Greatest classics ever

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Alastair Clements
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So Beaulieu has gone in search of the 125 most important cars ever. Time to put your money where your mouth is: what's your top 10?

Magazine editor, C&SC

James Elliott
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Does anyone else keep doing this then deleting before posting because it is so impossible? I reckon I have had 10 goes so far and not been happy with any of them. I WILL answer this. Apologies for the delay.

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David Evans
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It's a tricky one, but an eminently more enticing prospect than adding more dates to next year's diary!

(There are about 100 or so on there so far, in case anyone's organised enough to start planning stuff)

Right, here's my ha’p’orth (in no particular order), which only includes one car I've owned and just one from each make – it's pretty much my dream garage, too... bar a DS, of course, and a 330GTC. And there are obviously more important cars that I've left out, such as the Model T and Beetle.

Citroën 2CV

Dino 246GT

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Jaguar E-type FHC

Jensen FF

BMW 328

Lamborghini Miura

Lotus Elan

Mini

Now back to the diary, or maybe a cup of tea...

James Elliott
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David Evans wrote:

It's a tricky one, but an eminently more enticing prospect than adding more dates to next year's diary!

(There are about 100 or so on there so far, in case anyone's organised enough to start planning stuff)

Right, here's my ha’p’orth (in no particular order), which only includes one car I've owned and just one from each make – it's pretty much my dream garage, too... bar a DS, of course, and a 330GTC. And there are obviously more important cars that I've left out, such as the Model T and Beetle.

Citroën 2CV

Dino 246GT

Lancia Aurelia B20 GT

Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing

Jaguar E-type FHC

Jensen FF

BMW 328

Lamborghini Miura

Lotus Elan

Mini

Now back to the diary, or maybe a cup of tea...

 

Great list David. In fact, pretty similar to one of the ones I came up with earlier and then, just as the cursor was hovering over "Add a comment", I thought "bugger, not a single pre-war car" immediately thought of 10 must-includes and scrapped the list. Back to square 1. Again.

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David Evans
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I know what you mean. There was nothing pre-war in there first time around, hence the 328 – mainly because I would like to drive one!

That wonderful Prince Henry that Vauxhall brought to the Bill Boddy Tribute day ought to be in there as well. And you could argue that you don't need the Dino and the Miura, but then the ATS pre-dated both...

More importantly, though, what do other people reckon?

Chris Martin
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I will submit two separate lists as Alastair has been a bit ambiguous with the question. The Beaulieu question is what are the most important cars in history and the criteria for what is important could be defined as having an impact on the history or evolution of the car and it's place in society. Hence;

Ford Model T, Volkswagen 'Beetle', Citroen 2CV and Mini - all because they revolutionised the ordinary car for ordinary people and each one met it's design targets and went on to influence the next generation.

Rolls-Royce 40/50 (aka Silver Ghost) as it refined what several other manufacturers were trying to do - Napier, Daimler, Lanchester and others - and produced the finest car with sound engineering that set a standard for all others. R-R themselves evolved future models from that point on and it is significant that many still survive and run just as well now.

Bugatti T35 - the first practical productionised sports/racing car. Prior to that, all had been experimental one-offs, prototypes or very expensive low volume models with limited success, Sunbeam, Delage etc.

NSU RO80 for being brave enough to try to bring a new concept to production, and it nearly worked.

Lamborghini Miura - not because it is such a sexy beast, but for setting what at the time was a new template for a mid-engined roadgoing sports car that not only looked good and drove well but could actually be built and sold in numbers.

Toyota Prius - And yes, I hate the buggers too. But they will be recognised for introducing new technology that is being copied in various forms by others. Whether they are ultimately remembered for this, or more likely for the cynical 'green' marketing scam that targets softies who think they can feel good about driving such a device while er 'saving the planet' remains to be seen.

'59 Cadillac for showing what extremes can be dreamed up in the name of flash consumerism. Actually this accolade could also apply to various other Americans around that time, or maybe even applies to pre-war Duesenbergs, the Docker Daimlers or in today's terms the Bugatti Veyron but the Cad' was produced and sold in large numbers and was acheivable - just - for most car buyers.

However, if the question is what are our own Greatest Top Ten Cars, and the choice is personal and does not have to be justified in any other way, here goes.

Cord 810/812  (Roadster, Phaeton, Beverly Sedan, I don't care, either will do)

Facel Vega HK500 - but a FVS or Facel II would run it close.

