Help me compile the real definitive list of the best ever cars
Dearie me, another irresistible C&SC distraction...
Type 26 Lotus Elan: should be on everyone’s bucket list.
Lotus 2-Eleven: faster and with a better ride than an Exige
S, you can easily pretend you’re Vic Elford on the Targa.
AC Ace-Bristol (with retro-fitted Tojeiro R&P steering
conversion): for its involvement and that gem of an engine.
TVR Griffith (pre-cat with manual steering): it’s all about
the chassis turn-in, steering feel and the noise.
Alfa Romeo Alfasud 1.5TI: still the best front-drive car
around. Damn you rust!
Jaguar E-type 3.8 FHC: pure beauty
Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint Veloce: with that step-front
treatment it shouldn’t work but it does.
Citroën SM: the future still hasn’t arrived.
(early) Aston Martin DB4: the prettiest post-War Aston minus
the Bond luggage.
Ferrari 250GTO: beauty injected with motor sport
Ford Model T: legacy, legacy, legacy.
Austin 7: The impact it had on Britain and her post-War
motor sport industry.
Morris Mini Minor: 9X could have been better, but this
remains the small car to beat.
MkI Ford Cortina: What no Citroën DS? NSU Ro80? Sadly the
future will be formed by cheap, conservative engineering.
Rover P6B: the world’s first junior exec gets the engine it
deserves. Europe’s roads are now heaving with pretenders to its throne.
MG MGB GT: one of the most versatile GTs around, OE or
Bristol 406: the ultimate Bristol ‘six’ type. Welcome relief
from today’s 20inch exhibitionists.
Ford Focus RS500: the mightiest of hot hatches. Incredibly
fast, incredibly enjoyable but er, somewhat juicy and a touch outré.
Citroën Xantia Activa: Q-car meets Parisian mini-cab, a
leftfield performance cult.
BMC 1800: bigger than a London studio flat and built like a
tank. If only it had been fitted with Turner’s 2.5-litre V8.
Ferrari 250GTO: if you have to ask...
AC Ace-Bristol: beautiful, light and joyous with a screaming
Mazda 787B: the best sounding GpC racer, I’d pay someone to
drive it around a circuit so that I could just listen to it.
McLaren F1: still, for me, the ultimate supercar.
MG MGD: a tantalising mid-engined concept which, if made,
would have meant the world would not have been polluted with the TR7.
I am surprised this thread has gone quiet so soon. It is an invitation to all to get writing about their pet wheels, top five in five categories and licence to waffle on for better or worse.
If you haven't got around to it yet, or just forgot, let's have 'em, or it's going to be such a thin book from James I doubt even Shire will publish it.
I haven't done mine yet!
In trying to compile my list, I realise how unfair it was to ask other people.
I haven't done mine yet!
In trying to compile my list, I realise how unfair it was to ask other people.
Of course, and by now mine has probably changed too. It's the sort of brainbuster that one can never be fully satisfied with; like top twenty movies, or music lists. I worked on mine for a while, rested, thought about it again, made a couple of changes, waited, and so on, and then posted it, but it will never be definitive. And just for the sake of more controversy, of course we expect quite a few votes for the Ferrari GTO, but am I the only one who would (money no object of course) choose a 250LM in preference?
- Porsche 917K - for everything that this car was,
is and will ever be remembered for, and the brave souls that originally piloted
those monstrous, glorious, epic machines on their original Firestone tyres. The
best drivers’ car bar none because only the best drivers’ need apply.
- Ferrari Dino 246GT - for me, handling beats sheer grip
when it comes to a drivers’ car - fun at low speeds rather than limpet-like
grip up to limits beyond 150mph - all before throwing you, with no warning,
into on-coming traffic or the nearest tree. Welcome to the best drivers’ road
car - the Dino 246GT.
- Ford GT40 - Specifically the Gulf-sponsored
John Wyer cars - to my mind the best road/race car concept - it's such a shame
many modern supercars such as the Zonda follow a route similar to later le Mans
prototypes such as the Group C racers in the Porsche 956 mould.
