The Top 20 Old Cool Cars
There have been thousands of cars manufactured throughout automotive history, with some quickly becoming fan favorites while others have been less than impressive. Interestingly, many people don’t realize that the first automobile was invented and perfected in France and Germany during the late 1800s. Most forget this fact because America quickly dominated the automotive industry during the first half of the 20th century.
It was, after all, Henry Ford, the American inventor who was responsible for innovative mass-produced techniques that became an industry standard. His extensive work in the 1920s led to the creation of the “big three” car manufacturing companies; Ford, Chrysler, and General Motors. Since these early days, there have been a slew of beautifully designed vehicles with impressive performance capabilities and extraordinary designs.
As we get ready to head into 2022, we thought it prudent to have a look at the top 20 old cool cars that have left their mark in the automotive industry. You might easily recognize a few of the entries on our list, but it’s likely that some of the old cool cars we featured you don’t know. So without further ado, let’s look at a few classic cars that will turn you into a car enthusiast if you aren’t already one.
1. Jaguar E-Type
Arguably, one of the best British cars ever designed and manufactured was the Jaguar E-Type. This classic car quickly became iconic and was even described by the legendary Enzo Ferrari as “the most beautiful car ever made.” The design of the Jaguar E-Type was derived from the Jaguar D-Type and represented the classic sixties automobile aesthetic.
Interestingly this old car was at the time faster than a Ferrari but only cost a fraction of a Ferrari’s price, which is likely why it was also a favorite amongst car enthusiasts. The Jaguar E-Type was a three-series car that was astoundingly manufactured over 15 years. Over that time many celebrities such as Frank Sinatra, Roy Orbison, and Tony Curtis owned a Jaguar E-Type.
Although this classic sports car was revolutionary in several ways, what set it apart from the competition at the time was its iconically stylish bodywork. The Jaguar E-Type had a centered twin exhaust and faired-in headlights, which were features that were wholly unique from all other models in production at the time.
In addition to these unique features, this highly affordable sports car was definitely ahead of its time as it also had modern specifications such as all-round disc brakes and an independent rear suspension. The Jaguar E-Type was equipped with a 3.8-liter engine that could produce a horsepower rating of 265 and reach a top speed of 150 mph.
2. Rolls-Royce Phantom
The new 2022 Rolls Royce Phantom has recently been revealed, but the older models deserve the limelight more. The very first Rolls Royce Phantom was released in 1925, and there have been more than 10 versions released over the years.
Many have attributed the Rolls Royce Phantom I as the vehicle that set a precedent for elegant design and style for the Rolls Royce brand. Interestingly customers who bought the Rolls Royce Phantom models before 1950 could choose their chassis and running gear. Then they could choose their own favorite coachbuilder to form the vehicle’s body.
The successor of the Rolls Royce Phantom I was the Phantom II. This model famously appeared in the Indiana Jones film Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade. Yet, it is perhaps the Phantom IV that is the most exclusive model from this range ever built.
Reportedly only 18 were ever made, and according to some accounts, they were only sold to heads of state and royalty. One of the first Phantom IV models was commissioned by Queen Elizabeth II and her late husband, Prince Phillip. This vehicle is still used for certain ceremonial events like the wedding of Prince William and Kate Middleton.
However, in terms of performance, many believe the classic Phantom V to be one of the best models in the Phantom range. This model was equipped with a 6.2-liter V8 engine with twin SU carburetors coupled to a four-speed automatic transmission. It had a top speed of 112 mph.
3. Delahaye 135
The automobile brand Delahaye might not be one of the most recognizable classic luxury car manufacturers, but their Delahaye 135 models are well known amongst vintage car enthusiasts. In this lineup, the most impressive model was the first, which was the 1936 Delhaye 135.
There were only 15 examples of the 1936 Delahaye 135 ever built, making this vintage car one of the rarest in the world. In 2018, a 1936 Delahaye 135 went on sale, and due to its rarity, fetched an astounding $25 million.
The 1936 Delahaye 135s are well known by classic car lovers as the vehicles that set the all-time record at the Ulster Tourist Trophy. In 1936, these models also placed second and third at the Mille Miglia and the esteemed 1938 24 Hours of Le Mans.
It’s no surprise that the Delahaye 135s were successful racing cars. Yet, were you aware that the 1949 Australian Grand Prix was won by John Crouch, who drove a 135 Delahaye 135MS?
