an addictive exhaust note that you’ll want to hear rev and fall over and over and over and over. The later versions, R, Roadster F, Cinque, Monza and other just improve upon what is already great. The only reason it’s not at the top of my list: the exhaust. I can’t get past the circular exhaust outlet on the rear, and to cut you off before you can ask, I really am that superficial.
2. The Gumpert Apollo. Because I can. That’s the attitude of Apollo owners, or at least I would like to think so. It combines everything I love about the Veyron and the Zonda, and has sexier exhaust ports. Gull wing doors are always a good call on a super car and a cockpit that looks like it really should be in a jet fighter always impresses the ladies. It’s fast, exclusive, expensive, and looks amazing. Why did the Apollo make it to number 2? Because I can, and because the car deserves it.
1. Ferrari f40. Did you really think any other car would crown the list? The Ferrari f40 is the peak, the top, the iconic incarnation of everything that is right about cars. It’s powerful, light, insanely expensive, impractical, balanced, precision built and rare. It sums up everything you could ever want in a super car and it comes from a lineage of cars that pretty much defined the term super car. Imagine pulling up to a party attended by only super car owners. Now imagine the public getting to walk through the parking lot of that party. Despite everything else that might be there, the f40 is still far-and-away the most elevated example of perfection in the parking lot. If you are not moved by this one, check your pulse, because you’re dead. Puppy kickers and kitten punchers all agree that this isn’t a cool car. Do you want to be lumped in with those guys?
Photo credits: 2000GT and Datsun 510, Eric Gearhart. Bugatti Veyron, Spin Imaging. All others, click photo to visit site of origin.