- McLaren F1 - The combination of the
late-Eighties McLaren management, Ron Dennis, Gordon Murray and Peter Stevens
produced a car that no corporation committee car ever hope to match.
- Fiat X1/9 - as a child I would read the great
supercar road tests, well-written tales of a respected journalist collecting a
low slung supercar from an Italian manufacturer on a misty Italian morning and
driving it back to the UK via the finest European roads - I could never afford
one of these amazing machines in my early twenties, but I could afford a Fiat
X1/9 - the magic is the same, and so is the response from onlookers, it's
amazingly compact and it's just as tricky on a wet road - but wow is it
- Lamborghini Miura S - to my eyes, every viewing angle,
every exterior and interior detail are as close to perfection as any car has
- Lamborghini Urraco P300 Silhouette - I just can't take my eyes away
from one - especially in yellow. I originally saw the yellow car in a magazine
in 1978 - the colour pages went on to cover my school textbook and I took it
everywhere with me. Some people may call this car striking rather than
beautiful but to me this car is pure glamour.
- Ferrari 365GT4 Berlinetta Boxer - every time I see one in the flesh
my knees go weak - you think I’m joking - I actually dropped to my knees once -
and I was at a Porsche Owner‘s Club meeting at Brands Hatch - it didn’t make me
- Citroen SM - catch one in the wrong colour, and
from the wrong angle and it can look awful. on any other occasion it shines
likes a glamorous 1970's lifestyle magazine advert for expensive watches, or a
dreamy out-of focus ad for Cinzano Bianco, or Manakin Cigars.
- Aston Martin DB6 - I know it is slightly over-bodied
and the tail is a bit clumsy, but I prefer the rear three-quarter styling, and
the overall look and road presence of a DB6 over the earlier DB4/ DB5
cars. Solid colours don’t suit it though
- I’d prefer it to be a metallic colour, sort of greyish - OK, Silver - yes yes
yes, whatever !
- Fiat 500 - in an ideal world where snobbish
"one-upmanship" and pointless branding doesn't exist, and you are
trying to provide an intelligent and inexpensive mobility solution for town and
country - this is the near perfect solution and we had it 55 years ago -
compared to a 500, the Smart looks ill-conceived and poorly executed
- Fiat 124 - Take a look again at this car, I
know, you can't get past the Lada bit can you - well try - take a look at an
original 1966 car with gleaming paint and fresh chrome - it's actually a very
pretty and stylish car. Ok ? you finished laughing yet ? Fast forward to think
of the many derivations of the 124 - a truly versatile platform that has
spawned many models in many countries. To be honest, I wanted to put the Fiat
128 here due to the interesting offshoots such as the 128 3P and X1/9 - problem
is I can't stand the look of the standard 128.
- Porsche 911 - the 911, to me, is a bit like the
small village of Laindon in Essex. Stuck close to Basildon and Pitsea, it has
everything; wonderfully charming country pubs with great food, stunning wooded
areas to walk off all that lovely Sunday Roast, beautiful looking houses and
some great driving roads. But I would never want to live there, or even be
associated with the place, why ? it's not the place itself, it's the people
that live there and frequent it that put me off. The 911, more than any other car,
attracts the truly ignorant.
- BMW M5 - Far more than the Golf GTi, the BMW M5
defined a genre that has remained faithful to the original template.
- Austin A40 - launched before the Mini, the
packaging is right, so is the hatchback - it's not as chuckable as a mini, but
as a family car it makes much more sense. Shame on the “it‘s got to be the Mini”
all-rounder (including practicality!)
- Range Rover - my best-friend's mother had a 1972
Range Rover when I was growing up way back in 1978 - it would take us all to
school, cruise happily at 70mph on the motorway, and drag a sideways-on,
bogged-down horsebox out of a water-logged patch of mud whilst a crowd of
school kids looked on cheering and willing on the fabulous V8 hero, the sight
and sound of the Range Rover dropping several inches on full revs as it
hunkered down and squirreled around finding the grip, and the ease at which it
performed this impossible looking task - it had a 10 minutes rest whilst the
owner thanked my mate’s mum and then the Rangie took us all on a shopping trip
into town - all in superb comfort, and you could have a Balmoral Green one too
if you wished, just like Princess Di.
