The world's most beautiful cars
What is the most beautiful car in the world? We’ve gone all-out to answer that question with our top 50 automotive stunners...
Beauty, as they say, is in the eye of the beholder and debates around what is or isn’t beautiful have a habit of rumbling on, and on. When it comes to cars, it’s a very similar story but that doesn't stop us from airing our views, or defending them when others tell us we don’t know what we’re talking about. It’s all part of the fun.
At least when we’re talking about the most beautiful cars the world has ever seen, there’s some degree of consensus. Classic models that are remembered decades later for their style and elegance usually have something going for them, while you can at least get some feeling for which modern designs have a chance of joining the illustrious ranks of the most beautiful cars in years to come.
Some beautiful cars manage to break with tradition, setting a new design template that others borrow from and vainly attempt to emulate, others simply follow the established design trends of the day but execute them better than any of their contemporaries. However they do it, designers who manage to strike gold gain legendary status and can make millions for their employers (although it doesn't always work out like that). The cars themselves invariably become the most sought after and expensive models of their eras as collectors scramble to own these rare pieces of automotive art.
We’ve tried to pick out the cars we think qualify for ‘most beautiful’ status with 50 models, new and old, that manage to seduce the eye and yank on the heart strings like no others. Read on for our selection of the top 50 most beautiful cars in the world…
The 50 most beautiful cars in the world
50. Ford Mustang fastback - 1964
The Plymouth Barracuda might have beaten the Ford Mustang into showrooms by a couple of weeks in 1964, but it was the fabulous sporty style of the Ford fastback that really kicked-off the ‘pony car’ revolution. In fact the Mustang became almost ubiquitous among style, performance and budget-conscious drivers in the US, selling one million copies within two years of launch.
There are many Mustang ‘hero’ cars, including Mach 1 and Shelby versions, not to mention the famous Bullit 390 GT model driven by Steve McQueen on screen. Whichever way you look at it, the muscular fastback Mustang is a legendary design, which has influenced rival coupes from manufacturers all over the world.
49. Birkin Blower Bentley - 1926
Bentley Blower No 1 was a supercharged racing car developed privately by Sir Tim Birkin with the assistance of engineering wizard Amherst Villiers, because W.O. Bentley wouldn’t countenance the supercharging of his 4.5-litre four-cylinder model.
However once Birkin had proved the viability of the ‘Blower Bentley’ concept, W.O. was persuaded to build 50 factory cars in order to qualify the design for racing at Le Mans.
Birkin’s original prototype was a single-seat race spec car suitable for competition at the Brooklands Circuit, where it set the lap record of 137.96mph.
In 2012 Bonhams sold the original Blower Bentley for more than £5m, and Birkin’s legacy received a recent boost when Bentley declared its intention to build a series of ‘continuation’ Blower Bentley tourers.
48. Buick Riviera - 1971
The Buick Riviera was a GM luxury model introduced in 1963, but it wasn’t until the third generation Riviera arrived in 1971 that it flaunted the extravagant ‘boat tail’ rear end for which the model is now famed.
The car was designed by Jerry Hirshberg working under GM’s styling wizard Bill Mitchell, and the large wraparound rear screen was inspired by a similar treatment applied to the Corvette Stingray. In spite of appearances, the glass is formed of two pieces which butt closely together at the centreline.
Hirshberg had previously worked on a couple of other GM icons, namely the ‘67 Firebird and ‘68 GTO for Pontiac. He moved to Nissan’s California design centre in 1980, where he was responsible for yawn-worthy designs like the Nissan Altima and Sentra.
47. Delage D8 - 1930
This company was founded in 1905 by Frenchman Louis Delage and the cars that bore the Delage name were renowned for both their racing successes and their luxury. During the 1920s and 30s the firm competed for luxury sales with Hispano-Suiza and in 1930 the flagship D8 model was introduced.
Named for its new in-line eight-cylinder engine which was a first for a French manufacturer, the Delage D8 was supplied in chassis form to be fitted out with a range of typically opulent bodies by some of the leading lights of the Paris coachbuilding scene, including Chapron, and Letourneur et Marchand which built the stunning 1933 coupe pictured here.
There’s little superfluous ornamentation apart from the Lalique crystal mascot on the prow, but the proportions are everything for this beautiful survivor.