Besides its striking appearance, the 1936 Delahaye 135 had impressive performance specifications. It was equipped with a 3.2-liter overhead valve straight-six engine with a four-bearing crankshaft that was actually derived from one of the robust Delahaye truck engines. With this engine, the vehicle had a horsepower rating of 95, which allowed for a top speed of 92 mph.
4. Fiat 124
Not every old cool car needs to be a flashy sports or muscle car, as evidenced by the Fiat 124. This vehicle was a small but mighty family car that had an interesting introduction to the public. Fiat filmed the 1966 Fiat 124 dropping out of a plane via a parachute.
The Fiat 124 was a clean-sheet design by the talented Oscar Montabone, the chief engineer responsible for developing this vehicle. This car had a boxy appearance that was favored in the 1960s. Despite its small appearance, the Fiat 124 had a spacious interior, a lightweight construction, advanced coil spring rear suspension, and disc brakes on all wheels.
Additionally, it might be surprising, but the Fiat 124 won the 1967 “European Car of the Year.” This model was so popular that a few other variants were added to the range. These variants included the 124 Sport Coupe, 124 Familliare, and the 124 Sport Spider. Yet, these are not the only variants that were added, as, over the years, newer models were designed.
The 1966 Fiat 124 was equipped with a 1.2-liter naturally aspirated engine that could produce a horsepower rating of 59, and it had a top speed of 87 mph and could go from 0 to 60 mph in 13.3 seconds.
5. GAZ-12 ZIM
Our list of the top 20 cool cars wouldn’t be complete unless we included a classic limousine. The Gaz-12 ZIM was a Russian-built limousine manufactured by the Gorky Automotive Plant from 1950 to 1960, and there were only 21,527 units produced.
This vehicle was designed for Soviet committee party officials and was the only Soviet executive class vehicle that was available to the public. Although the Gaz-12 ZIM drew its design inspiration from American Buicks, this vehicle did not copy any American analog directly. However, it did borrow elements for the chrome outlines, hood, bumper, and radiator grille.
Yet, this does not mean that the vehicle didn’t have its own unique design elements. For example, the Gaz-12 ZIM was the world’s first mass-produced ponton limousine, and it was the first to have the iconic leaping deer hood ornament. Additionally, the rear tread was wider than the front, which was an unusual but useful design as it allowed the rear seat to accommodate three people. The Gaz-12 Zim could produce a horsepower rating of 90, and it had a top speed of 78 mph and could accelerate to 60 mph in 37 seconds.
6. Ford Thunderbird
The Ford Thunderbird came about because the Ford Motor Company wanted to add a sporty vehicle to their lineup. That’s why many people believe the 1955 Ford Thunderbird was the first sports car produced by the company.
Interestingly, when this vehicle was nearing completion, it still did not have a name. Approximately 5,000 names were suggested, but none were found appealing by the team working on this model. Some of the names that were vetoed included Detroiter, Beaver, Savile, and Runabout. After a $250 prize was offered, Ford Stylist Alden Giberson came up with the name “Thunderbird.”
The Ford Thunderbird was also adapted into a special racing package that was used in motorsports. For example, the Thunderbird was used in NASCAR in 1959, where it went on to win six races in the top division. This model also went on to win a few times at the Daytona 500.
Curiously, upon release, the vehicle was an immediate hit, partly because of its impressive performance features and its affordability. The 1955 Ford Thunderbird was equipped with a 4.8-liter V8 16 valve engine with a horsepower rating of 198. This model could reach an impressive top speed of 108 mph.
7. Dodge Charger
Who doesn’t like bucket seats? The 1966 Dodge Chargers were classic American muscle cars that had bucket seats along with incredibly comfortable interiors. The Dodge Chargers were produced from 1966 straight through to 2018. The 1966 Dodge Charger was the first-generation car in this lineup and was where the icon began its journey into the automotive history books.
The 1966 Dodge Charger had only one variant, which was a two-door fastback design. The four interior seats were bucket seats. In addition to providing comfort, this model had amazing performance capabilities. It was equipped with a 5.2-liter V8 engine.
Yet, it is the 1968 to 1970 second-generation classic Dodge Charger that everyone knows and loves. Many people know this car because it was featured in the popular movies General Lee and Bullitt, and the hit TV series The Dukes of Hazzard.
