Cars don’t just appear, they evolve, built on the technology and the style of what came before. Every now and then, it’s useful to take a step back, appreciate history, and get a glimpse of how today’s efforts stand in the pantheon of preceding hardware. Now not necessarily the Best cars but certainly the COOLEST.
1967 Mazda Cosmo
Light, airy, drives like the wispy little thing it is. Mazda’s first rotary-engined car and the machine that kicked off the brand’s half-century love affair with the technology. Without this, you have no twin-turbo RX-7, no Le Mans-winning four-rotor, nowhere to look for proof that car engineers still have silly, impractical, awesome dreams.
1963 Chevrolet Corvette Stingray
Somehow European and American all at once. A truckish, unrefined brute, in the good way. Tame one, you’re a man.
Looks the business, sounds like unbridled hell. Gold wheels need no explanation.
1967 Ferrari Dino 206 GT
Ferrari’s small, simple Dino in its purest form, with alloy bodywork and gobs of grace. Dollar for dollar, Enzo never did better.
1967 Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 Stradale
Alfa’s Type 33 racer made streetable. Few fit inside, but you’d buy one solely to look at.
1966 Alfa Romeo Spider
The Graduate, sure. But also Alfa’s masterful aluminum twin-cam. A boattail. And no roof.
1965 Shelby Cobra 427
Benchmark, legend, step-off point for a thousand stories. The result of taking a sports car that beat everybody and doubling the power, but also the embodiment of American car culture: crazy ambition plus screw-you attitude and a heaping dose of louder-faster-better. Still the standard by which all supercars are judged.
1965 Jaguar E-Type Coupe Series 1 4.2
Everyone knows why the E-Type makes it—sex, speed, and more sex—but why this one? Because the coupe somehow added to the roadster’s perfection without seeming gratuitous. Because the early, covered-headlight cars were almost pornographically.
1970 Citroen SM
“So aerodynamic, it went 140 mph with just 170 horsepower. To this day, it still looks like the future.”
1972 De Tomaso Pantera
Ford V8, ZF five-speed, basically a GT40 for the middle class. Knocked as a redneck supercar, but a good one is more riot than you’ll ever need.
1977 Lamborghini LP400
The name is an Italian expletive. The Miura was inarguably prettier, but the Countach seemed far more impossible. And impossible always wins.