46. Alfa Montreal - 1970
Bertone’s designer Marcello Gandini was still revelling in the success of his Lamborghini Miura design when he produced the concept version of this stunning Alfa Romeo coupe in 1967.
The car was revealed at Expo 67 in Montreal, and the production version took the city’s name when it went on sale after the Geneva Motor Show in 1970.
Power came from a 2.6-litre V8 developed from the two-litre V8 in the T33 Stradale supercar, and the Montreal used the chassis and running gear from the popular Alfa Giulia GTV coupe.
Priced considerably higher than a Porsche 911 or Jaguar E-Type, the Montreal was unable to match the sales success of either, and fewer than 4,000 cars were produced. It’s chances were arguably limited by Alfa’s failure to homologate a version for the North American market.
45. Bizzarrini P538 - 1965
This gorgeous little projectile is a racing car from the stable of Scuderia Bizzarrini, and it was built and raced with both V8 and V12 engines - the former lifted from the Chevrolet Corvette, and the latter from Lamborghini.
The mid-engined P538 may have looked spectacular, but its potential was never fully tapped. The V8 powered version completed three-hours of the 1966 Le Mans 24hrs race, while a V12 version planned for a subsequent Le Mans campaign was not completed when Scuderia Bizzarrini collapsed into bankruptcy.
The story didn’t end there however, as the beautiful Bizzarrini P538 re-emerged as a ‘continuation model’ built by Salvatore Diomante using the original body moulds. It’s thought only around a dozen of either version exist today.
44. Porsche 917 - 1969
The Porsche legend was built almost entirely from its successes in sports car racing, and even within the German firm’s illustrious racing car portfolio, the Porsche 917 stands out as a truly iconic machine.
Introduced in 1969, the 917 won the Le Mans 24hrs in 1970 and 1971, but only after teething troubles with the aerodynamics were ironed out. It was powered by a flat-twelve engine developed from two Porsche six-cylinder engines, and innovations included a tubular chassis filled with pressurised gas. If the chassis fractured a gauge showed the driver a pressure loss, and his race would be over.
As beautiful to watch as they were successful, three of the 59 917s that Porsche produced are known to have been converted for road use - including the Martini-liveried car pictured.
43. BMW i8 - 2014
The alternative-drivetrain and hybrid-powered cars that reached production were largely dull but worthy machines until the BMW i8 arrived on the scene in 2014. Following-on from the 2009 BMW EfficientDynamics concept car, the i8 featured styling that was futuristic with a bit of a sci-fi feel, which suited the car’s technology story, but there are also strong hints of BMW’s earlier mid-engined supercar the M1 from 1978.
The roadster version arrived in 2018, more than five years after it was previewed in the form of the i8 Spyder concept at the 2012 Beijing Auto Show. It was worth the wait though, as the two-seat open car looks even more glamorous with buttress-like headrest fairings and exotic butterfly doors. Who said the future of motoring had to be boring?
42. Ferrari 288 GTO - 1984
The Ferrari 308 was an already beautiful sportscar styled by Pininfarina to replace the Dino in 1975, but the shape arguably never reached its full potential until it evolved into the 288 GTO in 1984.
The 288 GTO was a ‘halo car’ designed as a response to the inroads made by rivals like the Porsche 911 Turbo into Ferrari’s road car sales, and featured a new twin-turbo 2.9-litre V8 making close to 400bhp. With the engine mounted longitudinally instead of transversely across the engine bay, the 308 body had to be lengthened while wider tyres meant the arches were fattened-up too.
Aggressive spoilers were also part of the redesign package, along with the 288 GTO’s trademark wing-mirrors, raised up like little flagpoles to give vision over the enlarged haunches.
41. Mercedes-Benz 300SL - 1954
Arguably the Mercedes brand’s most iconic model yet, the 300SL famously arrived sporting incredible ‘gullwing’ doors in 1954. A road-going spin-off of the firm’s 1952 W194 Le Mans-winning racer, the 300SL was not only jaw-droppingly beautiful, but was also the world’s fastest production car with a 160mph+ top speed.
Power for the partially aluminium-bodied machine came from a six-cylinder three-litre engine, and the gullwing doors were necessitated by the design of the chassis with its high sills, which meant standard doors couldn’t be fitted.
