Hot Wheels, Indeed

Here to Eternity: The 50 Most Iconic Cars in Motoring History

December 2, 2011 Cars By Photo by GP
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Lamborghini Miura

The opposite of the sharp and angry Countach, the Miura was all sex-appeal and smooth lines. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful automotive designs of all time, the Miura was built chassis and engine first and then covered in a svelte Bertone design. The monster mid-engine V12 and the two-seater setup essentially created the impetus behind the modern supercar. Only 764 were built between 1966 and 1972. It was recently duplicated in modern concept form in 2006, but the original stands as the true supercar classic. Gotta love the eyelash headlights.

Bugatti Veyron EB 16.4

The new and Thousands of hours of research and development went into this pinnacle of supercardom. Released in 2005, the 8-liter W16, quad turbo, 1001 horsepower engine launched the original to a top speed of 253 mph, setting a new record for a roadgoing production car. If you mash the throttle to the maximum speed, a full tank of gas will be drained in 13 minutes. Crikey. Subsequent nutified versions were even more powerful–the Super Sport topping out at 268 mph, to be specific. Regardless of the version, the Volkswagen Group that brought this car to the world, did right by it and gave us unparalleled refinement in a sports car along with unsurpassed performance. It is over the top, over-priced and utterly desirable.

Porsche 911

Originally released way back in 1963, the Porsche 911 stands as the most recognizable sports car in history. Shamingly fathered by the Volkswagen Beetle and then summarily run over by something heavy, the 911 is the quintessential sports car. Beyond Ferrari, Jaguar and Lamborghini. The essential design hasn’t changed in half a century and the performance never ceases to amaze the automotive public. Rear engined and all business, the 911 has spawned numerous iterations from the Boxster to the insane GT2, GT3, RS and the Cayman, the 911 will outlive all of us.

Volkswagen Golf

Making its debut in the U.S. in the early 70’s, the Golf (then Rabbit) was the first true German hatchback and the rightful heir to the Beetle empire. Thank goodness it was so much better, but that doesn’t mean it couldn’t be refined, and that’s exactly what VW did throughout the 80s, 90s and especially into the 21st Century. More power, smoother lines, a more refined interior and captivating performance pushed the car upmarket. The current Mark VI versions exemplified in both the GTI and R32 models go to show what this little car that could was truly capable of.

Ferrari Enzo

No ultimate Ferrari list would be complete without the revolutionary Enzo, built from 2002-2004. Named after the founder of the marque, the Enzo brought true Formula One technology to the masses (the 399 people who constitute the limited ownership, that is) via a carbon fiber body, carbon ceramic brakes, hyper-quick F1 transmission and a 6.0 liter V12 engine. It could hit 60 in just over 3 seconds and top out at 220 mph. Sure, more recent Ferraris can outperform this track machine, but the Enzo bled red exclusivity and power never seen before in a vehicle from the Cavallino Rampante. It’s even more insane brother, the FXX, was reserved for the track only and came with its own technical team. We want.

Lamborghini LM002

Born out of a desire to create a military vehicle in the late 80’s, Lamborghini created the blocky and insane LM002 that was essentially the biggest departure the Italian automaker has ever made, hands down. With a huge V12, custom run-flat Pirelli Scorpion tires and a 76 gallon fuel tank, the beast could do 120 mph in the sand and ended up being the SUV of choice for Saudi oil tycoons. It could even be optioned out with a monstrous 7.2 liter powerboat engine, if so desired (yes). The military version never saw the light of day, but that didn’t prevent the LM002 from making its mark as the first real exotic 4×4. We want one, without the fuel bill, of course.

Bentley Blower

Some vintage power here. The year 1929 and the word ‘supercharger’ don’t exactly go together, but that’s exactly what happened with the 240 horsepower Bentley Blower. It became the quintessential British sportscar. Though it was an extremely heavy car due to the massive brakes and chassis, it dominated the 1928 and 1928 Le Mans 24 hours. The Blower even broke a speed record at Brooklands, clocking in at a very impressive 137 mph. Try that without seatbelts and an adequate windshield.

Lancia Stratos

Built by the Italian automaker in the 1970’s the Stratos was the first car built from the ground up strictly for rallying purposes. 492 were built for homologation. The design stood apart, with its duckbill front end and the crescent-shaped windshield that lent fantastic visibility. The 190 hp V6 enabled the roadgoing Stratos to get to 60 in under five seconds, but racing versions were tuned up to 560 hp. The impressive result of this design was three World Rally Championships under Lancia’s belt. The design of the car itself spawned a private automaker to reincarnate the Stratos for the 21st Century. Here’s hoping it gets built, in a case where retro is so right.

Ferrari 288 GTO

Don’t mistake it for a run-of-the-mill 308 GTB. The 1986 288 GTO was created for homolgation but never saw a race due to the cancellation of the Group B series. The 308’s V-8 engine was augmented in the GTO with twin turbos and intercoolers making it a balls-to-the wall homage to the original Ferrari 250 GTO that was positively magnificent in its power, presence and performance. 0-60 in a little more than 4 seconds and the first production car to reach 186 mph, the GTO delivered. Only 272 were made. If you ever get to see one in the flesh, you’ll know how truly special it is.

Bonus: Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione

What’s a list without a bonus? We consider the 8C Competizione a modern icon that will stand the test of time, carrying over the 8C name for the 1930’s version and the Competizione designation from the Alfa 1948 6C Competizione. Propelled by a big Ferrari 4.7 liter V8 generating 444 horsepower, the 8C Competizione has a carbon fiber body, double wishbone suspension and a six-speed sequential manual gearbox. Performance is a quick 4 second sprint to 60 and a top speed of 181 mph. What makes this car a modern icon is not so much the solid performance numbers but the jaw dropping design, with nary a straight hard edge to be found. With a classic Alfa grille and sensuous lines throughout, it’s art imitating car at the highest level. Speed, beauty, exclusivity (only 500 were made) and historic motoring genes are what make the 8C Competizione supremely desirable.

Who Didn’t Make the Cut

We get it. The list isn’t going to satisfy everyone. Hell, the comments on Twitter alone affirmed that. So we’ve added a list of all the other cars that were in contention for the list that either didn’t make the cut or too controversial within our selection. That doesn’t mean they’re any lesser of a vehicle, but simply didn’t work within our pantheon of 50.

  • Porsche 928 S4
  • Bentley Embiricos
  • Jaguar XJ220
  • 1969 Chevrolet Camaro
  • Ford Model T
  • Porsche 550 Spyder
  • 1957 Chevrolet Bel-Air
  • Bentley Continental
  • Ferrari Dino
  • Ford F100
  • 1953 Chevrolet Corvette
  • 1960 Ford Bronco
  • 1978 Firebird Trans Am Special Edition
  • Jaguar XJ6
  • Maserati Merak
  • Lotus Esprit Turbo
  • Lamborghini 350GT
  • BMW 507
  • Mercedes McLaren SLR
  • 1959 Cadillac Eldorado
  • Acura Integra
  • Honda Civic
  • Maserati Merak
  • Lamborghini Murcielago
  • Lamborghini Aventador
  • BMW M5
  • Jaguar XK120
  • 1967 Dodge Charger
  • 1959 Pontiac Bonneville
  • Ferrari F50
  • 1970 Plymouth Hemi Cuda

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Amos Kwon

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