Additionally, many car enthusiasts believe the second-generation Dodge Charger to be the most attractive out of the entire lineup. It featured a distinguishable grille, iconic hidden headlights, and rounded taillights. The 1968 Dodge Charger RT 440 Magnum could reach a top speed of 136 mph and go from 0 to 60 mph in only 5.2 seconds.
8. Chevrolet Corvette
Did you know that the Chevrolet Corvette is the most popular American muscle vehicle collected in the US? The Chevrolet Corvette models have been in production since 1953 and span more than 60 years. From 1953 to 2019, these models featured a front-engine layout, but from 2020, the newer models now feature a mid-engined layout.
The Chevrolet Corvette has claimed the title of “most successful concept car in history.” From the C1 to the C8, there have been a few standout models in the corvette vehicle range. One of the most popular models produced was the Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray.
This coupe had a distinctive tapering rear deck design and a split rear window. Additionally, some of its more memorable features were its hidden headlamps, independent rear suspension, and non-functional hood vents.
Interestingly, many fans of the Sting Ray don’t know that Zora Arkus Duntov, Corvette’s chief engineer, was never a fan of the split rear window. Duntov believed it created rear vision impairments. The maximum horsepower rating on the 1936 Chevrolet Corvette Sting Ray was 360, and it had a top speed of 2012 mph.
9. Chevrolet Camaro
With its first debut in 1966 as a direct competitor to the Ford Mustang, the Chevrolet Camaro was a legendary American pony car that deserves the recognition its various models receive. The Camaro was another cool old car with an interesting naming history.
As the tale goes, Bob Lund was the person who came up with the name for the Chevrolet Camaro. After reading a French-English dictionary, he came across the word “Camaro,” which was a slang word that meant comrade or friend. Immediately Lund spoke with Ed Rollet, who also liked the idea.
However, the team made sure to add their own spin to the name. They informed the press that “Camaro” referred to a small animal that ate mustangs. This portrayed loud and clear that the Chevrolet Camaro was meant to be competition for the Ford Mustang.
The 1967 Chevrolet Camaro remains one of the most sought-after classic American muscle cars. This model had a horsepower rating of 295 and could reach 60 mph in eight seconds. Additionally, it had a respectable top speed of an estimated 120 mph.
10. Aston Martin DBS
The Aston Martin DB model collection features some of the most famous cars in the world. For example, the DB4 is largely considered to be the most famous car because of its multiple appearances in James Bond movies. The Aston Martin DB5 was the last evolution of the DB4 and is well recognized for its classic style.
Recently the DB10 was released, and only 10 units were built, with only one sold to the public with the buyer paying a whopping $3.2 million. Yet, the older DB5 model stands out for its supremely elegant appearance and luxurious design.
The Aston Martin DB5 was manufactured from 1963 to 1965. These models were equipped with a 4.0-liter engine that could produce a horsepower rating of 282. This model also featured a ZF five-speed gearbox and had a top speed of 145 mph while reaching 60 mph in eight seconds.
11. Lamborghini 350 GT
Do you love the Lamborghini brand? Well, if so, you have likely heard about the first very Lamborghini to be produced. We say the first to be produced because there was a prototype model that came before it. The concept car paved the way for the Lamborghini 350GT to see the light of day.
The Lamborghini 350GT was introduced in 1964, and only 120 units were ever produced since it only stayed in production until 1966. Many have attributed the success of the 350GT to the company’s survival as the 350GT established Lamborghini as a viable competitor to Ferrari.
What is most memorable about the Lamborghini 350GT is its engine. This model had a powerful 3.5-liter V12 engine equipped that had to undergo extensive modifications as its initial design could be likened to a race motor. The initial engine design had to be modified to make the car easier to drive and more durable.
The final design was capable of a horsepower rating of 270 with a top speed of 158 mph. Additionally, it accelerated to 62 mph in 6.8 seconds, which, although it might not sound impressive, proved to be more than a match for their competition at the time.
12. Citroen DS
The Citroen DS is a French vintage car that is memorable because of its sci-fi styling. This vehicle was sold from 1955 to 1975 and had several variations. When it was first unveiled at the Paris Motor Show in 1955, within 15 minutes, 743 orders were taken, and by the end of the day, 12,000 had been taken.
There were a number of reasons why this occurred. For starters, the Citroen DS was equipped with cutting-edge innovative technology and a futuristic aerodynamic body design that set automotive standards in handling, braking, and quality. Additionally, this vehicle was also the first mass-produced car that had disc brakes and hydropneumatic suspension.