Auburn 851 Speedster - from the same genes as the Cord

Panhard Panoramique - the curvy one from 1936 while I am in an Art-Deco mood

1965 Ford Thunderbird. No excuses, just my favourite 'Bird. The classic shapes evolved from 1955 through to '66. I slightly prefer the slightly curvier looks of the '64-'65 over the sharper '66 but '65 was the first year of the sequential tail lights and front disc brakes.

Rolls-Royce Camargue - I don't know why this of all the Rolls-Royces, I just like 'em.

Maserati 250F - The best looking single seater ever?

Bugatti 57 - Not necessarily the Atlantic, which exact model is favourite changes constantly according to taste, possibly the Corsica roadster on Martin's page this month.

1971 Buick Riviera - Because just as car styling was getting boring again, Bill Mitchell came up with THAT shape again. Like the earlier '63 Corvette but stretched over a bigger car it shouldn't have worked, but it did.

Jensen Interceptor. Never as glam' as the Facel, nor as exclusive as the Bristol, but a big Chrysler V8 in a quality Euro chassis that still works. And a great design that if anything gets better with time.

Of course ask me again tomorrow and I might come up with a different 'favourite' ten again, but the question of the ten most important should come down to a much more concise selection to debate.

Chris M.

 

Datsun240z
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My top ten is, in no particular order:

Datsun 240z

Lancia Fulvia 1.6 HF

Mini Cooper S Mk1

Volvo 1800ES

Porsche 356 Carerra

BMW 2002 Turbo

BMW M3 E30

Honda S800

Datsun Fairlady 2000

Jaguar D-Type

Diplomat
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Chris Martin wrote:

I will submit two separate lists as Alastair has been a bit ambiguous with the question. The Beaulieu question is what are the most important cars in history and the criteria for what is important could be defined as having an impact on the history or evolution of the car and it's place in society. Hence;

Ford Model T, Volkswagen 'Beetle', Citroen 2CV and Mini - all because they revolutionised the ordinary car for ordinary people and each one met it's design targets and went on to influence the next generation.

Rolls-Royce 40/50 (aka Silver Ghost) as it refined what several other manufacturers were trying to do - Napier, Daimler, Lanchester and others - and produced the finest car with sound engineering that set a standard for all others. R-R themselves evolved future models from that point on and it is significant that many still survive and run just as well now.

Bugatti T35 - the first practical productionised sports/racing car. Prior to that, all had been experimental one-offs, prototypes or very expensive low volume models with limited success, Sunbeam, Delage etc.

NSU RO80 for being brave enough to try to bring a new concept to production, and it nearly worked.

Lamborghini Miura - not because it is such a sexy beast, but for setting what at the time was a new template for a mid-engined roadgoing sports car that not only looked good and drove well but could actually be built and sold in numbers.

Toyota Prius - And yes, I hate the buggers too. But they will be recognised for introducing new technology that is being copied in various forms by others. Whether they are ultimately remembered for this, or more likely for the cynical 'green' marketing scam that targets softies who think they can feel good about driving such a device while er 'saving the planet' remains to be seen.

'59 Cadillac for showing what extremes can be dreamed up in the name of flash consumerism. Actually this accolade could also apply to various other Americans around that time, or maybe even applies to pre-war Duesenbergs, the Docker Daimlers or in today's terms the Bugatti Veyron but the Cad' was produced and sold in large numbers and was acheivable - just - for most car buyers.

However, if the question is what are our own Greatest Top Ten Cars, and the choice is personal and does not have to be justified in any other way, here goes.

Cord 810/812  (Roadster, Phaeton, Beverly Sedan, I don't care, either will do)

Facel Vega HK500 - but a FVS or Facel II would run it close.

Auburn 851 Speedster - from the same genes as the Cord

Panhard Panoramique - the curvy one from 1936 while I am in an Art-Deco mood

1965 Ford Thunderbird. No excuses, just my favourite 'Bird. The classic shapes evolved from 1955 through to '66. I slightly prefer the slightly curvier looks of the '64-'65 over the sharper '66 but '65 was the first year of the sequential tail lights and front disc brakes.

Rolls-Royce Camargue - I don't know why this of all the Rolls-Royces, I just like 'em.

Maserati 250F - The best looking single seater ever?

Bugatti 57 - Not necessarily the Atlantic, which exact model is favourite changes constantly according to taste, possibly the Corsica roadster on Martin's page this month.