The factory had never intended to make a road car out of the W194, but US importer Max Hoffman saw the potential and ordered 1,000 cars on-spec, spurring the factory into action.
A roadster version of the SL was introduced in 1957, which replaced the gullwing coupe altogether - a reflection of the tastes of buyers in California, the 300SL’s key market.
40. Aston Martin DB11 - 2016
The exterior design is credited to Miles Nurnberger under the leadership of Marek Reichmann, and while the front end is an unmistakable evolution of the familiar Aston face, the tautly drawn body panels give the DB11 a distinctive athleticism the DB9 can only dream of. Roof strakes and a tautly-tapered rear complete the image, but the DB11 looks ever more stunning in more recently launched Volante convertible trim.
The DB11 Coupe is available with V12 or Mercedes V8 power, but the extra weight of the Volante body stiffening means Aston won’t be offering a V12 version. Still, 500bhp and 187mph should be good enough for most.
39. Citroen DS - 1955
Citroen’s Traction Avant, on sale since 1934, had become such a familiar part of French motoring life that the debut of the radical DS at the 1955 Paris Motor Show blew assembled minds. Citroen took 743 orders in 15 minutes at the show, and 12,000 on the first day.
DS in French sounds like ‘Déesse’ or ‘Goddess’, and the spec of the new Citroen was suitably out of this world. For a start the beautifully sculptural styling was like nothing seen before or since, while the DS also featured an incredible hydropneumatic ride, variable assistance power steering and a hydraulic automatic clutch. The DS was also the first mass production car in history to feature disc brakes.
Another little-known DS fact is that up until 1966 Citroen assembled UK versions at a factory in Slough. Such was the popularity of the space-age Citroen that it remained on sale for twenty years - almost as long as the Traction Avant.
38. Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Drophead Coupe - 1957
Rolls-Royce is a marque dripping with glamour, and one that has always been associated with celebrity. That association never looked so stunning as the Rolls-Royce Silver Cloud Convertible and Hollywood megastar Elizabeth Taylor, who reportedly chose it in Smoke Green as it matched the colour of her wedding dress.
Taylor kept her Silver Cloud for twenty years, and her beloved motorcar was a 1961 Series II model with V8 power. The six-cylinder Silver Cloud I appeared in 1957, and production ended in 1966 with the last of the Series III cars - recognisable by their quad-headlamps. The Silver Cloud was produced primarily as an opulent and beautiful four-door saloon, but the drophead and coupe bodies were also popular, and generally considered to be even better looking.
37. Bugatti Royale Esders Roadster - 1932
Big is beautiful some say, and cars don’t get much bigger than the Bugatti Type 41 ‘Royale. At 6.4m long and weighing comfortably more than three tons it is one of the largest cars ever produced.
Only half a dozen Royales were built, but one of the most striking was the Royale Esders Roadster made for French clothing tycoon Armand Esders. The Esders Roadster featured a magnificent two-seater body with extra occasional seats folding out from the boot - a so-called ‘dickey seat’. Driving a two-seater the same length as the current stretched Mercedes-Maybach S600 limousine obviously seemed a little extravagant for the next owner, who modified the Esder Royale with a more practical Coupe de Ville body. However we can still enjoy the looks of the original, as the car-mad Austrian Schlumpf brothers commissioned a replica for their famed collection. It had no headlights, as Esders reckoned they spoiled the looks and he had “no intention for driving after dusk”.
36. BMW 2800 CS - 1968
One of the prettiest mainstream coupes of the late-sixties and seventies, the six-cylinder BMW 2800 CS had the looks of a thoroughbred. Based on the same platform as the four-cylinder 2000 coupe that preceded it, the new car featured a lengthened bonnet to accommodate the longer engine, while the new tapered nose treatment with twin circular headlamps transformed the 2000’s somewhat gawky styling.
CS performance was upgraded in 1971 when three-litre models arrived, with twin carburettors on the 3.0 CS or fuel injection on the more powerful 3.0 CSi which boasted almost 200bhp. Enthusiasts are especially fired-up by the 3.0 CSL ‘homologation special’ that used thinner steel and aluminium panels to reduce weight for racing. The CSLs cleaned up on the racetrack, winning six European Touring Car Championships in the 1970s.