Some of the design features that made this vehicle stand out included doors with no window frames and rear brakes set in the eye line following motorists. The Citroen DS also had an impressive performance. It could produce a horsepower rating of 75, and it had a top speed of an estimated 90 mph.
13. Duesenberg Model J
The Duesenberg Model J is often referred to as the greatest car built during the 1920s. However, it isn’t more popular because it was released just a year before the infamous stock market crash that plunged America into the Great Depression. Since people were going through financial hardships, few had free funds available to spend on an exorbitantly expensive low-volume car.
Yet, this does not mean the vehicle didn’t do well. There were enough people who could still afford to buy a Duesenberg Model J to keep the model relevant and in production for almost an entire decade. When it was released, it was impossible for anyone to find a better vehicle than the Model J.
This model was fast, cleverly engineered, and luxuriously equipped with everything a driver could need. Simply put, this model was way ahead of its time. For example, not only was its exterior design beautiful but it was also equipped with a Lycoming-built straight-eight naturally aspirated engine.
This engine allowed the vehicle to produce an astounding horsepower rating of 265, significantly better than any comparable model in the 1920s. It had a top speed of 128 mph and could reach 0 to 60 mph in only 11.6 seconds.
14. Mazda MX-5 Miata
One of the best Japanese-made classic cars is the Mazda MX 5 Miata. This vehicle was marketed globally and has sold more than one million units since its inception. It is known in automotive history as the best-selling two-seater convertible sports car. It is largely thanks to its affordability and impressive performance features that this car managed to attain bestseller status.
The Mazda MX 5 Miata might be tiny, but this lightweight rear-wheel-drive roadster packs quite a punch. This sports car debuted in 1989, and for more than 30 years, it and its variations have maintained a strong market presence. The design of the Mazda MX 5 Miata is endearing. It drew inspiration from the 60s era Lotus Elan with a remastered and refined appearance. It’s iconic for its pop-up headlights and its rounded bumper that give the appearance of a smiling face.
At its launch, the 1989 Mazda MX 5 Miata featured a 1.6-liter engine capable of producing a horsepower rating of 113. It had a five-speed manual transmission and a top speed of 121 mph, and it could reach 62 mph in 8.8 seconds.
15. Volkswagen Beetle
Did you know that the Volkswagen Beetle is one of the bestselling vehicles of all time? It has had an incredibly successful production history that has spanned more than eight decades. This old car might not have the speed capabilities of other models on our list, but it sure has quirky style elements in spades.
The original Volkswagen Beetle, uncommonly known as the “type 1”, humbly began as an economical four-seater car that was affordable enough for most to obtain. Even though the style of the car has gone out of fashion, it has still managed to maintain a cult following.
This simple car is actually an engineering marvel, and many claim its rounded appearance and headlights that look like beguiling eyes are endearingly charming. Its simplicity is notable as in the original Volkswagen beetle; it had no more than 200 moving parts.
The Volkswagen beetle might not be a race car, but it could reach 0 to 60 mph in 13.2 seconds. It also had a horsepower rating of 25 and had a top speed of 62 mph.
16. Mercedes-Benz 300 SL
The Mercedes-Benz 300SL, which was released as a roadster and a coupe, almost wasn’t manufactured. This race car was only put into production because of the relentless campaigning of Maxi Hoffman.
What is most distinguishable about this car is its iconic gullwing doors. Some car enthusiasts believe the 300SL to be the world’s first-ever supercar, but this belief is often contested in the automotive world. Curiously, there were 29 aluminum models built that are estimated to be worth four times the price of their more common steel counterparts.
The Mercedes 300SL instantly garnered significant attention when it was launched in 1954 at the New York International Motor Show. Decades later, in 1999, the Mercedes 300SL was voted “car of the century.” Besides its gullwing doors, the interior of this cool car was luxurious with unique checkered pattern seating that was in later models replaced by leather upholstery.
SL is short for super light as the coupe had a curb weight of 3,300 pounds and the roadster models had a curb weight of 3,660 pounds. Interestingly, this racing car was engineered to be built over a space frame chassis, and its body was designed to be flat and graceful, which is why it was aerodynamic.
The Mercedes 300SL was equipped with a powerful fuel-injected straight-six engine that could produce a horsepower rating of 215. It had a top speed of 163 mph and could reach 60 mph in 7.4 seconds.