- Ford Cortina - the first car in 60 years of
motoring to hit the magic bullseye - they even got the marketing of a model
range spot on - eventually.
- Jaguar XJ6 Series 2 - Luxury, performance, class,
elegance, style, comfort, speed, cache, breeding.
- Porsche 928 - The first practical supercar, with
reasonable economy from a very efficient engine, deformable bumpers and ultra
modern styling - all at a time when Ford had just stopped making the MKIII
- Fiat X1/9 - huge amount of space in such a
tiny package, amazing amount of luggage area makes you wonder why anything
bigger can get away with less - most importantly all the thrills of a supercar
are here, and all with proper Italian Bertone styling - all for a relatively
modest asking price. Yes, the original MR2 showed up the X1/9’s shortcomings
but in every other way the X1/9 was a better concept.
dream car (money no object)
- Lamborghini Countach LP400 “periscopo”
- It's easy to
dismiss all Countach models as the obvious choice - for once I don’t mind
joining the herd.
- Lamborghini Urraco P300 Silhouette - this car is the one car that stuns
me every time I look at it, or even think about it - it's not perfect but it's
like falling in love with a girl you know you can never be with - sublime.
- Lamborghini Countach LP400 S - I am taking "dream car"
literally here, as a child of the Seventies this was that car I climbed into
bed at night to drive epic road journeys before falling asleep.
- Ferrari 365GT4 Berlinetta Boxer - Ferrari totally balls'd up the
mid-engined layout and were guilty of either lazy engineering or incompetence
in my book - but then they clothed it with the most beautiful body you could
hope to see on a car.
Six - The original
1977 Motor show car - not the subsequent third-party lash-up.
Best Drivers Car
1. Ferrari 250 GT SWB Berlinetta
2. Lotus Elan
3. Alfa Romeo Giulia Sprint 1600 GTA
4. Austin Healey 3000 MkII Works
5. Mini Cooper S Works (original)
Most beautiful car
1. Alfa Romeo 8C 2900B Lungo Touring
2. Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Villa d'Este
3. Bugatti Type 57 SC Atlantic
4. Delahaye Type 135 MS Coupe Figoni & Falaschi
5. Mercedes-Benz 300 SLR
Most important car
1. Volkswagen Beetle
2. Austin 7
3. Willys Jeep
5. Mercedes S-Class
1. Porsche 911
3. Citroen DS
4. Alfa Romeo Giulia
5. Volvo P1800
1. Bugatti Type 57 Aerolithe (to actually discover it!)
2. Alfa Romeo 6C 2500 Villa d'Este
3. Aston Martin DB5
4. Porsche 356A Carrera GS
5. Tatra Type 77
My two penneth...
Best drivers’ car -
- Lancia Delta Integrale Evolution
- Mazda MX5
- Lotus Elan
- BMW M3 E30
- AC Cobra
Most beautiful car –
- Lamborghini Miura
- Jaguar C-Type
- Maserati AG GCS53
- Aston Martin DB4 GT
- Bugatti Type 35
Most important car -
- MGB – taking classic motoring to the masses
- VW Beetle – nuf said
- Willys Jeep – ubiquitous and served well during many conficts (forerunner to Land Rover too)
- Austin Mini – nuf said, part2
- Ferrari F40 – one of the earliest supercars to crack 200mph
Best all-rounder (including practicality!)
- Land Rover (Any)
- Jaguar MkII
- BMW M5 Estate
- Audi RS2
- MGB GT
Your dream car (money no object)
Only 5??? That’s tough… OK:
- AC Cobra
- Ferrari 250 SWB
- Willys Jeep
Best Drivers car
1 Porsche GT2
2 Alfa Romeo GTA
3 lancia Stratos
4 Lotus Elan Sprint
5 Lancia Fulvia HF
Delahaye 135 Chapron body
Ferrari 250 SWB
Original Rolls Royce Silver Ghost
Original Morris Minor MM
Volkswagen Golft GTi
Jaguar XJ6 series 1.