35. Lamborghini Miura - 1966
Another masterpiece from the drawing board of Bertone’s Marcello Gandini, the Miura is not only remarkable as the first mid-engined production supercar, but also because in spite of half a century of newer competition, it’s also still regarded as one of the most beautiful.
The swoopy V12-powered design was completed in such a rush for the 1966 Geneva Motor Show that engineers didn’t even know if their engine fitted. So the Miura made its debut with ballast in the engine bay and its cover firmly locked.
Production of the Muira started the following year, with the 3.9-litre V12 very much part of a package. Superstardom followed, spurred on by an appearance in the 1969 movie The Italian Job, when a Miura was shown being destroyed by a mechanical earthmover.
34. Aston Martin DBR1 - 1956
There’s a saying that if it looks right, it is right, and few would argue that Aston Martin’s 1956 sports racing car looked the absolute business. The proof of the saying came in 1957 when the gorgeous DBR1 won the Spa Sportscar Race and the Nurburgring 1,000km race. Overall victory followed at the Le Mans 24hr race in 1959, with Carroll Shelby and Roy Salvadori at the wheel and a second DBR1 close behind - 25 laps ahead of the nearest competitor. The DBR1 wrapped up its best year with Aston’s only World Sports Car Championship win, thanks to an incident-packed race at the Goodwood Tourist Trophy with Stirling Moss taking the chequered flag.
In 2017 one of the five DBR1s built by the factory sold at auction by RM Sothebys for an incredible $22.5m, a world record for a British car.
33. Jaguar C-X75 - 2010
One of the most beautiful recent Jaguars was a hybrid-electric supercar that was to be developed in partnership with the Williams F1 team, and go on sale in limited numbers in 2013.
The design was to follow the lines of the C-X75 concept revealed in 2010, but with a slightly less exotic powertrain. While the concept featured micro gas turbines to charge the hybrid battery and had an electric motor at each corner, the road-going versions were to get a BMW i8-style set-up with a turbocharged 1.6-litre petrol engine and twin electric motors giving a combined output of 890bhp.
Sadly, the global financial crisis kiboshed the project in 2012, but a C-X75 lookalike did appear in the 2015 Bond film Spectre - its body draped over a spaceframe racing car chassis with a dry-sump V8.
32. Porsche 935 - 1976
The 911 Turbo has dominated motorsport in a variety of classes over the years, but has it ever looked as good as in FIA Group 5 racing spec in the 1970s? Group 5 rules allowed significant modifications as long as the front-facing silhouette remained fixed, and Porsche went to town when creating the 935 racing machine - with incredible results. The whale-tailed, wide-arched 935 won more than 150 races, including taking all three slots on the podium at the Le Mans 24hrs in 1979, plus half a dozen wins at both the Daytona 24hrs and the 12hrs of Sebring.
Versions of the 935 were campaigned both by the Porsche factory and many privateer teams, and therefore in many racing liveries. The dark blue, light blue and red stripes of the Martini Racing sponsored 935s will be remembered best by many.
31. Rolls-Royce Phantom I Jonckheere Coupe - 1934
There’s a bit of a Marmite feel around the styling of the Rolls-Royce Phantom 1 Jonckheere Coupe, which means you’ll probably love it or hate it. The car started life in 1925 as a Hooper-bodied cabriolet, but as was relatively common in its day, the car was rebodied in 1934 by Belgium coachbuilder Jonckheere. Less common was for a traditionally somewhat staid Rolls-Royce to be blessed with such a radical interpretation of fashionable art deco styling themes.
The fabulous Jonckheere coupe body is startling both for its sheer size at nearly 22ft nose-to-tail, and also for its sculptural aerodynamic lines and incredible circular doors giving access to the front and rear seats.
Sadly a fire at Jonckheere means we lost any record of who commissioned the Phantom’s new body, but it won the prestigious Cannes Concours d’Elegance in 1936. It now resides in the Petersen Museum in California.
30. Alfa Romeo T33 Stradale - 1967
The Alfa Romeo Tipo 33 was a marginally successful but heart-stoppingly attractive racing car introduced in 1967. Those good looks came into their own when Alfa’s factory-backed racing team Autodelta decided to produce a road-going Stradale version, which became one of the world’s very first supercars.
