Until now, the vehicles featured in our Octane Icon series have been but singular iterations of automotive excellence — standout models, limited runs and one-offs that have bucked trends, pumped blood and turned heads. The first motorcycle to be honored in this series defines most of that very criteria. And yet, it is readily available and remains relatively inexpensive: this is the Harley-Davidson XL or, as its more commonly known, the Sportster.
The Abominable Snow-vehicle
Your closest encounter with the winter beast known as the Tucker Sno-Cat was probably watching as scientists and explorers with frozen beards made their way through parts unknown in an episode of National Geographic. What you probably don’t know is that these cold-capable snow monsters materialized out of one man’s desire to find a better method of snow travel, or that they comprise a proud family of multi-purpose vehicles that got their start way back in 1942. The Sno-Cat is an icon all its own in an industry that has few competitors.
252 made. Get one if you can.
Trace some of the best modern cars back to their origins and you’ll be surprised how much design language and heritage have been passed forward, in some cases for decades. BMW is no exception. The pioneering Z3, the unique Z8, today’s Z4 — the BMW 507 is the granddaddy of them all. It’s only fitting to look back to the origins of the BMW convertible and pay our respects to the iconic 507, a car that nearly bankrupted BMW, but provided an immense wealth of legacy.
Bring the 80s back, please
The Ferrari Enzo and F40 need no introduction — they’ve virtually been canonized. There is a Ferrari supercar, however, that travels under the radar compared to its two aforementioned (and more modern) brothers. The Ferrari 288 GTO was built with purpose, created to feed Enzo Ferrari’s unquenchable racing passions in Group B racing, a beautiful, supremely quick beast. It can actually be credited as the father of the modern Ferrari supercar.
Respect Your Elders
The BMW M3 easily shows up in the top 10 performance cars on just about every critic’s list. With the new M3 just on the horizon, it’s time to pay homage to the original: the BMW E30 M3. It’s a classic that still looks good, like Sean Connery in the Hunt for Red October — handsome, tough and no-nonsense. All the first M3 did was cement the German sports coupe/sedan category in the annals of automotive history.
Looking like the combination of a duck’s bill and a chisel, the Lancia Stratos was developed as an homologation car (production numbers to justify its rally racing intentions) a year after the revolutionary Lancia Stratos HF Zero car debuted. It was a car with virtually limitless rallying potential based on its design and performance. The Stratos did want it was meant to do — devour dirty, twisty, bumpy closed roads with an insatiable appetite.
God bless you, Enzo
It’s easy to marvel at modern supercars — the Bugatti Veyron, Ferrari 458 Italia and Lamborghini Aventador. They’re remarkable automobiles that almost defy logic, packed with technology that can turn just about anybody into a semi-competent driver. But there are some cars that usurp respect and admiration from even these titans of technology. They’re so iconic, so wickedly ravishing to behold, and so pure in their purpose and performance that to own one is to reach automotive nirvana. To see one in the flesh is enough to take your breath away. The Ferrari F40 is just such a car.
Germany's first supercar
The prospect of a German supercar in the 1970s had the tenor of something that simply shouldn’t be done, like the Italians producing a mass-market station wagon for the states. But BMW went out on an automotive limb and put just such a car in the works — the glorious and rare BMW M1. While BMW faithful await its second coming with bated breath, we delve into the story of the original icon.
Not made as much as folded
Lamborghini never does things quietly — and that’s a very good thing, especially when the goal is to draw the rapt attention of the automotive world. But one model in particular marked the inception of Lambo’s radical styling flavor that would span decades, even into the present: the Countach. Angled to the nines, as angry as a giant bull whacked in the butt with a hot poker and as practical as a Kevlar dinner jacket, the Countach embodied the exotic supercar like no other automobile before it.
So good, it was banned
Welcome to Octane Icons, a new series born from our newly minted Octane channel. In the coming weeks, we’ll bring an enthusiast’s mindset to a vehicle that has made its mark on the automotive world, whether by design, engineering, performance, historical significance, influence or all of the above. This week we examine the Porsche 917, a car with a difficult and storied journey — created with the singular purpose of winning the 24 Hours of Le Mans.