17. DeLorean DMC-12
If you have seen the Hollywood blockbuster film Back to the Future, it’s highly likely you know the Delorean DMC 12. This legendary sports car was produced from 1981 until 1983, with its most distinguishable features being its stainless steel body paneling and gullwing doors.
The Delorean DMC 12 would have been an international success if the Delorean automobile manufacturer did not go bankrupt, with production of this car ending before the first film was released. During its production, 9,000 Delorean DMC 12s were produced, and as such, their rarity has made them much sought after.
Aesthetically the Delorean DMC 12 was visually pleasing, and its performance features were solid. Yet, it failed to hit the mark and do better than its competitors in the sports car arena. Still, this vehicle shouldn’t be dismissed based solely on this.
The Delorean DMC 12 models were equipped with a 2.85-liter engine that was capable of producing a horsepower rating of 130. Additionally, it had a top speed of 110 mph, and it could reach 60 mph in 9.5 seconds
18. Pontiac GTO
The Pontiac GTO wasn’t in production for very long but took the world by storm in 1964. Its striking appearance and impressive horsepower are partly why it is still a favorite muscle car amongst many. Additionally, in 1968 the Pontiac GTO was selected as the “Motor Trend Car of the Year.”
Interestingly, the Pontiac GTO is often attributed to being the muscle car that popularized the muscle car segment during the 1960s. Shortly after the Pontiac GTO was released, the four domestic automakers began offering numerous competing models to try and remain relevant and ahead of the game.
Still, the Pontiac GTO outshined many of them because of its aggressively appealing aesthetic and performance capabilities. For example, some of the 1964 Pontiac GTOs were equipped with a 6.4-liter V8 engine capable of producing a horsepower rating of 325. These models could reach 62 mph in 6.9 seconds, and they had a top speed of 122 mph.
19. Plymouth Road Runner Superbird
It might have been short-lived, but the Plymouth Road Runner Superbird, which was only available as a 1970 model, impacted automotive history. This impressive model was a heavily modified version of the Plymouth Road Runner. It was modified to outperform other vehicles on the race track.
The Plymouth Road Runner Superbird is the vehicle behind the legendary return of NASCAR driver Richard Petty to Plymouth’s racing team. Besides this, the Superbird also played a pivotal role in new regulations being put in place against aero-body cars at NASCAR race events. The Superbird, easily recognizable for its magnetizing rear wings and classic aerodynamic front nose, managed to win numerous NASCAR races.
Interestingly, the Superbird came with three different powerful engine options. Drivers could choose between a 426 Hemi V8 engine, a 440 Super Commando six-barrel V8 engine, and a 440 super commando V8 engine. With the 440 Super Commando six-barrel V8 engine, the top speed of this muscle car was 150 mph with a horsepower estimation of 425. When at the helm of a steering wheel in a Superbird with any of these engine choices, drivers could experience everything the Superbird had to offer.
20. Chevrolet Bel Air
Have you heard of the 1950s described as the “nifty fifties?” Well, the Chevrolet Bel Air is a vehicle that was manufactured during the “nifty fifties.” The first and second-generation Chevrolet Bel Air models are highly sought after by collectors for their timelessly classic styling and luxurious interiors.
The first generation Bel Air was produced from 1950 to 1954. Curiously the Bel Air was not always known as such until it was rebranded. It used to be called the Deluxe Styleline Bel Air until 1953, when the Deluxe Styleline part was dropped from its name.
The body of this model was aesthetically pleasing due to its wide chrome strip of molding that was featured from the rear fender bulge to the rear bumper. Additionally, this model came with two different engine types, and the driver could choose between a three-speed manual or automatic transmission.
From the year 1955 to 1957, the Chevrolet Bel Air was manufactured to be more powerful and more stylish than the first generation. These models featured a Ferrari-inspired grille, chrome fender spears, chrome headliner bands for the hardtop variants, and stainless steel window openers. Unlike the first generation, these models had V8 engine options and could add a two-speed Powerglide transmission to the manual or automatic three-speed transmission.
The 1957 Chevrolet Bel Air is arguably the most sought-after model. This classic car had a 4.6-liter V8 engine that could produce a horsepower rating of 283. Additionally, its top speed was 128 mph, and it could reach 60 mph in 7.7 seconds.
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