Ferrari 250 SWB
Lamborghini Miura SV RHD
Corvette Stingray 1953 model
Porsche 356 A
Best driver's car
For the sheer learning-how-to-drive-properly factor surely the Lotus 7/Caterham has go to be top of the list here. A quick scan of Youtube will come up with countless videos where exotic metal shoots past the plucky Brit only for the fancy supercars to get eaten up in the corners and for a fraction of the price surely worth it just for that.
I also like the Nissan GTR, though, probably more than any other car it opens up its full potential to drivers of different skills sets and it is quite ludicrously quick.
The Porsche 911 has got to be in there. I'd go for a 964 Carrera 2, just to give myself a sporting chance of not throwing it yuppie-style into a bush.
Here's my next argument a driver's car can't just be enjoyable in the good times, but comfortable and cosseting in the bad times. Arguably nothing does that like that like the Honda NSX.
My final choice is the Ferrari 355. Yes, there are faster Ferraris that grip better, but as mini bite of all that's good about Maranello the 355 has got it all.
The most beautiful
When ad-man Jamie came returned from a visit to the glamorous Villa d’Este Concours (see here) with pictures of the ‘Round Door’ Rolls I decided on the spot it was one of my favourite-looking cars.
Second place would go to the Maserati 250f, but I don’t feel I have to say why!
Next up is the Ferrari 456, what can I say, I like its 90’s curves…
Number three for me is a concept car designed by Pininfarina – the Alfa Romeo the 2uettottanta
Last but not least it’s the Ferrari 250 Testa Rossa.
My general explanation for these is that without all of these we might not be driving cars today. So…
I’ll admit I had to Google it at first, but I can’t really argue with the Benz Patent-Motorwagen being the most important car in the world, because without it there may not be cars at all.
That would mean the Ford Model T has to be next inline, because without cars may well have been the preserve of the wealthy.
Third place, then, has to be the Austin 7 for answering the problem of how to drive what is a complex machine.
Fourth I think must go to the VW Beetle as it seems to me to be the first easily attainable/practical car that modern cars today still match.
…the Toyota Corolla. Yes the Mini was a triumph of styling, packaging and handling, but what has that done for us now. There are front wheel-drive cars that drive well, but we’re always surprised to find they exist. Most spawn of the Mini is dull and uninteresting. The Toyota is, too, of course, but it also brought a legacy that is of genuine use/interest to me. Reliability.
Best all rounder (including practicality)
The Range-Rover surely has this crown? Its one of the most versatile cars available, which is as happy up to its wheels in mud as it is chauffeuring execs to the airport.
Next up will the Escort Cosworth brought the visual drama of a Lamborghini to the normal man.
Now’s the time for the Mini. Its packaging means you can fit the family inside, it looked good, is easy to park, frugal, front-wheel-drive safe and, more important than anything else – it’s fun. If only all front-wheel drives were like it.
The twin-supercharged Aston Martin V8 vantage its about as practical as a supercar can get, but is also properly luxurious and properly quick.
I have to mention the GTR again I’m afraid. But what else costs the same as a mid-range executive saloon can beat almost any super car round a track and fit a family with luggage. The 4x4 just adds to its durability. It is an uncompromised supercar, but for everyday.
It’s another strange one I’m afraid, given that everyone one raves about the Ferrari F40, my dream Ferrari of that ilk is the F50 – I love the way it sounds more than any other, and enough to ignore they way it looks.
The next dream car is the McLaren F1. An awesomely relentless and amazing sounding engine, great looks, un-bettered attention to details and that it is British makes it an easy choice.
The next choice would be the Ford GT40. I love the way it looks and I like that it was built to beat Ferrari and managed it. They sound rather distinctive, too!
I think the dream car choice has got to include a 911 and as it’s a money not object decision, it may as well include the best 911 every made – the 911RS. It’s raw and dangerous, but still practical (ish). Oh, and it sounds immense.
Which leaves the last on the list and this dream car’s also a racecar – Gordon Murray’s ground-effect Brabham BT-46B. I like that it has to be banned, that it was scarily fast and the thought of turning up to a track day with it.
So any closer to learning the definitive 'best' list? The points suggested should make it mathematically possible to compile some sort of list.
Did you get any replies other than what is here, or does this thread need another kick-start?