1971 Buick Riviera - Because just as car styling was getting boring again, Bill Mitchell came up with THAT shape again. Like the earlier '63 Corvette but stretched over a bigger car it shouldn't have worked, but it did.

Jensen Interceptor. Never as glam' as the Facel, nor as exclusive as the Bristol, but a big Chrysler V8 in a quality Euro chassis that still works. And a great design that if anything gets better with time.

Of course ask me again tomorrow and I might come up with a different 'favourite' ten again, but the question of the ten most important should come down to a much more concise selection to debate.

Chris M.

And you accuse others (one in particular) of rambling on. I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with your post, just that it consists of something that you complained about.

Anyway, my top ten:

 

1. VW Beetle

2. Fiat 500

3. Mercedes 240D

4. VW Golf GTI

5. Austin Seven

6. Mini

7.Citroen 2CV

8. Volvo 240GLT

9. Renault Espace

10. Mazda MX-5

GBt
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I can now only think of one significant vehicle, The  Ambassador...(no no, not the Leyland one), but The Canadian finned type ones, if only to appease fellow members of the Ramblers Association!

 

 

Maurice Ital
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My considered response after quite a few glasses of wine:

1. Mini

2. Citroen DS

3. Ford Model T

4. Austin Seven - without which how would Jaguar, BMW, Lotus, Jeep (and by extension Land-Rover) have come into being?

5. Jaguar XJ12 - although I don't need to explain the significance of 1 to 4, I think I must explain the inclusion of the XJ12. Quite simply, it was Jaguar's high-water mark. Better than an E-type, even if it was a saloon. A stunning car, the creation of a bunch of purist engineers all of whom were at the height of their considerable powers.  Everyone said it was the best saloon in the world, and making it into "Car" magazine's Top Ten every year was an inevitability. Much the same can be said of the...

6. ...Range Rover. The Landie was a British take on the Jeep, and that's all right because the Jeep was developed from the Austin Seven by the Bantam Car Co. Rover was only repatriating our own. But the Rangie was an epic piece of industrial design: the civilization of the 4x4. How they managed to make a car that looked as fresh as a daisy when it went out of production in 1995 as it did in 1970 I'll never quite understand. The car stands as a symbol of the tragedy of Rover under British Leyland: you wonder how good the P8 and P9 would have been;

7. Lotus Elise. It's better than an Elan: the Elan was spivved up with unnecesaries like wood on its dashboard and electric windows. I include this car because I own one. It's my daily driver and a month ago I thought of chopping it in for something more practical, but I couldn't think of a single car I wanted to own more, other than a Caterham. And you can't live with a Caterham. Certain aspects of the Elise are a pain (exit and entry, for instance) but they're totally outweighed by the  pleasure of driving something so pure, and so sweet, responsive and economical, that I can't find the words to do it justice;

8. Jensen FF: the connoisseur's quattro.

9. FIAT 128. The modern front-wheel drive car that everyone drives today: McPherson sturts, rack and pinion steering, OHC engine and end-on gearbox. The Golf is nothing other than a retread of this format and so is pretty much everything available to the average punter today.

10. Jaguar E-type: because you can't have a Top Ten of anything without it.  

Super1600
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Damn this is such a hard one, as in many ways there are so many cars which could well be worthy and obviously you need to think from what sort of perspective, say race/rally history, commercial success, innovation, pure and utter lust, or just affordability.  But like others I will have a go at this.  The one thing I can guarantee, is that there are so many other cars on any such list equally worthy, it is rather hard to stop at just 10.

Alfa 6c1750 (the original one)

Bugatti Atlantic (it simply needs to be here on the list)

Fiat multipla (the original people mover), though to drive it today is probably an aquired taste !!

Alfa Giuietta 101 spider (totally gorgeous and so classically period).

Ferrari 250SWB, in a way I like this even more than the totally lustful but probably predictable 250 GT0

Dino 206/246 GT

Alfa 105 Giulia sedan (Ti, TI Super, Super, 1300 TI etc)  for being the sportsedan which set the benchmark, and with incredible aerodynamics to boot !  The GT/GTV/GTC and GTA being a close second in terms of nomination.

Fiat X1/9 the first affordable mid-engined sportscar

Lancia Delta Integrale for being the best of its kind in its time

Subaru WRX (the original one, not later versions), the best looking IMHO Japanese AWD Turbo sports-sedan and a superbly brilliant rally car.  In my mind definitely a future classic.

 

 

Forza Alfa Romeo