The Top 18 Best Retro Cars Ever Produced in Automobile History
There have been thousands of cars developed and designed since Karl Benz patented the three-wheeled Motor Car, known as the Motorwagen, in 1886. While the new automobiles are known for their speed and style it is many of the retro cars from the early years that still resonate with car fans.
Whether you love the classic American Buick, the classy Italian DeTomaso Pantera, or the beefy Chevrolet Camaro SS 350, there is surely a retro car for you. Below are 18 of the best ever created for you to enjoy.
1. Mercedes-Benz 300SL Gullwing
This classy two-door from Mercedes-Benz is well-known thanks to its unique gullwing doors. Voted the ‘sports car of the century’ in 1999, the Mercedes-Benz 300 SL (super light) is based on the racing sports car the Mercedes-Benz W194. It came fitted with M198 straight-six engine connected to a four-speed transmission and has three checkered-pattern seat fabrics that came in grey and green, grey and blue, and cream and red. These classic retro cars can fetch anywhere upwards of $2 million at auction.
2. Citroën DS
There have been three series of the Citroën DS produced over its 20-year lifespan. It is the first mass-production car equipped with hydropneumatic suspension and disc brakes. Over the course of its production run upgrades and improvements were continually made to the Citroën DS, making it one of the most modern creations of its time. While it failed to sell in America, it was a massive hit in Europe and was notable for being the car French President Charles de Gaulle survived an assassination attempt in.
3. Chevrolet Bel Air
The full-size Chevrolet Bel Air was a staple of America throughout the 50s and 60s during its 31-year production run. There are eight different generations of the Bel Air built, with each muscle car having small upgrades to make the sedan a better vehicle. It remains a much sought after vehicle by car collectors, with those in pristine condition selling at auction for upwards of $100,000.
4. Mitsuoka Viewt
This unique four-door sedan was a strange creation sold by the Japanese automaker Mitsuoka. These retro cars are still in production today, with the third generation of the Mitsuoka Viewt still a decent seller in the Japanese market. Built to resemble a Jaguar, the current model has a 1.2-liter engine, ventilated disc brakes on the front wheels, and drum brakes at the rear.
5. Nissan Pao
If the Nissan Pao looks familiar, that could be due to the fact the car has featured in over 20 movies, with its most recent showing coming during the beginning of the 2014 reboot of Godzilla. The Pao was a retro three-door hatchback that was only in production from 1989 to 1991. Despite this, 31,352 units were sold. The Pao comes with a March/Micra 1.0-liter engine coupled with a three-speed automatic transmission or a five-speed manual transmission.
6. Suzuki Jimny
This 4×4 from Suzuki has been in production since 1970 and is still a big seller for the company. It is currently in its four-generation evolution and features a K15B 1.5-liter four-cylinder naturally aspirated petrol engine. It comes with a huge number of safety features and the rear seats can be moved to allow for a massive luggage space in the rear. These retro cars are big in Asia and are a great mid-range SUV.
7. Mini Cooper
Despite the Mini Cooper first being produced in 2000, this stylish hatchback retains the retro look of its predecessor. Taking inspiration from the classic Mini of yesteryear, this modern interpretation is still massively popular and currently in its third generation of model. It might be best known to film fans after being a focal point of the American remake of The Italian Job.
8. Fiat 500
This rear-engined four-seat is one of the most recognizable retro cars on this list. The compact vehicle was built to navigate the tight streets of Italy and was an inexpensive and practical car that was very popular during the 60s. The Fiat 500 is still in production today, although the modern version has a few more creature comforts–such as a touch screen display, USB ports, and Apple AirPlay–than the original.
9. Lincoln Continental
They don’t make retro cars like this anymore. The Lincoln Continental is a modern sedan that has gone from a family car to a luxury vehicle over the course of its lifespan. The older models have a vintage look to them thanks to the straight bodywork and sharp angles. It is the type of car you expect rich gangsters would have cruised around in during the 60s and 70s.
10. Cadillac Series 62
There have been seven generations of the Cadillac Series 62 over the years. Each new version was tweaked to be a better overall car while still keeping the iconic Cadillac shape and style. There are hardtop and convertible versions available, with the Cadillac Series 62 a real collectors favorite.
11. Toyota 2000GT
Looking like it was made for racing, the Toyota 2000GT was a limited edition sportscar from the iconic Japanese motor manufacturer. The two-seat, two-door beast was a collaboration with Yamaha and helped put Japan on the map as an automobile innovator. It is now seen as a collector’s car and can go for as much as $1 million at auction.
12. Buick Riviera
This two-door monster was Ford’s first entry into the luxury car market, and boy did it make a statement. The Buick Riviera was inspired by the British Rolls-Royce and featured a Nailhead V8 engine throughout the eight generations of Rivieras produced. It still remains one of the best classic retro cars to come out of America.
13. BMW 507
Only 252 units of this Roadster were produced during its short four-year run. The BMW 507 was first built to be a luxury sportscar for BMWs American audience but mounting costs meant it struggled to sell and was quickly canned. The body of the 507 was almost entirely made from aluminum and also housed an aluminum alloy OHV V8 engine capable of reaching 0-62 mph acceleration in 11.1 seconds and a top speed of 122 mph.
14. DeTomaso Pantera
The Italian’s sure know how to make an attractive sportscar. The De Tomaso Pantera was the automaker’s most popular build, with the original model powered by a 5.8-liter Ford Cleveland V8 engine. Subsequent models had better engines with more power, while the interior came with features such as electric windows, air conditioning, and leather seats. There were also a number of competition cars commissioned by De Tomaso, although none of these had any success.
15. Porsche 356
The Porsche 356 was the first sportscar built by the German automobile company. It was a lightweight two-door available with either a hard or soft top. The engine was located in the rear and there were a number of versions released during its lifetime, with each keeping the round and familiar shape Porsche became known for. It continues to be a popular car with motor enthusiasts, with the most expensive ever to sell at auction being a Porsche 356 driven by Janis Joplin that went for a historic $1,760,000.
16. Austin-Healey 3000
This British sportscar has a very retro look and began life as an open vehicle with no top. Later models would incorporate a removable top, with the 3-liter 3000 hugely popular in America, where the majority of sales were made. As well as being a popular car, the Austin-Healey 3000 was a successful race car, winning many European rallies.
17. Alfa Romeo Spider
There are dozens of different Alfa Romeos available today, but for collectors, it is hard to go past the Spider. This classic retro car had four different generations throughout its near three-decade production run. It is exactly the type of car you would expect from Alfa Romeo, with the sleek body shape and intriguing curves creating an attractive vehicle. While not the fastest car on the market, it was a great mid-range sportscars for those who couldn’t afford the big names.
18. Chevrolet Camaro SS 350
Another slice of American muscle, the Chevrolet Camero was a two-door available as either a hardtop or convertible. The SS model came with either a 350 cu in 5.7-liter or 396 cu in 6.5-liter V8 engine and had a number of other upgrades from the standard model. Along with being more powerful, it also handled better and had special SS badging.
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