Only 18 Stradales were built, five of which were unsold and ended up in the hands of Italian carrozzerias as the basis for concept cars such as Bertone’s Alfa Carabo. The Stradales themselves were the first production cars ever to feature butterfly doors, and used bespoke chassis that were 10cms longer than the racing car ones. Power came from the racer’s compact 2.0 V8 with almost 230bhp, enough for a sub 5-second 0-60mph time and a 160mph maximum - quite something in 1967.
29. McLaren F1 - 1992
Racing car designer Gordon Murray dreamt-up the idea of a no-holds-barred McLaren road car, and persuaded McLaren team owner Ron Dennis the project was a worthwhile diversion from F1 activities.
Notable for its three-seat cabin layout with central driving position, and thanks to exceptional light weight at less than 1,200kgs, even with a 600+ bhp V12 engine, the stunningly beautiful machine boggled the minds of seasoned reviewers. One illustrious car magazine even suggested it might be the fastest car the world would ever see - however the latest Porsche 911 Turbo is faster to 60mph, and modern hypercars would leave the F1 for dead.
There’s no denying the impact the McLaren F1 made in its day though, and a large part of its success is down to designer Peter Stevens who drew the F1’s iconic shape.
28. Ferrari 330 P4 -1967
Ferrari has produced a great many beautiful racing cars, but the 1967 330 P4 holds a special place in the hearts of fans of the marque. The P4 was the car that helped Ferrari avenge the insult of Ford’s stunning GT40 clean sweep at the first Daytona 24hrs in 1966, with a 1,2,3 Ferrari finish at the following 1967 race.
The Ferraris couldn’t loosen Ford’s grip on Le Mans, but they definitely looked fabulous while trying. The mid-engined sports prototype chassis with a V12 engine producing up to 450bhp was clothed in a swoopy body that still evokes a golden age of sportscar racing for many.
Just four P4 versions of the 330 were built, although only three were on new chassis as the first was a modified P3 - the previous year’s car. That one was burned out and written-off at Le Mans, but the other three factory P4s survive in private ownership - along with a handful of 412 Ps, which were the versions of the P4 built for customer racing teams. As you can imagine, values today run into tens of millions of pounds.
27. Toyota 2000GT
Japan arrived relatively late to the automotive party, so while it has produced plenty of collectible and iconic models, it can’t be said to have a history of producing beautiful cars.
One obvious exception is the 2000GT, a fabulous sporting coupe designed to take on the best that Europe’s manufacturers could offer. It performed that task admirably, thanks to styling drawn in-house by Toyota designer Satoru Nozaki, and a two-litre straight-six engine from the Toyota Crown titivated by Yamaha with triple carbs and new cylinder heads to make 150bhp.
337 examples were produced and sold between 1967 and 1970, with sales limited by a price tag that comfortably exceeded rivals like the Porsche 911 and Jaguar E-Type.
Two convertible models were built for the Bond movie You Only Live Twice.
26. Maserati A6G Frua Spyder - 1955
Maserati produced around fifty of its A6GCS racing two-seaters from 1953-55, but it was Rome dealer Guglielmo Dei who spotted the opportunity to create a road-going version for his wealthy customers. Dei purchased half a dozen chassis which he sent to coachbuilders Pininfarina, Vignale and Frua - the latter creating a trio of gorgeous Spyders with their own design bodies.
The A6G Frua Spyders are widely considered to be some of the most beautiful Maserati road cars in the firm’s illustrious history, as demonstrated by the delightful restoration recently carried out to this example under the auspices of Kidston.com.
It’s the only surviving A6G Frua Spyder with matching numbers, which further increased its desirability, and Kidston recently sold the car for an undisclosed sum.
Now click on to page 2 to see numbers 25 to 1 in our most beautiful cars list...
- 1Most beautiful cars: page 1 (50-25) - currently readingWhat is the most beautiful car in the world? We’ve gone all-out to answer that question with our top 50 automotive stunners...
- 2Most beautiful cars: page 2 (25-1)We pick the 50 most beautiful cars of all time and page 2 runs you down numbers 25 to 1.